I just read an article in The Charlotte Business Journal that has me a little concerned. It seems that big-time developers have been buying up property in Elizabeth along the stretch of Seventh Avenue that used to be known as Stanleyville. That's roughly the area on either side of the intersection of Seventh and Caswell/Pecan. The developers won't say yet what they are considering doing with the land, but, being developers and all, you can bet the plans involve tearing down whatever's there and building something new. Something big. And that's what has me concerned.
Look, I'm not one of these people who say we must save every building built before 1980. I'm all for retaining history and character where we can, but I've long since come to grips with the fact that doing so is not the Charlotte way. Charlotte has always been about the new, the bigger, the better.
And I understand that our urban core will only grow more dense. It's happening to all of the corridors leading to and from downtown. Park Road is now lined with condo and apartment buildings. Fourth Street/Randolph Road has become a cavern between medical and office buildings. There are few if any single-family homes left on Selwyn Avenue. Kings Drive, Morehead Avenue, North Davidson Street, the list goes on.
But that little stretch of Seventh has always been one of my favorite spots in the city. It used to be known as Stanleyville, and when I first moved to town there was a little nightspot where the Starbucks (natch) is now called Stanleyville Bar and Grill. Great place to grab a beer and hear a roadhouse band. Even now, Vis-Art Video, Philosopher's Stone, Jackalope Jack's, all add a much-needed dose of character. But now developers control all of those parcels and many adjacent. I will concede that the little strip center that houses Vis-Art is not the most attractive. That can go, as long as the city's coolest video shop finds a suitable new home.
But I really hope that we don't end up with another NoDa or Park Road, where faux-old facades and stuccoed apartment buildings help make this city look more like Atlanta every day.