Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department

Center City Charlotte boasts a critical mass of anchor institutions including Queens University, Johnson C. Smith College, Johnson and Wales University, Central Piedmont Community College, and Presbyterian Hospital. U3 Advisors was engaged by the Knight Foundation in Charlotte with cooperation with the Charlotte Planning Department to investigate the opportunity to leverage the economic and physical impact of these anchor institutions.

Through a high-level scan of the institutions and their neighborhoods, U3 developed an anchor institution-led economic development strategy along the West Trade Street Corridor. The effort focused on creating deeper connections between the institutions to their neighborhoods, to the city of Charlotte, and to each other to create a more diverse, vibrant, urban environment.

Trade Street Corridor

The high level scan focused on 3 key anchor institutions in Center City Charlotte, determining their baseline economic impact and identifying opportunities for anchor-based programmatic intervention. The participating anchor institutions included:

  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Central Piedmont Community College
  • Novant Presbyterian Hospital

Key Findings:

  • The East Side and West Side of the Trade Street Corridor are unequal with the west facing more disinvestment and the east side growing.
  • The West Side is much more physically disconnected.
  • There is limited capture of participating anchor institution employees and students along the Trade Street Corridor – with only 2.6% of employees* and 6% of students living within the study area. (*not including Novant employees)
  • With a total spend of $14 million from JCSU, $46 million from CPCC and 1.97 billion from Novant, there is a vast difference in the volume of spending between the three anchor institutions.
  • There is little community development infrastructure on the west trade street corridor.

U3’s recommendations focused on opportunities for developing a collaborative anchor-led economic development strategy along the Trade Street corridor. This included expanding the reach of Center City Partners into the Historic West End to help manage the growth of the corridor and provide additional neighborhood services and amenities.