Belmont Better Block
Situated east of Uptown between the thriving neighborhoods of Noda and Plaza Midwood, Belmont is a historic African American mill village. Belmont’s proximity to Uptown, Plaza Midwood, and Noda and its relative affordability have attracted many new residents to the neighborhood, primarily young families. As a result, Belmont has two distinct voices, each with its own vision for the development of the community; the original residents and the newly transplanted.
The Belmont Community Association received a neighborhood matching grant from the City of Charlotte to host a Better Block to address some of the issues in the neighborhood. The site that was chosen was the intersection of Belmont Avenue and Harrill Street. The intersection consisted of three commercial corner store buildings that were currently vacant. The Better Block project worked to highlight the potential for those spaces. After surveying the community, we found that there were a few recurring themes. Many of the respondents asked for a community mural, a grocery store with fresh food, and a community space. Using the survey results, we created a list of interventions to meet these requests.
Based on the desire for a community space, we worked with volunteers to create an outdoor living room in the parking lot of an old car garage. One of the Block Captains found astroturf, which was used as a ground cover, the community spent a morning building Wikiblock furniture, we hung string lights, and local vendors created a pop-up coffee shop and beer stand. We wanted to create something unique for Belmont, and designed a special rocking chair. We also partnered with 8Lincoln30, a local design and production shop, to design a chandelier, representative of the Queen City. Ultimately, we gave the community what it had been asking for, and it worked. People were united in a space that had previously been underutilized and we were proud to have helped bridge the gaps between the two communities that called Belmont home.