MoRA wants to bring a Queen City Joyride to YOU!

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Charlotte B-Cycle, in conjunction with the Knight Foundation, is providing opportunities for community groups to participate in the QC Joyrides program, with the goal of spreading the love of cycling throughout the Queen City. MoRA is looking for ideas for one (or more!) QC Joyrides group rides in the MoRA area.

QC Joyrides will be no more than five miles in length, at a social pace, and family friendly. Ideally, MoRA would love to set up QC Joyrides to help the community discover safe, convenient places for local families and those new to cycling to ride. Please send your thoughts and ideas to Jack Miller at jmilliehoo@gmail.com.

 

MoRA Wins 2nd NBS Grant to Enhance its Outreach — to you

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The most challenging thing for any all-volunteer group is sustaining effective communication with its stakeholders.  From its inception, MoRA wanted to address that issue — so they turned to the City of Charlotte’s Neighborhood & Business Services and applied for a grant. NBS agreed with the potential value that it would provide to our community, and funded MoRA’s request.

After a competitive selection process, MoRA chose Next Stage Consulting to work with them.  Managing Director Josh Jacobson has worked with over 100 nonprofits, including the East Mecklenburg Foundation, in strategic planning and tactical implementation. In working with the MoRA board, Josh reminds them that communication does not exist in a silo; everyone has a role to play.

MoRA has already benefited from this process.  MoRA has been in the media; there have been significant increases in website traffic, Facebook followers, and newsletter signups.  Dedicated volunteers have joined MoRA’s mission, and continue to expand and improve our community outreach.  Stay tuned for workshops, events, and opportunities to get involved.

 

The Café at the Community Culinary School of Charlotte

     If you live or work in the area and you’re sick of artery-clogging meals served in styrofoam from a drive-through, you really need to check out the Café at Community Culinary School of Charlotte. First and foremost, Community Culinary School is a nonprofit workforce development program. They help train adults who have barriers to employment to learn culinary skills and help them with job placement after the program. Hundreds of graduates of the program now work in restaurants all over Charlotte.

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     When you first walk in the door at the Café, you’re likely to be welcomed by Chef Ron. Ron Ahlert is the Executive Director of the program, but to most people, he’s simply Chef Ron. He’s jovial and very proud of the students and eager to share details of what they’ve been working on. Also, right inside the front door, there’s a case full of delicious looking pastries. 

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     The food is simply amazing. Everything is prepared fresh, in-house. The menu changes every day and features items ranging from fried fish and burgers to gourmet pastas, salads and seafood. Lunch items are usually around $8 and dinner is around $10 per person. (Food this good would cost 2-3 times that at many Charlotte restaurants)

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     The Café is open 8:00am – 2:00pm Monday through Friday. They serve breakfast from 8:00 – 2:00 and lunch from 10:30am – 2:00pm. Last week, they started opening for dinner on Wednesdays & Thursdays from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. Stop in and try it out on your lunch break or after work. Also, it’s a great place to have a short morning meeting so you don’t need to leave the area to go find a Starbucks.

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     The Community Culinary School of Charlotte is helping our area in several ways. Not only do they provide fresh, tasty food at an affordable price, but they are helping teach people new skills and give adults an opportunity at a fresh start on life. We look forward to a vibrant future for the Monroe Road Area that includes lots of organizations and restaurants like this one. When you’re cruising down Monroe Road, it’s easy to ignore all the small businesses that line both sides of the street, but you should really pause and take a look around sometime. There are already many gems dotting both sides of the road and it’s far too easy to miss them.

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Mention MoRA and get a free cookie with your next meal. Thanks Chef Ron!

You can find out more about the Community Culinary School of Charlotte at http://communityculinary.org/ or on their Facebook Page.

MoRA needs YOUR help! VOLUNTEER with us on important community projects. Can’t volunteer? DONATE to help make our public art dream a reality. Even a $20 tax-deductible donation will help give the neighborhood a beautiful, defining sculpture that will make residents proud.

