Aerial view of a parcel at the corner of South Bennett Street and West New York Avenue in downtown Southern Pines.

Aerial view of a parcel at the corner of South Bennett Street and West New York Avenue in downtown Southern Pines. (Image via Google Earth)

A tiny undeveloped parcel in downtown Southern Pines has attracted plenty of developer interest over the past two years. Located at the corner of South Bennett Street and West New York Avenue — and diagonally across from the new three-story Southern Pines Growler Co. building now under construction — the .78-acre site is mostly a kudzu jungle at this point.

Last summer, developer Allen Jordan with CDA Properties presented plans to town leaders for a three-story apartment building. He envisioned a 21-unit building, but a formal application was never submitted.

Marcel Goneau, on behalf of Wolfbridge Development, has presented to town officials a new conceptual plan for a mixed use building on the property. His four-level design calls for a below-grade covered parking lot, approximately 12 retail or office units at the South Bennett Street (main) level, with one and two-bedroom condominiums, a boutique inn, pool and rooftop bar on the second and third levels, and a rooftop garden terrace.

“This is an ambitious project. I think the only way we can make sense of this project is to be ambitious and develop the site to its max potential,” Goneau said.

The property is zoned for business and is within the downtown overlay district, but is not exempt from the town’s off-street parking requirements.

The proposed below-grade parking spaces would be adequate to serve the residential component only. The proposed commercial spaces and boutique inn would require additional parking options.

Goneau recommended a portion of the town-owned parking lot on adjacent land could be used, and offered to provide upgrades to the facility as part of the design. He also requested 45-degree angled parking spaces fronting onto South Bennett Street and West New York Avenue.

Town Manager Reagan Parsons said he had concerns about vehicles backing out of spaces, noting there are no similar uses along Bennett Street.

Goneau said parallel parking is an option, but would limit the number of parking spaces.

“For anything in this part of Southern Pines to develop, Bennett will have to change,” he said. “If the council is not interested in changing parking opportunities along Bennett, then what I am proposing couldn’t happen. Basically, I’m proposing that the streetscape along Bennett needs to change.”

Mayor David McNeill said he was more receptive to the idea of angled parking and suggested that Goneau refine his plan a bit before submitting a formal application for consideration.

“We’ve had one project before the council that didn’t get off the ground for one reason or another, and now, here’s another opportunity to do something with that land that looks really good,” McNeill said. “I think there are opportunities to explore with the town or partnerships with adjoining projects to add parking.

“I’d hate for you to pull this off the table just because of angle parking concern,” he added.

Contact Laura Douglass at (910) 693-2474 or email laura@thepilot.com.

(1) comment

Jack Nance

This might be the opportunity for the first back in angle parking that was suggested by a consultant a few years ago. We have to think outside the box to make these projects come to fruition. Bennett St is a main artery to avoid Broad St.

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