May 18, 2023 - Development

Work starts on Hugh McColl Park — a makeover of the ‘obsolete’ Polk Park

polk park

polk park Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Green demolition fences are wrapped around Polk Park, the public square with the broken fountain at Trade and Tryon streets.

  • The pocket park will be rebuilt and renamed after Hugh McColl Jr., former Bank of America chairman and CEO.

Why it matters: The 1991 park is in a prominent location, just across from the Bank of America Corporate Center and at a busy intersection, where Uptown employees pass between business meetings and Halal Food Truck lunch runs.

  • But leaders of the park revitalization say it’s become “obsolete,” with too little gathering space, poor lighting, overgrown landscaping and a water feature that’s difficult to maintain.

What’s happening: Business and civic leaders, along with Charlotte City Center Partners, posed a plan in March to turn the park back into an urban community gathering place that complements the surrounding area.

  • The makeover of the 0.3-acre, city-owned park will be paid for with $10 million fundraised by the Hugh McColl Park Coalition. The city agreed to chip in $350,000 for the demolition.
  • There’s still work to do to decide what to put at the park, including collecting community input.

What’s next: Work has started to tear down the park, preserving and relocating some features. The site will reopen later this summer with temporary turf so the public can still use the space while the new park is designed.

  • The revamped park should open by summer 2025.
Polk Park
Polk Park is at the corner of Trade and Tryon. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

What they’re saying: McColl, a philanthropist, played a central role in making Charlotte what it is today, specifically through the development of Uptown.

  • “It’s hard to think of anyone who has done more for this city than Hugh McColl,” Malcomb Coley, Charlotte managing partner for EY and co-chair of the Hugh McColl Park Coalition, said in a March release.

Of note: Thomas Polk was one of Charlotte’s “founding fathers.” He built a home at the Tryon and Trade intersection, where President George Washington once dined in 1791, according to Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

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