If we mention Uptown, what comes to mind? Busy bankers? Frat-boy-esque EpiCentre advocates? A honk-and-holler metropolis similar to New York City? Try, instead, to imagine tree-lined sidewalks where you can stop by an art gallery on your way to eat before heading to a concert, play or sporting event. NoDa and Plaza Midwood aren't the only neighborhoods to offer that convenience. Uptown, with its museums, galleries and numerous music and arts stages, is the performing arts hub of Charlotte — a fact that's drawing more people to live there.
It's time to throw stereotypes out the window. Uptown residents are more likely to be arts lovers than late-night partiers; in fact, they're neighborhood encouragers who go days without getting into a car.
"People just assume there is nothing to do here other than hang out, eat and go back to the suburbs," Patrick Mertes, a medical sales representative who has been living in TradeMark Tower for two years, says. "I've lived in the Charlotte area for 12 years and always used the skyline as motivation. I always said that one day I would get a place where I could see the skyline every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed. It's an amazing place to live."
An estimated 14,495 people live in Uptown, according to the State of the Center City report released in 2012. To make transportation easier, there are currently 50 electric vehicle charging stations, 20 B-cycle stations as part of the city's bike share program and plans to extend the light rail lines.
"I easily go days without using my car," says Susan Jedrzejewski, an Uptown resident of one-and-a-half years who works at the McColl Center for Visual Art and lives in a Church Street apartment building across from it. "It's a 12-minute walk to the grocery store. I plan to bike to Trader Joe's and already ride to Common Market South End. It's a mile to the YMCA where I work out."
Attractions are plentiful in downtown, of course. We don't have to tell you that. From galleries and museums, including the Mint Museum, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and Levine Museum of the New South, to music and arts venues such as Time Warner Cable Arena, Belk Theater and Knight Theater, not to mention Panthers Stadium and the future home of the area's minor league baseball team, there's hardly a lack of things to do.
"I didn't move here for the nightlife," Jedrzejewski says. "I just wish some of the places here had more character like they do outside of Center City."
With the Charlotte Knights' Uptown stadium and Romare Bearden Park under construction, residents not only look forward to having more to do, but hope the new locations will bring even more interest to the area, especially from retail stores. One recent addition that houses several local vendors is 7th Street Public Market.
"I thought I was going to miss having a community feel, but now I have a neighborhood bar with Alexander Michael's and I feel like I'm part of Fourth Ward," Jedrzejewski says.
Adds Mertes, "There's the potential to have more festivals and events to bring people together. With the accessibility to everything comes a small-town feel and it builds a nice community."