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NoDa (N Davidson St Arts District) Projects

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I don't think they are really comparable.

NoDa was successful, so lots of investors came in and have been making money rehabbing houses. The developers have noticed the demand, so now they are trying to capitalize. It is straying from its roots because prices are going up, not because of some neighborhood master plan.

Atlantic Station is entirely different and created an urban development where there was nothing but hundreds of acres contaminated land....there was nothing there before but a steel mill.

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oh, okay, I didn't know that much of this history of atlantic station, it just reminded me of what NoDa could become when I was in atlanta 2 or 3 weeks ago, its a pretty neat place, I like it

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I was told by a real estate agent recently that one of Noda's problems is that many of the rennovations were done by weekend warriors using home depot methods/materials who had gotten "flip the house fever". As a result the prices in there are not working because many of the redone places were poorly done. That may be part of the reason that new projects which are announced for Noda are so very slow to get off the ground, if ever and why retail there is having a difficult time.

Crime is another issue holding it back. Just today at lunch WSOC did a segment on Noda that said theves commonly steal stuff off of construction sites there. They noted a project on Spencer street that had been robbed several times in the last few weeks.

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I was told by a real estate agent recently that one of Noda's problems is that many of the rennovations were done by weekend warriors using home depot methods/materials who had gotten "flip the house fever". As a result the prices in there are not working because many of the redone places were poorly done.

This is true, I went into many of the Noda Mill houses both flipped and not flipped. There are a lot of "I saw this trick on "Trading Spaces" types of houses where instead of full granite counter tops counter tops were done in a granite tile (trust me, it doesn't fool anyone into believing they've got a granite top). New counters were at times awkwardly positioned or poorly installed with some even having jagged sawed edges. There was a lot of use of cheaper tiles in the bathrooms that often times looked novice installed and also the use of carpet in many rooms was disheartening. Sometimes I think people think they can go into NODA with a Lowe

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Indeed. Most of the "historic" houses that were built in Noda were mill homes for the employess of the cotton mills that used to be in what was known as North Charlotte. These houses were built very simply as the mill provided this housing to the workers and were considered housing for the working poor. They lack the historic charm of the homes found in other neighborhoods like Dilworth, Wesley heights, Wilmore, and parts of Midwood. 80 years of neglect didn't help much.

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I can't say I ever seriously considered buying property in NODA, but I walked though some of those back streets and concluded it was no draw to me. The homes are tiny and undistinctive. There are mill sections of Concord that look just like this, with lots that could be had for much less, if you really like the "charm" of these type cottages.

I think the bungalows between NODA and Midwood have more character. But that means being closer to "the bad part" of Plaza road or Parkwood, which would not interest me either.

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I can say, though, that I have been inside a few old mill houses that are now prices in the mid-300s, and they had a high quality renovation. Also, one homeowner I know well continues to upgrade the house, but purely through certified contractors and not anything by herself.

To me, the prices for the neighborhood are increasing primarily because the neighborhood is now considered safer, still interesting, and up-and-coming. The level of renovation for details like the kitchen might be mediocre, not, but if the 'rising tide lifts all boats' process continues, the values could easily justify a re-renovation to a better spec level. The neighborhood seems to be continuing to gain popularity with newcomers, and people seem to be gaining a sense of safety and happiness with the community.

It is much like other inner ring neighborhoods that have turned a corner. For a long time, houses sold at a steep discount, because homes were in disrepair throughout the neighborhood, and there were safety concerns. But once the overall sense is that houses are cleaned up (which is the dominant feeling now driving through the neighborhood), and the perceived and real crime rates are lower, the values suddenly shoot up to be what other better neighborhoods are getting.

As much as people complain about gentrification, this process provides the homeowners with a nest egg of equity that helps boost their financial situation. The poorer artists can actually have a little bit of money in order to no longer be poor. But they might not like themselves, then. :).

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I was referring to a real estate agent who primairly works the center city area , comments on why sales are so difficult in Noda compared to similar places elsewhere.

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I was referring to a real estate agent who primairly works the center city area , comments on why sales are so difficult in Noda compared to similar places elsewhere.

I've worked in and watched this area since the late 90's. I sorely miss Fat City which brought many of us over there. The prices in the neighborhood had jumped and stopped a few times -- 1999, then a resurge, again in 2003, now a resurge.

