CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 11, 2020) – In an effort to increase connections among residents and support equitable development in Charlotte’s Historic West End, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has provided the City of Charlotte $394,200 in funding to support the city’s $5.5-million urban open space, Five Points Plaza.
The Charlotte City Council voted Monday to accept the Knight Foundation’s three-year grant, which will fund two to four weekly events hosted by the city and support community-hosted events. The plaza is currently under construction and scheduled to open at the end of 2020.
Knight’s investment will support neighborhood engagement, planning and programming at the plaza to increase connections and promote inclusive resident-led development of the district.
Leaders of the Historic West End neighborhood said they are “excited to see the Five Points intersection activated into a space” that their community “will enjoy for years to come.” They have also said their sustainable programming solutions for Five Points Plaza “will benefit the neighborhood residents of every generation and ethnicity, while complimenting the various businesses along this historic African American corridor.”
Located near the historically black Johnson C. Smith University and home to some of the city’s oldest African American neighborhoods, Historic West End has housed civil rights leaders, college presidents and other black community leaders. Its recent growth has presented opportunities to boost community engagement. Five Points Plaza will be a cultural, educational and entertainment public space that reflects the neighborhood's identity and history.
“The Five Points Plaza is centrally located and will serve as a hub and gathering space for college students, residents of Historic West End and throughout the city,” said Charles Thomas, Knight Foundation’s Charlotte program director. “Our investment will help residents work with the city to build a plaza that represents and includes them."
Historic West End leaders have said they are determined to “perpetually guide the level of community engagement” and inclusiveness, and “infuse the artistic and historical expertise for which” West End residents are known during the planning process with the city.
The plaza is part of the city’s West Trade/Rozzelles Ferry Comprehensive Neighborhood Investment Plan (CNIP), which connects Charlotte’s west side neighborhoods with employment, institutional and retail areas through transit, streets, sidewalks, greenways and bike lanes.
The investment will provide funding for:
- Programs and events co-created and designed with the community, which will include fitness, music, entertainment, vendors and more;
- A part-time event coordinator to manage activities in the plaza and liaise with the community;
- Consultants who specialize in community engagement, building capacity and equitable public space management;
- A partnership with the Johnson C. Smith University to hire student ambassadors for the plaza and its activities;
- Resources and marketing materials to support and promote the project; and
- A Wi-Fi network in the plaza for educational and training opportunities.
Visit the Five Points Plaza webpage for more information about the project.
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About the City of Charlotte
The City of Charlotte provides services to more than 870,000 residents. The city’s priorities are workforce and business development; transportation, planning and the environment; safe communities; and great neighborhoods. For the latest news and updates about city government, visit the citywide newsroom at newsroom.charlottenc.gov, and follow @CLTgov on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.