That’s what some real estate developers think, as they turn their attention from the booming South Boulevard corridor to an intriguing part of the city that is close to uptown but can feel worlds away: West Charlotte. In fact, the area has even gotten its own catchy name: FreeMoreWest, after Freedom Drive and West Morehead Street.
Consider what’s underway already:
Historic West End: In the Seversville and Biddleville area near Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte Center City Partners just launched what it’s calling Historic West End. The group has hired a staffer to plan for development around the coming streetcar extension linking the school to uptown. The Knight Foundation has kicked in $1.5 million toward the effort.
West Morehead: And on West Morehead Street, development has crept in fast. Citisculpt is planning an office building at West Morehead and Interstate 77, apartments from Southern Apartment Group are slated for a site nearby and Rhino Market opened a trendy deli, beer and wine shop. Queen City Catering is opening a new kitchen.
Freedom Drive: DPJ Residential is constructing a 77-unit boutique apartment building called Asbury Flats. Ryan Homes is building a new community called Bryant Park with townhouses and single-family homes off West Morehead.
Goodwill campus: When completed in 2016, The Leon Levine Opportunity Center on Wilkinson Boulevard will host a collection of Goodwill job training, job placement and job creation resources for people facing multiple barriers to employment.
It will also host offices for partner agencies like Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Charlotte Community Health Clinic, the N.C. Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services and the Center for Community Transitions.
C5’s Take: Younger people moving to Charlotte aren’t interested in the far-out burbs, so the development of FreeMoreWest makes a lot of sense. What’s particularly exciting about these developments are their potential for inclusiveness – understanding that West Charlotte is home to many economically disadvantaged Charlotteans who still need affordable places to live and key services. Let’s hope this is a gentrification that works for all.