Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

What will a new mayor, city council mean for east Charlotte? 

When Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx took the oath of office last week, he reiterated his desire to make the Queen City look good from every angle. That means no more crappy corridors in Foxx's Charlotte, which is how former Mayor Pat McCrory described one area of the city — east Charlotte — two years ago.

But the people who live there have heard these promises and lofty goals before. That's why some residents and leaders in that community are eyeing the new mayor's words skeptically until they see real changes.

It's no secret that East Charlotte is home to empty big-box stores; the decaying Eastland Mall, which no one (city officials or the property's owners) want to take ownership of; and a perceived high crime rate. (Although, according to the latest crime statistics from Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, in November the Eastway Division had the highest decrease in crime.)

But, in an interview with Creative Loafing days before he was sworn in, Foxx said: "We're working to build a footprint in our city where any given business will locate to any part of our city. That's sort of my long-term goal for Charlotte ... to be a place where you pick any point on a map, and it be a great place to start a business or raise a family."

Leaders in east Charlotte, however, say it will take more than nice speeches to prove that change will come to this part of the city. CL recently spoke with three community representatives about their thoughts and hopes for the new mayor and city council.

Darrell Bonapart, who ran for the District 5 seat this fall only to lose to incumbent Nancy Carter, said: "My expectations of the new mayor and the city council is to not forget the progress of Eastland Mall, to ensure that Independence Boulevard project goes forward with the inclusion that businesses are absolutely protected, unlike with what was allowed to happen in the first phase of the widening of Independence Boulevard. The other expectation is addressing the issues of public safety in East Charlotte. That is still a serious issue, and we get a lot of press regarding public safety. And the perception is that East Charlotte has become a very unsafe area ... it is not as bad as it is perceived to be, but it is what it is. I'm hoping that we will get improved support on those three areas that we've been working on for years."

Heather Ferguson, Charlotte East Community Partners president and 10-year resident of east Charlotte, said: "Whether or not Foxx or the new city council will make good on campaign promises and govern in a more equitable fashion remains to be seen ... It's a safe thing to say when you're campaigning because it's something no one would disagree with. It's like saying we need more police officers. I hope that he really means it in his heart because there has been a failure for some elected officials in Charlotte to represent the city as a whole and realize that the city as a whole is only as good as its weakest link. I think there has been a disproportionate amount of focus and money and attention spent on certain parts of Charlotte to make them better, which is great but it has been to the [detriment] of other parts of Charlotte, and you can't continue on that path. We want, first of all, results, not studies, not promises, not speculation about what they'd like to see happen, but real, tangible results. I think the areas that we're most concerned about are the obvious ones: Eastland Mall, the streetcar coming down Central [Avenue], what's going to happen with the further widening of Independence and that we receive no more low-income, subsidized housing -- because we're already inundated with that and we have far more than our fair share than the rest of the city."

Ed Garber, Eastside Political Action Committee chairman, said: "The issue for east Charlotte is to have open communication with the city council. I can't tell you if that's going to occur because that has yet to be seen. But that's what I would hope would happen -- is that we would have more open communication, and we just haven't had that with the Independence Boulevard land use study and as well with Eastland Mall. I think a lot of issues that we have are long-standing issues that we've had with city council, and while I hope they change, I don't necessarily think that there's anything particularly special about the new council. In a Democratic-controlled council, you're not going to see Democrats rallying against one of their own, especially not in the district. As far as Anthony Foxx is concerned, I would say that's where a lot of leadership lies as far as the future of east Charlotte. And again, if I were Anthony Foxx, I think he made some comments about dropping Eastland Mall and not reviewing the city's purchase of Eastland Mall. [Foxx told The Charlotte Observer on Nov.16 following a closed door meeting about Eastland Mall that he didn't think the new council would change the city's position about purchasing Eastland.] So, if that's true, that's concerning."

Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events

Photo Galleries

» more slideshows
www.flickr.com
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2017 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation