New light rail to the north stokes fears of gentrification to some residents

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As testing continues along the new light rail, one neighborhood in particular is seeing new changes.

Pastor Sheldon Shipman of Greenville AME Zion in Charlotte's Hidden Valley neighborhood, asked his members during their weekly bible study a simple question.

"How many of you have had solicitations on your property?" Shipman asked his congregation.

Just about everyone around the table raised their hand. Shipman is among the concerned homeowners near the church that could potentially see an increase in growth, greed and gentrification; all of which are a concern to some neighbors.

Yvonne Barrett survived the ebbs and flows in this neighborhood throughout the years, which has included a cycle of good times, safety challenges and now a positive turnaround.

"We can capitalize on it too, because it's gonna come," Barrett said.

Joan Baxter who attends the church understands changing fortunes.

"I live in a small community and I get about four or five 'I want to buy your house' every week," Baxter said.

Even the view outside of David Brooks' take-out family business that he owns and operates with his brother Scott has changed.

Once surrounded by textile plants and mill houses, new condos are coming out of the ground right across the parking lot.

"I see the future of Charlotte and how the city has grown. This is only a start of things that you see now," Brooks said.

The outcome of the expansion of the area is of concern to some residents in Hidden Valley like Vicki Wiley. Her home and land is up for sale.

"It's been very quiet down here. We enjoy the property, but its just time for us to move," Wiley said.

Barrett however, plans to remain in the neighborhood despite the upcoming changes.

"So they want to put me out and put mansions up there and I'm not going any place. They can forget that," Barrett said.

Light rail service to north Charlotte begins this coming Friday.

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