What’s Next?

Michael Smith, president of Center City Partners, is standing on a sidewalk along Brevard Street, across the street from the future NASCAR Hall of Fame, and he's angry. "This is sinful," he says, gesturing to the blank concrete wall that is the backside of the convention center. "You've got two blocks of nothing."

That's one wasted opportunity, but he's determined not to waste any others. He and the city have what he calls "a bold vision" to turn the three blocks of Brevard between the hall and Time Warner Cable Arena into a "stroll district" of shops, bars, and restaurants. "It connects the city's biggest investments," he says, and it is one more step toward making Charlotte a major destination city.

Just south of the NASCAR site, earthmovers are tearing up old I-277 interchanges and making new ones, which will result in eleven acres of contiguous land that Smith hopes will become a mix of commercial, residential, and destination retail. "It has an opportunity to become a bookend for our stroll district," he says.

Finally, Smith thinks the time finally is right to put a cap over part of I-277. He envisions two blocks of two-story retail on either side of the South Tryon Street overpass, effectively linking downtown to South End. "It'll be seamless," he says with a gleam in his eye.

Categories: Feature, The Buzz