Rail Trail Vision

Charlotte’s Rail Trail will be a vibrant public park that winds through the very heart of our city, where the unexpected can be found around every bend. The 3.3 mile trail will connect communities and knit together neighborhoods from Sedgefield, Southside Park, Brookhill, Dilworth, Wilmore, and South End to Uptown, but it will belong to everyone in the Queen City.

The Rail Trail will become the place to discover cafés and bars, explore galleries, see artists at work, stumble upon an impromptu concert, stroll with your family, or relax on a bench and watch the city come alive around you.

The walkway alongside the Blue Line already exists, but it could be so much more. With the help of passionate supporters, today’s trail will be transformed into a network of gardens, public art, unique spaces and activities, and an endless string of places to sit, eat and play. The hardest part of building a park—acquiring the land—is already done and a foundation has been laid. Let’s turn it into something extraordinary.

The Charlotte Rail Trail, is a recipient of one of 55 grants awarded by ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) for 2014 to support creative placemaking across the country. The $412,000 grant will support the development and execution of public art along the proposed trail.

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Meet the Designers

David Furman, FAIA

Founder, Centro CityWorks

David Furman, an architect and Charlotte native, has become a housing specialist with over 35 years experience designing and developing thousands of units, in projects of all scales, throughout Charlotte and the eastern part of the US, continuously winning design awards from national entities including the American Institute of Architects. In 1994, David was elevated to Fellowship in AIA, in recognition of his career in housing innovation.

While founding three different architectural practices, David created a development company, Centro CityWorks, to focus on urban, affordable, and more adventuresome housing projects. Between 2000 and 2008, Centro created 20 projects, valued at over $250 million, 15 of which are in downtown Charlotte including two high-rise towers. In 2005, David was inducted
into the inaugural class of Builder Magazine’s Hall of Fame for an outstanding career in housing design. In 2006, he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Charlotte Chamber, and also was presented with a Special Achievement Award from Charlotte Center City Partners for Centro’s contribution to the renaissance of downtown Charlotte.

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Richard Petersheim

RLA, LEED GA, Partner,
Senior Landscape Architect

Joining LandDesign in 1994, Richard Petersheim is a Partner and Senior Landscape Architect. Based in Charlotte, he is responsible for project contract development, project design and management, and construction administration. He also directs an urban design studio with focus on strategic urban planning, infill development, transit planning and station area design, and high-end retail planning. As a nationally recognized leader in urban infill redevelopment with over 15 years experience, Mr. Petersheim is intimately familiar with the issues and opportunities intrinsic to this important trend and is able to present a client with alternatives that reshape a project’s vision and approach.

Mr. Petersheim’s recent work is focused on urban economic catalyst projects, brownfield redevelopment, and sustainable landscape design, for which he has managed projects in both the private and public sectors. His portfolio includes the Charlotte Transit Station Area Planning (NC), New Dalian Master Plan (China), South Light Rail Corridor Infrastructure Project (NC), Hadley TOD (NC), Phillips Place (NC), Downtown Silver Springs Redevelopment Place (MD), Birkdale Village (NC), and ImaginOn Children’s Center (NC). And his work has received numerous awards, including the 2001 NCASLA Award for the Second Ward Master Plan, the 2005 ICSC Design Team Award for the SouthPark Mall Expansion, and the 2006 NCASLA Awards for Elizabeth Village and the North Carolina Research Campus.

Mr. Petersheim earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University and is a registered landscape architect and licensed real estate agent in North Carolina. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the International Council of Shopping Centers and the Urban Land Institute’s Inner-City Council.

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Terry Shook

Founding Partner & Principal, Shook Kelley

Charles Terry Shook, FAIA, is a founding partner and principal of Shook Kelley, a Perception Design firm specializing in strategic consulting services, including branding, architecture, communication design and interior design. Mr. Shook serves as principal-in-charge of a multi-million-dollar New Urban planning and design group, with an emphasis on urban retail design and main street development. As one of the nation’s top experts in district planning and placemaking, he has been recognized as a vanguard in the movement to return meaning to the urban environment.

Mr. Shook is an annual lecturer in the Professional Development Program at Harvard University and speaks regularly for the Urban Land Institute on topics relating to urban design. He is a member of the International Downtown Association and the Urban Land Institute, and was recently elevated to the College of Fellows, the highest honor given by the American Institute of Architects.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Rail Trail a good thing for Charlotte?

