The groundbreaking ceremony for the new First Ward Park in uptown Charlotte took place on Sept. 18.
The First Ward Park project is being undertaken by Levine Properties in cooperation with the county, the city of Charlotte and UNC Charlotte as part of a plan to develop certain areas of uptown Charlotte.
In a deal made with the county, Levine Properties buys a piece of land, develops it, and then has an option to trade it back to the county for another undeveloped block of land in uptown that they then develop with another project.
UNC Charlotte is partnering alongside Levine Properties through the construction, though the university is not handling the project’s construction and funding.
“[UNC Charlotte] is a partner in the sense of being an adjacent property,” said Executive Director of the UNC Charlotte Center City campus, Jerry Coughter. University officials have had opportunities for input in parts of the planning of the park including some of the design features of the park.
The park is a much-awaited amenity for uptown Charlotte, and for the Center City campus.
It is a project nine years in the planning. Construction has already begun and is expected to take around twenty months to complete.
Officials are excited for the completion of the Center City campus “front lawn” as Coughter is calling it.
“[The park] physically connects us to the rest of uptown,” said Coughter.
Officials are hoping that the park will be a good space to host outdoor events and other programming.
UNC Charlotte’s Chancellor, Philip Dubois commented on the project, stating that the park had three major benefits: It will be a great amenity for the Center City campus, the positioning is expected to draw in the community and expose them to more of UNC Charlotte and also the park will serve to “protect our view of uptown” said Dubois.
The park will feature a large green space which Dubois and Coughter both hope UNC Charlotte will use frequently, hosting receptions and other events.
Much like First Ward Park serves as a hub for arts and culture, Dubois commented that he and Daniel Levine of Levine Properties, “hope that First Ward becomes a hub of educational activity.”
With the extension of the Light Rail to UNC Charlotte’s main campus, which is planned to be complete by 2017, the Center City campus will become much more easily accessible to students and professors at the main campus. Officials hope this will further connect the institution with its satellite campus.