A year ago, Charlotte Center City Partners announced they’d be embarking on an ambitious new project: creating, branding and boosting a Historic West End.
After hiring executive director Alysia Osborne and conducting months of neighborhood meetings, the center city team unveiled Tuesday their action plan for getting it done.
First, where is Historic West End?
The district lies 1 mile west of the heart of Uptown and encompasses parts of the Biddleville, Seversville, Smallwood and Wesley Heights neighborhoods — Charlotte’s oldest African-American communities. Johnson C. Smith University is the primary anchor.
The area is bounded on the north by the Brookshire Freeway, on the east by I-77, and the south by Tuckaseegee Road/4th Street.
These areas have historically been overlooked and underinvested. But as people have flocked to close-in neighborhoods, these areas have increasingly been rising in value. Developers are turning old properties into upper-income townhome developments and house flippers have been active as well.
The Historic West End initiative is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Knight Foundation and guided by Center City Partners.
What’s in the plan?
Some parts of the plan build on what’s already going on. For example, Historic West End is going to encourage completion of the Gold Line streetcar and help guide development along it.
The plan also talks a lot about branding and telling the community’s story. Some steps have already been taken. You may have seen some of the neighborhood signs when driving out Trade Street.
Other parts of the plan are kind of unsexy, but important. Like a “business needs assessment” with existing store owners.
But there are some truly exciting parts of the plan as well. Here are a couple that were presented Tuesday.
Come up with a historical asset map. This would guide people to people, places and events. This would work alongside the signs that are already beginning to go up.
Work with Johnson C. Smith to create an entrepreneurship incubator.
Help develop Phase 2 of Mosaic Village. Phase 1 is turning into something of a hotspot.
Explore redevelopment of the old A&P site. This is at 1600 West Trade, right across from the Mosaic building. Big space with a lot of potential.
Test pop-up shops. This would introduce retailers to the area.
Make the 5 Points Intersection a destination. This is at the entrance to JCSU where Rozzele’s Ferry, Beatties Ford and Trade all come together. One idea is to string decorative lights on trees at all the points.
Create a micro-grant pool. This would let community members host events and create fun place-making projects. South End is doing this exact thing right now.
What comes next?
West End is looking to build a pool of volunteers, and bring them together in May or June to create the first action steps. Things like the micro-grant pool and the 5 Points project will be looked at in the short-term, while things like the entrepreneur incubator are probably more long-term.