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Johnson and Wales Changes 3rd Ward Menu

by Michael Carson

November 2,2003

If you haven’t noticed, let me tell you that Third Ward is in the midst of a transformation. It hasn’t been a year since Johnson & Wales (J&W) announced that it would locate a campus in the heart of Third Ward, attaching itself to the anchor that is Gateway Village.  Already, there are visions of grandeur and dignity in the minds of the school’s soon to be neighbors.

Now, let’s be practical. Really, how drastic can the change that this one university will bring to uptown Charlotte and Third Ward be?

Well, consider that next fall the school will have about 900 students attending class at its new campus with almost 750 of those students living in the dorms that are under construction on the corner of Cedar and Fourth Street. The following year there’ll be about 1900 students with 2900 projected in the school’s third year. Frankly, the changes will be remarkable. The students will change the face of uptown Charlotte adding a level of diversity never before seen in the center city. The inflow of students will create pedestrian traffic demands that the street layout, at present, is not ready to handle. Modifications will have to be made to ensure that the students remain safe and comfortable while attending class or traveling home, and as a side effect all of the existing residents will find it easier to travel on foot to other areas in the center city.

Additionally, J&W has partnered with Follett (an operator of over 400 campus bookstores), to bring a bookstore to Gateway Village that will be open to the public, will contain books and periodicals that you would expect to find in any Barnes and Noble bookstore.

The positives may be overwhelming, and it may seem that all residents are supportive, but don’t be fooled because nay sayers do exist and, truthfully, we should fully expect some difficulties to arise. There’ll be some loud parties, there’ll be an increase in traffic and there will an increased strain on parking throughout the Third Ward neighborhood. But, even with these issues on the horizon, the sacrifice that is being asked of the residents is minimal in comparison to the benefits that they will enjoy.

Rarely does one ingredient so drastically change a recipe. This ingredient, in fact, is changing the menu. We can only hope that the energy created by J&W and the success at Gateway will spill over to the rest of Third Ward and result in the development of the desolate space that at the moment serves as Sunday parking for Panther fans.

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