Over the past couple of months, I have seen, heard and read about ideas to rebrand the area from Park Road Shopping Center down to Selwyn Avenue. This area has been a part of Charlotte culture for longer than I have lived and has only become more popular over the years. My argument is that it doesn’t need RE-branding, it just needs to be branded.
As a native Charlottean, Park Road Shopping Center has always been a regular destination spot for my family. From the old barber shop in the shopping center where the kids played with fake dinosaurs while waiting to get our haircuts to the Pizza Hut on Montford Drive when my grandmother piled me and nine of my cousins in her station wagon so we could terrorize the staff and other patrons at the restaurant.
George Pappas was a rainy Saturday activity with Grandma as she watched arguments between my brothers and I and typically ended with me pouting and my oldest brother winning. Where did my Grandma tell us we were going? Montford.
We can’t forget about baseball, soccer, basketball and birthday parties at Godfathers Pizza, now Fuel Pizza. I can’t even begin to remember how many times I was dared to jump over the second level railing. Where were these parties? Montford.
There was a gap between soccer parties and my 21st birthday where I didn’t visit Montford much. Teenagers are awkward anyway so it’s good to have this time to miss Montford. There were a few months I worked at the Wing Stop where Polka Dot Bake Shop is. I gained 10 pounds and realized me working at a food place was a bad idea. Many of my friends worked at stores around Montford so we would visit frequently. But after that 21st birthday, Montford became the place to go… again.
I have many clouded memories walking back to 1420 Magnolia where I would crash on friends couches with hoarse voices thanks to “The Bucket” and Journey and Old Crow Medicine Show songs. Or having entirely too many people on the Angry Ale’s patio drinking tall boys. Many of these nights ended with trike drifting down the parking deck at 2 in the morning.
Montford is so diverse that this is where the wedding party goes for the after-party. There is nothing better than dancing at Angry Ales in tuxes and wedding dresses at 1 a.m. with a PBR tall boy in your hand.
Throughout all of these events and milestones in my life that I remember and even more that I don’t, this area is and has always been called Montford.
Working in property management, I am often asked by out-of-towners looking for apartments for fun things to do in Charlotte. My go-to response is Montford. This area has anything you could think of for a fun night in Charlotte. And for all age groups and demographics. Tons of people, fun activities, good food, shopping and awesome beer.
If there is any doubt that this is a lively area, try finding a parking spot on a Friday or Saturday night unless you’re going to Andrew Blair’s, or whatever it is now. Their parking is always open.
As an adult, I still find myself on Montford on most Friday and Saturday nights, whether it be at Moosehead getting the best wings in ‘Merica, Blackened! or waiting for a bowling lane to open on a Saturday night and getting a text at 12:45 when I’m already in bed that my lane is now available. Fridays I’m at Cantina 1511, eating my body weight in chips and green salsa and giving the bartenders a hard time for getting rid of the duck tacos. Or I’m having beers with friends at Duckworth’s. Where did I take my girlfriend of nearly three years on our first “real” date? Good Food on Montford for sticky buns and delicious cocktails. You better believe we were at the Brazwells patio directly after dinner for drinks with friends.
Montford is already a destination. So why change a name of something that already has a name?
Take a look at other Charlotte neighborhoods.
Dilworth is a historic streetcar suburb. What road winds through this beautiful neighborhood? Dilworth Road East and West.
Wilmore. Wilmore Drive goes right through the middle of it.
Ballantyne has Ballantyne Commons Parkway. Might as well be I-Ballantyne.
Different cities. Washington, DC neighborhoods are only named by street names. Mostly because it’s too confusing to be named anything else. Thanks L’Enfant. Can you guess where the U Street neighborhood is?
Where do you go when you’re in Chapel Hill? Franklin Street.
How about Savannah? River Street.
To me and the majority of everyone else from a Axios Charlotte poll, we call it Montford anyway. There is no reason to change something that has a history already and is so easy to brand. We just have to formally brand it. We can put up fancy signs when you get on Park Road from Fairview that say “Welcome to Montford.” We can put a pretty sticker on the trash cans like in South End or hang flags off the lights poles along Park Road. All of this will be great and will only add to the atmosphere that Montford delivers.
David French has a painting of Montford. Try to give me a better reason to name it anything but Montford.
Some of the other names like Park-Woodlawn, Mad Park, Greenway Park — these don’t have anything to do with the draw of this area. No offense to the developers in this area, but naming something after yourself isn’t the best idea in Charlotte, either. I understand why you might want to but after many failed attempts to name our properties The Howell, I am now glad this was shot down early.
This is just one opinion from a native Charlottean, but Montford has a history and it has a name. So let’s keep it Montford.
Reach Eric on Twitter @ehowell86