The Cornelius Plan resulted from a unique approach to the standard public/private venture. Following the example of many of the finest developments of the pre-war era, the city purchased a large vacant property adjacent to its town core and initiated a design charrette. The resulting master plan was marketed to prospective developers, and then a purchase agreement was reassigned to the selected candidate, who is required to construct the project as designed. Through this process, the town was able to achieve both a sense of authorship over the plans and a feeling that the community’s long term interests will be met.
The master plan extends the historic Cornelius Town Center east of the railroad tracks to an adjacent 128-acre site. The historic core received substantial redevelopment interest after the introduction of a previous master plan that resulted in new construction including a town hall, a grocery, and several stores. The new master plan proposes a police station and residential units to define more clearly the traditional town center of Cornelius.
The historic west side of the Norfolk-Southern railroad corridor will be connected to the undeveloped east side, with the existing rail lines and a new train station forming a seam between the two. The lines are currently used for freight but are slated to begin passenger service as part of a transit plan approved by the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. This transit component will firmly establish the historic center as the primary focus of activity for the town and will prevent the migration of activity to the auto-dependent developments along Interstate 77 and the subdivisions of Lake Norman.
The Cornelius project is one of five transit-oriented developments (TODs) planned for the north rail corridor of the County’s transit plan. Along with the neighboring towns of Davidson and Huntersville, Cornelius has the opportunity to determine a coordinated land use and development policy grounded in the techniques and philosophy of traditional town planning.