By Sam Boykin
Ray Jones and Paul Williams are two of the last men standing. Amidst a blighted and largely deserted shopping center in east Charlotte, the business owners have stuck it out as others around them have fallen by the wayside.
Jones runs a beauty salon and Williams owns Earth Angel, which sells women’s lingerie, bathing suits and exotic clothing. The two are at opposite ends of the Coliseum Center, a decrepit-looking strip mall on Independence Boulevard.
Several years ago, this shopping center and others in the area fell on hard times after road construction choked off access to the once-thriving part of the city near Uptown. Now both men are hoping that a new land development plan for Independence Boulevard will give it a second lease on life.
Alysia Osborne with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department said the Independence Boulevard Area Plan has several focuses: growing the corridor, improving land use and making mass transit more accessible. Osborne said the Economic Development Committee of the City Council received an overview of the plan late last month; when the Council will get the plan itself is not yet certain.
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