The developer of the Catawba Nation’s planned Two Kings Casino Resort received the Kings Mountain City Council’s approval Tuesday night to build nearly 600 homes and luxury apartments nearby.
The council voted 4-2 to approve a rezoning to allow for the housing on nearly 83 acres on the opposite side of Interstate 85 from the planned $273 million casino.
Casino developer Wallace Cheves of Greenville, S.C., requested the rezoning through Let’s Roll Holdings LLC, one of his limited liability corporations.
The vote came less than a week after Gov. Roy Cooper and the Catawba Indian Nation signed a revenue-sharing agreement that allows for Vegas-style gaming at the casino, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.
Federal approval is needed for the type of gaming agreed to by Cooper and the Catawbas, but the compact with the state means construction can now start at the site, according to the Catawbas.
A temporary gaming facility could be ready to open by the fall, Catawba Nation Tribal Administrator Elizabeth Harris has told the Observer. Harris said the Catawbas see no issue with the U.S. Department of the Interior approving the gaming plan, based on prior approval of a similar gaming proposal for another tribe.
In a Catawba Nation Facebook post, Chief Bill Harris called the agreement “the key step in bringing economic benefits and thousands of jobs from our casino project to the citizens of North Carolina.”
Kings Mountain is a city of about 10,300 people located 35 miles west of Charlotte.
A housing development ‘to be proud of’
Cheves said his proposed Catawba Village housing development, across I-85 from the casino, would attract casino workers and people priced out of the Charlotte-Gastonia market.
“We want a good place for people to live and be proud of,” he said at a Dec. 15 public hearing on the rezoning request.
At a continuation of the public hearing on Dec. 18, Cheves’ engineer Leonard Fletcher of Shelby said Catawba Village homes would cost $300,000 or $400,000, and apartments would rent for about $1,500 per month, the Observer has reported.
Each of the three phases of the development would require separate approvals by the council, city officials said.
The development would target young professionals who work in South Carolina, Gastonia and Charlotte and would prefer commuting to their jobs, said Tom Register of Raleigh, another engineer for Cheves, at the Dec. 18 hearing. They earn $50,000 to $125,000, he said.
Such a community of “high-quality, luxury-type apartments has been missing in this area,” Register said.
Crime, crowding concern residents
At Tuesday night’s continuation of the December public hearing, two residents, including former Cleveland County Manager David Dear, spoke in favor of the housing plans. Fourteen residents, either at the hearing or by email, spoke against the development.
“They have the capital backing to make this happen in a first-class manner,” Dear said.
“I believe this is a great plan,” said Heidi Pritchard, who lives across from the proposed development.
Opponents cited traffic, crowding and crime concerns that they said could lower property values.
“You put that many people in that small a space, you’re going to have major crime issues,” resident Mark Hughes said.
Resident Sonya Beatty said she is concerned about “shady characters” and drugs moving in with the casino and housing development.
“Cleveland County is known for its quiet, clean family lifestyle,” Beatty said.
A 4-2 vote
Council members Keith Miller, Tommy Hawkins, Jay Rhodes and Mike Butler approved the rezoning, while Jimmy West and David Allen voted against. Council member Annie Thombs was absent due to illness.
“A year ago when I ran for this position, I promised to be the voice of the people,” West said in explaining his “no” vote.
Before Miller cast his vote in favor of the rezoning, he said those interested in developing the property have “a lot of money” and are willing to abide by “two pages” of restrictions. The developer must also return three times for council approval of each phase of the project, he said.