Residents in the Soda Pop, Carolina Heights/Winoca Terrance and Northside neighborhoods met Tuesday night to "discuss opportunities and challenges within their neighborhood."
About 40 people attended the meeting in the dining hall of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church at 1416 Market St. Several topics were discussed, including the name of the Soda Pop District surrounding the old Coca-Cola bottling plant.
"My neighborhood is classified as the Soda Pop District, and I don't like that name," Islah Speller said. "I don't like that name because it doesn't reflect the trees and it doesn't reflect the old names like Grace Street and Chestnut."
"I love it," Jock Brandis countered. "Soda Pop sounds kind of cool."
That kind of feedback and more is what city staffers heard Tuesday in the first of several meetings about the future of a five square mile portion of the downtown area. City officials want to get input for a detailed plan for the greater downtown area that will supplement the city’s adopted Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan.
With around 45 percent of the properties in the area vacant or underused, the city wants to grow its tax base, but city staffers say they want to attract what neighbors need to their communities, from jobs to grocery stores and business.
"Hopefully, the city will realize it can blend the idea of economic opportunity and redevelopment, which is basically a good thing,” Brandis said. “There are a lot of abandoned buildings with the roof caving in and vacant lots that really would be put to better use, but not necessarily to have five-story townhomes with 330 people to the block, which is one of the plans I've seen.”
Speller wants to see growth as well, but she worries about preserving what is already in the area, like the home of Robert Taylor, the first black architect in the United States who retired on McRae Street.
"It tells the character as to who the community is," Speller said.
For more information on the plan and on other neighborhood meetings, click here.
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