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CNU31: Charlotte, NC. South End Spaces

In the past 20 years, South End, the former manufacturing district adjacent to Uptown, has emerged as a vibrant urban, mixed-use neighborhood, full of apartments, restaurants, and bars. It’s currently transitioning from eclectic low-rise historic buildings to mid and high-rise corporate development. South End is connected to Uptown and NODA via the city's Lynx light rail.

The district is a collection of historic buildings and new infill that helps to create a series of spaces that act as both places and pedestrian ways.

This linear plaza is adjacent to the Charlotte Urban Design Center and provides a pedestrian connection for the adjacent light rail stop. The Charlotte Urban Design Center is the city’s hub for engaging the community around urban design and placemaking. It is a space where residents, artists, and community organizations can access the City of Charlotte’s planning and urban design resources and staff in a single location.

The linear plaza is filled with seating, tables, games, and other lingering-inducing interventions. The outdoor space is framed by permeable building walls that help to activate it and provide something interesting to look at as you walk through it.

An alley and pedestrian way in South End opens to a larger pedestrian space and shopping district.

Another pedestrian way in South End provides a connection between streets and buildings. Note the ever-present cranes in the background - the district seems to have an endless construction boom along the light rail corridor.

A discovered courtyard within a redeveloped industrial building. The space is shared by the various restaurants and bars within the cluster of buildings. It also retains the original water tower and integrates the base into the seating area. This space, defined and enclosed with two-story walls full of windows and doors, was a comfortable space to sit within the district. At the time of the photo, most restaurants were still not open, so we sat here and enjoyed a coffee while admiring the vintage architecture and high-quality materials that are emblematic of so many of the spaces in this district.

South End has a well-developed light rail corridor that helps to anchor and drive the development patterns. The rail corridor includes the Charlotte Rail Trail on both sides of the tracks. This trail runs through the district and into Uptown - it provides people the opportunity (and choice) to walk, bike, or ride the transit in a true multi-modal way. Various bars and restaurants spill out into this trail with seating, helping to activate the space.

Another image of the light rail corridor in South End. This section only has the rail trail on one side. You can see Uptown in the distance. Along this corridor, as you head south, there is an endless building boom as these residential buildings continue to march down the rail line. Even at this distance, this transit-oriented development is only a few minutes to Uptown via the light rail.

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