The No. 1 thing missing from 14 key Charlotte neighborhoods (plus, some honorable mentions)


Charlotte is getting more than 42 new residents a day, according to U.S. Census data. They should love it here. We love it here. But, admittedly, we would love Charlotte just a little more if our neighborhoods would get certain voids filled.

So, what does each Charlotte neighborhood desperately need? We pitch ideas for 14 neighborhoods.


No. 1 need: More ground-floor retail 
Uptown is packed with office buildings and rooftop dining/drinks spots (Fahrenheit and City Lights give great views). But beyond buying flowers, coffee, last-minute gifts or lunch, retail shopping is limited Uptown. Any need for non-bespoke clothing, sports equipment or groceries is bound to send you out to another neighborhood for errands. Or SouthPark Mall.

Observer file photo

Other needs include:
-A classier EpiCentre.
The bar and club life here feels like party central and someplace you wouldn’t take a first date.
-More free parking. None of the parking decks is free, unless validated by a business, and metered parking is rampant (as are ticket-happy parking patrols).
-More hipster grunge. Rhino Market took the first step to shaking up the sea of suits and button-downs by opening its second quirky market location on South Church Street.

East Charlotte

No. 1 need: A plan for the Eastland Mall site
This 80-acre site has sat mostly empty since the mall was torn down in 2012. It has seen some great plans for redevelopment fall through, from a movie studio, to a Hispanic-themed mall. With up-and-coming neighborhoods starting to rise in east Charlotte and hip hangouts like Common Market Oakwold and Carolina Beer Temple in the area, the site could become a new focal point in a thriving part of the city.

The site of the former Eastland Mall site, at Central Avenue and Albemarle Road. 2016 Observer file photo

Other need:
-Improved transportation infrastructure. There’s potential here. Plans for the Silver Line, a light-rail line along Independence Boulevard, would offer huge changes. Then there is the Independence Area Sidewalk and Bikeway Improvements project, with the City of Charlotte working on a plan to improve connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists in the east Charlotte area from roughly Briar Creek Road to Sardis Road North.


No. 1 need: A wine bar
NoDa has it made when it comes to breweries, with places like Heist and Divine Barrel, as well as nearby Free Range and Birdsong in Villa Heights. NoDa has it made when it comes to cocktails, with Colleen Hughes dominating at Haberdish, Crepe Cellar and Growlers. But where’s the wine bar? RIP, Dolce Vita.

Other needs include:
-More breakfast places for weekday mornings.
While Haberdish does now serve brunch and Local Loaf is open, we want more options.
-A movie theater. You can catch comedy shows, local artists and more at The Evening Muse, in addition to some larger acts at The Neighborhood Theatre. But it would be great to be able to catch mainstream movies somewhere in this ‘hood so that you basically never have to leave NoDa for anything.
-A grocery store. May it rest in peace, but even when it was there, NoDa Grocery was more like a convenience store. Now that it’s gone, there’s a definite need for a true grocery store in this neighborhood (even though Food Lion is just a hop skip and jump away). 
-A sushi spot. 
The opening of Deejai Thai’s second location was a good start.


No. 1 need: A dose of class
Yes, we see you, Good Food, and we relish your wine and small plates. But the rest of Montford is a rambunctious party strip with SouthSide, Angry Ale’s, Brazwell’s and Jeff’s Bucket Shop. Can we add a Dilworth Tasting Room or Foxcroft Wine Co. so we stop feeling like we’re 21?

Other need:
-A handle on lunch traffic. Park Road Shopping Center is a mess at lunchtime (have you seen the lines at Chopt?), and traffic in the area is bound to get worse once Shake Shack opens across from Chick-Fil-A.

A “Smoke Shack” (top) and a “Shack Burger” along with fries and a strawberry shake at this Shake Shack spot in Coral Gables, Fla. PATRICK FARRELL MIAMI HERALD STAFF


No. 1 need: A game bar
For a neighborhood that hits all the marks with dining, wine, local coffee spots (we love you, ROOTS, Sunflour and Not Just Coffee) and walkability, the nightlife could use some work. How about a version of Abari or Queen Park Social to appeal to our young professional crowd?

via Instagram (queenparksocial)

Other needs include:
-A dog park. Come on, Freedom Park is HUGE. Let’s add some fencing.
-A live music venue. The DJ at Tyber Creek doesn’t count.

South End

No. 1 need: a music hall
South End is popping with activity — from Inner Peaks, to breweries, to fun new restaurants (welcome, Zeppelin), to bars, to fitness studios, to the Charlotte Rail Trail. But we’ve lost two music halls — Tremont and Amos’ Southend. What’s going to fill the void?

Photo by Meredith Jones

Other needs include:
-A Common Market. It’s coming (hopefully by summer), and Lincoln’s Haberdashery is now open and adding that one-stop-shop element.
-Culture. What IS South End, exactly? An art gallery hub? Brewery territory? A network of high-rise apartments and fast-casual eateries?

