I believe Plaza Midwood is the last established neighborhood in Charlotte that has it all.
This is a claim many people may disagree with. To be forthcoming, I do have a bias: I was born in Charlotte and raised in Plaza Midwood. Except for a several years in college, I have been a part of this community my entire life. I came back to Plaza Midwood because of the opportunities and quality relationships that have continued to sustain me in my life and entrepreneurship.
When I say Plaza Midwood has it all, I’m talking about the real stuff. Not just the next hottest institution-approved watering hole, (of which we usually have a few). We are a community of families and artists built around the basics: a post office, library, grocery stores, restaurants, and thriving locally owned retail. These small businesses have been around in various forms since the neighborhood’s inception. A good portion of these area businesses are owned by people who walk or bike to work. It’s those types of overlapping relationships that connect people to their community and foster a sustaining level of empathy among its residents. Plaza Midwood is a neighborhood nourished by quality relationships – whether business or personal.
There’s been a lot of “us and them” talk about change and defending the identity of Plaza Midwood.
Condos are certainly part of that discussion, but looking deeper it’s the fear of how the influx will affect our personal relationships. Gentrification is a touchy subject at best, especially when it tangles with the folks that helped build this neighborhood into the eclectic and prosperous zip code it is today. They pioneered the creative community we enjoy today, the kind that almost always attracts and ushers in the kind of change we are now dealing with.
There’s a lot of concern about the future integrity of the neighborhood. Gentrification and new development happens. It’s how we respond to the challenge that dictates the integrity of what our community will become. No amount of hold out and pushback will keep things the same.
We live in a rapidly growing city & Plaza Midwood is just minutes from Center City. South End was swallowed up and spit out. Now the eye of Uptown has turned east. It’s up to us to come together to define the values we need to sustain our identity in this time of tremendous change. Above all else, that rugged individualism is what makes Plaza Midwood home for so many resilient and creative people. We can adapt, we can choose our battles, support local, build new relationships and come out stronger than we started.
At the front lines of this struggle is our small resilient community of merchants. I’d like to see PMM become a badge of honor. One in which everyone who makes their livelihood in Plaza Midwood makes a commitment to live up to the community’s established values of diversity, acceptance, and celebration.