Oakhurst has been trendy for awhile. A group of neighborhoods is now looking for a little more love farther south on Monroe Road.
The group calls itself the Monroe Road Advocates, and their area encompass the neighborhoods south of Oakhurst from roughly Sharon Amity Road to Sardis Road North.
It’s a part of town that’s kind of isolated from the rest of east Charlotte because of Independence Boulevard but is full of a lot of established middle-class neighborhoods.
It’s a good time to rally around the area. A huge project — Meridian Place — is underway.
This is a 20-acre retail, apartment, office and restaurant development. So far, a McDonald’s (exciting, right?) has opened and the first tenants have moved into the M Station apartments next door. Soon there will be a 30,000-square foot office building and a 10,000-square-foot retail building.
(It’s worth noting that this development replaced the low-income Silver Oaks apartments. The transition was botched terribly, and forced hundreds of families out of their long-term homes with little warning.)
There’s also, of course, continuing talks about a “Silver Line” that would bring mass transit down the Monroe Road corridor. No firm info on what exactly this will be.
Hawthorne’s NY Pizza was just announced Monday as an anchor retail tenant.
The building will begin construction in April and finish by fall.
The Monroe Road Advocates want to carve out a piece of all this for community space.
Last month, the group was named a finalist in the Knight Cities Challenge competition. Their “Foodie Court for Monroe Road” concept would create a community gathering place, decorated with public art, that regularly hosts interactive events, community gardens, food trucks, open-air dining and entertainment.
This would meet a huge need, the advocates say. Quote from their application: “Despite recent commercial development, quality public schools, and our discerning, educated, middle-economic demographic, Charlotte’s perception of our area continues to be less than optimal.”
One reason? “There are no grocery stores, no coffee shops, no bakeries, no farmers markets, no community gardens,” said Leslie Scott, one of the Monroe Road Advocates leaders.
Developer Roy Goode has been supportive so far, offering up a piece of the land for the group to get together for things like a Christmas tree lighting.
Their goal is to get the project underway over the summer.
Things would start with a formal launch event, construction of furniture and installation of a shipping container to serve as a shelter. They also want a weekly food truck rally.
Next year would bring construction of a community garden, a farmers market and a regular event series with local sponsors.