Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Sponsors: ULI Foundation; city of Charlotte; Johnson C. Smith University; Johnson & Wales University; Charlotte Center City Partners; and the Bank of America
Chair: Leigh Ferguson
Subject Area: Economic Growth and Development
The Panel’s Assignment
In June 2010, the city of Charlotte invited a ULI Advisory Services panel to evaluate and make recommendations on a host of issues associated with the economic development and revitalization along the West Trade Street and Beatties Ford Road corridor.
Summary of Recommendations
The panel’s recommendations revolve around the following prominent ideas.
Act on the Development Program
Redevelopment of the corridor is a multiphased initiative to incorporate appropriate services and amenities that will complement and be supported by this important educational and residential community. This program should include JCSU’s off-campus development plans that help foster a critical mass of retail services using the student and neighborhood populations as the drivers. Examples of these catalytic projects include a bookstore–coffee shop immediately adjacent to the university.
Improve the West Trade Street/I-77 Underpass
The panel recommends a focused look at improving both vehicular and pedestrian access on the West Trade Street underpass, including use of a contemporary urban lighting program coupled with art lighting such as a Jumbotron-style display, reader board, or interactive media wall that could be programmed by JCSU. In addition, the panel recommends one or more art displays that are capable of accommodating frequent changes near the underpass for art exhibits from university activities. These treatments will act as enticements to open up the area west of I-77 for patrons of Uptown and Gateway Village.
Create an Academic Center of Excellence
The panel recommends identifying a specific site adjacent to the West Trade Street corridor on which to locate an elementary or middle school that is connected to JCSU and the neighborhood. A school will support a greater JCSU role in the education mission of the neighborhoods and provide a long-term link between the university and the neighborhoods.
Identify and Enhance Cultural Elements
The panel recommends a new focus on the heritage of the study area’s African American community as a means to connect JCSU with the new multimodal train station and the cultural attractions in Uptown. This connection could include signage and wayfinding elements for a cultural trail and rehabilitating the Pharr building as a theater to anchor the northern end of the corridor.
Establish a Formula for Financing and Governance
The panel recommends a specific financing plan to undertake the development program, specifically the catalytic bookstore proposal. This strategy also suggests a governance formula that lays out roles and courses of action for the city, JCSU, a not-for-profit developer, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Development Corporation, Charlotte Center City Partners, and others to move forward in the near term.