Our vision is that the Rail Trail will:

  • Create a unique recreational asset for the ten neighborhoods along the trail and residents from across Charlotte.
  • Be a destination where visitors and tourists can experience Charlotte’s real, authentic character and people.
  • Support the innovative small businesses in South End and give shoppers an easier way to access the galleries, shops and restaurants along the trail.
  • Strengthen the identity of Charlotte as city of creativity and cultural experiences.

Who is involved?

The idea of developing the Rail Trail into a linear park is part of the 2020 Center City Vision Plan adopted by City Council in 2011.  In late 2012, Charlotte Center City Partners commissioned the Trail Design Collaborative to develop a vision for the Rail Trail. In late 2013, Charlotte Center City Partners commissioned the landscape architecture firm LandDesign to develop a Framework Plan.

The planning, design and construction of the trail will be a joint effort between Charlotte Center City Partners, the property owners and stakeholders along the trail, our municipal partners and the community as champions. South End’s renaissance grew from grassroots efforts like this. These community connections and public/private partnerships will shape and mold how the Rail Trail will best serve the neighborhoods

What is the trail design collaborative?

Charlotte Center City Partners invited a collaborative team of three stellar local design professionals to develop the vision for the Rail Trail and what it could become. The team includes:

  • David Furman, FAIA, Centro CityWorks
  • Terry Shook, FAIA, President of Shook Kelly Inc.
  • Richard Petersheim, Partner, LandDesign

When will the Rail Trail enhancements begin? Why do we need to do this now?

Building out and expanding upon the Rail Trail will not happen overnight. Urban dwellers in dense transit-oriented corridors like this need a different kind of public space. This project will evolve over time, one project at a time. First steps will include sharing the vision with community stakeholders, property owners and Charlotte citizens, and developing a Master Plan for the trail.

You said that this is a vision for the Rail Trail. What does that mean?

The images and ideas in this vision are concepts; not specific plans. The next steps will include developing a Master Plan for the trail, seeking sponsors, and working with sponsors and adjacent property owners to design specific “episodes” or special places on the trail. The Rail Trail vision also ensures that we are not just focusing on aesthetic improvements for this vital part of the community. Instead, it ensures that we create opportunities for residents and businesses to gravitate to South End and make a long-term, lasting impact on our City. It will build recreation, movement and creativity along the trail, but it is also a unique economic development strategy for the district.

What will this cost? Who will pay?

We will not know the cost of designing and constructing the Rail Trail until we have completed the Master Plan. The foundation for the trail already exists, but unlike a municipal park, the Rail Trail will be built over time. There will be a variety of funding strategies. For the plan to reach its full potential, each “intervention” on the Rail Trail will include different funding partners and a different timeline; that is, each opportunity is unique!

Episode Renderings

Episode: City Link Park

Episode: Transformer Park

Episode: Arlington Park North

ArtPlace America Grant

Rail Trail MapThe Charlotte Rail Trail is a recipient of one of 55 grants awarded by ArtPlace America in June 2014 to support creative placemaking across the country. The $412,000 grant will support the development and execution of public art along the proposed trail.

With this funding in place, Charlotte Center City Partners announced in December 2014 that Wowhaus has been hired as the public art consultant to support development of a public art plan and execution of recommended art along the trail. The grant is complemented by an additional $20,000 from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation to support the planning process.

“Wowhaus is thrilled and honored to work with the Charlotte City Center Partners in developing an Arts Master Plan for the Rail Trail,” said Scott Constable, founder of Wowhaus. “We see tremendous potential for the Rail Trail project to become a unique destination, connecting and enriching the diverse neighborhoods along its route, and reflecting the unique vibrancy and creativity of the Charlotte community.”

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In The Media

Charlotte Agenda: Take a Walk with me Around Charlotte’s Rail Trail

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Public gets a peek at rail trail tying South End to Uptown

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Charlotte Rail Trail receives ArtPlace Grant award

View Press Release Charlotte Observer Article Creative Loafing Coverage

"We Love Rail Trail" Event

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Interested in covering the Rail Trail Project? Need story ideas? Contact Moira Quinn or Adam Rhue

Download the Vision Plan