Around Town

The No. 1 thing missing from 14 key Charlotte neighborhoods (plus, some honorable mentions)

Charlotte is getting more than 42 new residents a day, according to U.S. Census data. They should love it here. We love it here. But, admittedly, we would love Charlotte just a little more if our neighborhoods would get certain voids filled.

So, what does each Charlotte neighborhood desperately need? We pitch ideas for 14 neighborhoods.


No. 1 need: More ground-floor retail 

Uptown is packed with office buildings and rooftop dining/drinks spots (Fahrenheit and City Lights give great views). But beyond buying flowers, coffee, last-minute gifts or lunch, retail shopping is limited Uptown. Any need for non-bespoke clothing, sports equipment or groceries is bound to send you out to another neighborhood for errands. Or SouthPark Mall.

Latta Arcade – Uptown
Observer file photo

Other needs include:

-A classier EpiCentre.
The bar and club life here feels like party central and someplace you wouldn’t take a first date.

-More free parking. None of the parking decks is free, unless validated by a business, and metered parking is rampant (as are ticket-happy parking patrols).

-More hipster grunge. Rhino Market took the first step to shaking up the sea of suits and button-downs by opening its second quirky market location on South Church Street.

East Charlotte

No. 1 need: A plan for the Eastland Mall site

This 80-acre site has sat mostly empty since the mall was torn down in 2012. It has seen some great plans for redevelopment fall through, from a movie studio, to a Hispanic-themed mall. With up-and-coming neighborhoods starting to rise in east Charlotte and hip hangouts like Common Market Oakwold and Carolina Beer Temple in the area, the site could become a new focal point in a thriving part of the city.

The site of the former Eastland Mall site, at Central Avenue and Albemarle Road. Davie Hinshaw

Other need:

-Improved transportation infrastructure. There’s potential here. Plans for the Silver Line, a light-rail line along Independence Boulevard, would offer huge changes. Then there is the Independence Area Sidewalk and Bikeway Improvements project, with the City of Charlotte working on a plan to improve connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists in the east Charlotte area from roughly Briar Creek Road to Sardis Road North.


No. 1 need: A wine bar

NoDa has it made when it comes to breweries, with places like Heist and Divine Barrel, as well as nearby Free Range and Birdsong in Villa Heights. NoDa has it made when it comes to cocktails, with Colleen Hughes dominating at Haberdish, Crepe Cellar and Growlers. But where’s the wine bar? RIP, Dolce Vita.

Other needs include:

-More breakfast places for weekday mornings.
While Haberdish does now serve brunch and Local Loaf is open, we want more options.

-A movie theater. You can catch comedy shows, local artists and more at The Evening Muse, in addition to some larger acts at The Neighborhood Theatre. But it would be great to be able to catch mainstream movies somewhere in this ‘hood so that you basically never have to leave NoDa for anything.

-A grocery store. May it rest in peace, but even when it was there, NoDa Grocery was more like a convenience store. Now that it’s gone, there’s a definite need for a true grocery store in this neighborhood (even though Food Lion is just a hop skip and jump away). 

-A sushi spot. 
The opening of Deejai Thai’s second location was a good start.


No. 1 need: A dose of class

Yes, we see you, Good Food, and we relish your wine and small plates. But the rest of Montford is a rambunctious party strip with SouthSide, Angry Ale’s, Brazwell’s and Jeff’s Bucket Shop. Can we add a Dilworth Tasting Room or Foxcroft Wine Co. so we stop feeling like we’re 21?

Other need:

-A handle on lunch traffic. Park Road Shopping Center is a mess at lunchtime (have you seen the lines at Chopt?), and traffic in the area is bound to get worse once Shake Shack opens across from Chick-Fil-A.

A “Smoke Shack” (top) and a “Shack Burger” along with fries and a strawberry shake at this Shake Shack spot in Coral Gables, Fla. PATRICK FARRELL MIAMI HERALD STAFF


No. 1 need: A game bar

For a neighborhood that hits all the marks with dining, wine, local coffee spots (we love you, ROOTS, Sunflour and Not Just Coffee) and walkability, the nightlife could use some work. How about a version of Abari or Queen Park Social to appeal to our young professional crowd?

Queen Park SocialPhoto via Instagram (@queenparksocial)via Instagram (queenparksocial)

Other needs include:

-A dog park. Come on, Freedom Park is HUGE. Let’s add some fencing.

-A live music venue. The DJ at Tyber Creek doesn’t count.

South End

No. 1 need: a music hall

South End is popping with activity — from Inner Peaks, to breweries, to fun new restaurants (welcome, Zeppelin), to bars, to fitness studios, to the Charlotte Rail Trail. But we’ve lost two music halls — Tremont and Amos’ Southend. What’s going to fill the void?

Amos’ South End
via Meredith Jones

Other needs include:

-A Common Market. It’s coming (hopefully by summer), and Lincoln’s Haberdashery is now open and adding that one-stop-shop element.

-Culture. What IS South End, exactly? An art gallery hub? Brewery territory? A network of high-rise apartments and fast-casual eateries?

common market RIP
RIP Common Market South End. Photo by Katie Toussaint


No. 1 need: A brewery

SouthPark nailed it when it came to opening swanky restaurants (from The Palm to Oak Steakhouse) and sparkling wine bars (from Corkbuzz to Foxcroft Wine Co.). Now let’s get the laid-back brewhouse vibe flowing and bring in some breweries. The neighborhood is on the right path, with Legion Brewing opening its second location along Carnegie Boulevard this fall.

