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monsoon

Charlotte wants to close neighborhood stores.

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Why is the Charlotte City Council considering spending tax money to buy convenience stores and close them? They say it is to make the neighborhoods better. I am not sure I understand how spending tax money like this accomplishes this goal. Is it instead a thinly veiled plan to force people from purchasing from small neighborhood stores and having to shop at the corporate chain stores? (some of which have a lot of influence in Charlotte) The last thing this city needs is more homogenization.

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It is in no way an attempt to prevent local businesses from succeeding. The city is trying (again) to buy these "convenience" stores because the crime rate around them is astronomical. Everytime this comes up, they do a crime search for ~100-200 yards around each location and not surprisingly, they come up with hundreds of arrests/citations/911 calls for service. A large number of these stores are the root cause of much of our inner city neighborhood strife.

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^That sounds like an result fallacy. Like closing a store is going to change the crime rate. Closing legitimate businesses, especially retail is exactly opposite of what you want to do to make a healthy city. Forcing people to have to shop in corporate chain stores because all the local stores are gone, by government decree no less, really sounds to me like there is more to this than what we are being told.

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This is where the idealism stops. These places are congregation spots for people with bad intentions and too much time on their hands - whomever they are. The shop owners remain loyal to their patrons, at the cost of their own neighborhood. How do you look at it? Closing these stores will doom the residents of the neighborhood. Leaving them open leaves the residents to doom themselves.

I spend a lot of time in Belmont. We have friends who live right across from the place on Parkwood. We ride our bicycles by there all the time. I know the people that this will effect. I've hung out with them. They're just people, but they are exactly what and who you think they are. I won't lie.

I don't know what to say about it really... I know this is blatant gentrification. I can't support it. But I can also see that it's not meant to slight the residents of Belmont. It's only to offer them something better. And once "better" becomes beyond their means, it's gentrification.

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Putting one cop outside these stores instead of spending 1/2 million dollars to turn it into a vacant lot would be a much better way to address this issue.

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^ Agree, but do we need a police-state to maintain a working neighborhood? Charmeck may have decided that doesn't work forever, and needs another plan to help the neighborhood maintain itself. I'm not advocating either, it's just not an easy question.

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Nobody said anything about a police state. There have been neighborhood police in cities back to roman times. Aside from that, Charlotte already has a huge police force. We already know that turning it into Detroit or even what they did to downtown Charlotte (bulldozing down everything) doesn't make for a healthy neighborhood.

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If they close the stores, the criminal activity will find a new place to congregate. Closing a store in a challenged area simply doesn't get rid of the crime element.

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I totally agree that closing the stores won't deter crime in the area. It will just fix the broken window and I don't particularly subscribe to that theory. I'm under the belief that many that congregate around the stores don't have jobs and they don't have jobs because they don't have an education. They may or may not have an education because they may or may not have had families that value it.

How do we as a community change that factor? How do you change the mentality of poverty?

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This is similar to a debate I had back in Knoxville. A developer wanted to build a small new shopping center in a troubled neighborhood. It is a neighborhood that desperately needs some more local business, especially within walking distance. The area isn't large enough to support a full grocery or anything of the like, but a few small businesses could thrive.

But then I saw the proposed site plan for the shopping center, which included the businesses planning to lease. There were four: a pizza parlor (good), a cigar shop (...ok), a liquor store* (um, wait a minute), and the creme de la creme, a pay-day loan*.

The socialist in me wanted to break the kneecaps of the developer. The capitalist in me wanted to let things ride out, because these businesses could always be replaced. In the end, it still feels like giving matches to an arsonist.

Ultimately, my point is that not all retail is created equally. Many of those convenience stores exist to feed a demand for lotto tickets, cigarettes, junk food and 40s. I would emphasize that they are feeding the demand, not creating it. However, lets not be so naive to think that these are happy little stores selling fine meats and cheeses.

As to the city buying these stores... I'm not sure what to think. It does seem like an ugly and poorly considered solution to the given problem. It is a "quick" solution that could be bandied about as the council being tough on crime, when the good solution would be looking at the social activity patterns around these stores and figuring out why they attract crime-prone elements. Sometimes, though, replacing one bad business can provide the impetus to reviving an area. So who knows - I would want to see more details about Charlotte's plan.

* Tennessee doesn't use the ABC liquor store system, nor does it have North Carolina's strict laws on pay-day loan shops.

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I can only add that the city is planning on reselling the properties to a developer that would redevelop the properties to something that they (the City) thinks would be better benefitting the neighborhood. They city also owns two parcels directly across Pegram, which they will likely offer as part of the redevelopment.

It doesn't seem that the city is condemning, and that the owner willingly selling for assessed value. If the city puts development stardards/restrictions that could restrict the sale of alcohol, then I would consider is a success. Saying that their is social problems is great, but when a specific location becomes a magnet for crime and a source of materials that contribute to the existing social problems then I think what the city is doing is a reasonable solution depending on what ultimately replaces this store.

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.... If the city puts development stardards/restrictions that could restrict the sale of alcohol, then I would consider is a success. ....

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I might be wrong but alcohol licenses are granted by the State of NC, not the city of Charlotte. If they are violating state law then they can have their license revoked, but the city can't say alcohol can't be sold in Belmont but can in Myers Park. However I do agree with you this is an attempt to use tax money to turn over land to developers and/or force people into the chain stores using the excuse "redevelopment". (and nobody has really said what that means) The problem is this will only hurt the people it is trying to help.

