Independence Boulevard has endured 20 years of construction and turmoil, leaving buildings shuttered and businesses closed.
There are signs of progress, but even as a new Walmart prepares to open on the site of the old Amity Gardens shopping center, new blight is appearing just up the road.
“I've been in Charlotte over 40 years and anytime there is change, it is sad to see,” said Charlotte resident Barbie Sweet.
The TJ Maxx near Idlewild Road will close this week. A few doors down, a McDonalds is already boarded up and the Compare Foods store is shut down, too.
“That kind of commercial blight is really detrimental to our district,” said John Autry, a member of the Charlotte City Council.
Autry said it's one of the biggest issues he faces as the new city councilman for east Charlotte.
Thirty businesses have been or will be torn down to make way for widening Independence. Big-box stores, like the former BJ's, sit vacant, too. Area resident Matt Graytop wonders what will be left for those who live nearby.
“People that live around here are not going to be able to shop anywhere or go visit places,” he said. “They're going to have to go downtown or in Matthews.”
Autry said he's trying to lure new businesses to replace those leaving the corridor, but he's realistic about any short-term fix.
“If anybody had a magic bullet for what to do about that, they would have used it by now,” he said.
Autry said he's not giving up, but admitted it's a tough sell to convince new businesses to come to Independence.
His predecessor, Nancy Carter, was instrumental in getting the Walmart to come, and that took years. It will open at the end of this month.