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Gentrification in Charlotte’s Historic West End: Blue Ribbon Conversation Summit Seeks Solutions

Charlotte, N.C., April 22, 2016– On a drizzly morning, a group of neighborhood association presidents, higher education staff, and policy makers shuffled into Mosaic Village on West Trade Street to discuss the sustainability, equality, and health of Charlotte’s Historic West End, also known as the Northwest Corridor. Peter Creticos, Ph.D. served as keynote for the morning, providing models of communities that have intentionally built diverse neighborhoods to address the challenges of gentrification head-on.

Dr. Ronald Carter shaped the discussion, stressing that he is not interested in talking for talking’s sake. Dr. Carter wanted the group to address how to get community needs met through free-market principles, articulate solutions to gentrification in a win-win-win way, shape the historic district, then produce a logic model for a cogent, coherent approach.

wp-1461793965759.jpgDr. Creticos spoke about the importance of constructive vocabulary. The word “revitalizing” can be problematic because of its suggestion that little value already existed in the community and a better phrase might be “heightening vitality” in a community. Another example that he cited is getting students through the education “pipeline.” In his estimation, “things that go through pipes have no personality, so we need to find a more constructive metaphor to describe people’s personal achievement and advancement.”

He argued that success measures should be coupled for such work. When looking at a decreased inequality gap, stakeholders should also notice if there is an increase in the median income. Dr. Creticos also offered other possible measures, such as the happiness index. Finally, the keynote provided successful models and resources including the importance of communities of various cultures coming together to intentionally build diverse neighborhoods.

 

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Moderated by Al Austin and Alysia Osborne, Director of the Historic West End Community Initiative for Center City Partners, the panel represented banking, government, and private business.

 

 

Panelists

Napoleon Wallace, Executive Staff, Self-Help Credit Union

Debra Campbell, Assistant City Manager, City of Charlotte

Darrel Williams, Founding Partner, Neighboring Concepts

Pamela Wideman, Deputy Director of Neighborhood and Business Services, City of Charlotte

One contextual element to the discussion was a Harvard-UCBerkley study of the 50 largest cities of which Charlotte placed last for upward mobility.

Mayor Roberts also gave solutions-focused remarks during the event.

 

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