Historians have set their sites on protecting northeast Charlotte’s Belmont community from the same unbridled redevelopment that turned South End into a series of dorm-like apartment buildings.
Their starting point: The pre-1910 Alex Phifer Grocery Store at 1125 Belmont Ave.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission says it is studying whether the building should be given landmark status. Such a designation would allow the city to offer preservation incentives to save it from being destroyed.
“The Belmont neighborhood has one of the largest collections of historic streetscapes in Charlotte,” historian Dan Morrill said in a statement.
“Belmont is also the best preserved early 20th century working class neighborhood in Charlotte. Protecting Belmont’s historic built environment should be a priority.”
The name “Alex Phifer” can still be seen on a recessed brick panel near the top of the front facade. Phifer once represented Belmont on the Charlotte Board of Aldermen, historians say.
Work began on his two-story brick store in 1896, at a time when there were no automobiles in Charlotte. Streetcar service was also unavailable at the time, Morrill said, making residents of the area totally reliant on a neighborhood store for food.
The current owner of the site supports historic landmark designation, Morrill says. “He also believes that the current residential zoning of the property is outdated and should be changed,” Morrill said.
Historians would like to see the building adapted for reuse in a way that keeps it located in the same spot.
The next step is for the Historic Landmarks Commission to produce a report documenting the history of the Alex Phifer Grocery Store. That will begin soon, Morrill said.
The Charlotte City Council will ultimately decide whether the Alex Phifer Grocery Store becomes a historic landmark.