Crestdale, Matthews, North Carolina
Crestdale is a community in transition. Situated in the town of Matthews, outside of Charlotte, the neighborhood has a rich history dating back to the 1870s as a settlement for freed slaves and their families.
Over the years residents have relied on the strong leadership of local churches and community groups, but as the town experiences shifting racial, cultural, generational, and income demographics, Crestdale has lost its collective voice.
New economic opportunities are arising in and around Matthews; plans for a regional Sportsplex and the completion of the Southeast Transit Corridor present challenges to maintaining the neighborhood's unique character and affordability. A variety of plans have been drawn up to take advantage of these developments, while incorporating long-held desires for elderly housing, a central community meeting space, convenience store and eco-friendly residential development. However, achieving community-wide support for any one option has become a serious challenge.
The Community Planning Assistance Team took a role in fostering dialogues that allowed residents to voice their hopes and concerns for the future of Crestdale. Balancing this input with their professional evaluations of community plans already on the table, the Team helped stakeholders determine what types of development will best serve residents' needs.
The ultimate goal was to work towards a comprehensive vision plan for development in Crestdale, including an implementation strategy that cultivates community participation and support.
Crestdale Rising: What Unites Us is Greater Than What Divides Us
Community Planning Assistance Team Report
Throughout much of its history, Tank Town consisted of home-based stores, barber shops, and the churches that served its residents. In the years following the Civil War, the community lacked basic and essential resources, including a school for its children. Residents were finally able to construct the Tank Town School (Matthews Colored School) through fundraising and foundation support.
The Crestdale Rising final report details their findings and gives recommendations on what the Crestdale community can do to ensure its stability and vitality for the next generation.
Among those recommendations: community identity and cohesions; heritage preservation, education and ownership; security and dignity for longterm residents; connectivity and neighborhood improvements; and a discussion of planned adjacent developments including Wingate Commons and the Sportsplex.
Now, town staff says, it's up to Crestdale residents to bring those recommendations to life.
After reading the CPAT application and materials prepared by the Town of Matthews; meeting with residents, advocates, stakeholders, officials, and private sector representatives; spending time in the area; and discussing possibilities and concerns among ourselves, the CPAT prepared this Vision Plan.
The full plan presents the following:
- background on the CPAT program;
- a profile of Crestdale’s history and current demographics;
- description of the Crestdale CPAT planning process;
- assessment of five focus areas for moving forward; and
- detailed recommended actions.
The team arrived in Matthews on Tuesday, July 19, 2011. On July 20, an "open house" was held at the Town Hall. Crestdale residents, local and regional stakeholders, and any other interested parties in Matthews were invited to come and talk with the team about Crestdale and Matthews. The event generated a good turnout, and the team gained many insights from participants.
On Thursday and Friday, the team interviewed residents and stakeholders individually while preparing for the final presentation. On Saturday, team leader Jason Beske, AICP, presented the team's findings and recommendations to the community at a local church in the Crestdale neighborhood. Following the presentation, attendees were invited to ask questions.
Residents decided to hold a community meeting in the near future to discuss the team’s presentation (linked below) and find ways to move forward with some of the proposed ideas. The Town of Matthews and church provided lunch for everyone following the presentation.
On Monday, June 27, 2011, team leader Jason Beske, AICP, and APA staff visited Crestdale. They toured the Crestdale community, including the surrounding Matthews area, and met with Crestdale residents and other stakeholders to introduce the project and hear initial views about the past, present, and future of the community. Ideas and revelations that emerged from the conversation will be used by the team as stepping stones in engaging the community when the team returns on July 19. Following the meeting, Beske addressed the Matthews Town Council and shared with the council the CPAT project and its goals.
News Coverage of the Crestdale Team
"Immediate benefits included improving the community residents' spirit — their communal self-image, while also bringing recognition to the neighborhood as a place with historic and social value. Some residents stated they did not even realize they lived within 'Crestdale' and appreciated learning of their area's unique history." — Kathi Ingrish, AICP, Planning Director, Matthews, North Carolina
"The strongest aspects of the CPAT were their wealth of knowledge, experience, expertise, and their ability to share their experience and work together to craft a plan for the Crestdale Community ... the team's ability to gain valuable public input in the planning process gave more credibility to the overall project." — James Luster, Centralina Council of Governments
"[The CPAT] brought us closer together as a community." — Anonymous