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A look inside Sardis Marketplace, the newest retail shop in MoRA

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Sardis Market ended up in the MoRA area for reasons familiar to many of our residents. Formerly known as Consignments on South, owner and Charlotte native Jennifer needed more space to house her shop’s local art, handmade furniture, jewelry, vintage clothes, designer soaps, gifts, and artisan glass than available on South Boulevard. She could not find the right fit in South End, but came across ample space off of Sardis Road North.
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 The new retail spot is 20,000 square feet of shopping space in the long-vacant building on 2328 Crown Centre Drive, nearby the former Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear warehouse that is undergoing extensive renovations. The ample and cheap residential and commercial property has created a recent boom for the Monroe Road corridor, bringing in new residents and businesses alike. Thanks to Sardis Market, the MoRA area has a great new place to shop locally.
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The shop owner and over 60 vendors sell reclaimed, refinished, antique, and new items in the marketplace, ranging from cooking spices to new couches and even steampunk accessories. The dog friendly shop hopes to add a salon, a massage area, a coffee shop, and even a place to buy local beers. Residents finally have a nearby shopping option that is not a big box store.
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The MoRA area’s newest retail location will have its grand opening on Saturday, June 11 from 10am to 6pm. There will be food trucks, live music, and door prizes to celebrate the new business. See the newest addition to the corridor and support the area by shopping locally at Sardis Marketplace.
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Neighborhood Bash

MoRA hosts FirstAnnual Neighborhood Bash

Thursday, May 19, from 7-10 PM at 6215 Forest Way Drive

MoRA invites Monroe Road area residents and businesses to its First Annual Neighborhood Bash, 7-10 p m, Thursday, May 19.  The event will be held in the recently opened M Station Apartments’ clubhouse, 6215 Forest Way Dr.

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MoRA’s free, family-friendly, pet-friendly event is a way for neighbors to celebrate the activities that have taken place and are being planned with and for the community, and to welcome the development that is coming to the area.

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Neighborhood Bash attendees will be treated to Hawthorne’s NY Pizza, which will open its eighth restaurant in the Meridian Place mixed-use development this fall.  This event also brings back the jam/bluegrass band Flat Tire Trio, which was a hit at last year’s block party.

Information will also be on the evening’s agenda, with updates on upcoming MoRA work, communication enhancements and events.  Area businesses have been invited to bring business cards so neighbors can get to know them. 

For the growing number of volunteers working on MoRA projects, May 19 will be a celebration of what has been accomplished and a chance to show community members what is being planned. For interested neighbors, May 19 will offer a chance for a closer look inside the Monroe Rd area’s first mixed-use project. 

What MoRA has accomplished

Since its formation 16 months ago, MoRA has held a Town Hall, offered training sessions on transportation and land use planning, and run an open house so government agencies could interact with area residents.  In addition to a block party last November, the group organized a December holiday tree lighting that will be an annual event.   MoRA is also monitoring area transportation projects including the Silver Line, and has conducted a strategic planning retreat.  In addition to its Foodie Court project that was a finalist for a Knight Foundation grant, MoRA received and completed a marketing grant from the City’s Neighborhood & Business Services (NBS) and has initiated a new NBS grant to enhance MoRA’s community outreach and communication.  It created a website, (MoRAclt.org) Facebook, and Twitter pages to strengthen two-way communication with area stakeholders. 

MoRA is a grassroots organization that came together in 2015 to shape the rebirth of Monroe Road and the evolving corridor between Sharon-Amity and Sardis Road North. MoRA was created with the goal of engaging all stakeholders to create a more vital and vibrant community.  MoRA aims to promote and support the social, educational, cultural, artistic, and economic vitality of this diverse, welcoming area of Charlotte. To volunteer, or to sign up to receive MoRA’s newsletters, go to MoRAclt.org.

