Will Uptown one day have a booming “Station District”?

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Charlotte is slowly but steadily moving toward having a train station Uptown.

Known as Charlotte Gateway Station, the project would move Amtrak from its current location north of Uptown and create a state-of-the-art transit hub in the center city.

Over the course of the last decade, the city has cobbled together funding from both the state and federal government to make it a reality — or at least a part of it. The money is ready

The money is ready for the first phase, which would be enough to move service Uptown on a temporary platform without the bells and whistles.

[Agenda story: Boarding an Amtrak train uptown might one day become a reality]

A new report from the city illustrates a much bigger vision — a full “Station District” with hundreds of millions of dollars in development.

This strip is currently made up of a lot of surface parking lots with some older buildings that could be rehabbed and repurposed.

As the map shows, the city’s plan is based on three main “blocks.”

  • The Main Block would house the rail station itself and a major mixed-use development.
  • The North Block would become a larger development with apartments/condos and parking. Part of the land is owned by Mecklenburg County.
  • The South Block could become a hotel.

More apartments would likely be built on the remote blocks.

The rail station and its immediate surroundings would be the centerpiece.

The rough plan is to have a 27,000-square-foot rail station surrounded by retail and office space around an outdoor plaza in the middle. All that would be on top of 900 underground parking spaces

Renderings via WSP, Bergmann Associates, ColeJenest & Stone

To the south, the plan gets more residential.

The South Block would have an eight-story apartment building wrapping a parking deck. There would also be a Charlotte Area Transit System bus facility and storage.

It looks fairly drab here, but this is not a final rendering, of course.

Renderings via WSP, Bergmann Associates, ColeJenest & Stone

The north block is more challenging.

It’s a narrow property, but the city envisions a 10-12 story hotel here with retail on the ground floor.

Renderings via WSP, Bergmann Associates, ColeJenest & Stone

The Station District would then extend farther north.

Unclear what would go here — but likely low-rise apartment buildings with a greenway on one side.

Renderings via WSP, Bergmann Associates, ColeJenest & Stone

Lots of questions remain.

The big one is money. All this is likely to cost $800 million. That includes private development, so not all of that will come from taxpayers.

But the public is on the hook for a large percentage, and that’s always tricky to come by.

Then, of course, there’s the question of whether this could be effectively pulled off.

Right now, people don’t really want to live right by railroad tracks. Will the Station District’s greenway be enough to make people excited about living there?

And a more looming question: Will the economy stay booming long enough to make this a reality?

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Andrew Dunn
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