Our Vision


“We have the opportunity to do better than we’ve done. Let’s try to get it right this time.”

—Darryl Gaston, President of the Druid Hills Neighborhood Association
Who We Are

What is NESD?

The North End Smart District (NESD) has been defined by 15 studies between 1993 and 2016 that identified the area as a future hotspot for development, attracting new economic activities, particularly centered on technology and innovation sectors.

Designated in 2011 as the Applied Innovation Corridor, Community Investment Plan bond funding is earmarked for collaborative economic development investments to improve the public realm. The NESD builds from that to focus on collaborations with the community within the eight neighborhoods in the district.

Charlotte’s smart city vision includes creating a district that acts as a hub for the city’s innovation engine. Smart Cities optimize infrastructure to maximize services and opportunities for public good. Government, companies, universities, and community partners collaborate to use innovation and data to increase economic opportunities, connectedness, efficiency, and harness the potential of its people.

The NESD’s innovative approach to Smart Cities is one that ensures residents have a seat at the table making decisions for their community.

Why Are We Here?

The information here is intended to start a conversation about how we can leverage smart city efforts to be a resource for the work you are already doing in your neighborhood, place of business, place of investment, or project area and to find new opportunities to collaborate together.

The NESD is a Vehicle To:

  • build strong relationships & preserve the community’s identity;
  • create partnerships;
  • increase equitable community engagement;
  • use data analytics, innovation and lessons learned to inform institutional practices; and
  • replicate in other City projects throughout Charlotte.

Where We Are
Genesis Park

Historically an African-American neighborhood, originally considered part of Double Oaks.

  • Disinvestment in the 1960s-70s led to social decline in the area, neighborhood was renamed Genesis Park to separate itself from Double Oaks public housing to the north
  • 2015-16 involvement in No Barriers to break down physical and social boundaries between neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood Matching Grant was invested into Anita Stroud Park
  • The majority of homeowners have lived here for over 45 years
Park at Oaklawn

Has always included workforce housing development, formerly Fairview Homes as barracks-style public housing, the current attractive housing mix was built in early 2000s.

  • Offerings include single family, townhouse, apartments, and senior living facilities
  • Ivory Baker Recreation Center is a popular hub of activity with a gymnasium, training programs, meeting spaces, computer lab, and classrooms
  • The area has the highest number of cycling commuters in the NESD (as of 2010 census data)

Oldest history of settlement—a rim village for freed African-American slaves

  • Neighborhood was demolished to make way for interstates in the 1970s the remaining area was rebuilt in the 1980s, many former residents returned
  • Award-winning marching band for youth providing purpose and second family in after-school hours
  • Neighborhood matching grant funds have gone to heritage festival and creative arts neighborhood program
  • Walter G. Byers K-8 School and Park
  • Adjacent to AvidXchange and social service campus


Former home of several historic African- American figures including Fred Alexander, Charlotte’s first African-American city council representative (1965)

  • To create a more sustainable subsidized workforce housing the land was redeveloped in 2010 for a mix of incomes and has been renamed Brightwalk (289 market rate units and 278 subsidized units)
  • McColl Center has supported artist installations and No Barriers project has helped build community and activate Anita Stroud Park
  • Accesses two public parks (Anita Stroud and Double Oaks)

Druid Hills
  • History as a working class settlement for industrial growth of Ford Factory and Missile Plant
  • Historically prominent African-American figures such as Hattie Leeper and Therease Elder
  • Disinvestment of the 1960s led to social issues and neglected properties; many were rebuilt by the Housing Partnership and Habitat for Humanity to help stabilize the neighborhood
  • Senior housing, homeless housing, and single family homes
  • Community garden, aquatic center, and horse stable are unique offerings
  • Originally planned as a mixed-income streetcar neighborhood in the early 1920s, one of the oldest intact neighborhoods in NESD
  • Today this is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the NESD but prices are rapidly rising and out-pricing long time renting residents
  • Duke Energy has recently invested in LED street lights in the neighborhood
  • Neighborhood matching grants have gone to protecting mature street trees
  • Route of AvidXchange Rock + Run 5k
  • Lockwood Legend Artist Residence and neighborhood museum underway
Optimist Park
  • The oldest intact structures of NESD dating back to cotton and textile industry in the late 1800s – includes original Highland Park Mill and associated workforce homes
  • Charlotte’s first Habitat Humanity Program started here in 1980s
  • The neighborhood transitioned into an African-American community with the razing of Brooklyn and redlining
  • Public and private investments in Little Sugar Creek, the Blue Line Extension, and small creative businesses have attracted new development and affordability is a growing concern
Graham Heights
  • Historically workforce housing supporting industrial sector employees
  • Veritas Charter School (K-5) focused on health includes a community garden
  • Matching grant used for hosting community day event, signs, and to support the raffling of Energy Star appliances as part of the City of Charlotte Power 2 Live Green Grant in collaboration with the UNCC Charlotte Action Research project to help residents save money
  • 2012 CNIP funding for sidewalks, neighborhood hosts monthly walks, and most walking commuters in NESD

A vibrant center for economic development and job growth with a great quality of life fueled by data, innovative technologies, and collaboration on a foundation of equitable community engagement.



Build Community Capacity

Strengthen relationships with neighborhood members and leaders by partnering to provide access to government and community resources such as jobs, training, housing resources, mobility options, youth programs, and healthy living options.


Catalyze Economic Development

Create a competitive and inclusive district that attracts local, national, and international businesses that help achieve the NESD vision by harnessing innovative smart technology, data analytics, and public investments that will support their growth.


Apply Smart City Data + Technology

Utilize existing and develop new data sources and innovative technologies to understand current conditions and inform decision-making and impact of investments.


Enhance Environment + Mobility Options

Foster built and natural environment improvements and enhance mobility options that support community and business.

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