How will the redevelopment of the Cardinal Newman site benefit Forest Acres?

The Cardinal Newman development will create a gathering place planned to complement the Forest Acres neighborhood with shops, restaurants, neighborhood services and upscale apartment homes in a walkable setting.

How is the property zoned?

The number of possible uses under the current “P-2,” or institutional zoning are extremely limited. P-2 districts allow for the development of public or semi-public areas for health, educational and governmental institutions. Allowable uses include hospitals and medial treatment facilities, public utilities, such as transformer stations and water tanks and towers, and public and private schools. The current occupant of this property, Cardinal Newman High School, located here in 1961.

Why is The Beach Company seeking to change the zoning from P-2 to “PDD,” or Planned Development District?

After a thoughtful planning process, The Beach Company concluded that a mixed-used project was the best fit for this particular site and would better benefit the Forest Acres community. In fact, the City’s Projected Generalized Land Use 2020 Plan calls for the site to be a mix of commercial and residential. Other options included big-box retail stores, which have been proposed by other developers pursuing the site.

Rezoning the site to a PDD allows the flexibility in design to create a gathering spot that will be unique in the city and conveniently serve the surrounding residents. The mix of housing and retail allowed under the PDD will create a pedestrian friendly environment not possible under other zoning districts. This mix will also help create a gentle transition between the busy commercial district along Forest Drive to the single family residential neighborhoods north of the site, while maintaining adequate buffer space for landscaping and screening.

In order to develop a village environment that will add value to the neighborhood, we propose to change the zoning from P-2 to PDD.

How does the Cardinal Newman redevelopment project comply with the city’s comprehensive plan?

The PDD is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan in that it:

  • Focuses on small retail in the core commercial area;
  • Promotes interconnectivity to the adjacent shopping center to reduce traffic impacts;
  • The compact design reduces automobile movement and encourages walkability;
  • The mix of uses allows for efficient parking design through shared parking, allowing more room for pedestrian and vehicle circulation;
  • Provides transition from the busy commercial corridor to the single-family neighborhoods by reducing intensity of uses from retail along forest to townhomes next to the residential.

What is the plan for the Cardinal Newman site?

The new mixed-used development plan includes:

  • Up to 256 luxury rental apartment homes, including ten townhomes (reduced from 299)

  • Approximately 42,000 square feet of neighborhood retail, restaurants and services (reduced from 54,000)

  • Approximately 660 parking spaces, with the majority of these in a structured parking garage hidden behind the residential buildings.

Though in early stages of design, the plan ranges from three to five floors, following the slope of the property. Ground level retail space will occupy buildings along the Forest Drive frontage with apartment homes above. The plan calls for an internal parking structure, hidden behind the apartments, which will be accessible from the Bi-Lo shopping center entrance traffic signal. In addition to onsite retail and services, future residents will enjoy amenities including a salt water pool, fitness center, club room, pet spa and bicycle station.

What demand is there for uses proposed in the new plan?

Forest Acres is a highly desirable living location for many families and individuals of all ages. Currently, however, there are very few high-quality housing choices in the market for those choosing to rent. In the past ten years, housing preferences have changed and renting has become more prevalent among almost all age brackets. In fact, while nearly half of everyone under age 30 is a renter, a full 41% of all 30-44 year olds are also renters, and almost a quarter of 45-64 year olds are renters.

The proposed retail is expected to serve the residents of the apartments and surrounding neighborhoods. The focus will be on locally owned or smaller regional businesses with unique restaurants, boutiques, and other businesses typically found in an urban neighborhood setting. For these businesses, locating in a mixed-use community offers greater exposure and access to customers, especially pedestrian traffic.

How will property values be affected by this project?

No discernible difference exists in the appreciation rate of properties located near high-density development than those that are not. Some research even shows that higher-density development can increase property values. The Urban Land Institute report, “Higher-Density Development: Myth and Fact,” outlines this issue in addition to other concerns. You can read the entire report here: ow.ly/WCBVy.

How will the Cardinal Newman redevelopment impact Forest Acres schools?

Housing types like what is planned for the Cardinal Newman property put less demand on schools and other public services than low-density housing (19 children per 100 units versus 64 per 100 single family). Therefore, we could expect a total of around 49 school age children living in the apartment homes.

Will the new development impact traffic congestion in areas near the property?

Traffic patterns will change, but we have implemented measures to ensure effects of the development are neutral. As a general rule, mixed-use developments with the proper ratio of residential-to-retail lower traffic impacts by randomizing trip times and studies show that apartments generate fewer trips than single-family homes.

