Forest Acres City Council on Tuesday gave initial approval to a project that would bring hundreds of apartments, plus townhomes and shops, to the former Cardinal Newman School site on Forest Drive.
The council had little discussion before voting unanimously in favor of The Beach Co. of Charleston’s proposed $58 million redevelopment.
If approved again April 12, the project would bring 256 luxury apartments and townhomes and 42,000 square feet of restaurants and boutique shops to the 12-acre lot that Cardinal Newman School left in December.
“I think it’s a great thing to come to Forest Acres,” Mayor Frank Brunson said afterward. “I think it’s a very desirable use for that property. ... I think it sort of represents what we have in Forest Acres, and that’s sort of a pleasant mix of residential and business.”
No residents at the meeting voiced opposition, though the project’s path to preliminary approval wasn’t always as smooth.
Some Forest Acres residents for months called for the project to be scaled down or abandoned altogether, saying adding that many residents would exacerbate existing traffic problems on the busy, shop-lined corridor along Forest Drive between Beltline Boulevard and Trenholm Road.
The Beach Co. in February responded to those concerns by scaling down the development’s density. The original plan for “Forest Acres Village Square” had called for nearly 300 apartments and 54,000 square feet of commercial space.
The Beach Co. said the changes would trim 650 cars from the estimated 3,100 cars per day the original plan would have added to Forest Drive.
“We’ve heard the comments, and we’ve incorporated those as best as we can into the plan, and I think the plan reflects that,” Dan Doyle, vice president of development at The Beach Co., said on Tuesday after council’s decision.
“It’s very positive, but it’s still one step,” Doyle said of the preliminary approval. “We still have to have second reading approval. I think it shows that there is positive support for the project.”
Doyle said The Beach Co. expects to break ground on the property in late 2016 or early 2017, with a two-year construction timetable.