In the heart of uptown Charlotte, about a hundred construction workers are putting the finishing touches on the region's first urban uptown park.
“It's going to have a significant impact, and it's going to change the face of how we address our recreation and social needs in this region,” said W. Lee Jones of the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department.
After nearly two years of construction and several weather-related delays, the Romare Bearden Park is expected to celebrate its grand opening Labor Day weekend.
Jones said the 5.4 acre park includes two large gardens, an event lawn that can hold 3,000 people, and numerous art and water features.
The $11 million project is dedicated to one of Charlotte's most famous artists. It was initially approved in the 2004 bond referendum.
“I'm extremely excited and ecstatic that we're finally at this point,” Jones said.
Former county commissioner Jennifer Roberts has been one of the park's biggest advocates from the beginning, and she hopes it will help revitalize uptown.
“The idea is to have it programmed heavily, so that it involves people in the uptown area, people living there, people working there, people visiting,” Roberts said.
Across the street, construction is underway at the brand new BB&T Ballpark, set to open next year. A high-rise residential complex is also going up.
The general manager at nearby Valhalla Pub and Eatery said all this construction can only be good for business.
“A lot of people in Charlotte don't even know about this area, so just exposure, more people seeing us (is good),” said Jennifer Kuriko.
The city is planning a huge celebration for the park's dedication later this month. Members of Bearden's family are also expected to attend to help usher in a new era for uptown.