Sep 6, 2023 - News

What do you want to see at the restored Hugh McColl Park in Uptown?

polk park

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Project leaders are taking the next steps to transform a historic but neglected park into a public square honoring Charlotte icon Hugh McColl. The process involves your input.

Why it matters: The $7 million privately funded project will revitalize the park at Trade and Tryon. The park was previously named after the 18th-century Charlotte politician Thomas Polk.

  • It’s at a visible corner close to the Bank of America Corporate Center, where McColl — the bank’s former chairman and CEO — played a major role in shaping modern Charlotte.

“This is not the largest public space downtown, but we think it’s probably one of the more powerful and emblematic spaces to the city’s history,” says award-winning landscape architect Walter Hood. “I think it’s one of the few that can possibly tell a better story about the city’s origins and its future.”

The latest: Charlotte Center City Partners and the McColl Park Committee (a group of civic leaders) have brought on Hood and engineering firm Bolton & Menk to lead the redesign.

  • Hood is a Charlotte native. He’s known for the African Ancestors Memorial Garden at the International African American Museum and the Peter Oliver Pavilion Gallery in Winston-Salem.
  • Bolton & Menk worked on First Ward Park, The Green in Uptown and Pack Square in Asheville.

What’s next: The designers are looking to residents for ideas and inspiration.

  • On Sept. 21, there’s a community open house for anyone to attend and share ideas about the design and features. It starts at 5:30pm in the VAPA Center.
  • Polk Park was demolished earlier this year. The 0.3-acre site is mostly still surrounded by green fences. It may reopen temporarily soon. Construction will start once community engagement and design work wraps up.

The big picture: The redesign will likely nod to the significance of the location and reflect McColl’s influence on the city.

  • At 88 years old, McColl is still as active. Most recently, he joined the UNC Charlotte board of trustees. He’s vowed to live to 100, as Axios’ Michael Graff writes.

Of note: The McColl Park Committee includes former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt. An architect, Gantt also played an outsized role in Charlotte’s transformational growth in the 80s and 90s alongside McColl.

Other committee members are:

  • Malcomb Coley, Charlotte managing partner for EY
  • Cyndee Patterson, former Charlotte council member
  • Michael Smith, Charlotte Center City Partners president and CEO
  • Cathy Bessant, vice chair for global strategy at Bank of America
  • Kieth Cockrell, president of Bank of America Charlotte
  • Michael Marsicano, former president and CEO of Foundation For The Carolinas
  • Loy McKeithen, former partner at McGuireWoods

McColl has no role in the design process other than agreeing to the use of his name, CBJ reported.

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