Is NoDa overshadowing Villa Heights? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Is NoDa overshadowing Villa Heights?

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

There's no doubt the neighborhood known as NoDa is a big draw for people coming to Charlotte. But residents in the nearby Villa Heights community say the growth of NoDa is overshadowing their neighborhood.

"It's kind of taking away from us being who we are, and kind of letting our neighborhood evolve naturally. It really kinda steps on our toes" says Liz Eagle."

Villa Heights' boundaries run from Parkwood to North Davidson to Matheson to the Plaza and back to Parkwood.

Eagle, who is the President of the Villa Heights Community Association, says many people don't realize Villa Heights is an actual neighborhood - distinctly different from NoDa. 

"We have people living here for 2 or 3 years that had no idea they were in Villa Heights. Realtors market it as NoDa or close to NoDa."

Villa Heights neighbors say they understand that NoDa is popular for the arts, restaurants and the night life.

"That's wonderful. And it's great for them and it's great for us because we get a lot of younger generations wanting to live here because we have a great space for families, great space for growing community but it's bad for us, for people who have been here a long time. We really want to respect what's been going on and what's been in the works for years" says Eagle.

"Villa Heights has a special charisma to it" says Brittany Thacker. "Because of the neighbors. Because of the location. We're so proud that we want to create our own identity."

So the Community Association is starting a branding campaign that Thacker, the Association's Vice President says is "top priority right now. It's one of our biggest initiatives."

Residents are designing community logos to put up at the neighborhood's entry ways.

Thacker says "first of all we need to have a visual identity I think in the neighborhood. We all know Villa Heights but there is no visual identity as people come through the neighborhood. They can't see that this is Villa Heights. Plan number one is to decide on a community logo."

Villa Heights is growing. 

More people are moving in. New houses are being built, and 100 year old homes are being renovated and going up for sale.

The Community Association says with light rail stations coming to their neighborhood, they want to make sure Villa Heights is on the map.

"We're growing as Charlotte grows but we're still maintaining and preserving our heritage" says Thacker. "Villa Heights has a history of over 120 years based around the mills in the area. And we have lots of residents who have grown up in these mills."

"We have older citizens that have been living here, that have been building their community, that know their neighbors, that have cookouts, that stay outside and get to know one another" says Eagle.

Thacker says Villa Heights is not trying to compete with NoDa.

"This is not an us versus them. We're Charlotte – all on the same team. It's just bringing identity to our neighbors – our community" says Thacker.

But the branding campaign has some hurdles to overcome.

Several businesses on North Davidson Street in Villa Heights have NoDa in their names.

Yohannes Barmichael says he calls his shop, 'NoDa Market and Deli' because it's located on North Davidson Street, and the street's name is well known.

Barmichael says he likes being associated with NoDa.

"It's very understandable" says Thacker. "NoDa has a great community around exceptional restaurants. There's a night life there. There's culture. And they want to associate with that."

The Community Association is hoping Villa Heights will one day be the draw.

"If we can develop a brand and an identity - we hope someday it will bring more businesses to our neighborhood and better identify Villa Heights.

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