The future of North Tryon looks bright

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Ever take a walk down North Tryon Street past, say, 7th Street and think, what happened? It’s a vastly neglected area of uptown that stands as the last development frontier inside the I-277 loop. For years the land has sat disregarded, but the pieces are falling in place for a whole new world to emerge uptown.

Some major projects are already underway: Skyhouse I and II and First Ward Park will be the first aspects of the revolution of the North Tryon corridor. Other projects are in various stages of development: 10 Tryon (Publix, hotel, condo, retail project) is continuing development and will hopefully begin next year.

Levine Properties looks like they’re finally developing their parking lot wasteland. A Canopy/Homewood Suites hotel, apartments, condos and offices are all planned to get going here soon (all those these have been promised to us for years so until they’re officially opened I will list these as we will see).

The county is vacating all of their property in the area (including the Hal Marshall Center) which is freeing up a massive chunk of land which will be totally open to developers.

The library site is going to be redeveloped (by the city, maintaining Spirit Square and the library — don’t worry, they’re just going to be reworked), and the Carolina Theater is going to be renovated as well.

But with all of these things there is still so much more work to do, so much more land to develop.

So let’s take a look at what Charlotte Center City Partners has prepared with a variety of sponsors and partners.

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north-tryon-aerial

I must note that everything seen is purely conceptual and could no way represent the final product. The goal is to get the juices flowing in developers’ minds, to create a cohesive concept and to illustrate what, as a city, we want to accomplish.

The biggest thing to note is the incredible amount of urbanism, pedestrian activity and care taken at the street level. I have learned so much in my time writing for the Agenda and nothing has become more clear than the importance of the ground level. The importance of what pedestrians see and what that ground space does for the city and the environment.

You can have a super tall, super shiny towers but if the ground floor does nothing for the environment, then the building is a failure.

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What the plans call for are the ingredients to create a truly urban environment. Unlike South Tryon which is littered with retail-less ground floors, uninviting plazas and mistakes of the past, North Tryon wants to rectify that.

Interactive art installations, interactive civic spaces, ground floor retail, bike lanes, wider sidewalks and more all call out to pedestrians. It’s what’s necessary to break Charlotte’s love affair with cars and design space for humans instead of machines.

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My favorite quote I heard at the North Tryon Vision Plan presentation Thursday was from Daniel Iacofano, from MIG Inc., who helped create the vision. He said, “We should not tolerate blank walls and concrete fortresses,” and I couldn’t agree more.

There isn’t enough I can say about how spot on their vision is. They want to create space where people of all ages can go and interact, have fun and enjoy the city.

North Tryon will look vastly different than South Tryon if developed correctly. The plan calls for varied elevations of buildings, no superblocks and varied architecture. One cool concept they called out was the flush curb concept. Essentially this means: no curb. This will help blend the street with the sidewalk, slow down traffic, and allow people to easily walk from one place to another.

north-tryon-site-plan

As you can see in the images, the vision is to allow virtually every inch of ground space accessible to the public. Whether through store fronts, public parks, alleyways filled with art, sidewalks with interactive features or stoops on an apartment. Everything is designed to give you the best experience possible.

Imagine bringing a visitor to an area like this uptown, tons of things to do, and always discovering new things. The goal is that you can spend an entire day here, come back tomorrow and see something new.

The next steps are on the developers. Luckily, the county controls a good chunk of the land so they will be able to select projects that do adhere to this vision. Developers are now starting to understand we want urbanism in our cities, not walled-off fortresses closed to the public. Charlotte is moving in a positive direction and this vision looks to continue it. Well done Charlotte, you are growing up.

The last thing I want to make very clear is that this won’t happen overnight. This is planning for a city of the future, not a city of right now. The development is going to be very organic and happen over time. This could take five, 10, 20 years, who knows but if the vision is adhered to it will be worth it in the end. So stay tuned as this will be a lengthy, ongoing project with a ton of exciting elements.

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Jason Thomas
| @jasonthomasclt |
Development expert since 2015.