infocuscharlotte2015_largeheader

Back to InFocus: Charlotte Index…

Charlotte’s close-in neighborhoods have always been popular with LGBT people. Walkable, friendly ’hoods like Plaza Midwood, NoDa, South End and others have played pivotal roles in the city’s LGBT history — hosting LGBT bars and clubs, LGBT events, attracting LGBT residents and, in many, where you’ll find LGBT organizations headquartered and serving their community.

But all the characteristics that have made these neighborhoods homes for a diversity of residents — LGBT people, artists, people of color, small business owners and others — are attracting new development and new residents. Big changes have already been occurring in some, with more development on the way.

Plaza Midwood & NoDa

Together with nearby NoDa, Plaza Midwood anchors the 28205 ZIP code, which has consistently ranked as one of the most heavily LGBT-populated ZIP codes in the entire state. The East side’s diversity, affordability and inclusive culture has resulted in an eclectic mix of small business owners, many of whom are LGBT, operating clothing boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and art galleries.

In the last two years, Plaza Midwood has seen a building boom and it continues today. Hundreds of new apartment units have already been built or are currently being built, with two massive complexes currently under construction. One is at the corner of Central and Louise Aves. The other is further up Central Ave. near the railroad tracks that once separated Plaza Midwood’s central business district from establishments closer to Uptown. As new residents poured in over the last decade in developments on Hawthorne Lane and new businesses — like Joe Hoopers, PINT Central and Central Coffee Co. — opened up, the Plaza Midwood area, at least in some locals’ minds, has expanded.

The new construction will bring hundreds of new residents to the already popular neighborhood, where new businesses have begun opening up to serve new clientele. A new Irish pub, The Workman’s Friend, opened at the corner of Central and Thomas Aves. this summer. The shopping center at the corner of Central and Pecan Aves. has been rehabilitated with the presence of Bistro La Bon, Yama Izakaya and Healthy Home Market, a locally-owned health-foods store which relocated from South Blvd.

In NoDa, the old Mecklenburg Mill building is getting new life. Once rehabbed for artists’ residences, the building was shut down due to structural problems. It’s open again now, taking new residences.

But the biggest change in NoDa sits right at its heart at 36th and N. Davidson St. There, hundreds of residences are being built around pre-existing street-facing businesses. The L-shaped complex, Mercury NoDa, is but one of several other projects planned. Crescent Communities announced in July they plan to build up to 800 units in the area.

The new development comes in no small part because of the extension of Charlotte’s light rail line. The construction of the Blue Line Extension, set to open in 2017, is currently snaking its way from Uptown through NoDa and up to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

A look at Cotswold from the air. The central business area and shopping center hosting Harris Teeter is located in the top left of the photo. Photo Credit: Bz3rk, via Wikimedia. Licensed CC.
A look at Cotswold from the air. The central business area and shopping center hosting Harris Teeter is located in the top left of the photo.
Photo Credit: Bz3rk, via Wikimedia. Licensed CC.

Cotswold

Located directly south and southwest of 28205 and East Charlotte, Cotswold is experiencing a rebirth of popularity among LGBT residents.

The new interest comes as the area experiences new in-fill development, like other areas of town.

Harris Teeter, long the sole grocery anchor of the central business district at Randolph and Sharon Amity Rds., will gain a new competitor when Publix opens up sometime in 2016; construction is due to begin late this year.

The neighborhood is home to an array of LGBT-friendly institutions, businesses and shopping destinations. Down the street, is the LGBT-friendly Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte. Restaurants and nightlife in the area have become increasingly popular with LGBT clientele, including Block & Grinder, Pizza Peel, Leroy Fox and others.

Residents in the area say home values are taking off, too, with new construction and home renovations abounding. The city is planning new bike lines to take commuters down the two-mile trip to the heart of Uptown.

Oh — and did we mention Krispy Kreme? The chain’s first Charlotte location in a decade opened up several years ago and is still going strong. Stop by and get a sugary sweet treat next time you’re in the area.

FreeMoreWest

Distinct. Diverse. Dynamic. That’s how boosters describe FreeMoreWest, a neighborhood immediately adjacent to Uptown’s western side. The West Charlotte neighborhood — whose name was derived by boosters from combining the names of Freedom Dr. and Morehead St. — is home to a growing number of residences and businesses, including restaurants and bars. They join long-established businesses already in the area like The Scorpio, Charlotte’s longest running LGBT nightclub. One of the newest LGBT-friendly destinations is Taste Cafe & Lounge, the first permanent events venue operated by Starr of Sophisticated Lyfe Productions. Located at 2415 W. Morehead St., Taste hosts a variety of regular events.

Hundreds of new residential units are already under construction, with hundreds more planned. Nearby, historic Wesley Heights continue to experience a rejuvenation, with the opening of a new greenway and other developments. By 2016, the neighborhood will get its first local brewery when Blue Blaze Brewing opens up on S. Turner Ave., just blocks from Johnson C. Smith University. : :

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.