At a standing room-only meeting Thursday night in a church off Statesville Avenue, residents, developers and local officials shared their hopes and plans for an area poised to boom – and fundamentally change.
Dubbed the North End, the land from uptown along Statesville Avenue and Tryon Street up to Atando Avenue is on the cusp of a big surge of new developments. A local representative of ATCO, a New York firm that bought 1 million square feet of vacant industrial space last year, sketched out plans to renovate it and turn the area into a new commercial development.
Mecklenburg County officials outlined the new aquatic center and Druid Hills Park. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership explained plans for expanding Brightwalk, the mixed-income development that’s drawn hundreds of new residents, and possibly adding a grocery store near Statesville and Norris Avenue.
The meeting was cordial and even lighthearted at times, with many residents saying they were looking forward to the investment in new facilities and parks that they’ve long wanted. As one neighborhood activist remarked to me, no one yelled at the developers.
But the subtext of big changes coming persisted: With an area that’s home to long-established but sometimes challenged neighborhoods such as Druid Hills and Genesis Park seeing a big influx of new money, residents and businesses, people are paying attention.
Darryl Gaston, president of the Druid Hills Neighborhood Association, said many residents are concerned with the potential changes, and keeping a close eye on issues such as displacement. He summed up the conundrum that comes with new development, and that’s likely to play out over the coming years in the North End:
“It’s either going to be reinvestment...or it can be gentrification,” said Gaston.