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by Dennis Marsoun

October 3,2004

There used to be a show on PBS called, “James Burke’s Connections.“ It explored how seemingly unrelated events converged to cause a major directional shift.

There are events that have taken place in the recent past, and continue today, that lead me to observe a major directional shift in the City of Charlotte.

About eight years ago, the city, with support from NationsBank (BofA), made the commitment to replace Earl Village, located in the First Ward, with a landscape of mixed-income properties.

After this process was underway, CMS rebuilt First Ward Elementary School, and Trinity Episcopal School decided to replace trailers with a brick and mortar school. Currently, Metro School is rebuilding its campus for educationally-challenged students in Second Ward. And, it should be noted that the old “Super Block” Urban Renewal method long hated by Jane Jacobs, a noted city planner, is being changed by the reconnection of both Davidson and Alexander Streets to Stonewall Street (more to come in future issues about Jane Jacobs).

Add to that the nearly complete ImaginOn, which combines elements of the Children’s Theatre and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library, located near the new arena site.

These are all infrastructure events that are leading to a common point, and that point is the return of the family to the center city.

I recently changed careers and obtained a real estate license. My focus is the Uptown area. As I begin to work with clients, I’m finding that the people who wish to move to the city are not just empty nesters, and not just bank transplants who are used to living in cities, but families.

A lot of the people I am working with have babies. These babies will one day go to the schools I mentioned above.

A good friend, and fellow board member on the Friends of Fourth Ward, has two pre-school children and chose to move to the city. Both he and his wife believe that the best place to raise a child is in the city.

The Fourth Ward now has a child population of almost forty! On one block alone on 10th Street in First Ward, there are seven families in single family homes with twelve children under the age of fifteen. This may not sound like a lot, but for Uptown Charlotte, it is earth-shaking news.

So, where do connections come in?

All these events started almost with a life of their own, and now they are all interwoven and will not stop here. More families will make the decision to live Uptown. Pressure will be put on CMS to make schools available within the loop for city families.

Perhaps someday when the new Federal Court House is built, someone other than me will realize that the current Charles Jonas Federal Court House would make a perfect downtown high school.

If only I could get James Burke to come here to tie up all the loose ends.

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