CHARLOTTE-The city’s so-called government district, made up of municipal offices, courthouses and jail space, is the target of a massive makeover that could take at least 10 years. Charlotte’s Freeman White Architects was hired by the landowners involved–the city, county and schools–to come up with a master design that would revitalize the most lifeless part of the city.

Although the firm will not formally unveil its plan until January, some of the highlights include consolidating various government buildings along East Trade and Fourth streets, adding street-level retail and restaurants to the nine-block area, incorporating more green space with trees and benches and making East Trade a grand thoroughfare with emphasis on its historic architecture.

The plan emphasizes the old city hall building as its focal point and suggests opening the three-story granite and marble landmark to private enterprise. There would be places to shop and eat and even nightly entertainment areas that would blend with the nearby North Tryon cultural district. At present, there are 9,000 workers in the area and only one place to have lunch.

Although everything in the new plan is under scrutiny and subject to change, the new buildings that are specified in the makeover account for most of the cost. These include a headquarters for Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools; a new Federal courthouse, an additional county courthouse, and a city/county office tower.

One aspect of the present plan will be the potential of the land that becomes available when the government buildings, including the schools’ central offices, move out of uptown’s southern corner, also known as Second Ward. Currently, no one lives in Second Ward, and its Marshall Park has few visitors. Charlotte’s City Center 2010 plan for Second Ward envisions apartments, a school and a scaling down of Marshall Park.

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