“I feel a change comin’ on.” – Bob Dylan
Ask any Charlottean and they’ll agree that development is happening at breakneck speed in Charlotte. There may be arguments over whether to embrace it or not, but the fact is it is happening. Our local news outlets do a good job covering the basics including the economic impact of each project, but there’s another story we don’t want to overlook. What about the disruption to the communities in a project’s path? How do the neighbors feel as they wake to the sound of giant metal beasts grinding, digging, and demolishing buildings that are known and sometimes loved entities in their neighborhoods? Especially if they don’t know anything about the replacement project. 5 Points Realty has its eye on development and how it may impact our clients. Case in point: What’s happening on 7th Street?
5 Points Realtors Live and Work in these Communities
Our own Cassee Cunningham lives in the heart of one of the communities impacted: the Elizabeth neighborhood. Multiple buildings are being torn down around her in the 1800 block of 7th Street. Cassee sees, hears, and feels the changes happening each day.
She and her husband have been active listeners and voices for the Elizabeth Community Association in the complicated development issues. The Association is a very robust, informed, and engaged group of homeowners that care strongly about what happens in their community. They keep their finger on the pulse of development. Cassee and her husband recognize the importance of hearing everyone’s point of view, especially homeowners who are beginning to share their property lines with…who knows what.
The personal impact of development
The Elizabeth neighborhood is home to some of Charlotte’s oldest, grandest and most historically significant homes.
Although certain homes are historical landmarks like Cassee’s Jenny Alexander House, the neighborhood itself is not an official historic Charlotte neighborhood, like Dilworth, Wesley Heights, Midwood, etc. It’s not because Elizabeth doesn’t qualify to be a historic neighborhood. The residents of Elizabeth do not support being a historic neighborhood. Both sides of the historic vs. non-historic designation are understandable, but it’s getting uncomfortable for more residents as new and uninteresting, undefined development chips away at the edges of the Elizabeth and its’ older buildings.
So much at once
Cassee, like her neighbors, is no stranger to the constant construction and disruption that comes with it. She watches the destruction from her office window on the second floor of her home. She can feel the thump of the equipment as it shovels the remains and wonders at what cost. These buildings have been vacant for several years. Everyone knew this day was coming, but it feels like it’s closing in fast now.
A lot of change has happened in the past few years just in the few blocks of 7th Street between Pecan and Hawthorne. Not to mention the 3-year project of rebuilding the Hawthorne Bridge in conjunction with implementing the trolley car down Hawthorne. Many unique and beautiful buildings have been torn down for “mixed use” and high-density apartments or condo living. A Chicago developer is taking the next steps on a new “mixed use” project. Four commercial buildings that were old homes and a church are now demolished.
So what’s happening on 7th Street?
- Rezoning has been filed with Charlotte. Centrum, who owns the land, has filed a petition with the city of Charlotte to bring this site from a business to a mixed use classification. In Cassee’s experience, “mixed use” can be a scary term for neighborhoods because it has a much broader definition of use and density than businesses and has been frankly misused by developers around Charlotte. Keeping in mind there is a mixed-use development a block away on the opposite side of 7th that isn’t even complete or inhabited yet. The good news is all development/developers go through the Elizabeth Community Association with their intentions and the ECA has a lot of power to embrace or deny these ideas.
- Demolition has begun and is almost complete. Mounds of rubble now stand where 3 separate buildings and a church once stood. Because they sat empty for several years, break-ins and unfortunate circumstances have happened so demolition is the next logical step. Centrum worked with the ECA to salvage some historic and architectural elements of these buildings.
- Charlotte rezoning process could take up to eight months before the petition to rezone gets a public hearing with City Council. Centrum states they will partner with the ECA and its’ hopes for 7th St.
No end in sight
There is no stopping the development train and change can be uncomfortable when you see the landscape changing and shifting so quickly around you. We don’t mean to vilify change. Change can be a welcome sight but there is a line that has to be considered and honored when development happens too fast, hindering the enjoyment of living in a neighborhood or threatening the peace in their home. Get involved in your local neighborhood association so your voice is heard.