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City Hopes Land Swap Will Bring Development Farther Down E. Trade St.

The federal government will soon own the federal courthouse in Charlotte again.

The City of Charlotte will soon acquire a prime piece of property on East Trade St. The deal didn’t involve an exchange of money, but a trade with the federal government. 

In Charlotte land isn’t just bought and sold.  It’s sometimes swapped. That’s how the city ended up owning the federal courthouse and the land it sits on. Federal officials wanted to build a new courthouse. They had their eye on a plot of land the city owned half a mile down Trade Street where most of the city’s government buildings stand.   

“There’s really nothing that happens in that area after 5 o’clock because all the government buildings close,” says Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Barnes. 

That original swap seemed in everyone’s best interest. But then federal officials decided to just renovate and expand the current courthouse. The city thought developing the three acres it originally owned, now occupied by parking lots, could breathe new life into that section of East Trade St. 

“Developing that parcel with a mixed-used development could actually extend uptown from that Epicentre area at Trade and College going south toward McDowell,” says Barnes.

The property also now sits right beside the streetcar’s path. The plan is to partner with a private developer to bring in a mix of retail, residential and office space. That fits with the federal government’s new initiative to use federal property to encourage economic development.   

The city and the federal government agreed to swap the land back. The East Trade St. land costs more so the city will throw in a new roof on the courthouse to make up the difference.  

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.