Economics does this along with the comments posted on here. Each time I have seen this happen it is primarily from prices being increased too rapidly with no real change in the homes being priced up ("flipping" with no work being done at all) combined with the earlier notes of poor workmanship. This is not to imply all or most of the homes are done poorly, but many are and this is true in any of the older neighborhoods. HGTV and the like have done wonders for getting peoples minds into being creative with their homes, but they also have had, in my humble opinion, done the opposite to others. When you watch those shows you don't really get a true vision of what was done -- cameras and distance can easily fool -- and I doubt a lot of that homemade furniture and upholstry attached with staples really lasts very long or looks very good up close. It also makes people think it is realistic to change a room for $1000 or a home for not much more. Simple paint and caulk don't make for a renovation. They never seem to delve into real plumbing issues, electric upgrades, foundation repair -- it is always a nice little house that needs a "spruce up" and that CAN be done with little or no effort. A 100 year old mill house that has been a rental for 50 years hardly qualifies.

I believe slow sales, at times for certain properties, in NoDa are often a result of this. Cheap renovations -- but buyers are not dumb or typically blind, so the homes don't sell, the market adjusts itself, and the price for those homes drops. Other homes done well sell quickly. I have seen phenominal renovations in NoDa and they sold quickly for high prices. It isn't hard to correlate these factors and see a pattern. The other factor is assuming all parts of a given neighborhood are the same. Pockets of any neighborhood tend to be either more popular (Dilworth around Latta Park or along Kingston) or less popular (sections of NoDa adjacent to The Plaza). Lumping all parts of a huge neighborhood together doesn't work.

NoDa will sustain itself, just like all center city neighborhoods seem to be doing, but there might not be a steady drive with no speed bumps. Each time I've seen the neighborhood flatten for a bit, it comes right back. (Belmont is next! prices have jumped way too fast for how rough it still is...)

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Honestly I don't really see how you can rennovate a mill house into something that people will want to move into without doing major work that is beyond the abilities of most weekend warriors. There is a difference in doing rennovations on a early 20th century Victorian built for the turn of the century upper middle class, vs something that was thrown up to house mill workers. In my opinion the only way to rennovate a mill house, is to push it down and build anew. I am of the opinion that Wilmore and Wesley Heights will continue to pull people away from Noda for this reason.

This is one area where they really ought to have done some 60's style urban renewal.

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Honestly I don't really see how you can rennovate a mill house into something that people will want to move into without doing major work that is beyond the abilities of most weekend warriors. There is a difference in doing rennovations on a early 20th century Victorian built for the turn of the century upper middle class, vs something that was thrown up to house mill workers. In my opinion the only way to rennovate a mill house, is to push it down and build anew. I am of the opinion that Wilmore and Wesley Heights will continue to pull people away from Noda for this reason.

This is one area where they really ought to have done some 60's style urban renewal.

I definitely agree that Wilmore and Wesley have pulled some of the momentum from NoDa based on housing stock and appeal.

I have friends that have moved to NoDa for the mill houses, though. The funky, eclectic crowd seems to really like them. The renovations I have seen that worked in this housing type of atypical of what you would find in a traditional bungalow or victorian. The baths and kitchens tend to go more in a stylized direction, they love the beadboard walls that remain in many of these as well as the 10' ceilings. I think it is just a situation of different strokes for different folks, but there are far more people that want traditional than funky.

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Well, I guess because I have seen it done successfully I don't see the problem.

They have good sized rooms, being one story, they usually have taller ceilings, and many of them have a basic design structure that is fairly useful.

I don't agree with the notion of tearing them down. Primarily, by updating the floors, kitchen and bathrooms, and correcting any structural issues, these houses are perfectly suitabl for modern middle class. Part of the cultural phenomenon that has lead to resurgence of old neighborhoods has been the preference of smaller places with some historic charm. People are prefering smaller places, that give them a sense of connection to the past. Many are throwing off the need for all the extra space inherent in modern suburban homes, for a more minimal, but useful house. For example, most don't use formal living or dining rooms, so an old style 4 room house with large rooms works very well.

Here is an example of a 4 room Thompkins mill house

tompk120a.jpg

Many of those have been converted to two large bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen/dining room. They've been expanded a bit out the back to add bathrooms. Some have expanded up to add a third bedroom, etc. Granted, they are small compared to what most people are used to, but perfectly acceptable for modern 1 and 2 person families.