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I support what the city is doing because all they are asking at this point is have the Charlotte Mecklenburg Development Corporation (CMDC) do some pre-development work to see what could realistically be the best development at Parkwood and Pegram. The CMDC has been pretty succusful with projects similar to the one proposed in Belmon....a good example would be West Bouldvard Commons. I think that anyone that is familiar with that project would not call it gentrification...and most everyone I have heard from in that neighborhood is glad that West Boulevard Commons is there. The CMDC's goal will be to come back with a project that will meet the neighborhoods unmet needs. If they don't think that is possible then the city won't buy the property. At this point they are only asking to put it under option.

No one is being forced to do anything in this process. Everyone is a willing participant.

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However I do agree with you this is an attempt to use tax money to turn over land to developers and/or force people into the chain stores using the excuse "redevelopment". (and nobody has really said what that means) The problem is this will only hurt the people it is trying to help.

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Is there a list of stores they have already closed or going to close?

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Is there a list of stores they have already closed or going to close?

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I love the Walker's Grocery building and I'm really glad to hear that the HLC will (hopefully) purchase it. I'm not sure what can be done that is financially feasible with it in the short term. I'd like to see small office over retail, but the immediate area there is extremely rough, and it will probably be a while before we see private investment there. Perhaps if the Steward & Perina redevelopment happens, it will make this more viable.

Josh's is derelict and needs to go....not even its feel good Carribean paint scheme can redeem it :)

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Some of the locally owned neighborhood stores serve a vital function for those without transportation as a place to walk to for staples. Unfortunately a few focus only on alcohol and cause loitering which usually equals crime. This is the second time the Council will consider this issue and if they go forward and purchase Parkwood I hope the replacement gels with what the locals can afford. I would think the city would consult with area residents. I am on Parkwood often and it's already gentrifying as more of the bungalows get remodeled. It's understandable that longtime Belmont residents can literally look around the corner and see how expensive PlazaMidwood has become and get nervous.

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I think it is a big stretch to say this has anything to do with pushing patrons to new chain stores. It is gentrification at its maximum, but the goal isn't to help another business, only to change what happens in and around these particular stores. I actually see both sides of the argument and can't say whether i support the plans to buy these or not. I don't like the idea of tax dollars buying open market businesses because the gubment doesn't like what they sell or do (and those activities on their face are 'legal').

The second consideration in these, though, are the harmful effects of these stores to some of the people that use them. I have to question all those that think it is OK for the government to stop smoking in public places for the general good -- I am opposed to that and am not a smoker -- but to me this is similar. There are harmful side effects from these stores and they can be detrimental to those that live nearby because of the activity they attract.

These don't apply to all stores in these neighborhoods, and one example isn't from Belmont but is from Wilmore:

**I've been stuck on Spruce Street trying to turn onto Mint Street by the Red Sea Grocer (Wilmore). The street was blocked by a cab -- people were unloading drugs (quickly) from the trunk of the car and carrying them into the store's back-door. They weren't even trying to hide anything about what they were doing. You can drive by this store right now and see dealers on the front steps -- I've watched them take big bags and break them into little backs on top of the Charlotte Observer paper box at the front door many times. There is no way the store operators aren't involved.

**A couple of the stores in Belmont sell cigarettes in singles and razor blade singles at the front counter. Cigarettes rob people of their (little) money by ripping them off with $0.25 for one cigarette because they don't have enough for a pack. The razor blade singles? I wonder what use there is for those -- do these folks still use old-timey razors that take a two sided blade? I suspect it is to cut coke and crack with.

**The main complaint of these stores in the quantitiy of malt liquor and other alcohol they sell. I have nothing against drinkers, I am one, but many of the patrons end up in neigboring properties, yards, lots, empty homes, etc. Vandalizm and crime do happen in great numbers around these stores.

When my office was at The Silos we had a constant problem at night with people buying alcochol at the Circle K, drinking it on our porch, urinating on our porch and door, leaving their trash all over our porch. As a neighbor in that situation I can see where those near these stores would like a new type of business, or at least one that didn't push Malt Liquor 40's as their main staple.

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Again I think much of that could be solved simply by adding some neighborhood police to the area. It should be noted BTW that the fortified wine sold in these places are secretly produced by some of the largest well known wine makers in this country. It's just another example of corporate profiteering on the misery of people. Instead of taking a scorched earth policy to dealing with crime, the city ought to be working with community leaders to find different answers. Unfortunately our Mayor has shown remarkable detachment from addressing these kind of problems preferring to mostly use the stick instead of the carrot. The results of his tenure speak for themselves.

In the same token the city is also looking to shutdown the street food vendors on central avenue. Somehow this is OK while at the same kind of vendors in downtown Charlotte get a free pass on this. Is it because the difference is that one serves the business elite while the other mostly serves the non-White population? It will be interesting to see if the city passes this double standard.

I suppose they won't be happy until the entire city looks as sterile as Ballentyne or downtown.

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Well the Council passed this but the Mayor vetoed it....so once again Belmont gets the shaft.

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In the same token the city is also looking to shutdown the street food vendors on central avenue. Somehow this is OK while at the same kind of vendors in downtown Charlotte get a free pass on this. Is it because the difference is that one serves the business elite while the other mostly serves the non-White population? It will be interesting to see if the city passes this double standard.

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Again I think much of that could be solved simply by adding some neighborhood police to the area. It should be noted BTW that the fortified wine sold in these places are secretly produced by some of the largest well known wine makers in this country. It's just another example of corporate profiteering on the misery of people.

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