“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” –William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
There’s a bit of a buzz around one of Charlotte’s most popular neighborhoods and it’s all because of a name. Community leaders of NoDa, Villa Heights, Optimist Park and Belmont, along with marketing agency Plaid Penguin are proposing that part of town be referred to as The Mill District, a nod to the communities shared textile history. The diverse communities all sit within about a mile of Uptown.
There are 7 intact mills in this four-neighborhood area that either have been or are in the process of being transformed into something new.
Supporters say the new name reflects the explosive growth in the area as was seen by families in the old mill days starting a new life. According to one person involved in the effort, the purpose was to “create some awareness about these existing mills, their place in the history of the city and their importance in creating these neighborhoods we all now love so much.”
Critics of the idea, however, suggest that the name doesn’t acknowledge the often segregated existence and struggle that went along with working in the mills.
This isn’t the first time an area of town was renamed. Charlotte’s business district was officially renamed by the City Council in 1974 as Uptown. The historic South End which we all know as the area next to Dilworth used to be called the South Boulevard corridor.
5 Points Broker/Realtor Michael Doney has mixed feelings about it. “It seems it will cause confusion with The Arts District Name people already recognize,” he says. “Seems unusual to have a district inside of a district to me.”
5 Points has been listening to the people in our own neighborhoods and watching the debate. In one social media post, a small business owner pointed out that these kinds of names can be helpful as a reference point for people. For instance, if a business has multiple locations it’s easier to direct people to the Ballantyne branch or the University area rather than get bogged down in the specific address. It’s true, when you hear certain ‘names’ you know immediately what part of town someone is referring too.
People searching out homes also know these names. 5 Points Broker/Realtor Liz Haigler says, “ I actually wish MLS would allow a subdivision name & a neighborhood name.”
While names matter, no one is suggesting a name change. NoDa will still be Noda and the vibrant community built around the Arts, known as a great place to live, work and play isn’t going to change it’s tune regardless of what you want to call it. In fact, all of these communities in around the 277-loop in the North/Northeast part of town have a vibe and style all their own and will continue to do so.
Maybe we should think of the ‘new name’ not as a name replacement but more of a rebrand and way to signify this specific part of town… But we’ll keep our eye on it, just in case.