Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Big changes in uptown

Anyone who spends any time in uptown Charlotte knows the centerpiece of our region is undergoing big changes, and some of the biggest are at the EpiCentre development taking shape at College and Trade streets.

Yesterday at the monthly meeting of neighborhood group Friends of Fourth Ward, I gleaned a few new tidbits about the project, consisting of a 52-story high-rise condo tower topping 267,000 square feet of dining, entertainment and shops:

--The condo tower is 80 percent sold, but some one-bedroom floor plans and all of the two-bedroom floor plans are still available.

--Prices run from the $400’s to $5+ million for the penthouses, and homeowners’ association dues will amount to 30 cents per square foot per month.

--The restaurants – many of which were recently announced – and other entertainment venues will be arranged in an open-air setting with cobblestone streets and gas lanterns.

--There will be about 2,000 public parking spaces for the attractions; the condo tower has its own parking with one space allotted per bedroom and some additional guest parking – the exact amount is still being worked out.

--A movie theater in the project will have eight screens showing first-run movies, answering a longstanding need in uptown entertainment. The developer hasn’t yet determined which company will operate the theater.

--The first phases of the dining and entertainment are scheduled to open next summer; the condos are scheduled for mid-to-late 2008.

As for Fourth Ward, a great chance to explore the neighborhood is coming up this weekend with the 29th Annual Holiday Home Tour. Tickets are $20. It runs Friday from 5-9 p.m. (watch for carolers roaming the neighborhood that night); Saturday 5-9 p.m. and Sunday noon-4 p.m. Residences ranging from new condos to historic Victorian homes will be on the tour.

Full disclosure: I lived in Fourth Ward for three years – in the Frederick Building on North Church Street – and have always considered its home tour to be a must-see. (More about the neighborhood here).

I find myself fascinated by the many high-rise condos going up around uptown, in the EpiCentre and elsewhere, and I’m wondering whether they appeal to newcomers – especially those from larger cities.

If you’re a relative newcomer – two years or less – who has considered buying or bought in one of the towers, I’m interested in hearing from you. As for the rest of you, what do you think of the proliferation in high-rise living in uptown? Is it long overdue or too much of a good thing?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

High-rise condos are needed and will definitely fill a huge gap in uptown. However, a few condos and restaurants will not make the area attractive, uptown desperately needs a wide variety of amenities.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big changes are needed in uptown. Hopefully the new condos would lure more quality shops and services to the area. I agree, with the previous poster, condos and restaurants are not enough to make uptown a vibrant place to live or visit. Cultural attractions are needed as well. Charlotte would never become a "world-class" without sincerely embracing the world.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how many uptown condos are actually being occupied or are they being bought on speculation. I understand that "spec" building is taking a hit nationwide because high-priced housing is outstripping demand.

I walk uptown often and would like street level stores -- a nice deli for eat in or take out, maybe a dry cleaner, green grocer, sandwich/ice cream shop, another grocery. Put affordable rental apartments over the stores. I lived in NYC for 34 years and miss all the shops and broad sidewalks. Convenient, free weekend parking is needed. Unbag the parking meters. Anyone who wants to blow up a bank will do so whether there is a bag on the meter or not.

We used to drive uptown to shop at Belks and Iveys on Saturdays. You could eat in the stores or at the lunch counter at Eckerds on the corner. Now uptown is dead during the day on weekends. And the roaming "urban youth" and various unsavory characters don't make going uptown for dinner attractive.

Until we can attract stroller-pushing, library-going, dog-walking residents who can find affordable housing, uptown just ain't gonna cut it.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that uptown needs such stores like a deli, snack shops and department stores. However, "urban youth" are not preventing uptown from growing. I too lived in NY for over 30 years and urban youth didn't stop people from dinning in the city. New York is full of "unsavory characters", but those characters never hindered the city from being one of the greatest cities in the world. All the amenities in New York make it hard to focus on unsavory characters and urban youth. Hopefully, as center city gets more amenities it would be hard to focus on those who don't look like you. Your kind is the reason why Charlotte would never be a world-class city. Uptown would be bland to just have librarians, dog walkers, and stroller pushers in the area.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hate to say it, but Librarians couldn't afford to live in uptown.

10:33 AM  

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