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It can be done but it takes a lot of money. However the fact they are leveling entire blocks of homes to build the new condo projects there, and nobody is crying about the loss, is an indication as to the desirability of these old houses. Often times they no longer look like the drawings above having gone through various modernizations for the last 8 decades.

As for the artsy crowd, it should be noted the prices there have stopped that growth there. The area is less artsy than it was 15 years ago by a wide margin.

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Where are they leveling blocks of homes?

Herrin Towers/Steel Gardens only had industrial buildings, and they are incorporating some of those into the project. Highland Mill was Highland Mill. Between Renaissance, NoDa18, Lofts34, only a dozen or so old mill houses were lost, and I think there was a bit of a stink about it. There is actually a lot of vocal opposition to any plans to tear down the mill houses on Davidson St itself between Matheson and 34th. I think Crosland previously had plans to continue tearing those down for more large buildings. I don't know if they scrapped plans or just slowed them down.

In my view, they should move the structurally sound mill houses to extra parcels within the neighborhood, and build denser buildings along Davidson and 36th Streets. Then within the neighborhood itself, to avoid as many teardowns as possible.

As for the artsiness, I think I agree with you. However, from my dealings, NoDa seems to draw the middle class people who are more like the artists. The people I know there are more of the old hippies that barely grew out of it, or granola types. Even though they have more money than artists, and are middle class, they are definitely people who fit into the neighborhood's vibe. However, I'm sure that 15 years ago, a lot more was accepted in the area, which set up its artsy culture.

All in all, I think that NoDa will continue to be inspired by the kind of people that dominated the neighborhood 15 years ago. But it is definitely transitioning to a middle class neighborhood with standard condos, renovated old houses, and more standard commercial development. Some projects, like 28thRo and Highland Mill, will actually pursue people very different than the rest of NoDa. Others will pursue the arts community, like Renaissance and The Colony, through lower prices, options for retail condos, etc.

The neighborhood is definitely changing, but I'm not so sure it is losing as much of its culture as it seems at first glance.

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There were a bunch of houses right on Davidson that are not there anymore, and there is a development going on next to a water tower when they simply bulldozed the land.

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That was Renaissance, as I listed. The others that resulted in the loss of old houses were Loft34 (at 34th and Davidson), Noda18 (at 36th and Wesley). The Colony also likely tore down some houses, too. So maybe a few dozen over the last 5 years.

NoDa is also getting almost a dozen old houses moved to the neighborhood from Plaza-Midwood.

I think there has been some debate on the benefits of the new condos, but for the most part, I think the neighborhood recognizes that some SFH to condo densification is good for the whole community. However, they have seemed to fight the loss of the mill houses on Davidson south of 34th.

I'm not saying they haven't lost houses, I'm just saying it has been relatively few compared to the total number of mill houses in the whole area.

My overall view for this neighborhood is that it'll be better to retain a significant majority of the mill houses, although with some expansion and renovation. Along the corridors of 36th Street, Davidson Streets, the mill houses should be moved or torn down and replaced with denser housing with retail on the ground level. That will allow for TOD support for LRT, while preserving the relatively dense single family homes that have defined the neighborhood for almost a century.

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I agree with dubone. Davidson is the artery to uptown. It makes more sense to move those houses back further into the neighborhood or to available land in Optimist Park.

I drove through here for the first time in a while today. My impression is that there's a lot of vacant new and modified structures. I still feel like the area is being pushed faster than its natural growth.

Edited by MZT

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The neighborhood has opposed tearing down any houses over the past couple of years. An attempt was made on the block behind Center of the Earth Gallery to remove some duplexes and single family homes and the rezoning petition did not pass -- the neighborhood solidly opposed it. Part of the problem might have been the the reluctance of the development group to work with the neighborhood on any compromise. Those in NoDa understand that change comes and can be very beneficial, but many seem to be guarded against adding much more density.

I think it is becoming more understood, though, that mixed use on the main corridor will give the area the density it needs to support the retail, restaurants, bars, etc., that are opening.

As for losing the artsy feel of the neighborhood -- I don't really agree. The people I know that live there are artsy, somewhat hippie, and definitely not the norm for other center city neighborhoods. Whoever said that all artists MUST struggle or have low income? Plenty of artists make plenty of money.

