When you’re hanging out at Park Road Shopping Center or partying on Montford today, you barely even notice that there’s a creek nearby.
But in a few years’ time, this hidden creek will be one of the newest crown jewels of Charlotte.
The city is finalizing plans and designs for an extension of the Cross Charlotte Trail through this section of the Park Road corridor. Construction is expected to follow in about 18 months time.
When it’s done, thickets of bramble and vines will give way to public parks and greenways with Little Sugar Creek as their centerpiece. The result will be a radically different vibe for a fast-growing part of town.
Development has already ramped up in this area of Park Road, between the shopping center and Tyvola Road. The neighborhood has even given itself a new name: Montford Park.
But as the trail gets underway, all manner of new apartments, offices and restaurants will sprout up around it to take advantage of the green space it provides.
Think the area is getting cool now? Wait until this thing gets built.
What is the Cross Charlotte Trail?
The Cross Charlotte Trail is an ambitious project the city and Mecklenburg County have undertaken to put Charlotte near the top of the list in trail miles in major cities.
It would create a continuous path nearly 30 miles long that stretches from the South Carolina line near Pineville, through Midtown along the existing greenway and then up past UNC Charlotte and PNC Music Pavillion into Cabarrus County.
It’s being built in pieces, and each at its own pace. The part near Uptown is already built, running by the Metropolitan building, south through Freedom Park and ending near Rocksalt in the Backlot of Park Road Shopping Center.
A section at Cordelia Park on North Davidson just opened up. The leg from the Marion Diehl Center to Huntingtowne Farms is underway.
But most of it is still in the planning stages. The section we’re talking about here — from Brandywine Road to Tyvola — just happens to have some of the most detailed conceptual renderings.
What’s going on in this area already?
This area has been an epicenter of development over the past year and a half.
[Agenda story: How Montford can become the next hip neighborhood in Charlotte]
Viva Chicken and Jimmy John’s have already opened along Park Road, and 5115 Park Place apartments have long since opened. The gigantic Abbey Apartments are well underway, and a new Smashburger is opening nearby. Offices are being renovated, Pfeiffer University has already moved, and the campus is fenced off and ready to be demolished.
Developers have already taken note of the Cross Charlotte Trail to come.
Crescent Communities recently announced plans for 337 new apartments and 17,000 square feet of retail space where the Pfeiffer campus stands now. Crescent notes the proximity to the trail.
But for today, there are no tie-ins — even though all these apartments are right next to the creek.
What will the creek and trail look like?
In a word, beautiful.
The city has already cleared land at the corner of Park and Selwyn for what will become a pocket park and an entry point to the trail.
Then there will be a walkway reminiscent of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway closer to Morehead Street.
Expect developments to integrate their property with the trail, a la the Charlotte Rail Trail in South End. There will be plenty of benches and public art and landscaping.
Picture this backside of 5115 Park Place with a tie-in to the greenway.
Here’s the specific route.
Once upon a time, Charlotte planners expected construction to already be underway. Right now, the estimate is for a 2019 timeframe.