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Reviving Piedmont Courts

by Dennis Marsoun

June 3,2004

The recent announcement of the HUD grant of $20 million for the renovation of Piedmont Courts is welcome news that will have a significant impact on Charlotte and the Uptown area.

Located outside the loop of the Brookshire Freeway, off the corner of Tenth and Twelfth Streets, Piedmont Courts is ready for renewal.

One of my running routes takes me past the area at least twice a week. The buildings, fashioned after images I have seen of World War II army barracks, are small and tired looking. Despair has led to piles of trash deposited at various spots, including on the banks of Little Sugar Creek. Resentment has grown as nearby communities have revived with public support and Piedmont Courts has been left behind. That will soon change.

The neighborhood has some unique advantages. It is within walking distance of Uptown. There are a number of bus routes that skirt the area, and the ability to connect to other forms of transportation is excellent.

Just across the Brookshire is the bustling Garden District in First Ward. Born from the fields that once held Earle Village, the Garden District has more than filled its
promise of bringing diversity and a mix of housing to the community. The promise of Piedmont Courts to continue that type of infill is exciting.

The renovation of Piedmont Courts, which will be a part of infrastructure and housing upgrades throughout the Belmont neighborhood, will bring increased home ownership and social integration, as well as a likely reduction in crime.

As impressive as the proposed renovation of Piedmont Courts is, the best part is that it will provide hope to those living in the Charlotte Housing Authority assisted units. There will likely be policies and requirements in place to encourage folks living in CHA units to use their new homes as springboards to greater stability and financial responsibility.

My guess is that when HUD officials saw the transformation of Earle Village into the Garden District, they said here is a city that understands neighborhood renovation, and that Charlotte is looking to provide safety and opportunity to all its citizens.

Perhaps Belmont and Plaza Midwood (currently enjoying its own market-driven Dilworthesque revival) will grow to become extensions of Uptown much in the same manner as South End. I can envision Charlotte Center City Partners’ maps including the corridor all along Central Avenue.

As I run by Piedmont Courts, it won’t be long before I will be fighting with construction equipment for sidewalk space and putting up with all the dust in the air!

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