by: Allison Latos Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Seventeen blocks in Charlotte's South End neighborhood were home to three gold mines in the 1800s.
Developers want to transform the area with retail, housing and restaurants calling it the Gold District.
"It is under-developed here but we can walk 10 minutes be at a baseball game,” architect Stephen Overcash said.
Because most of the area is zoned industrial, there are strict building requirements.
"If someone wanted to build apartments they couldn't do it without getting it rezoned," said Overcash. "When you are in an industrial area, you have to push the building back off the street."
Supports are working with Charlotte Zoning to lighten up on the zoning rules for 79 acres so more types of businesses can build in the area, making it easy for residents and visitors to walk, eat and shop there.
"There will be some structured parking and parking on all of the streets," Overcash said.
Jeff Albanese owns a car repair shop in the area. He knows all about the abandoned mines.
"It is sort of intriguing," said Albanese. "I like old stuff like that. I'd like to see some of the old mines uncovered."
Albanese hopes the grass-roots effort makes this area as valuable as the gold still buried under these streets.
Another community meeting about the gold district is scheduled for next month.
Overcash hopes to have zoning changes in place by early 2015.
Supports even hope to create a gold museum housing pieces of Charlotte's mining history.