The message was clear from attendees at our May Grow Smart CLT event: People want to live in a place where they can easily access amenities, and they want to feel safe doing that, no matter how they choose to get around.
And the folks we heard speak are committed to making that a reality for the neighborhoods around SouthPark.
Over 60 people joined us to learn about how the SouthPark Cultural Loop and newly redesigned Sharon Towers will start to create a sense of place, and a safer environment, for residents of SouthPark’s neighborhoods. We were excited to hear from Kyle Baugh with our presenting sponsor Kimley-Horn speak about the Cultural Loop. Kyle is the project lead for the development of the Loop master plan, and he spoke about the vision their team wants to achieve for connecting a series of destinations in SouthPark, and making the Loop itself a destination where people want to spend time. On top of creating this sense of place through the project, the Loop will make 13 destinations around SouthPark Mall safer and easier to access via walking and biking.
We also heard from Terry Shook, principal at Shook Kelley Architecture, about the planned redesign of the Sharon Towers retirement community, which will create a neighborhood feel and will introduce retail and a park to the complex.
Charlotte City Councilmember Tariq Bokhari and Hilary Larsen of the SouthPark Association of Neighborhoods (SPAN) joined for a panel discussion after the presentations. Audience members asked questions ranging from the current status of dangerous intersections to the density of apartments and development happening in the area. Our panelists made clear that there needs to be a mindset shift, and an understanding that to create a walking and biking friendly community, there does need to be more dense, mixed use development. They key is to do it in the right way, and to make sure residents are engaged and involved in that process.
In addition to the panel discussion, we had an opportunity for audience members to engage in answering some live polling questions. The vast majority of those who participated said they’d like to see improvements in infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists in their neighborhood, and when asked how they would like to get around their neighborhood, no participants indicated they’d like to drive alone, but many said they would like to walk, bike, or ride transit. But the most telling response was that to the question “Which best describes why you chose to live in your neighborhood?”. There was an even split between schools, proximity to work, affordability, culture and vibrancy, and proximity to parks and amenities, showing that in a perfect world, what people would really have is a neighborhood encompassing all of those aspects, which is the very type of smart growth community Sustain Charlotte is working towards.
Special thanks to Kimley-Horn for being our presenting sponsor for this event.
Couldn’t make it out? Check out the photos here. Photos by Grant Baldwin Photography.