City Plans Crime And Code Enforcement, Development To Revive Beatties Ford Road
City leaders are pledging to revitalize the Beatties Ford Road area in west Charlotte by stepping up criminal and building code enforcement and promoting economic development.
Beatties Ford and Rozzelle's Ferry roads are one of six "Corridors of Opportunity" identified by city leaders. The goal is to create new prosperity in partnership with residents, churches and businesses.
Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham represents the area. He says the city is taking a two-pronged approach: "Public safety (and) code enforcement, working together with the neighborhood leaders and the business owners up and down the corridor, from the I-77 bridge all the way to Friendship Missionary Baptist Church."
At a press conference Wednesday on a soon-to-be developed vacant lot near Beatties Ford Library, Graham said the community must be involved.
"The goal is to make an economic investment in this corridor that has been waiting for this type of investment for years. As I said, what we want is to make sure residents are part of the change and not victims of it," Graham said.
The city set aside $24.5 million in this year's budget to pay for not only public safety and code enforcement, but also infrastructure and transportation improvements and job training in the six corridors. The five others are: Freedom Drive/Wilkinson Boulevard and West Boulevard in west Charlotte, Graham Street/North Tryon and Sugar Creek/I-85 in the north, and Central Avenue/Albemarle Road in east Charlotte.
Wednesday's event included community leaders, developers and top city officials -- the mayor, city manager, police chief, and the city's directors of housing and economic development.
The vacant lot was not far from where four people died and 10 were hurt in a mass shooting in June, after a weekend of celebration for the Juneteenth holiday.
Police Chief Johnny Jennings made yet another appeal for help in that case, which remains unsolved.
"We want more people to come forward to help us with the investigation. However, we do know that we have to work hard. We have to be better as a police department to make sure we bring justice for the families," Jennings said. "And we know that it takes more than just the police."
City manager Marcus Jones was interrupted by a siren as he began to speak.
"It's easy for us to come out today with pictures and with videos and with plans, and promises," Jones said. "Those of you who have been in this community for more than a day or two will say, 'What's different?'"
What's different, he said, is this "Corridors of Opportunity" effort, which grew out of the City Council's challenge to him at its annual retreat to do things differently.
Jones said city staff has been meeting regularly since then to devise a new strategy for dealing with crime and a lack of economic opportunity in the neighborhoods west, north and east of downtown.
"We changed every way that we do business and we said every tool that's available on any stretch of earth in Charlotte-Mecklenburg should be available in our 'Corridors of Opportunity,'" he said.
Jones said there are many projects in the works in these areas that "just need a little bit to get over the goal line."
The event was not just a kickoff, but provided a look at projects to come along Beatties Ford Road. Graham listed a series of public and private developments already in the works -- including retail and office buildings, the redevelopment of the Excelsior Club and a city-led affordable housing development.
"Those things I just mentioned are not things that we want to do, or things that we're planning to do. They're things that are happening right now," Graham said.
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