RIP Common Market South End. Photo by Katie Toussaint


No. 1 need: A brewery
SouthPark nailed it when it came to opening swanky restaurants (from The Palm to Oak Steakhouse) and sparkling wine bars (from Corkbuzz to Foxcroft Wine Co.). Now let’s get the laid-back brewhouse vibe flowing and bring in some breweries. The neighborhood is on the right path, with Legion Brewing opening its second location along Carnegie Boulevard this fall.

Other need:
-More pedestrian friendly paths. Road congestion is crazy around here during rush hour (and perpetually around the mall), and a car is very much necessary for navigating the area. Already in the works: The consideration of 45 potential projects to enhance sidewalks and trails for pedestrians and cyclists. Yes, please.

The city of Charlotte is considering building a “Cultural Loop” in SouthPark, an enhanced sidewalk with landscaping and public art. It would be modeled after the $63 million Indianapolis Cultural Train (pictured here). Hadley Fruits Photography and Indianapolis Cultural Trail


No. 1 need: A dive bar.
Dear Ballantyne area, you are so pristine with your elegant golf course, spa and resort, not to mention your shopping center developments with classy places to dine, from Ballantyne Village to Waverly. Let’s get you a dive bar. Something like Thirsty Beaver meets Snug Harbor, for the combo of old-school cheap drinks and live music venue.

Other needs include:
-A brewery.
Although Growler USA in the Toringdon Circle shopping center does the trick for now.
-A light rail stop. Fun fact: It costs about $18 to take a Lyft from South End to Ballantyne, or up to three bus rides. Let’s get that light rail extension heading farther south.


No. 1 need: Public art.
Elizabeth is a cheerful destination for arts events (from performances at CPCC’s Halton Theater to concerts at the Visulite Theatre), not to mention dining out. But beyond the designs on the shelters at the streetcar stops, there’s not much to notice in terms of public art. New murals, anyone?

Other need:
-An MLS Stadium. As the Observer reported in October, Charlotte’s bid to land a Major League Soccer expansion team is officially dead for now. One major issue was the indecision over using public money to support the proposed $175 million soccer facility on the site of Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth.

A conceptual rendering of the stadium that has been proposed to lure a Major League Soccer team to Charlotte. Courtesy of MLS4CLT

Plaza Midwood

No. 1 need: Public transit.
This neighborhood has bus stops, BOGO sushi (thank you, Akahana) dive bars (long live the Beav) and amazing brunch options (Workman’s Friend, you never let us down). But if you don’t live there, it’s a pain to get there and park, especially if you have multiple destinations. And it’s a pedestrian nightmare. Let’s make that extension of the streetcar from Elizabeth Avenue up Central Avenue happen sooner rather than later.

2017 Observer file photo

Other needs include:
-A specialty foods market. Sure, Harris Teeter gets the job done and has a smashing view of the skyline, but the closing of Healthy Home Market hurts.
-More surface parking. It’s risky business parking in the lot where Bistro La Bon is, if you’re not a patron, and parking is super limited along Central Avenue. Our best bet now is neighborhood side streets. (Neighbors, do you hate us?)

University City

No. 1 need: More of an obvious draw for non-residents
Yes, University City is home to UNC Charlotte, a greenway system and PNC Music Pavilion, but what should really draw people in from other areas? The neighborhood took a strong step with last year’s first University City Wine Festival. Let’s keep that momentum.

Other needs include:
-Easier access. It’s a hike to get out here if you live and work near Uptown. Good thing the light rail extension is coming next month.

2017 Observer file photo


No. 1 need: More independent coffee shop options
Starbucks and Panera are easy to find, and so are fun dining options like Improper Pig and Leroy Fox. But the closest independent coffee shop from Cotswold Village is probably Julie’s Cafe off of North Wendover Road or Not Just Coffee’s location on Providence Road. More local coffee, please!

2015 Observer file photo

Other needs include:
-Better walkability to restaurants and shops.
You pretty much need to pick a shopping center and park if you’re planning to roam on foot, since Cotswold is cut by crazy busy streets like Providence Road and South Sharon Amity Road.
-More night life options. A mainstream movie theater and a live music venue would be a solid start.

West Charlotte

No. 1 need: More local businesses
West Charlotte is charming with its greenway access, cool hangouts like Rhino Market, and amazing dining spots like Savor and Pinky’s Westside Grill. But more local businesses just like them could flip the neighborhood into the next South End or Plaza Midwood.

via Instagram (charlottefaturdays)

Other needs include:
-More independent coffee shops. CupLux really opened the door here, planting itself firmly up Freedom Drive. Enderly Coffee has a brick and mortar in the works, but what else is coming? A bakery would be nice…
-Better walkability. Freedom Drive is a monster to navigate on foot.

Myers Park

No. 1 need: A brewery
Things are feeling a little high-end around here — but hey, we love Petit Philippe for wine, Little Spoon for laid-back brunch and Reid’s Fine Foods for a scrumptious salad. But the closest concept to a chill beer spot is Selwyn Pub, and that place gets crowded. Wouldn’t a brewery look nice on the Booty Loop?

