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voyager12

Charlotte's hippest neighborhood, NoDa or PM?

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Tonya's Paid2Party column in the O announced that a piano bar is coming to PlazaMidwood behind The Penguin. This is the latest in a slew of announcements of interesting eateries and bars set to open in this area. Tonya seems to think that PM is now outpacing NoDa as the most fun and funkiest neighborhood in the city. What do you think? I spend more time in PM than NoDa but both areas have great places and are growing. I think it's a good thing that they are not too far apart because it gives that whole side of town a somewhat artsy and grassroots coherence and so far chains have had a limited impact. If enough critical mass builds maybe it will be just considered one neighborhood and they can call it NoPla :lol:

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Honestly, I don't think it's a competition. The two areas share a lot of qualities, but they are also very different. I don't think it's a "which one is cooler?" issue - I'm just glad that I live in one and live close to another.

Years ago (New Year's Eve 1994) I was at Fat City with my friends and had to call for a ride at the end of the night. My dad had to come and get us (long story - no cabs, too much to drink, etc). It was my first time in NoDa, so I had no idea where I was. I asked the bouncer for directions. He said "From where?" I said "SouthPark area." He looked me up and down, smiled a sarcastic smile, and said "Yeah, I should have known you were from SouthPark." :rolleyes:

Needless to say I feel much more welcome in NoDa these days now that I live a couple of miles away.

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I think PM has the edge. It has a library, a post office, a grocer. It's more complete as a neighborhood. Maybe I should even add the tire place, as a conveneint spot to get a car worked on.

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I like the core of NoDa, but PM as a neighborhood has outpaced it over the past few years. PM is much more authentically "Charlotte", IMO, because it hasn't outgrown its middle-class roots. NoDa tried a little too hard to be hip, and inflated just a little too fast; now it's actually less fun than it was 5 years ago (especially since Fat City is gone). PM, on the other hand, has had slow but steady growth that hasn't relied on yuppification. Both neighborhoods have a lot of growing left to do, but I think PM has become a much more complete, mature district.

I think the best point of comparison is to imagine NoDa without its music venues. There's basically nothing left but a couple of restaurants and some very high-priced galleries.

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As far as options go I would give PM a edge right now too. One reason being that they have more locally iconic restaurants and hangouts like Penguin,Dish,John's Country Kitchen, and Common Market that have survived and are strongly supported by nearby residents. The two areas do compliment each other well though. Most importantly longtimers and newer residents seem committed to preserving as much original character as possible given the inevitabliity of gentrification.

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My vote is for PM as well, probably most exemplified by my recent decision to pay too much for a house in PM than to pay too much for a house in NoDa (am I a gentricator?). As for locally iconic restaurants... you have to give major points to NaDa for Cabo i must say.

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I think Noda was probably the most hip of the two for a long while. But they are quickly selling out to the man so it is losing this distinction very very fast. It's hard to imagine Plaza Midwood even coming close to this definition since the bungalows there have been gentrified into very expensive homes. I know someone that just put a $100,000 kitchen in their place over there, and they don't even know how to boil water. Trendy yes, hip no.

Maybe the definition of hip has changed.

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My vote is for PM as well, probably most exemplified by my recent decision to pay too much for a house in PM than to pay too much for a house in NoDa (am I a gentricator?).

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Right now my vote is for PM as well. To me it seems more complete as a neighborhood for all the reasons discussed. If you worked there, you would never have to leave.

With the construction of the South Corridor I could see Southend becoming a competitor within the next few years. There are an awful lot of vacant/ugly properties between West/East Blvd and Bland Street in the corridor that could gentrify even more in the next few years. Perhaps we will see a wine bar in the same block as Phat Burrito and Prices Chicken Coop.

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I don't think the level of gentrification in P-M will ever be as noticeable, because it was never as depressed as North Charlotte was prior to the NoDa era. Currently in NoDa, you have $500,000 bungalow restorations sitting three blocks away from one of Charlotte's worst ghettos. The dramatic contrast between the "right side" and "wrong side" of N. Davidson really emphasizes how quickly the neighborhood has been taken over by a completely alien element. P-M, on the other hand, has always been a fairly diverse district with a middle-class core. It's not all that much nicer now than it was 20 years ago, even though it has gotten a lot safer (which is natural for any area with increasing pedestrian activity). So really, I don't think gentrification is going to be an issue there, because it is as middle-class as ever. A sign of failure will be when places like the Penguin start to give way (a la Fat City) and are replaced by harebrained condo schemes.

