CHARLOTTE Local Charlotte News — Construction has now begun on a major development in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood.
It’ll take a few years to finish, but developers are transforming 12 acres in the area into luxury apartments, a boutique hotel, as well as places for restaurants and businesses.
While some people are happy to see the growth, they are worried about what’s to come. The new development is in the heart of the Plaza Midwood neighborhood and some people worry, it may change the soul of the area.
It takes a lot of heart to run a business.
“Luckily, I’m not burned out, yet,” said Blake Barnes.
For the last 19 years, Blake has run the ‘Common Market’ off of Thomas Avenue in Plaza Midwood. It hasn’t always been easy.
“But now we’re trying to survive, we will survive, gentrification, which is the next big looming issue coming our way,” said Blake.
Gentrification will literally be looming over Blake, with construction starting a brand-new development in his neighborhood.
“I wonder what it’s going to be like without sunshine, you know what I’m saying?” said Blake, looking up at his one-story shop.
It’s true, the new buildings will be a lot higher than most of the businesses in the artsy neighborhood. Folks who’ve been in the area said, they’ve worked to build a connectedness between the businesses and the people who live in the area.
“Community is probably number one,” said Clifton Castelloe, President of the Plaza Midwood Merchants.
Clifton said, developers are working with people in the area to make sure they don’t price out the local businesses that have been established there.
“To their credit, they are preserving two of the coal manufacturing buildings which was a big deal and a big part of charlotte history,” said Clifton. “In the process we’ve been advocating to them, and they’ve agreed, to provide some affordable lease space perhaps within one of the coal manufacturing buildings.”
He said, one of their biggest concerns is making sure local business owners aren’t priced out of their spaces.
“We’ve had many, many conversations around what makes Plaza Midwood special, and part of our vision statement is to preserve the soul of Plaza Midwood, the soul of this space,” said Clifton.
Blake said, he’s seen his rent increase drastically over the last 19 years.
“When I started here, it was 7 dollars a square foot, it’s going for 45 easy,” said Blake.
However, he said, they’ve survived a lot. So, they’re ready for what’s to come.
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