CHARLOTTE, NC (Steve Harrison/The Charlotte Observer) - After meeting with residents, Charlotte has unveiled its plans to spend $10 million to spruce up the SouthPark area, with a three-mile "Cultural Loop" as one of the winners.
The city's idea is to create a loop that connects some of the area's most visited areas: Piedmont Row, Morrison Regional Library and Phillips Place. The path would be more than a sidewalk or greenway, and would have some parks and plazas, as well as distinctive art.
The city will spend about $500,000 on the project initially, and it will need several million dollars to finish. The city wants private developers to help build it, either by allowing the loop to enter their property or to contribute signs, art or decorate bike racks.
City project manager Fran West said the loop could be an iconic project for SouthPark, just as the Rail Trail is for South End.
"We want it to be similar to the Rail Trail," she said. "But SouthPark is not South End. We need to come up with a distinct look and feel for what SouthPark is. We hope to do some really great creative engagement with the public."
It would be modeled after the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an eight-mile downtown project that cost $63 million.
The city started with 45 ideas for the area. It has narrowed that list down to five projects, including the Cultural Loop.
The city has been meeting with the SouthPark Coalition, a newly formed group of business owners, about helping to pay for the projects. Coalition member Tracy Dodson, a senior vice president at Lincoln Harris, said earlier this year some large businesses would be willing to help.
The city announced this week that Dodson is joining the city next month as an assistant city manager overseeing economic development.
There are four other projects recommended for completion.
One is a $2.5 million sidewalk on Barclay Downs Drive, to give residents better access to Myers Park High.
The city also plans to spend $3 million improving eight intersections, on Fairview Road, Sharon Road and Morrison Boulevard.
West said the city wants to improve crosswalks, with a signature design that would be painted on the road or installed with special pavers. The city has done this uptown with a checkerboard crosswalk near the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
There are two other smaller projects.
One would provide new signs direct people from Barclay Downs Drive to the Briar Creek Greenway, along existing sidewalks. The other project is the Backlot Trail, which would connect Park South Drive to Park Road Park.
The $10 million for SouthPark is part of the city's $800 million capital plan that was approved by City Council in 2013.
As part of the capital plan, Prosperity Village and Whitehall/Arysley each received $30 million. Beatties Ford Road, West Trade and Rozzelles Ferry, and Central/Albemarle/Shamrock each received $20 million.