CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Earlier this week, Charlotte Area Transit System announced a debut date for its new Blue Line extension.
The 9.3 mile alignment that connects uptown through NoDa to UNC Charlotte’s main campus in University City will open March 16.
For people wondering what the light rail extension could mean in NoDa, look no further than the other side of the city.
The South End neighborhood began as an urban wasteland in the 1990’s and slowly grew until it exploded in 2007 because of the newly built light rail.
“It’s nice that it’s finally coming to fruition,” Jeff Tonidandel said. “I think it’s going to make NoDa a lot more accessible.”
Making NoDa more accessible could negatively affect its residents.
“That’s always a concern, that the people who have really grown this neighborhood, and brought the spirit here get priced out of the neighborhood,” NoDa restaurant owner Jeff Tonidandel said.
The light rail extension has some people worried that the quaint little arts district could lose some of its charm because of luxury apartments and development that are expected to explode up the light rail.
South End is both a model, and a cautionary tail.
“I do think this part of town got too big, too fast for its own good,” architect Terry Shook said.
A founding partner and principal at Shook Kelley, Shook is one of South End’s original pioneers.
“NODA will see as much growth, if not more so, once that train gets underway,” Shook said. “Because it’s between UNC Charlotte and the center city.”
Shook says it’s not too late for NoDa to save itself, which is good news for Jeff Tonidandel.
“As a restaurant owner, you become a big part of the neighborhood, but, yeah, you definitely want to keep the spirit of the neighborhood,” Tonidandel said.