CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Running your own business will always keep you busy, but for Graham Worth it’s made time truly fly by.
“It’s crazy to think it’s five years old,” he said. “We have customers we’ve had in here since we opened, and we’ve seen their kids grow up. It’s really cool. It’s unique to have that connection with the community.”
When Worth opened The Common Market Oakwood off of Monroe Road in 2016, he wanted to make sure his business accommodated everyone’s needs.
“For one person, it’s to get coffee in the morning,” he said. “For another person, it’s to grab breakfast or lunch and for another person they’ll come in here and grab a beer at night or hang out with their friends.”
But the biggest attraction wasn’t its uniqueness, but instead the parking.
“I don’t think they thought one bit about how losing parking in a retail business can be absolutely devastating to its operations,” Worth said.
It was late this summer when Worth noticed a new project was coming to his neighborhood. The City of Charlotte had created a website sharing details about plans to create 10-foot-wide bike and pedestrian paths along Monroe Road.
The problem is the current plan would eliminate over 15 parking spaces in this shopping complex. Losing parking might not seem that big, but for Worth it’s the thing that could put him out of business.
“We could not survive losing our customers who are accustomed to coming up here and parking right in front of our store,” he said.
So far, Worth and other business owners have had meetings with the city to see if they can change their designs, and he’s hopeful they’ll listen and see just how important his business and the parking is to this community.
“This is my livelihood,” he said. “When you’re going through these grand plans, they should at least sit down and have conversations with people and take that into account as oppose to here’s the plan y’all figure out how to deal with it.”
Spectrum News One reached out to the City of Charlotte for a response about these concerns. The project manager for the streetscape project responded with this statement saying:
Partnering with the residents and property owners in that area is very important to the project team working on the Monroe Road Streetscape. There have been seven public meetings for this project – the most recent being on August 25 — to ensure area residents and businesses are apprised of the status of the project. Currently, the design plans are 90% complete and the project is in the real estate acquisition phase. During the real estate acquisition phase the City contacts individual property owners about specific easement and right-of way acquisition needs. The project team works to reconcile those concerns with the community before the plans are 100% complete when feasible. Project budget, schedule, and design constraints sometimes preclude the project team from making the desired changes. In this case the project team was able to make some design concessions while still maintaining the intent of the project.
During the August 25 public meeting organized by the Oakhurst Community Neighborhood Association, we discussed the concerns generated from the businesses in the area. Parking was among the main concerns. Based on that feedback, we are altering the design in an effort to minimize parking impacts. Since that meeting, several residents have reached out stating how excited they are about the project. Several residents expressed concern that some businesses don’t understand just how many residents would utilize the multiuse path. These residents asked that we not alter the design solely to the benefit of the businesses. The major design concession that allowed for the preservation of parking spaces was reducing the multiuse path from 10 feet to 8 feet in width for a short distance. That design change had to be approved by the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) as the standard with for a multiuse path is 10 to 12 feet in width.
Currently, the project team is working on design changes that not only benefit the businesses along the corridor but will also accommodate the residents who will be utilizing the multiuse path.