In our Elephant in the City webinar held earlier this year, we explored past policy and development practices in the built environment that created segregation and economic disadvantage in numerous areas of our city. We also outlined steps we could take to improve in the future.
In this webinar, Opportunities Rising, we highlighted the Wall Street 21 project. This proposed development by CGE Venture Group addresses both the spirit and substance of our earlier webinar. We discussed how the developer, neighborhood, local government and architect are working together to positively impact the historic Washington Heights neighborhood. To watch the webinar in full, click here.
Here are our main takeaways from the discussion:
- The built environment along Beatties Ford Road and the other Corridors of Opportunity outlined by the City of Charlotte shows that there has been a lack of investment for a long period of time. Residents must make “field trips” to other parts of the city to access goods and services that many of us take for granted. The developer is seeking to invest in the community to kickstart economic momentum, however, some level of public/private partnership is required to make the project economically viable. Unfortunately, current public policy investments are totally geared toward renovating existing structures, rather than investing in new ground-up developments.
- Involving the neighborhood as a project is being conceived is vital to ensure engagement of the community, so that the new development serves existing residents, rather than gentrifying the neighborhood. The proposed Wall Street 21 development is broadly endorsed by the neighborhood and is responsive to the historic Washington Heights Neighborhood Plan which outlines a vision for the community. policy investments are totally geared toward renovating existing structures, rather than investing in new ground-up developments.
- The proposed design of Wall Street 21 seeks to create a transformational mixed-use development with office, retail and restaurant uses. The design references the architecture of William W. Smith, regarded as Charlotte’s first Black architect, while leaning to the future with a more modern industrial look. It will be a visible symbol to the community of revitalization along the corridor.
- Both Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte are committed to combine economic development forces and collaborate to find a new tool that would enable investment in the project. A successful outcome will be “proof of concept” that local government is as committed to smaller economic development projects as it has been to larger projects.
Our thanks to our panelists for the discussion:
- Mattie Marshall – President, Historic Washington Heights
- Trevor Fuller – Mecklenburg County Commissioner At-Large and chair of the board’s Economic Development Committee
- James Mitchell – At-Large Charlotte City Council member and chair of the Workforce and Business Development Committee
- Curtis Bodison – Member, CGE Venture Group
- William Hughes, Jr. – Member, CGE Venture Group
- Nancy Everhart, AIA – Architect & Partner at Little