Can Walmart Anchor Transit-Oriented Development?
Tags: amity gardens shopping center, decay, decline, east independence boulevard, Economic Development, freeway, heritage, North Carolina, preservation, strip malls, transit oriented development, Transportation, walmart
Amity Gardens Shopping Center was a popular shopping center in Charlotte, NC, during the 1950s. Now, the blighted strip mall is slated to be bulldozed and replaced with a Walmart with the hopes of revitalizing the area.
According to Groceteria:
The Winn-Dixie at Charlotte’s Amity Gardens Shopping Center opened in November of 1958, right in the middle of the most thriving retail strip in the city. The center also included Woolworth’s and a Barclay Cafeteria. By 1961, it also included Charlotte’s first (and only) branch of Clark’s, an early “supercenter” with both general merchandise and groceries.
The shopping center was already experiencing decline in the 1980s when Independence Boulevard, an artery moving traffic from southwestern suburbs into downtown Charlotte, was converted into a freeway. In the past few years, Independence Boulevard (nothing boulevard-like about it!) has been redesigned as an 8-lane highway with separated center lanes for express buses. Already blighted strip malls, like Amity Gardens, became totally abandoned.
A local Charlotte news station reported that last Monday, Walmart and city leaders finally agreed on and finalized plans to build a super center on the Amity Gardens site. Charlotte County Council member, Nancy Carter, believes that the Walmart will help revitalize the area and serve as an anchor for future transit-oriented development expected to be built in neighboring sites.
What do you think?
Usually, transit-oriented development has shops, homes, and offices mixed together near a public transportation station. The point is to maximize the number of people who will ride the bus, metro, tram, train, or other mode that goes through the station.Typical transit-oriented neighborhoods have a center with a station or bus stop, and they are surrounded by relatively high-density development within about a one-quarter to one-half mile radius from the station, as this only takes people a few minutes to walk. If you have ever been to Amity Gardens and its surrounding neighborhood, you know it’s a mostly low-density single family area bordering on a highway with no public transit hubs to speak of. Not yet, anyway.
If you are interested, here is a link to the most recent concept plans for the Amity Gardens area, which should be adopted pretty soon. From the looks of it, Charlotte is hoping to build a station with surrounding offices, homes, ground-level shops, and parks. Considering the eyesore that Independence Boulevard is today, it is exciting to think about what the area could look like in 5 to 10 years. For more information about the plan process, check out this Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department link.