I completely agree that the mill homes along North Davidson should likely give way to denser development -- I do think, and there are some plans in the works, that they can somehow be incorporated into developments in order to create something that will please the proponents of higher desity and the proponents of preservation. I would love to see the corridor seamless from Center City all the way to NoDa with streetfront development --

fingers are crossed...

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Noda is one of the few parts of Charlotte where you can still feel a "vibe" but it seems to be losing its soul more and more. I have not lived in Charlotte long but when I mention the neighborhood to longtime residents every single one has said that Noda is ruined now and is a shell of its former self and talk about the great galleries and bars etc that were forced out by the condos and gentrification. There is a lot of residual resentment left over. If the artists abandon the so-called "arts district" Noda will become a transit friendly version of Ballantyne Village with no character left whatsoever.

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Noda is one of the few parts of Charlotte where you can still feel a "vibe" but it seems to be losing its soul more and more. I have not lived in Charlotte long but when I mention the neighborhood to longtime residents every single one has said that Noda is ruined now and is a shell of its former self and talk about the great galleries and bars etc that were forced out by the condos and gentrification. There is a lot of residual resentment left over. If the artists abandon the so-called "arts district" Noda will become a transit friendly version of Ballantyne Village with no character left whatsoever.

I doubt anything so centrally located with older homes and older buildings could ever be "like" Ballantyne. Regardless of the residents -- be they artists with no money, artists with money, new gentrified neighbors, the gay and lesbian population that has ended up here, etc. -- this will still be an older neighborhood where you don't have to have a car and can walk to lots of amenities. The character is inherent with the 100 year + mills, 100 year + commercial district, and the proximity to downtown. 10 or 15 years ago the blue collar tenants and other long time residents decried the artists moving in and changing the fabric of THEIR neighborhood -- everything is a cycle.

Fat City left for money -- KC was not forced out -- he and his partners accepted the cash gladly. Other than Fat City, the only other bar I recall that moved out was Pat's Time for One More. I hate that bar leaving far more than Fat City -- it was a good old fashioned biker / blue collar bar with Johnny Cash in the jukebox before that was popular. The gallery it was attached to left also to make way for The Nevitt Building. I am not implying that I think these places should go in the name of progress -- just pointing out the facts. There was no long string of businesses that "were" in the neighborhood that are not there now.

Many of the buildings and homes that were in North Davidson (I still hate calling it NoDa and will never call Belmont or Optimist Park SoDa) were on the verge of collapse and were boarded up unused. (see the remaining building as part of NoDa Lofts -- it had a tree growing out of the roof until it was restored -- some developers preserve -- and the Fat City building which is finally begun is saving the 2-story Fat City section of the row) It is always good to talk about the "good ol' days" but we tend to forget everything was not so sunny and bright as memory might imply.

The "vibe" in North Davidson will continue to be unique -- it will just continue to evolve and change as every part of the city does and has done forever. So far it appears that this is going to be a decent alternative for night life in the city other than the polished new feel of center city. Each condo building on the main drag so far has added retail or restaurant space on the lower levels which will only enliven the district. I really don't think a coffee shop called Smelly Cat, a head shop called Sunshine Daydreams, Neighborhood Theatre, The Rat Pack vintage store, or the Jamaican place, to name only a few, qualify as gentrified uses or anything you would find in Ballantyne.

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Kellys is also gone.

True, but Kelly's wasn't exactly and old staple of the neighborhood -- if I remember correctly it was only open for a year or so before it went. That little house was two or three businesses, none of which seemed to take hold. I did love Kelly's food though and I typically don't like vegetarian.

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Ah, yes... my vegetarian friends and I still lament the loss of Kelly's Cafe. Such a tragedy. Kelly and a couple of other partners have since opened Creation which is across from the Harris Teeter off Central Ave. It's good, but it's Asian-inspired noodle bowls 'n such. Definitely not the vegetarian comfort food of her old Cafe. So sad...

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Ah, yes... my vegetarian friends and I still lament the loss of Kelly's Cafe. Such a tragedy. Kelly and a couple of other partners have since opened Creation which is across from the Harris Teeter off Central Ave. It's good, but it's Asian-inspired noodle bowls 'n such. Definitely not the vegetarian comfort food of her old Cafe. So sad...

Isn't "vegetarian comfort food" an oxymoron?

:D

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