Apartments Next to Target Approved

The Morganton Road corridor will get another upscale apartment development under plans the Southern Pines Town Council approved Tuesday.

This latest development will be near the already-approved mixed-use development that includes a large retail center expected to be anchored by a Target store. The apartment complex at hand would include 269 units and typical amenities of a luxury apartment such as a clubhouse and pool.

Located on just over 13 acres, the apartments would tie into the proposed Target shopping center on one side and the Morganton soccer fields on the other side.

The developer is Wilmington-based Zimmer Development Co., which is also responsible for the Eagle Landing Apartments nearby on U.S. 15-501. It is to be built on parcels owned by Midland Atlantic Properties of Cincinnati. Midland Atlantic owns all of the parcels in development, known as Morganton Park South.

Rent was not discussed at the meeting, but given that the developer is the same as the new Eagle Landing Apartments and includes essentially identical features, it would probably fall within a similar price range of $1,400-$1,800 a month.

The Town Council approved the retail area last fall as the first phase of the Morganton Park South mixed-use development, which spans nearly 100 acres of prime real estate between U.S. 15-501 and Morganton Road. The planned development district was approved last September and allows for a wide range of development over several years, including retail, office and commercial real estate. The retail area is a shopping center that will include a Target and potentially a Publix grocery store too

Target has not officially announced its plans to build its first Moore County store in Southern Pines, but a representative of Midland Atlantic, which owns both the apartments and other parcels essentially confirmed the big-box store Tuesday, mentioning Target as part of the development.

What happened Tuesday was a continuation of a public hearing from last month’s regular council meeting. During that meeting, developers introduced the project and requested some deviations from the original plan. The deviations included an increase in number of units, as well as a decrease in parking.

Those requests were met with skepticism by the council, whose members have experienced increasing pressure from residents unsatisfied with the town’s growth, particularly in the form of large-scale apartment complexes.

“One of my biggest concerns is not just infrastructure, but it’s also social infrastructure,” Councilmember Ann Petersen said. “And we know and you know and we all know that every time we put in another multi-family dwelling facility, we are losing money in regard to social infrastructure. Police, schools, things that are more a part of county taxes, and less of city tax.”

Council members pushed developers to try to reduce their number of units for this particular apartment complex down to 211 but ultimately approved 269. However, the council did knock back the overall number of allowable apartments across the entire Morganton Park South development from 650 to 483. That reduction came about after the discovery of a math error by the developer, who used a wrong acreage number to calculate the total number of allowable units.

“The mistake that we made in drafting is that we had always intended on 650 units,” John Silverman of Midland Atlantic said. “Somewhere along the line, in a pretty complicated project, we dropped the ball.”

Developers pushed for the greater number, arguing to town officials that greater density in this part of town was a good thing. But ultimately, the council settled on an agreement that Midland Atlantic would not pursue apartment development beyond 483 units in the future. Counting the project approved Tuesday night, that now leaves 214 apartments left that can be built, or essentially one fewer apartment complex.

Council members seemed satisfied with their unanimous decision to limit the project’s overall multi-family residential units and density.

“It’s better if you’re going to have density to strategically and intentionally place it so it will work to our advantage,” Mayor Pro Tem Paul Murphy said. “And in this situation that sounds like it works.”

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting, the Town Council:

* Approved a request to build a new ACE Hardware next to the current store on Airport Road near the Moore County Airport.

* Approved a request to build a Discount Tire retail store in the former Urgent Care lot on U.S. 15-501;

* Approved an Old Morganton Park South outparcel for development of a small retail center in the vacant lot across from the Lowes Foods gas station.