Other needs include:
-A less confusing road system. How did Providence/Providence/Queens/Queens seem like a good idea?
-Easier parking. The lots along Selwyn Avenue are madness.

Featured photo: Justin Driscoll


  1. I completely agree with the author of the article on arming teachers! Why do so many people think that would be a good idea? I am in sure it would just result in one tragedy after another when an innocent teacher or student is “accidentally” shot.

  2. Growler USA? Are you kidding me? This is an overpriced chain, and nothing more. Seriously, compare their growler prices to anywhere. Their food is tiny and pretty horrible. And it is NOTHING like a brewery.

    • Yes! Mike, we talked about this at the Charlotte Chamber’s Land Use committee meeting just this morning. If you feel like contributing to the conversation, please consider attending the meetings and giving your input – thanks!

      • I just want a 1800 – 2000 square foot home that does not cost a half million to live in a decent neighborhood. We are looking to buy, but the prices are out of control. One day the Charlotte real estate market will crash and then we may afford a house. I might say we make a decent living as well. I can find a very nice house two blocks from the ocean or the Trent river cheaper than I can find a house in Charlotte. This is one of the biggest threats to Charlotte as I see it.

        • Consider 15 mins outside of uptown in the Mtn Island area. We’ve been here 4 years and love it. Easy access to uptown via Brookshire.

  3. Good luck getting ground level retail in uptown Charlotte. There little to no interest on the part of the real estate developers in uptown to get this done. Focus is on trendy restaurants (which don’t have longevity) and out of reach retailers not suited for the general public. Until retail developers that there are some normal people in uptown and not just jet setting executives there won’t be any success in this arena. They would prefer their space to sit vacant than to lease to “average” retailers.

  4. You keep saying you want more parking and then contradict yourself by saying you want more cycling and pedestrian friendliness. You can’t have both. Adding more parking just adds to the problem of car dependency in Charlotte. Focus on adding transit and building up our neighborhoods so cars are no longer a must have. Then you will have thriving places to go.

  5. This area needs more class! This area needs less class! This area needs more parking! This area needs to be easier to walk in! Nice wish list of contradictions if you’re single, 27 and have a lot of disposable income.

  6. After cycling around town this past Sunday, what I noticed a lot of was people using the new Bike Shares that are out (LimeBike, Spin etc). They were especially prevelant on the Rail Trail and South End sides of town. I think using these to get around in areas that are frustrating to park is a really innovative and not to mention healthy way of getting around. Not everyone has to park or walk everywhere; biking around using bike shares or your own bike can make getting around pretty easy. Even Plaza Midwood isn’t that hard to navigate on bicycle using crosswalks and side streets…

  7. MLS and a professional soccer franchise are not necessarily the same thing. Elizabeth (Memorial Stadium) would do better to secure a team that competes in USL (Charlotte Independence), NASL, NISA or NPSL. An NISA startup team, Charlotte FC, is currently looking to locate there. This is a FAR better solution. A team at this level could compete in Memorial Stadium “as is”. This would also be a more modest start for a city that hasn’t yet proven that it can put more than 2-3,000 people in a stadium to watch an American soccer product, even on a good day. The worst thing that could happen to soccer fans in Charlotte is to overplay our hand, demolish Memorial stadium, spend hundreds of millions of $ building a stadium, and then have an MLS franchise fail here (as they have in other cities) because we weren’t ready and/or we had bad ownership that didn’t understand the uniqueness of soccer fandom or the sport in general (Marcus Smith). Soccer is a grassroots sport in this country. It needs to start from an authentic, grassroots space. MLS gets this which is why they won’t approve a Charlotte team. That alone makes the entire MLS discussion mute. Build a great minor-league soccer franchise here, place it in Memorial stadium with good beer and a grassroots atmosphere, and soccer fans will get what they want without wasting $300 million and destroying Memorial Stadium (and potentially our city’s soccer future). We don’t need MLS, we just need a good pro soccer experience. Just look at success The Charlotte Knights have enjoyed. We didn’t need MLB either.

    • Excellent point. The Indy Eleven have been playing in a Track & Field Stadium on the IUPUI campus and drawing loyal fans. This year, they will be playing at Lucas Oil Stadium with an eye on the MLS, but not forgetting the fans as they look for alternatives to building there own stadium somewhere near downtown Indianapolis.

  8. Nice observations. Also first suggest to better define what an actual neighborhood is – compared to areas that are laid-out as unconnected auto-centric subdivisions, office complexes, apartment complexes, strip shopping centers, and big box retail and institutional uses only accessible by car. Some you refere to are real neighborhoods other are just a series of drive-everywhere sub-divisions only accessible by highways. In these, although some are highly amenitized, what is especially missing is human-scale walkability. So a good first step is sprawl repair.

  9. As the target demographic, I agree with most of this list. The one thing I disagree with: Montford’s “lack of class”. Unless you’re considering Montford the area as simply Montford the road; Burtons, Rocksalt, Flourshop and Dot.Dot.Dot add plenty of class to the area, one street over. You are spot on with the traffic however.


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