• Plaza Midwood area could see more parking spaces

    By: Torie Wells


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - http://bcove.me/qn16qq52

    Plans are under way in the Plaza Midwood area to give a former school new life. In the process, the area's parking problem could receive help.

    The Common Market has a common problem when it comes to businesses in Plaza Midwood.

    "Basically from 7 on, I have zero parking," said Blake Barnes, owner of The Common Market.

    For all the customers coming in, there's just a fraction of the parking needed outside.

    A city of Charlotte pedscape project is under way to add some parking, but even that won't be enough.

    "I always wonder how much better I would be doing if I had a full-story parking garage behind me," Barnes said.

    It may not be a parking deck, but a former school on Central Avenue and its parking lot could be somewhat of an answer to a big problem.

    "We think it's a win-win," said Denise Cumbee Long, executive director for the International House.

    The International House is joining with other nonprofits in the area to form the Midwood International and Cultural Center. It has been working on a lease to make the former school its new home.

    "The school board will be voting on Oct. 9, and obviously all of our plans are contingent on a positive outcome with the school board," Long said.

    The plan would create 10 permanent public parking spots. Eighty others would be free when the center is closed.

    The city's Neighborhood & Business Services has agreed to give the group $99,500 to help renovate the parking lot and meet American Disability Act requirements for the building.

    "That'd be huge. That's what this neighborhood needs so desperately," Barnes said.

    It could bring more business as clients visit for classes, meetings or events.

    "They love the diversity and ethnic restaurants and business on this street," Long said.

    Long said they are receiving support from the Plaza Midwood Merchants and neighborhood associations.

    Channel 9 spoke with one man who lives nearby who thinks the change is good.

    "Bring more life and people to the area, that would help the businesses and be great," said Michael Gervais, who lives nearby.

    If the school board approves the final step, construction could begin as early as October. The International House could move in as early as Dec. 1.

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