Upper McAlpine Creek Greenway

       The Upper McAlpine Creek Greenway stretches from Sardis Road to Margaret Wallace Road. It was purchased in 1978 and was the first public greenway trail in the piedmont region of North Carolina. It’s about three miles long and connects with Campbell Creek Greenway at Margaret Wallace Road.

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       You may have tried to get on the greenway in the past year and noticed it was closed. Almost a year ago, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation closed down the section between Monroe Road and Sardis Road for a $53 million sewer project. Aside from adding capacity to the sewer system, new concrete bridges were added and large parts of the trails and neighborhood access points were paved. The project is finished, and the complete length of the greenway is now open.

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       Upper McAlpine Creek Greenway is a perfect length for 5K races. As a result, the calendar stays pretty full of area cross-country events and 5k races. There’s even a purpose-built starting gate for the runners. Competitive running isn’t the only activity on the greenway, though. Everywhere you look, there are people walking, riding bikes, jogging, fishing, sunbathing or kicking a soccer ball.

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       The Greenway is a great place to spend some time with family or to get some exercise. Depending on where you live and work, it could be a great alternative way to commute. There are many neighborhoods with their own access points to the greenway. If you live in neighborhoods like Stonehaven, Sardis Ridge North, Sardis Woods, Sardis Cove or McAlpine Ridge, you don’t even need a car to get there. You can walk, run or bike right from your house.

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       Upper McAlpine Creek Greenway is a key component of the evolving Monroe Road corridor. Our community is family-oriented and the Greenway is a great place to spend time with family. It’s also a great place to run a 5k or cheer on a friend or family member. It may even be a great way for you to commute to work or school.

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       If you would like to receive Monroe Road area news or more articles like this in the future, please click the following link:

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Knights Cities Challenge Results

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Thank you for following along with us throughout this process. The results of this year’s Knight Cities Challenge are in. We, at Monroe Road Advocates, would like to congratulate our fellow finalists for winning this year’s challenge. This year’s winning Charlotte projects are:

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Can Do Signs

Queen City Quiz Show

For more details, check out this blog post at the Knight Foundation’s website:

37 Knight Cities Challenge winners will share $5 million in funding

We, at MoRA, are excited that the Knight Foundation is so supportive of creative efforts in Charlotte. Also, we are considering the feedback we were given. We will begin planning to possibly revise and to look for the best way to implement Foodie Court.

In the meantime, we will continue to enhance, engage and build the middle Monroe Road Community. Thank you again for your support!

 

MoRA Independence Blvd Update 3/4/16

Between the problems with the Independence Boulevard contractor and a very expensive utility relocation needed at the Idlewild/Rama/Monroe intersection, our stretch of Monroe Road is literally at a crossroads.

MoRA has been talking with NCDOT and CDOT  (the State and City departments of transportation) to get some answers.  Thanks to both departments’ quick responses to our inquiries, this is what we know.  More importantly, by opening conversations we hope to be able to update you as things evolve on these two projects as well as the LYNX Silver Line planning.

Summary

  • NCDOT hopes to hire a new contractor for the Independence Blvd project by late March.
  • CDOT will hire a project team for the Idlewild/Rama/Monroe Rd intersection in the next few months that will include community meetings for public input. The City part of the project funding will be in a 2016 bond package; the state will also commit funds to the project.
  • CATS and other agencies will hold a community meeting on the Silver Line in our area in early April. Stay tuned for details.

Independence Boulevard Work Stoppage

Because of the heavy news coverage about the Independence Blvd contractor walking off the job, many of you expressed concerns about the impact on that project.  By the time you read this, the news media may be advancing the story but this is what we know.  NCDOT hired Lane Construction on an interim contract and invoked the project’s performance bond.  That requires the bonding agency to present a plan to continue work that is deemed satisfactory by NCDOT.  That plan will mean that Lane or another company will get the contract and work will resume.  NCDOT hopes that can happen by the end of March. We will let you know what we hear.  Yes, this will cause a delay.  But no, it will not lead to cost overruns – that is why you have performance bonds.