The plan for the Cardinal Newman redevelopment project has increased access points to the site to three locations to increase the flow of traffic.

  • Forest Drive: Exit allows right turns only – reducing the number of left turns promotes safety of drivers and pedestrians as well.
  • Bi-Lo Traffic Signal: Left and right turns are permitted; the traffic signal timing will be adjusted to provide more cycles per hour during peak PM hours to better manage flow from the Cardinal Newman site.
  • Gamewell Drive: The site will have limited direct access to Gamewell Drive. Based on input from the neighborhood, the Beach Company concluded that limiting vehicular access to Gamewell will discourage cut-through traffic. Currently, all school traffic exits onto Gamewell. The only access to Gamewell in the proposed plan is for building services and the residents of the ten townhomes at the back of the property, which includes private parking garages and 19 surface parking spaces. The residents of the multifamily buildings and the commercial traffic will not have direct access to Gamewell. The proposed site plan will significantly reduce traffic directly accessing Gamewell when compared to the current operation.

Furthermore, The Beach Company will provide for an additional left turn lane at the intersection of Trenholm/Forest Drive that will improve operations above current traffic levels.

With proposed improvements, PM rush hour travel times on Forest Drive between Clemson avenue and Trenholm Road are projected to decrease by over 90 seconds (total for both directions) when compared to background levels (2017 traffic without proposed development and traffic improvements).

What is the correct estimated number of net new trips generated at from this site, 4,000 or 3,084?

3,084 is correct.

The Kimley Horn study calculation combined both the trips generated by the Cardinal Newman School [1,240], and the new development [3084], which will not operate at the same time.

4,324   Kimley-Horn traffic impact study total (new development trips, plus school trips)

[1,240] Trips generated by Cardinal Newman School

3,084  Net total new trips associated with new development project

A trip is defined as a vehicle with a single driver, making one stop at one destination, and driving a personal vehicle. According to the Institute of Traffic Engineers, single-family detached homes are responsible for nearly double the daily trips as apartments (10 daily vs. 6.3 daily). The goal with proposed improvements is to maintain same or better levels of service.

Why does the traffic study use only one set of data points?

The traffic count data is just one piece of the traffic impact analysis used to create a traffic model. For this study, traffic counts were collected Tuesday, May 12, 2015 when schools were in session. These counts were then verified against the annual daily traffic count collected by SCDOT. Typically, the highest peak hour traffic volume equates to ~10% of the overall daily traffic with a 2% allowable deviation.

Urban arterial streets like Forest Drive have the highest peak hour traffic in the PM. The traffic counts confirmed that the highest peak hour was the PM, representing 9.6% of the annual daily traffic. Also, the traffic counts were consistent with the traffic count data collected for the Forest Drive Corridor study. Lastly, field observations were conducted on August 31, September 1 and 2 to adjust the model for field conditions such as traffic queuing and to factor in the narrow travel lanes and frequent driveways found along Forest Drive.

Traffic seems to be bad around lunchtime. Why did the study not consider traffic around midday?

According to the traffic signal timing schedules, the length of the current traffic light cycles in the AM and PM are significantly longer than the midday cycle, indicating that traffic demand was greatest during the AM and PM periods. This was supported by the traffic counts from the Forest Drive Corridor study that denote lower traffic volumes during the midday period.

What types of vehicles will use the Gamewell entrance?

In addition to residents of the townhomes, entry traffic on Gamewell will be limited to moving vehicles for apartment home residents and bi-weekly garbage pickup.

How was the parking plan for the Cardinal Newman apartments determined?

The residential parking plan allows for multiple spaces per apartment: 1.5 spaces for one and two bedroom units and two spaces for three bedroom units and townhomes. Extra parking near the townhomes accommodates for units with second cars, and parking for those residents who use their garages for storage.

While these parking counts are more than adequate for a single use multifamily site, the development still needs to accommodate commercial parking. Kimley Horn prepared a parking study using the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) shared parking methodology. This takes into account that one parking space may be available for two or more land uses without conflict. The result is that demand for parking spaces is less than the demand generated by separate freestanding developments of similar size.

The shared parking analysis determined that the peak parking required for both the residential and commercial users is 532 spaces. The design calls for approximately 660 spaces, with the extra spaces included to provide convenient locations to residents of the apartment buildings and additional cushion for commercial users.

How can I get more information about the project?

The Beach Company is happy to answer and questions about the redevelopment of the Cardinal Newman redevelopment project. Please email ForestAcresUpdate@gmail.com or call project development manager, Ned Miller, at 843.277.3052.