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Even as an uptown professional, I consider myself priced out of PM. I still think a house should be about 6x the cost of a decent new car.

I did consider buying in PM a few years ago when some of the homes on the east edge, around Chatham, Logie etc were still available in the low 100's. In the end I chose Starmount, and gambled that it has potential to become a "discovery" for others someday, when the light rail gets running.

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This thread got me to look at PM listings for the first time in a while - and it's jaw dropping to see the price changes from just 3 years ago. Even Logie street, which is about as far east as you could call PM without flinching, is nearing a quarter million per home.

Heck, I remember seeing homes in Merry Oaks for under 90K in 2004 and I had considered that, too. Even Merry Oaks is getting into the 200K range. :huh:

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Am enjoying reading all these good points made, altho I hate to see a "competition" between NoDa and P-M.....Charlotte's becoming urban enough that there's plenty of room for both as popular, funky neighborhoods in their own right. (Perhaps we should call it Plaza Midwood-Commonwealth, since the cool stuff we're talking about is what's spreading over to the south side of Central, no longer just the north side.) Anyway, a few observations:

(1) IMO, if there's any validity to the claim that NoDa is a bit more image than substance, it could be that all the Charlotte urban boosters were so anxious over the past decade or so to have a cool, "gritty" neighborhood (and not the one-dimensional perception of Charlotte as such a clean-cut, button-down city), that it kind of got pushed into its image; fairly recently, if you were trying to defend your town to outsiders, it was, like: "No, really, it's cool, I'll take you to NoDa --- they have ARTISTS that live there!" P-M, on the other hand, partic. the Commonwealth side, really HAS [so far, knock wood] evolved less drastically from its long-term working class/middle class history.

(2) Central Ave. near the H-T (1st H-T ever, BTW, in case you didn't know) used to be the "Miracle Mile".......it was like a real town is SUPPOSED to be, with grocer/post office/stores/movie theater/etc. all within walking or biking distance. So I agree that, b/c there is still a lot of that aspect to Central, it just "works" better than NoDa.

(3) At the same time, P-M did NOT become as broadly desirable as Meyers Park/Dilworth/etc., back in the early days, b/c the streetcar was forced to end at the RR crossing across Central, then passengers had to walk over to get on a separate one to take you up the Plaza......the point is, wherever the light rail stuff goes, that's gonna have a GREAT impact on whatever adjoining neighborhood is there --- SouthEnd is definitely gonna be successful for it, and when the rail goes up north, NoDa will as well. By contrast, our entire eastside will miss out b/c of the [modern] streetcar project getting pushed to the back burner (the year 2025, or some such Jetson date?). In a packed audience, I was one of a handful from the eastside at the Transit Commission meeting last fall -- all of us just everyday Joes except maybe Clay Grubb, who has so much vested in the Elizabeth Ave. area --- when the streetcar lost out to the North line and the University line as next phases. (I'll mention that the boosters for those projects were pretty much all suit-and-tie developers.....it's true they still call the shots in this town to a great extent.) Maybe all this accelerating popularity in our 'hood will translate into a louder voice for the streetcar, and make it a reality sooner rather than later. (That is, unless these nincompoops trying to get the 1/2-cents' tax repealed actually gather enough steam. My apologies to anybody reading if you ARE one of those folks; I'm just telling ya how I feel.)

(4) I know this post is too long-- sorry; but to address the "Starbucks-ification" debate of how to keep our 'hood grassroots while its popularity grows: it'll be interesting to see how the very ambitious Morningside Village redevelopment (3x the budget of the highly-touted EpiCentre uptown, I understand) will influence this......I'm extremely optimistic that the details of Morningside, both big-picture and small-scale, will be done beautifully, from what I've seen so far, in contrast to the watered-down crap sprouting up too often in the 'burbs calling itself New Urbanism......but beyond that, will we lose the funkiness? Whatta y'all think?

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