The light rail cars don’t always open their doors to a burst of breweries and restaurants. I’d call two of the current 15 stops over the Blue Line’s 9.6 miles “dead zones” — bereft of an abundance of eateries or shops within easy walking distance.
Travel south down the line, past stops in uptown and South End with all of their restaurants and breweries. Before you reach the final stop at I-485/South Blvd., where Target and World Market stand tall, you get to the Arrowood and Sharon Road West Stations.
Sharon Road West is bordered by a 7-Eleven, a Snyder’s Lance Plant and car dealerships. There are no obvious fun-and-frolic destinations.
But it’s a park-and-ride stop (with a pedestrian overpass!), which means you can park there for 24 hours for free to ride the rail. Its parking lot was packed with commuter cars on Monday morning and only seven spots remaining, according to the digital counter.
It’s an obvious portal to uptown for residents of nearby neighborhoods and complexes like Sharon Crossing Apartments and Pine Tree Apartments. (Read: While it looks like a dead zone, the station is being used.)
But the Arrowood Station, another park-and-ride stop, had 288 spots remaining that same morning.
This stop is not far from a QT and a small shopping center that’s hard to spot from South Boulevard, plus an off-the-beaten-path urgent care.
But to get to the actual station you have to traverse a huge, weedy, empty parcel of land.
Even as a native, I always feel like I have so much to learn about Charlotte, and its land usage in particular. But I was still shocked to stumble upon so much empty space along the Blue Line. Living in Dilworth/South End, I’ve developed this expectation for rising apartments and clusters of drinking destinations and dining options. I’ve developed this expectation for empty spaces to be used for something great, or even to implement my winery idea.
Railvolution.org shows City of Charlotte slides from 2007 featuring a developer’s plans to build 1,447 residential units across 57 acres for $57 million. This would have been the Hadley development. Which explains the majestic “H” on the abandoned street signs.
There’s hope. Though this space, broken up by empty street beginnings, plus what looks like it was meant to be some type of pond-side terrace (see below), has been in limbo after a stalled development, it is currently held by Arrowood Road Holdings LLC.
Ely Portillo reported in April 2015 that Gvest Capital LLC was planning to construct The Yards at Arrowood Station within this parcel, initially featuring 245 residential units in nine buildings, as well as a maintenance building.
I couldn’t reach an agent at Gvest, but I can imagine the possibilities. And I can admire the fact that, less than a decade after the Blue Line opened, it only has two, really semi-dead zones. And with its extension, it still has so much more to come.
Photos: Katie Toussaint