On April 4, 2019, ULI Charlotte invited members to learn about how SouthPark is transitioning from a suburban district to an urban one. Traditionally considered a retail center with the mall as its hub, SouthPark is in the midst of a transformation, shaped by key new projects such as The Loop, Apex SouthPark, and The Colony redevelopment.
Here are some key takeaways from the panel:
- For the past 50 years, SouthPark has been associated with the mall, but it’s important to go beyond that identity to preserve the area as an economic engine for the future.
- SouthPark was built on a suburban footprint, which is choppy and requires more connectivity and green spaces. It’s difficult for area residents to enjoy the amenities of living in SouthPark without driving.
- Developers need to show how these changes are beneficial – it’s important to be thoughtful and brand a project properly.
- Major thoroughfares like Fairview and Sharon can’t be expanded, but redevelopments like Apex SouthPark and The Colony create opportunities to add new street connections, reducing traffic at major intersections.
- There’s been a shift in attitudes of SouthPark area residents who were often resistant to redevelopment and additional traffic – they’re recognizing that SouthPark is becoming more urban, but they want to take an active role in those projects.
- Partnerships like SPAN (SouthPark Association of Neighborhoods) can work in conjunction with the City of Charlotte and the private sector to develop a shared vision of future growth rather than ad hoc projects that don’t work together.
- There needs to be a way to help people get around SouthPark without getting in their cars, such as The Loop, but also other forms of transportation like sprinters.
- Affordable housing needs to be part of the discussion for SouthPark in order for successful commercial projects to find employees.
It’s clear that SouthPark is destined for great change over the next decade and that public organizations, private businesses, and local residents will all play a role in shaping the future of the area. Thank you to our panelists: Fran West with the City of Charlotte Economic Development, Chris Thomas with Childress Klein Properties and developer of Apex SouthPark, Kenny Smith with New South Properties and former city council member, and moderator Beth Silverman with the Lotus Campaign and formerly with ULI Advisory Services. Notes provided by Angela Vogel Daley, Director of Strategy for Yellow Duck Marketing.