The facelift of Independence Boulevard came one step closer Tuesday as planners showed how they would bring the former retail destination back to life.
City-hired consultants have presented plans that would replace eyesores and vacant storefronts with mixed-use development and major retail outlets .
Displayed Tuesday at a public meeting, the plan focuses on five areas along Independence: Coliseum Drive, Coliseum Center, Conference Drive, Village Lake Drive and Sardis Road North. Each section would be used for mixed-use development, including retail, single-family homes and high-end rental properties.
“I think they have given us some dynamite ideas,” said Nancy Carter, the Charlotte City Council member who represents much of the area. “What I really like is their plans also respect the existing neighborhoods.”
Tom Warshauer, Charlotte's economic development manager, highlighted two locations: the nearly vacant Coliseum Center, and the stretch between Idlewild Road and Conference Drive.
The Coliseum Center has long been a problem in the area. Wal-Mart has been looking at moving to land near the old strip mall. Most residents feel the run-down area has been a drag on the community for years.
Warshauer said the plan calls for a public road to be built along Independence, which would service Wal-Mart, as well as retail and residential development on the land. The road would feed up to Wendover Road and allow for easier .
At Conference Drive, consultants are suggesting a large development that could be home to a major regional draw, like a Target. “You have everything you need there for a real town center,” Warshauer said.
In 1989, N.C. DOT widened a segment of Independence up to Sharon Amity Road. The boulevard had been a busy thoroughfare with six lanes of traffic and thriving businesses.
The new road featured an impassable median and no stoplights, making it hard for customers to get to businesses.
Last April, the City Council approved a $400,000 study aimed at revitalizing Independence. Glatting Jackson, the firm hired by the city, also worked with the Charlotte Area Transit System on light-rail stations.
The consultants will work on the plan up until the New Year, turning it over to the City Council sometime in February. Leaders could take up to six months to review the plan and decide whether to pass it.