Sometimes what is good for Jamestown is not good for Cedarwood, or so the residents believe.
Cedarwood residents and other interested parties turned out Feb. 13 for two neighborhood meetings at GTCC about a proposed development bordering Guilford College and Mackay roads, across from the subdivision. The property in question is the Johnson farm and is being sold by the heirs of the late Ted Johnson, former executive director of the Piedmont Triad International Airport. The land – actually five parcels – is wooded and also contains a former working cattle farm and a few structures.
Diamondback Investment Group, of Greensboro, has proposed to develop the 467 acres into apartments, townhomes, single-family and multi-family properties.
“Our intended goal for this project is to make something that is meaningful and lasting,” said Zach Tran, co-founder of Diamondback.
According to current plans, Castleton Village, the name chosen for the property (see MORE INFORMATION below), will have approximately 312 apartments, 700 townhomes, 600 single-family homes and 700 multi-family homes, bringing the number to 1,612 new units. There will be three outparcels for restaurants and areas for medical or professional office space. The neighborhoods will be set up in “internal villages,” each with amenities, and the entire area will have a lighted 5K trail running throughout. Other amenities include a swimming pool, bark park and children’s play areas.
About one-fourth of the property will be open space or parkland, including a strip to the south of Guilford College Road.
Tran said about 7 percent would be commercial but they would wait and see what businesses would be interested in coming in, rather than going after such businesses.
Along with the existing traffic lights at Mackay and Guilford roads where they intersect with Guilford College Road, Diamondback wants to add a third light at Cedarwood Drive to connect with a new road into the development.
There was a good turnout at the neighborhood meeting, with audience members asking questions – often interrupting other questioners or answerers. The atmosphere got heated at times. According to Facebook posts, Cedarwood residents were not happy with the project, wanting instead for the property to remain farmland.
Most of the comments were against the apartments and mixed-use area on Tract 1. They suggested moving any business, including any in the two areas labeled Tract 6, to the greenspace at Tract 5 or to Tract 4 along Guilford College Road. Tran said the problem with this was that Guilford College Road is a federally-maintained highway and has controlled access, meaning few streets or driveways can come into the road. At the end of the meeting he did agree to look into the possibility of moving these areas.
Jamestown Planning Director Matthew Johnson, no relation to the property owners, added that Guilford College Road was designed like a highway, with the purpose to connect Wendover Avenue with Business 85. That is why there are controlled access areas.
Cedarwood residents appeared to approve single-family-only homes but were opposed to a new traffic light at Cedarwood Drive.
In addition to the entrance across from Cedarwood Drive, the development will have six more access points, including three on Mackay Road. Tran said that road would probably be widened to four lanes up to the current four-lane section.
The traffic study is still in draft form but local residents were not happy about the amount of traffic the development would bring to their area.
Some people questioned where the children would go to school. Those in the area are already overcrowded. Tran said this would be a decision of the Guilford County School System, not the developer.
Diamondback had suggested a grocery store would be a good fit for the development but many in attendance said there were already five stores within a short driving distance. The company does not plan to seek out a grocery chain or gas station.
Local historic preservationists were very vocal in their desire to save the historical aspect of the property. (See sidebar.) They called for an historical resource study and the hoped the two homes on the site would be preserved. Diamondback said there were regulations dealing with historic properties they would have to follow.
The Johnson property and Cedarwood are both in Jamestown’s Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction, or ETJ, meaning the town has control of the areas but they are not technically within the town limits. Once Diamondback receives zoning approval, the company is expected to request annexation, bringing the town’s size to about 3.5 square miles, up from 3 square miles. The town currently has about 4 square miles in the ETJ.
The town’s population – currently 4,416 – could double in size once the Castleton Village is fully developed. Diamondback said it would take 5-10 years to complete. The apartments will be built first, followed by townhomes and single-family units.
Story By Carol Brooks
Photo courtesy Diamondback Investment Group
Diamondback Investment Group has proposed a 467-acre development called Castleton Village at the corner of Guilford College and Mackay roads. Guilford College is to the right and bottom and Mackay is to the left. Tract 1 would be apartments and mixed-use commercial development, Tract 2 would be townhomes and Tracts 3 and 4 would be single-family homes. Tract 5, on the south side of Guilford College Road would be greenspace and backs up to the Whittington Hall subdivision and the GTCC campus. The two areas labeled Tract 6 would be low-impact medical or professional offices with the look of townhomes.
Armstrong house is a landmark
Edward Armstrong’s 1885 house is on Guilford College Road, just north of the Guilford Road intersection. History tells us Armstrong, a Scot, worked for Clarence Mackay at his hunting lodge for more than 50 years.
When Mackay died in 1938, Armstrong was able to buy much of the property. Armstrong’s grandsons, Ted and Bill Johnson, were the most recent owners.
Diamondback representatives say the new Castleton Village was named because the Armstrong family came from Castleton, England.
Some Cedarwood residents believe the Armstrong house is on the National Register of Historic Places but a search did not affirm that belief. They are concerned that the house will be destroyed for the new development but Diamondback said the house might be saved – at least for a few years.
Before Diamondback can start construction, the Jamestown Town Council must approve a new zoning district, Planned-Use Development, or PUD, which will satisfy Diamondback’s needs. That decision was expected to take place at the Council meeting Feb. 18. However, due to expected high turnout, the Council plans to continue the agenda item until March 19 at 6:30 p.m. in a special Called Meeting in the town’s Civic Center.
“The PUD is a true mixed-use zone. It would allow especially large properties, like the Johnson property, to develop a master plan,” said Jamestown Planning Director Matthew Johnson. “It would create a more cohesive development.
“Council will notbe discussing the Johnson property on Feb. 18, as the Town has yet to receive any requests for rezoning or anything else related to the development,” he said.
He added that if the Town Council rejects the PUD zoning, there would be a “very cumbersome plan” to work with the current zoning. He would expect Diamondback would request a new zoning other than the current Agriculture. At the meeting, Diamondback representatives said they would re-work some of the plans and follow the existing ordinances. The area is currently zoned Agricultural.