My tour of the neighborhoods (Seversville, Biddleville and Wesley Heights) in historic West Charlotte has been an educational experience for me. I have learned the history behind the communities and have heard, firsthand, from the residents about how they want to continue to build their communities and change the outside negative perceptions that have plagued their neighborhoods.
The Greater Enderly Park Neighborhood is another community in west Charlotte that faces change over the next years as the city’s development expands. My guided tour through its winding tree-lined streets gave me a view of quaint 1920s bungalows, 1940s cottages, 1960s brick homes and a few duplexes. There were not many run-down or vacant apartment buildings.
Several brick churches are scattered throughout the community. The Milestone Club music venue sits on Tuckaseegee Road, the main street that runs through the neighborhood, and has been a Charlotte landmark since 1969.
A few automotive shops, convenience stores and small shops operate on this main road as well.
Frank Byers, a 15-year resident, is the newly elected president of the Greater Enderly Park Neighborhood Association. In this position, Byers hopes to see how the local businesses can support the neighborhood. As new people move in, Byers wants them to be involved and active in shaping the neighborhood.
“People keep an eye out for one another,” said Sheri Borges, a three-year resident of Enderly Park. “It is a community.”
Another resident, Kelia Hagens, who has lived all her 24 years in this community, said, “Come feel it out for yourself. The sun does shine on the West side.”
Tony Santoro, owner of Enderly Coffee and a nine-year resident of Enderly Park neighborhood, has enjoyed the local park and taking walks with his young family. “It feels like a safe and normal neighborhood 90-95 percent of the time,” he said.
Enderly Park is poised to be another neighborhood swept into the changes happening throughout west Charlotte, as projects come to nearby Wesley Heights and Seversville. You might hear the word “gentrification” thrown around to describe these changes. It is a controversial word, usually describing an influx of wealthy residents into a poorer neighborhood. Sometimes the history of the neighborhood is forgotten and older residents are pushed out.
Community leaders and residents in Enderly Park want developers to find a balance between positive changes and honoring the current community living there. They want a say in how their community is revitalized. They realize that their close location to uptown and exceptional views of the skyline make their neighborhood attractive to real estate developers.
According to Skye McMahan with Bird Dog Group, a development company in the Charlotte area, there are no immediate plans for any large development projects. For the past few years, investors have been purchasing houses in Enderly Park for quick flips or rentals.
Greg and Helms Jarrell, 10-year residents of Enderly Park, started a neighborhood organization called QC Family Tree. Its purpose is to work with their fellow residents to build and strengthen the neighborhood by creating opportunities for mentoring and jobs and collaborating with other community organizers.
Assistant professor at Charlotte School of Law, Rocky Cabagnot is the supervising attorney for the Community Economic Development Clinic, which has worked with QC Family Tree and Enderly Park residents. Affordable housing opportunities are important to the residents and its leaders. Developing a Community Land Trust, a non-profit organization that protects the neighborhood, may be their next step in ensuring that encroaching development meets the needs of the current community.
Educating the residents on what to expect as development unfolds is part of the Jarrells’ mission. In the Newsletter for Greater Enderly, Greg outlined what change could look like in the community: breweries, coffee shops, new apartments and homes being torn down. Greg gently shared information about change and its inevitability, but makes it clear that the choice to sell or stay belongs to the residents.
“This is a neighborhood with a richly textured social fabric,” Greg said. “Some may not see the value from the outside.”
Photos: Vanessa Infanzon; Greg Jarrell; Lesley-Ann Tommey