Saturday, April 13, 2013

If you build it, they will come.

I'm super excited that we're building in Brightwalk, a brand new neighborhood near uptown. It's designed to feel like an older neighborhood with lots of little Craftsman style houses and mature oak trees lining the sidewalks. There will also be one large park and several pocket parks which I'm super excited about (all the better for dog walking).

I guess I shouldn't hide my consternation for the adjacent neighborhoods. That's the one thing that made Pat and I hesitate and eventually cost us $10,000+ in price hikes while we "slept on it" for nearly a month. Brightwalk is part of Historic Double Oaks, previously home to the infamous Kohler Avenue, aka the ghetto.

As a city, Charlotte is putting a ton of money into making this area, that's less than two miles from uptown, the next South End. All of the old barrack style housing has been bulldozed to make way for newer homes and brave, affluent families are moving in every day. There's a few things still missing and I've got a plan.

City of Charlotte, take notes:

We need retail.
A lifestyle center has been suggested, a la Birkdale in Huntersville, North Carolina. That would meet the needs of the new residents, but I have bigger visions. I envision an Atlantic Station (Atlanta, Georgia) model with mid-to-high end shops and plenty of parking.

Two of the many opportunities identified in Charlotte's 2020 Vision Plan is the lack of shopping in uptown and the gentrification of the North Corridor (the larger area where Double Oaks is located, NoCo as I like to call it). By creating an uptown mall, we won't just be meeting the needs of the new residents, we will attract people from all over Charlotte, maybe the state, to visit the neighborhood and remove the stigma associated with Historic Double Oaks. Two birds.

And amenities. 
It was very clear to us when we signed our contract that our HOA will not be providing a pool or gym. That's fine, but the lack of nice membership-based [read: quality controlled] amenities nearby, is a real disservice to the area.

By providing more than destination shopping and making the uptown mall a real (walkable) asset to residents, the area would be more attractive and seem like a more stable investment, thereby increasing demand. More demand means higher housing prices. And as sad as it is, higher prices will in turn increase the demand even more.

And a dog park. 
There are very few off leash dog parks near uptown and most are indoors, private pay-per-use, and focus more on training/agility than just playing. With the the new Double Oaks Park being cultivated in Brightwalk, a dog park could easily be included.

Surely a dog park would increase Double Oaks appeal to potential new residents, right? Yes, but like the retail, I believe we should set our sights even higher. Let's not aim to meet just the needs of the immediate residents, let's aim to pull visitors in.

The Newton Dream Dog Park in Alpharetta, Georgia is the type of dog park that draws crowds in from across the city because it makes all other dog parks obsolete. Double Oaks is the perfect location due to it's centrality, enabling it to serve all of Mecklenburg County. Would I drive across the county to visit any old dog park? Nope. But I would drive a long way to visit a park like that. And I would be envious of everyone who lived close to such a place.