9 ways the Blue Line light rail extension will totally reshape Optimist Park


Just northwest of Uptown, between I-277 and Matheson Avenue sits Optimist Park. Optimist Park is home to some of Charlotte’s favorite low-key destinations, like Birdsong Brewing Company, Abari Game Bar, the original NoDa Brewing, and Area 15.


Starting next year, the Lynx Blue Line light rail extension will also call it home, with stops at Parkwood Avenue and Brevard Street, as well as at 25th Street at Brevard Street. Thanks to this, Optimist Park is poised to go from a working class neighborhood near uptown — to many, an identity-less one on the way to NoDa — to Charlotte’s “Next Hot Neighborhood.”

The Charlotte Department of Transportation is planning a full revamp of Parkwood Avenue to make it more pedestrian friendly, including improved sidewalk connectivity with surrounding streets.

Parkwood Station serves the predominantly residential part of the neighborhood, so it will be interesting to monitor the neighborhood and how it deals with growing pains that occur with gentrification.


Here’s a look at eight projects coming to the area that will reshape the neighborhood.

(1) Tompkins Hall

(16th and Parkwood.)


Redevelopment of the Highland Park mill will be the second biggest game-changer for this section of the neighborhood (after the light rail). Dubbed Tompkins Hall by the developer White Point Partners, its proposed to include the following:

– 20,000 square-foot food hall. (Think Chelsea Market in NYC.)
80,000 square feet of office space.
– 35,000 square feet of other retail and restaurants.

Tompkins Hall, scheduled to open late 2017, will be a five-minute walk from Parkwood Station, and only one stop from uptown. Thanks to the close proximity to uptown and its mix of uses, I feel Tompkins Hall will thrive and the area around it will feed on its success. The project could offer a similar experience to the North Carolina Music Factory, but without the crippling lack of connectivity. We are already seeing apartment projects sprouting up nearby.

(2) Alexan Highland Mill

(Between Caldwell and Brevard on Belmont Avenue.)

Atlanta’s Trammell Crow is planning a new mid-rise apartment building directly adjacent to Tompkins Hall. Trammel Crow worked on Alexan at Krog in Atlanta, which was built adjacent to Krog Market, which was developed by Paces Properties, who is partnering with White Point Partners on Tompkins Hall. The representative I spoke to from Trammell Crow learned about Tompkins Hall from Paces Properties and hoped to develop a similar residential project in Charlotte. The development isn’t directly adjacent to Tompkins Hall, but the developers still hope to link the development to Tompkins Hall and the nearby rail line. The development, which will wrap a structured parking deck, will include the following:

– 250 units of apartments.
– No retail, but an activated streetscape with stoops and porches.

Trammell Crow is in contract to purchase the land, and is submitting plans to the planning department. Estimated completion is in 2019.

(3) Parkwood Station Lofts

(Along Parkwood between Brevard and Caldwell.)


The nearest development to Parkwood Station is being called Parkwood Station Lofts. The project will be developer NPR Properties’ second project in Charlotte. (The other, 135 Lofts, just opened at Morehead and Church this year.) Parkwood Station Lofts, which is under review by the planning department, will include the following:

– 335 rental units.
9,700 square feet of space that could be converted into retail in the future.

(4) 300 Optimist Park

(Along Parkwood between 16th and 18th.)

One block away from Highland Mill, towards Parkwood Station, will be 300 Optimist Park, a small boutique apartment project being developed by Charlotte-based Beauwright. The project, which has been approved by the planning department, will include:

48 apartment units.
Increased connectivity for the neighborhood: As part of this project, 17th Street will be extended from Caldwell to Parkwood, helping better connect a neighborhood with a lot of connectivity problems.

(5) Miller Valentine Apartments

(Fronting North Davidson between 21st and 22nd.)

optimistparkAt E. 21st and N. Davidson streets, a yet-to-be-named apartment building will anchor the corner adjacent to Abari Game Bar and Joe’s Doughs. The building, being developed by Ohio-based Miller Valentine Group, will front Little Sugar Creek Greenway and the 21-acre Cordelia Park. The project, with rezoning scheduled for early 2017, would include the following:

– 275 apartments.
– 3,500 square feet of retail.

(6) 25th Street Connector


As part of the 25th Street station plan, CDOT is connecting Brevard Street with North Davidson. Currently there is not a single road connecting the two between 22nd Street and Jordan Place, creating issues with connectivity for cars. Once the station opens, and housing starts to build up in the neighborhood, it will also prove difficult for pedestrians. The connector is in the design phase, and will utilize local artists to make the bridge across Little Sugar Creek Greenway a defining element of the greenway system.

(7) Wood Partners between 24th and 25th

(Along Brevard between 24th and 25th.)


The new connection between North Davidson and Brevard will have an apartment building to anchor it. Wood Partners, out of Atlanta, will be developing a building facing the 25th Street light rail stop. The project will feature:

– 260 apartments.
– A signature connection to the greenway.

The rezoning has been approved — working on gaining planning department approval.

(8) RAM Properties Apartment Building

(Between 26th and 27th on North Davidson.)



Florida-based Ram Partners, owners of the Design Center of the Carolinas, is planning an apartment building fronting North Davidson, and surrounding the Free Range Brewing Company. The project, which could open by mid-2018, will include:

– 250 apartments.
– Improvements to Free Range Brewing Company.

(9) Faison

(Surrounding Jordan Place, between North Davidson and North Brevard.)


Last year, Faison purchased nine acres of land surrounding Jordan Place, between North Davidson and North Brevard. While their plans aren’t concrete at this time, I’ve been able to gather some details. The project should prove to be a great mixed use project, and its likely they will keep the industrial feel of the Chadbourn Hosiery Building, if not restore at least part of it. At the very least, Faison will restore the iconic smokestack. The project, which is still being finalized by Faison and other possible partners, will include the following:

– Office space.
– Retail fronting North Davidson and Jordan.
– Apartments.


Photos: Renderings courtesy of the respective developers.


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