Architect, planner and author Stephen Mouzon, did more than just give some lectures from his book, Original Green: Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability, when he was in town recently. He also took a look at a section of south Charlotte that he thinks might be ripe for a different kind of long-range plan: The Park Road-Woodlawn Avenue neighborhood.
City planners are drawing up an area plan for that part of town, home to Park Road Shopping Center and Montford Drive's burgeoning restaurant and bar scene, among other things.
Like many places in Charlotte, the area has most elements of a strong city neighborhood – houses, apartments, condos, shopping, offices, schools, churches, parks and greenways – but is suburban and auto-oriented in its layout and the way it functions. I've long thought it would be a good area to transition to a more urban flavor as it redevelops over time. But the zoning now in place for most of the area requires suburban-style building: stores and offices sitting behind huge parking lots, single-uses, apartments quarantined from single-family houses, and all the buildings too far apart to make walking practical, much less pleasant.
An aside: Don't get me wrong; I love Park Road Shopping Center, despite its hopelessly car-focused design. It opened in 1956 as Charlotte's first open-air shopping center, and for years has offered a mix of stores that works exceptionally well. I hope to heaven its new owners, Edens & Avant, don't mess up a good thing.