Residents in Charlotte’s Cherry neighborhood are celebrating.
The historically African American community at the center city’s southern border is 125 years old this year.
Cherry is more diverse today, but longtime residents such as Sylvia Bittle-Patton said people who live there are proud of what they have preserved. They’ve also taken steps to protect their community’s future.
The Charlotte City Council this year approved a land-use plan for Cherry that is designed to protect its bungalow homes and other assets such as its school and park.
The plan also will make it harder for condos, apartments and other dense development to replace homes.
On Monday, the council also will consider additional measures to protect Cherry, which Bittle-Patton said many now regard as a jewel because of its location near uptown, green spaces and, of course, its housing.
The average home prices in Cherry are now more than $350,000, according to the city’s 2010 neighborhood study.
The Second Ward neighborhood known as Brooklyn, by contrast, has little to represent its former residential character and African American heritage.
Brooklyn, once regarded by many of its residents as “a city within a city,” was swept away for urban renewal in the 1960s.
“A lot of people in Cherry remember Brooklyn and Second Ward,” Biddle-Patton said. “A part of what we’re doing is in tribute to some of our sister communities that didn’t survive.”
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission began developing policies about a decade ago to protect neighborhoods surrounding uptown, said Kent Main, planning coordinator.
Cherry, Belmont, Dilworth, Elizabeth and others were making a come-back, often facing pressure from developers to open up to projects that were big and sometimes far bigger than anything else in the area, Main said.
Cherry’s borders include Henley Place, Queens Road, Kings Drive, and East Third Street. The latter three include commercial land that might allow bigger projects.
Tall buildings along Cherry’s borders or in the other neighborhoods would not be a good fit, residents told local planners.
The area plan adopted by the city council in February recommends limits for development along those borders and within the neighborhood.
Midtown and neighborhoods along Morehead also are included in the same plan. Similar recommendations for limiting building heights are recommended for those areas.
The council also will consider rezoning the land on Cherry’s interior streets. Several homes on South Torrence Street sit on land that is zoned for up to 22 residential units per acre.
The high-density probably was put in place decades ago, Main said.
“A lot of things like that happened in the ’60s and ’70s,” Main said. “It’s been a concern that we could lose those (homes) to someone building what they’re allowed to build.”
Residents pushed for all of the changes the council is considering, to update a land-use plan adopted about two decades ago.
The latest steps being considered will help make sure that Cherry’s identity is intact so that future generations might understand the significance of its history.
“We are in celebratory mood at this point,” Biddle-Patton said. “We don’t want to see historical sites demolished. We don’t want to see the open space disappear. We don’t want to see the affordable housing disappear. That is why the area plan was so important to us.”