Fresh asphalt on four miles of uptown streets, and plants along some freeways. New benches, lighting and signage at the EpiCentre. A 60-foot statue at the airport.
One doesnt have to look far to notice that many areas of the Queen City have seen some sprucing up in recent months.
And the efforts will be on full display when the Democratic National Convention rolls into town in two weeks.
Officials stress that many of the projects, including all that road resurfacing uptown, were already in the works long before the city was picked to host the DNC.
They also say many of the improvements will continue to benefit Charlotte well after the convention is over.
At the same time, though, they acknowledge the upcoming convention one of the largest events in the citys history did accelerate the desire to finish some projects.
The DNC provided a deadline, said Moira Quinn, a spokeswoman for Charlotte Center City Partners, which will soon launch an advertising campaign with other area organizations for the convention.
For example, resurfacing uptown has been on the citys to-do list for some time as other development occurred in the area during the past five to seven years.
The city decided to go ahead with the resurfacing this year after a lot of construction work in uptown had been completed, said Linda Durrett, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte Department of Transportation.
But officials timed the work to have much of it finished well before the DNC, and Durrett said warmer-than-normal weather allowed them to start the resurfacing in February.
In all, the city is spending about $840,000 in state money to resurface 4.2 miles of streets within the Interstate 277 loop, Durrett said.
Dozens of roads in other parts of the city also are getting a new surface.
The eyes of the world on you
Meanwhile, state transportation crews are keeping up their regular maintenance, while also repairing potholes quickly and making sure signs are visible near uptown.
In a move just for the convention, theyre also installing plants along freeways and interstates near uptown and the airport.
In the coming days, theyll plant knockout roses around I-277 and South Boulevard, said N.C. DOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson.
Thompson said the department began planning for the convention in the winter, and is using about $300,000 from a maintenance fund for the cleanup efforts on state-maintained areas.
Its a special event, Thompson said. Its something thats never happened here before and the department wants to work with the city and other agencies to put the (best) foot forward.
The road projects, while some of the more visible changes, are only a piece of the work thats been under way across the city.
Wireless carriers such as Time Warner Cable and AT&T have announced millions in upgrades to wireless systems uptown and elsewhere in the city for use during and after the convention. The Foundation for the Carolinas is building a park on a vacant lot in front of the old Carolina Theatre.
At Charlotte Douglas International Airport, work has just finished on the $26 million terminal eastside expansion, said Jerry Orr, the airports aviation director.
And work is also under way to construct a new hourly parking deck, which will cost $120 million over two phases.
Orr said the two projects are part of the airports ongoing capital-improvement plan and have nothing to do with the DNC.
Convention visitors stand to benefit from the bigger terminal, however, and the airport also plans to add more than a dozen temporary directional signs on airport roads in preparation for the DNC, Orr said.
Theyll be out prior to the weekend that the delegates start arriving, Orr said. We just rented them.
EpiCentre renovation almost ready
Meanwhile, a long-anticipated bike-sharing program got up and running this summer. Charlotte B-Cycle is primarily designed for uptown commuters and residents, and Quinn said temporary rental stations will be set up during the DNC to let residents and visitors continue to use the program.
At the EpiCentre, crews are finishing up the first phase of a $15 million renovation to the entertainment complex.
A new valet stand and art are being added, along with better signs and lighting and security camera upgrades.
Spokesman Ed Camp said the work has been in the works since this spring when new owners took over the property.
The new owners (already) wanted to elevate the level of the complex, Camp said. but having the eyes of the world on you certainly advances that deadline.
Staff Writer Elisabeth Arriero contributed