CHARLOTTE, N.C. - There was an upbeat and at times emotional celebration on West Trade Street Thursday as Johnson C. Smith University President Dr. Ronald Carter joined others in cutting the ribbon and opening the doors of Mosaic Village.
On the verge of tears, Carter said, "Our vision of Mosaic Village has surely come."
The $25 million project includes 80 apartments and street-front retail space.
Eyewitness News spoke to two the students moving in Thursday.
"It's a big thing around Charlotte, so we're all excited to move in,” junior Angelique Willis said.
Student Aisha Byrd added, "I think it's good because some people have a misconception about where the school is and they say, ‘Oh, it's in the ghetto part [of the city].’ It looks nice to see different buildings coming down the street.”
Different buildings bring a new energy to the Northwest corridor of Charlotte, a part of the city leaders and residents said has been neglected over the years.
"If you were to take a picture of Beatties Ford Road in 1981, when I was a freshman at Johnson C. Smith, and compared it to 2008, a lot hadn't changed except the businesses in 1981 were closed in 2008,” said Sen. Malcolm Graham, special assistant to the JCSU president.
It was four years ago that JCSU's president gave Graham the charge to lead the West Trade Street Task Force to turn things around.
In that time, the group has initiated several projects, including cleanup campaigns, joining a bike share program, bringing the Gold Rush shuttle to the campus community and building a new facility for the arts.
Mayor Anthony Foxx grew up in west Charlotte and said the work must continue.
"You've been paying taxes to build other parts of our city. It's time to pay taxes to build this part of our city."
Mosaic Village was paid for through a public-private partnership between JCSU, the Griffin family of Griffin Brothers Tires and the city of Charlotte.