Over four decades, SouthPark developed from a cow pasture to one of Charlotte’s largest commercial centers. As the area continues to boom, the city government is now preparing to invest money in its next phase of development.
The question is: How best to use it?
The SouthPark area is in line to receive $10 million from the city of Charlotte for a host of projects aimed at making it both easier on the eyes and easier to get around.
The money comes from the community investment bonds that voters are asked to approve every two years. Other neighborhoods that have received money so far include the West Trade area, Beatties Ford, Central Avenue, Prosperity Village and Ayrsley.
SouthPark could receive more than the $10 million if more bonds are approved in the coming years. The city’s money will build on the massive private investments that continue to be made in the area.
A lot of SouthPark’s problems are clear.
The effort builds on the think-tank Charlotte convened to discuss SouthPark’s problems and potential last spring.
Some of these problems are blatantly obvious — like SouthPark’s traffic-choked streets. Others are more nuanced, like the desire to break up the large blocks to make the area more walkable.
[Agenda story: 7 ideas for fixing SouthPark]
The same general problems are resurfacing in the city of Charlotte’s listening sessions. People are clamoring for more attractive streets, more green space, and more bikeable and walkable areas. Basically, something that’s less car-dominant.
But SouthPark’s advantages are clear as well.
SouthPark’s central business district, including the mall and numerous office buildings, is surrounded by 64 of Charlotte’s most desirable neighborhoods to live in. The surrounding schools are strong and crime is low.
Here are some of the ideas on the table.
1) Improve and add to green space.
This could involve both improving Symphony Park and adding another larger space conducive to hosting events.
Related ideas include building more greenway connections between green spaces, building pocket parks and playgrounds and adding fitness equipment along trails.
One proposal is to add a walking trail parallel to Fairview Road (A on the map below), and another on the south side of the Whole Foods (H and G).
2) Make it easier to walk and bike around.
Proposals include adding bike lanes and bike stations around SouthPark. Others involve adding more sidewalks, improving intersections to make them easier to cross on foot, and making the streetscape more inviting.
3) Create a sense of place
This could involve adding more public art, or creating a signature, recognizable entrance to the neighborhood.
Other proposals include creating more spaces to people-watch or relax, a la Romare Bearden Park.
City staff will have a list of potential projects by late November.
They’re spending the next few weeks listening before compiling feedback into a proposal. By February, the city should be ready to move forward.