This past week bullets were flying in East Charlotte!
But of course in East Charlotte shootings and homicides are nothing new.
But not so long ago East Charlotte was a place where everyone felt safe. I was raised in South Charlotte and a South Meck Alumni, but I dated a girl who lived on Club Drive. Another who lived just off of Eastway near Central thanks in part to CMS busing and integration of Charlotte's school system which began in the mid 70's.
Our weekends were spent hanging out at the Lake Apartments with the on air staff of WAYS (610 AM) and WROQ (95 FM) back when those stations were leaders in Charlotte's Top 40 and ROCK/AC Markets.
If you're under 30 or just moved to Charlotte you'll have a hard time understanding or accepting the next paragraph as fact.
But during summers in the early 80's the biggest happening in Charlotte was the weekend "Pool Parties" sponsored by WAYS and WROQ. Those pool parties that were always held at the Lake Apartments.
The Lake Apartments are now called "The Lakes" or something like that, and today they are run down shadow of the once must have home address.
Jay Thomas and Robert Murphy who both went on to bigger things at one time or another lived at the Lake Apartments as well as friends of Cedar's who were reps for Arista records.
The tennis courts and pool were a place to see and be seen. The tennis courts are now gone. The Lake is a cesspool.
This weekend Brooks Crist was found laying in a pool of blood on the ground behind one of the nearby apartment communities. As you might expect the 28 year old had a charming police record. Some will say his life style finally caught up with him.
Around the corner, Cory Richmond became a target of CMPD officers literally on Thursday during a forty minute gun battle and 90 rounds were expended. The 60 shots fired by CMPD officers did little to deter Richmond who was drunk at the time.
This type of crime is of course prime news material and with comes it the perception that "East Charlotte" is a mecca of lawlessness, murder and car jackings. This perception is unfair.
But gone are the restaurants and bars of a once affluent young singles haven. Nothing looks the same to me, though it has been years since I drove down Central or Albemarle Road.
My memory has faded some, the names of places I once thought were my life I can't remember. But what I do remember is Steak and Ale at the corner of Independence and Albemarle, a bar called the Fog Cutter and a dozen other places just like it between Independence and Central all along Albermale Road.
They are all gone now, as is Eastland Mall and so the decline of Albemarle Road follows a familiar pattern. Too many apartments, raising vacancies, falling rental rates, lower quality tenants, crime, drugs, raising vacancies, falling rental rates, even lower quality tenants.
Urban planning is a course that every member of city coucil should be required to take. I have no idea what happened. Was it a slow decline or a rapid decent into the abyss? All I know is that it has changed and not for the better. But I'd bet a round of beer that there was some long forgotten Charlotte City Council vote that approved a re-zoning change that put one too many apartment complexes and one too many strip shopping centers in East Charlotte.