Businesses and school upset about streetcar indecision

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When Doris Cross opened City Deli on Elizabeth, it was with mixed feelings.

"This used to be Leo's," she says. "And Leo's was a landmark. It'd been here forever and ever. They had people in their seventies who came here when they were young."

But when installing rails for streetcar shut down access to Leo's, the beloved deli went out of business.

"I hate the fact that they didn't finish it," she says. "And I think they blew a lot of businesses out of the ballpark that were here."

Cross felt bad for them.  However, she also saw an opportunity.

"I was hoping [City Deli] would open up and we'd get a lot of traffic because of it."

Of course, the streetcars never materialized, and now she's worried she'll go out of business too.

Johnson C. Smith University also made a pricey bet on the city's promises.

"Like most in the community, I was stunned at the last minute impasse that arose," Dr. Ronald Carter, the school's president, said at a streetcar support meeting Thursday.

He said he was thrilled when city officials decided to run the streetcar from uptonw down along West Trade Street and Beatties Ford, servicing his school. So he started big construction projects to boost the dilapidated area around the streetcar project, building apartments for students and much more.

"We could have stayed within the gates," he said, "but we chose to form a strategic partnership with the city to help revitalize the NorthWest corridor."