Other need:

-More pedestrian friendly paths. Road congestion is crazy around here during rush hour (and perpetually around the mall), and a car is very much necessary for navigating the area. Already in the works: The consideration of 45 potential projects to enhance sidewalks and trails for pedestrians and cyclists. Yes, please.

The city of Charlotte is considering building a “Cultural Loop” in SouthPark, an enhanced sidewalk with landscaping and public art. It would be modeled after the $63 million Indianapolis Cultural Train (pictured here). Hadley Fruits Photography and Indianapolis Cultural Trail


No. 1 need: A dive bar.

Dear Ballantyne area, you are so pristine with your elegant golf course, spa and resort, not to mention your shopping center developments with classy places to dine, from Ballantyne Village to Waverly. Let’s get you a dive bar. Something like Thirsty Beaver meets Snug Harbor, for the combo of old-school cheap drinks and live music venue.

Other needs include:

-A brewery.
Although Growler USA in the Toringdon Circle shopping center does the trick for now.

-A light rail stop. Fun fact: It costs about $18 to take a Lyft from South End to Ballantyne, or up to three bus rides. Let’s get that light rail extension heading farther south.


No. 1 need: Public art.

Elizabeth is a cheerful destination for arts events (from performances at CPCC’s Halton Theater to concerts at the Visulite Theatre), not to mention dining out. But beyond the designs on the shelters at the streetcar stops, there’s not much to notice in terms of public art. New murals, anyone?

Other need:

-An MLS Stadium. As the Observer reported in October, Charlotte’s bid to land a Major League Soccer expansion team is officially dead for now. One major issue was the indecision over using public money to support the proposed $175 million soccer facility on the site of Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth.

MLS stadium rendering
A conceptual rendering of the stadium that has been proposed to lure a Major League Soccer team to Charlotte. Courtesy of MLS4CLT

Plaza Midwood

No. 1 need: Public transit.

This neighborhood has bus stops, BOGO sushi (thank you, Akahana) dive bars (long live the Beav) and amazing brunch options (Workman’s Friend, you never let us down). But if you don’t live there, it’s a pain to get there and park, especially if you have multiple destinations. And it’s a pedestrian nightmare. Let’s make that extension of the streetcar from Elizabeth Avenue up Central Avenue happen sooner rather than later.

Central Avenue Plaza Midwood
2017 Observer file photo

Other needs include:

-A specialty foods market. Sure, Harris Teeter gets the job done and has a smashing view of the skyline, but the closing of Healthy Home Market hurts.

-More surface parking. It’s risky business parking in the lot where Bistro La Bon is, if you’re not a patron, and parking is super limited along Central Avenue. Our best bet now is neighborhood side streets. (Neighbors, do you hate us?)

University City

No. 1 need: More of an obvious draw for non-residents

Yes, University City is home to UNC Charlotte, a greenway system and PNC Music Pavilion, but what should really draw people in from other areas? The neighborhood took a strong step with last year’s first University City Wine Festival. Let’s keep that momentum.

Other needs include:

-Easier access. It’s a hike to get out here if you live and work near Uptown. Good thing the light rail extension is coming next month.

Charlotte Observer archives Diedra Laird


No. 1 need: More independent coffee shop options

Starbucks and Panera are easy to find, and so are fun dining options like Improper Pig and Leroy Fox. But the closest independent coffee shop from Cotswold Village is probably Julie’s Cafe off of North Wendover Road or Not Just Coffee’s location on Providence Road. More local coffee, please!

Harris Teeter Cotswold
2015 Observer file photo DDR Corp.

Other needs include:

-Better walkability to restaurants and shops.
You pretty much need to pick a shopping center and park if you’re planning to roam on foot, since Cotswold is cut by crazy busy streets like Providence Road and South Sharon Amity Road.

-More night life options. A mainstream movie theater and a live music venue would be a solid start.

West Charlotte

No. 1 need: More local businesses

West Charlotte is charming with its greenway access, cool hangouts like Rhino Market, and amazing dining spots like Savor and Pinky’s Westside Grill. But more local businesses just like them could flip the neighborhood into the next South End or Plaza Midwood.

Pinky’s Westside Grillvia Instagram (charlottefaturdays)via Instagram (charlottefaturdays)

Other needs include:

-More independent coffee shops. CupLux really opened the door here, planting itself firmly up Freedom Drive. Enderly Coffee has a brick and mortar in the works, but what else is coming? A bakery would be nice…

-Better walkability. Freedom Drive is a monster to navigate on foot.

Myers Park

No. 1 need: A brewery

Things are feeling a little high-end around here — but hey, we love Petit Philippe for wine, Little Spoon for laid-back brunch and Reid’s Fine Foods for a scrumptious salad. But the closest concept to a chill beer spot is Selwyn Pub, and that place gets crowded. Wouldn’t a brewery look nice on the Booty Loop?

Other needs include:

-A less confusing road system. How did Providence/Providence/Queens/Queens seem like a good idea?

-Easier parking. The lots along Selwyn Avenue are madness.

Featured photo: Justin Driscoll