Idlewild/Rama/Monroe Rd Intersection

This project is considerably more challenging. However, its challenges offer some long-term opportunities that could pay off for Monroe Road by adding sidewalks, bike lanes and traffic capacity.   Explaining all this takes some patience because of the players involved; please bear with us. The months ahead will allow all of you to speak up on the subject, so we urge you to stay tuned for updates.

The first thing you need to know is that there is a major private utility facility at that corner.  And the facility is in exactly the wrong place to do what is needed at that intersection.  Relocating it includes a long and tedious environmental study, and significant planning, engineering and implementation steps.  Moving it is going to cost millions.   To get it done correctly, the City has agreed to help the State of North Carolina (NOTE: Monroe Rd is a state-maintained road, NOT a city road).  Funding that work – the utility relocation and the enhanced road work — will begin with awarding a planning/design contract.  That contract will have a robust public input phase – which means you will get to voice your concerns and wishes for the larger intersection.  The construction phase will be included in a November 2016 City bond package.

The fact that area stakeholders will be asked what they want means you will have a say.  And if you support what comes out of that design work, you can vote for it.  In the meantime, development at the two corners will trigger construction of some turn lanes.  Rest assured, MoRA will let you know when the planning team is hired and they begin their work so you can attend any community meetings as well as avail yourselves of any other community input tools they may put in place.  If there is a rezoning on the undeveloped corner, MoRA will make sure you are informed as those plans are filed as well.  This is a classic example of making lemonade out of a bunch of lemons.

The Silver Line

In the meantime, the MoRA board continues to stay in touch with CATS on its Silver Line (transit from Matthews to Uptown) visioning.  To that end, CATS will be announcing a community meeting in early April that will allow you to get an update and to give your input.  What stakeholders from our part of Monroe Rd think is of vital importance to CATS.  The April event will include an open house so you can get updates on other work in the area.

-As of 3-4-2016

Contact:  Kathy Hill, MoRA Chair, at kathyhill.nc@gmail.com or 704-231-2228

MoRA is an organized group of resident volunteers and area stakeholders intent on proactively responding to the needs expressed by our community. The MoRA area is the stretch of Monroe Road between Sharon-Amity and Sardis Road North, and the neighborhoods and businesses who depend upon it.

www.MoRAclt.org

 

 

 

MoRA Board – Want a place at the table?

On February 6, the MoRA Board revisited its priorities, defined its 2016 goals, and created an action plan to achieve those goals. Members are already moving forward with board priorities. We encourage individuals who are interested in becoming involved on a significant level (board member, committee member, or volunteer) to join us. The MoRA board is a fun-loving, passionate, creative, engaged and welcoming group who are committed to making our community more vibrant and livable.  Is this you?  Send an email to Kathy Hill at kathy@MoRAclt.org!

 

 

Foodie Court concept a Knight Cities Challenge grant finalist

Community artist Leslie Scott has designed a creative project that will take on the “food-desert” aspect of our area. With no grocery stores, coffee shops or farmers markets, few restaurants, and no access to arts and culture along our section of Monroe Road, we also lack those natural opportunities to connect and build community. While Meridian Place is attracting amenities to its development, it’s likely to be two to five years before they’ll be a reality.

In the meantime, Leslie has a plan for us to work together to create a “Foodie Court” at the heart of our community. This dynamic gathering space will give neighbors a place to congregate, access to quality food (community garden, farmer’s market, food truck events) and engage local talents (collaborative public art installations, performances by area artists and East Meck choral, theater, and music groups). This space will connect amateur and professional ‘foodies’ RIGHT NOW!

It’s an inspiring plan that Leslie has proposed: a pop-up, flexible, multi-purpose gathering spot accessible to all. To fund this effort, Leslie has applied for some significant local and national grants. Good news:  On January 12, it was announced that Foodie Court for Monroe Road is a finalist (out of 4500 national entries!!!) to the 2016 Knight Cities Challenge.  Stay tuned!