Advisory Services Panel—North End, Charlotte, North Carolina

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Date: April 27- May 2, 2014

Location: Applied Innovation Corridor, Charlotte, North Carolina

Sponsor: City of Charlottte, Mecklenburg County, Mt. Vernon Capital / Vision Ventures, Foundation for the Carolinas, The Knight Foundation, Charlotte Chamber, Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Housing Authority, Charlotte Housing Partnership, UNC Charlotte Foundation

Subject Area:  Innovation Corridors and Redevelopment

Panel Chair: Glenda Hood

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BACKGROUND AND PANEL ASSIGNMENT

While the name Applied Innovation Corridor extends from Uptown and South End to UNC Charlotte, the study area the panel was asked to evaluate is north of Uptown in an area centered on Graham Street and N. Tryon Street. It is bounded by I-85 on the north, 77 on the west, 277 on the south and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway and NODA on the east.  The panel was asked to specifically focus on the feasibility of the innovation aspect within this North End corridor that could be a catalyst for new land uses and neighborhood revitalization as well as the appropriate types of supporting uses and development to realize the area’s new vision. And we would add that as this area seeks to be known for innovation, to be so, the vision must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need.

The sponsor asked a series of strategic questions including:

1. Assess the feasibility of the “innovation corridor” concept being used as a land development and neighborhood revitalization strategy? There are a number of emerging and successful “innovation corridor/districts” throughout the U.S. and beyond.

  • How should we focus/apply a Charlotte-based “innovation corridor” strategy based on the successes of other places?
  • How can we create the environment to attract start-ups and expanding firms in innovative industries?
  • What types of industries and partnerships should we pursue?
  • How can private land owners and residents help to foster this theme and encourage the growth/expansion of the concept in this area?
  1. What types of supporting uses and development, including affordable housing (new construction and preservation of existing housing stock) should be pursued and what type of funding mechanisms and/or development incentives should be pursued to facilitate the recommended land use vision?
  • What types of public amenities will foster a vibrant business and neighborhood environment?
  • Are there specific catalyst sites best suited to facilitate this environment?
  1. What types of public investment will best catalyze private investment?

The public purpose of the innovation corridor initiative is to provide just the right amount of leadership and infrastructure necessary to encourage job growth and private investment. The City has identified some initial public projects focused in this corridor as part of our Community Investment Plan and asked the following:

  • Are these the right investments?
  • What should come first?
  • Are there additional investments we should consider?

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

The panel’s recommendations included the following:

  • Expand the street network and conceptional structure from Uptown to the North End
  • Revitalize the existing AmTrak Station to become the anchor of a new mixed-use retail center and to connect with the light rail extension
  • Recognize potential clusters in the creative, food and high tech sectors along with future retail demand that will be created
  • Develop strategies for a collaborative knowledge center
    get improvements to accomplish on-time performance.
  • Focus on human capital and ensure that the benefits of development extend to everyone in the North End
  • Establish a new Redevelopment Corporation that can independently expedite zoning and development approvals, leverage public and private investment, foster high level strategic collaborations, establish land banking that leads to catalytic development, develop a land bank, and promote the holistic redevelopment of the North End area
  • Achieve progress through constant and consistent civic engagement. A deliberately designed, ongoing public participation program with the neighbors, the businesses, other key stakeholders and the community-at-large should be developed with responsibility for regular communication through all means available, monitoring of advancement toward the Sponsor’s goals, as well as planning celebrations around wins, both small and large

 

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