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City of Charlotte plans to purchase crime-ridden strip mall in west Charlotte for revitalization project

In the past CMPD referred to the property as an ‘open-air drug market.’
The City of Charlotte is taking steps to revitalize a stretch of West Boulevard that police in the past have referred to as an "open air drug market."
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 7:09 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte City Council voted to approve the purchase of a strip of businesses along West Boulevard.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a forfeiture lawsuit against the strip mall last year. The city then worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to coordinate the purchase of the property so it can be repurposed for the betterment of the community.

In the past CMPD referred to the property as an ‘open-air drug market.’

Over the years, police have responded to thousands of calls for service there, including assaults, homicides and other violent crimes.

Charlotte City Council voted to approve the purchase of a strip of businesses along West Boulevard.

Rickey Hall, the board chair of the West Blvd Neighborhood Coalition sees the city taking control as an opportunity.

“I think it’s great that the city is acquiring this property because it gives us the opportunity to plan for its future,” Hall said. “That allows for greater investment but doesn’t lead to rapid displacement and gentrification.”

Hall remembers the federal government filing a similar action back in 1989 against the property right across the street, called City West Commons. It allowed for revitalization, and the chance for small business owners like Denise Hairston to make their mark on west Charlotte.

“We have people come in here all the time and we tell them thank you for coming in and they no, thank you for being here,” Denise Hairston, owner of Dee’s Vegan To-Go, said.

Hairston said crime was a problem when she moved in two years ago, but things are moving in the right direction.

“Shout out to the Charlotte police department, if anything’s going on they’re here,” she said. “I’m excited about the way it is now.”

Hall said they still have to reach their goal of bringing a grocery store to City West Commons.

He envisions local nonprofits doing work in the community and other small businesses setting up shop across the street.

“I would ask us not to be in a rush to put a band-aid on it,” he said. “Let’s go slow to go fast, so what we do has long-term viability and sustainability.”

The plans for the property will be in line with the West Boulevard Corridor playbook.

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