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Out of the Park

by Michael Carson

March 3,2004

In a recent article in the Charlotte Observer, staff writer Richard Rubin reported,
“Uptown Charlotte is ready to burst its borders”. By all accounts, this news is correct. It seems only to be a matter of time before a significant “jump” over I-277 occurs. I find this phenomenon to be interesting and in some ways troubling.

I’m pleased that the City is growing, but I am concerned because the Uptown core itself hasn’t been fully developed. At this very moment, a large portion of Third Ward lays abandoned, serving as a vast parking lot for commuters and Panther fans.

The existing Third Ward neighborhood is a beautiful place to live, but the railroad tracks that run through Third Ward impede development and pedestrian movement – just as I-277 is an impediment to and from areas surrounding Uptown. I am delighted with the possible redevelopment of Midtown Square and the idea of a multiplex theater in the old convention center, but I wish some of that energy would find its way to the underdeveloped portion of Third Ward.

Beginning in late 2002, the Third Ward neighbors, City and County officials, local business owners, Charlotte Center City Partners, and independent consultants worked countless hours to create a Third Ward Vision Plan that included an Uptown park in Third Ward with connections to Trade and Tryon and to the existing neighborhood. The New West Park, as it was called, was to provide the energy that the area needed to grow. Based on research completed by the independent consultants, an Uptown park located in the right area in Third Ward would lead to tremendous reinvestment by the private sector, creating a hub for recreational and commercial activity. The idea was that businesses and residential developers alike would build along the park’s borders.

With the implementation of the Vision Plan, the City and County made a commitment to Third Ward. Unfortunately, it would now appear that some are prepared to balk. Some officials are considering relocating the park and instead making Third Ward the site for a baseball stadium.

I want the City and County to remain committed to the Third Ward Vision Plan. Not only would a park in Third Ward help to beautify the City, enrich the lives of its residents, and reconnect the Third Ward neighborhood to the other Wards, it would help to give Third Ward definition – as the City’s commercial hub.

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