Birkdale Village owner/developer licks wounds, vows to try again

Tim Perry, managing partner of North American Properties / Dave Yochum Photo

April 11. By TL Bernthal. The owners of Birkdale Village are not giving up on plans to expand the mixed-use lifestyle center now that they have a year to revise their expansion plans.

“We’ll be back,” said Tim Perry, managing partner of North American Properties, which acquired Birkdale Village in November 2020.

A  4-2 vote on March 20 denied a conditional use permit to build 175,000 square feet of Class A office / retail and a parking deck for 450 cars. The proposal was controversial for some and contentious for most.

Meanwhile, NAP will continue with improvements and finish elements of its current reimagining phase—valued at $20 million—and try to figure out a better way to improve parking, Perry said. Events, concerts and other activities will continue.

“We have 17 stores and restaurants that are going to open this year,” Perry says. “Pulling permits is time-consuming.”

‘Surprised’ by the vote

Perry said last week that he was surprised at the outcome of the vote that denied a conditional use permit for the $90 million expansion project that included Class A office space over retail. NAP cannot re-apply for a year.

“We have plenty of time to look at what it would look like,” Perry said; that could include an office building, as well as possibly bringing the hotel back.

He said the denial showed the dysfunction in “the town and board itself,” from how they applied the process to how emotions drove some votes.

Courtesy of NAP

Perry hopes the voters throughout the town will see the dysfunction, and see it as a vote against the town.

The board vote was hurtful to the town and taxpayers, Perry said.

“It voted against supporting small business through an influx of daytime traffic. It voted against a vibrant future for Huntersville. Instead, elected officials voted to continue passing the tax burden onto residents versus commercial properties,” Perry said.

The Huntersville mayor and Board of Commissioners are elected for two-year terms during non-partisan elections held in odd-numbered years; elected officials are currently serving their 2021-2023 term.

NAP hopes and expects the November election will see new board members elected who will vote differently.

“Everyone wants a Birkdale Village,” Perry said. “Every responsible board, would want it dense to attract people” that support the retailers and local economy.

Commissioner Dan Boone, Rob Kidwell, Derek Partee and Amber Kovacs voted to deny, while Stacy Phillips and Lance Munger supported NAP’s proposal.

The Barnes & Noble lease at Birkdale Village will be up in two years. Will they want to stay in that space? Probably not, Perry said. The Barnes & Noble strategy for several years has been to reduce its retail footprint per store. The smaller format focus is important  to Barnes & Noble because it will reduce its assortments of gift, toys and games to re-emphasize books.

“We would love to keep Barnes & Noble in retail space under the Class A office space,” Perry said.

Opposition and compromise

Warby Parker in Birkdale Village

The process was contentious with a dozen or so Greens at Birkdale Village residents voicing objections over various points, but mainly building height, traffic, parking and the character of the village. They aren’t against change, they say, but want it to be the right  change.

They are joyous at the outcome. “It was a truly awesome team effort. So proud of my neighbors and the Town Commissioners,” one of the residents, Nick O’Shaughnessy, an architect, said after the vote.

NAP tried to work with residents and town leaders, Perry said. NAP made concessions, reducing the Class A office building height even though it remained taller than allowed by zoning, agreeing to meet with residents on the look of the office building, keeping the parking deck in plans when a boutique hotel and apartments were removed.

Perry said NAP met 22 times with the community over 18 months, including monthly ZOOM meetings with the HOA.

“When a few people get it in their heads that they just didn’t like it, they just didn’t like it,” Perry said, regardless of the compromise on NAP’s part.

Valet parking at Birkdale Village

“There was no compromise from them, but lots from us.” he added, explaining that the only suggestion that was made was to build a two-story community building.

The front lines at Birkdale Village, such as the Concierge team, sometimes took the brunt of negativity. They were yelled at, spit at and berated, Perry said. Unfortunate behavior, Perry said.

He called the failed rezoning effort “a long and challenging process,” but not a deterrent.

“It’s just a delay to rethink,” Perry said.


6 Responses to “Birkdale Village owner/developer licks wounds, vows to try again”

  1. His rhetoric is highly problematic. He’s gaslighting/ smearing the community and he is projecting.

    “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim’s mind. Typically, gaslighters are seeking to gain power and control over the other person, by distorting reality and forcing them to question their own judgment and intuition.”

    He calls the community “over emotional” to discredit the valid points of contention shared by citizens. These arguments were explained in detail during the town meeting and were back by logic and facts, not unfounded emotion.

    He attempts to discredit the board by labeling them “dysfunctional” what about them specifically is dysfunctional he does not stipulate.

    He states that the vote was a vote against small business. Yet NAP themselves “voted against small business” when they kicked the small business owners of Camis and corkscrew out of Birkdale. At the same
    time NAP has made plans for Cheesecake Factory- a huge national corporation to be a tenant is the near future.

    It seems he is projecting. Projection refers to unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to someone else. A common example is a cheating spouse who suspects their partner is being unfaithful.

    Posted by Laura | April 11, 2023, 12:50 pm
  2. Doesn’t this all boil down to the same concern – traffic and congestion? That is, people like to go to Birkdale but don’t want to face the mob on the road just to get there and they want to be able to find a place to park once they’re in. And the neighbors don’t want all the overflow jamming up their neighborhood.

    It will be interesting to see if there is support for more “development friendly” candidates for the Town Board in the upcoming election.

    Posted by Stevie | April 11, 2023, 12:57 pm
  3. Very condescending words about those that hold your needed positive votes in their hands.

    Posted by Barb | April 11, 2023, 2:30 pm
  4. I have heard from a number of people who do not feel that the current “improvements” have improved anything at all, but rather made Birkdale less attractive for an evening night out. These same decision makers are now promoting additional “improvements”.

    As Stevie said, the concern is traffic and congestion, so trying to squeeze more profit out of Birkdale will only devalue it.
    “Every responsible board would want it dense to attract people” Really? Density does not necessarily equate to attracting people. An enjoyable, community area free of traffic back ups and parking hassles attract people.
    Surely there are less invasive options that the public will support. Don’t kill your golden goose.

    Posted by Brian | April 11, 2023, 3:25 pm
    • Your comment that people are finding it less attractive isn’t true overall. Maybe people you know love the old Birkdale but it is packed all the time so the new people must really be liking it. People complain parking is terrible so someone is going.

      Posted by BW | April 13, 2023, 2:12 pm
  5. Obviously he has never read How to Win Friends and Influence People.
    With any luck NAP will reassign him soon.

    Posted by Mike | April 12, 2023, 7:43 pm

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