Surface parking lots. We all hate them (unless you love cheap parking, then whatever).
But as much as we dislike them, they do provide a blank canvas for future development — giving the center city tons more room to grow.
I went through each surface parking lot in Uptown to create the map below. Many of them already are spoken for and are the imminent home of development projects. But others have significant barriers to becoming something productive.
Let’s first start with the lots that are earmarked for future development.
1) Gateway Station development. There are a ton of surface parking lots that will become part of this development. Stretching from 3rd Street to 9th Street along the train tracks, these are all a part of the future development tied to the project.
[Agenda story: Will Uptown one day have a booming “Station District”?]
2) Polk Building. Northwood Ravin owns this lot bounded by Wilkes, Graham, Trade and 5th streets. Northwood intends to tear down historic Polk Building, which is a shame because I am sure there is some way, shape or form to save it with enough money and effort.
That said, they plan for apartments and retail. My pie-in-the-sky idea would be for North Carolina to legalize gambling — and the Polk Building becoming a casino.
3) Jonas Courthouse Annex. This thing is going on the surface lot behind the existing historic federal courthouse. Government money, looks awful, enough said.
4) Charles Johnson’s firehouse restaurant. This is the firehouse/lot next to the Vue. Johnson plans to convert the firehouse to a nice restaurant.
5) Potential condo lot. The surface lot parking at Graham Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is ownand by a LLC and has long been rumored to eventually develop into a condo building. We need condos.
6) Ally Charlotte Center aka Tryon Place. This project is at Tryon and Stonewall streets where the Goodyear building used to be.
[Agenda story: Uptown will be getting a new bank tower — Ally Charlotte Center]
7) Duke Energy mixed use. Duke is going to build a massive mixed use project (office for sure, hotel likely).
8) Brooklyn Village. Bounded by Stonewall, 3rd, McDowell and Alexander streets, this project will be filled with retail, hotels, office and residential.
9) Market 42. The high-rise apartment tower and retail venture from Lennar Properties is a piece of land that Levine Properties relinquished control of at College and 8th streets.
[Agenda story: This new tower could jumpstart North Tryon’s development]
10) 10Tryon. Publix and office going in front of the Skyhouse apartment buildings on Tryon. Super cool project and should be breaking ground soon.
Going through all these lots, it’s amazing to see that so many of our surface canvases (isn’t that better sounding than “parking lots”?) are already slated for development.
Now let’s take a high-level look at who owns the rest of the land.
The vast majority of the lots remaining are owned by private owners (shown in blue on the map above). Some plots of land have four or more owners just in a single block. It is quite fascinating to see the random family trusts that were smart enough to buy Uptown land way back when. They’ll make a tidy profit.
Between the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the Charlotte Housing Authority, a solid chunk of surface canvases belong to the public.
This can really be beneficial, as government leaders can be choosy about who they sell the land — and can evaluate a sale based on what the plans for the development are.
The Hal Marshall land on North Tryon Street is so incredibly important for the future of Uptown — could it be home to Amazon? — and luckily it is mostly in control of Mecklenburg County. I have faith they will sell to developers doing high-quality projects.
Ah, the dreaded parking company. They make so much money from land banking the lots they own.
Preferred owns some very important lots in Third Ward, including the surface lot behind Trademark, the lot in-front of Ink N Ivy, and a good chunk of the “Green’s Lunch” lot.
I don’t have much hope they will sell these assets, but they should. Third Ward is now the coolest area of uptown and the surface canvases can be so much more beneficial than they are now.
There’s nothing more to say here. They’ve been promising development for decades and nothing has happened except a parking deck that looks abandoned and an underwhelming park.
Bank of America actually still owns some very important pieces of land yet to be developed. With their constant support of Uptown, I have faith they will do some fantastic projects with their land.
First Citizens Bank has also been land-banking their surface lot at Church and 4th streets for quite some time, so I hope the time is coming that they develop it into something fantastic.
North Carolina Railroad
The railroad owns perhaps my least favorite surface canvas uptown. The giant lot between the light rail, Brevard, 3rd and 4th streets is a MASSIVE opportunity to whoever develops it.
Side note, they also own the plot of land on the other side of the tracks next to Charlotte Plaza’s parking deck.
First Presbyterian Church owns my second least favorite surface canvas uptown. This is the giant lot next to the church between Pine, Poplar, 5th and Trade streets.
Once again, it’s a massive opportunity for development as all four sides of the project could support retail. Hopefully, they can save the Builders Building.
[Agenda story: Should this 1920s uptown building be saved?]
With all this surface parking, there is a ton of opportunity left Uptown.
It is on our leaders to ensure we get the development we deserve rather than a lot of the bare minimum they have approved over the years.