There is a group of architects, developers and attorneys proposing a new park to take over a current rail yard. The park would be called Queens Park and would span 220 acres about two miles from Uptown. That is only about a quarter of the size of Central Park in New York City, but it is about twice the size of Freedom Park.
The land is owned by Norfolk Southern and currently on the site are about 18 railroad tracks with Charlotte Station on the Amtrak train lines and bus routes running through. Little Sugar Creek flows through the land as well, though it is currently overgrown. This would be a massive change for the property as it has been a rail yard for over a century.
The proposed park would be bounded by North Tryon Street, Matheson Avenue, Brevard Street, and 16th Street. The proposed park would connect neighborhoods that are currently not walkable due to the train lines. It would also be a great signal of growth in that direction as downtown Charlotte has historically been bounded by I-277. This property used to be considered to be on the outside of town, but Charlotte has been steadily growing, and shows no signs of stopping so it is no longer the outskirts and the North end has been developing rapidly.
It is not unheard of for a city to swap a railyard for a park. In Chicago, it was done with Millenium Park. There is also a plan in the works in Sacramento for a land swap to provide greenspace, hotels, residences, and a major league soccer stadium.
Norfolk Southern can be tricky to deal with, as can be seen in the stalled commuter line to Lake Norman. They are not impossible, and recently they worked closely with the city of Greensboro to connect the last 4 mile parcel to complete the 15-mile downtown greenway.
For the Queens Park project, Norfolk Southern would have to give up control of the property by either swapping this parcel with another parcel further out from the center of town, or by selling the property. To function properly as a rail line, some tracks will need to stay as part of the park, but could be a feature, or could be worked into the design in some way.
The design of the park would most likely feature gathering space for concerts, some sort of recognizable landmark for meeting up and getting that all important picture for social media. Other features that could be considered include water features, structures like gazebos, walking trails, and more.
The next step is for the newly formed Friends of Queens Park to meet with surrounding neighborhoods to get support from local residents. This support will show that this is truly what the community desires. If the park project does become a reality, expect property values around the park to increase and a flurry of new development to ensue. Parks generally draw additional development such as housing, businesses, and entertainment that will take advantage of being within walking distance of such a desirable destination.