CHARLOTTE-- Some may see Charlotte's West End district as blighted or rundown, others see it as a place of opportunity. It's the reason Johnson C. Smith University chose the site as the home of a new multi-million dollar project.
"This facility will mark the historic beginning of the community coming together extending from downtown Charlotte through West Charlotte and bringing our people together in a way that we have not seen or done before," said Cathy Jones, Dean of Student Success at Johnson C. Smith University.
After years of planning and more than a year of construction, Thursday, university officials celebrated the grand opening of Mosaic Village.
"This is now a part of the greater uptown Charlotte community and we want to make sure that it has all the amenities people are expecting," said Sen. Malcolm Graham, Chairman of West Trade Street Task Force.
In addition to apartment housing, the $29 million dollar development also features a four story parking deck, retail and classroom space. Students said they are pleased to see the university's vision turn into reality.
"It gives us a sense of hope and pride and dignity. People have a lot of negative views about attending a HBC university and I think that these changes show that we are just as good as any other university," said student Hanoi Darden.
School officials said while the housing initiative breathes new light into the West End community, they will continue to push for the city to approve the street car extension. It's a move leaders believe will be instrumental in bridging the gap between West End and uptown.
"We are hopeful that the city council will make a substantial public investment just like the university has made a substantial private investment," said Graham.
Housing at Mosaic Village is open to students and the general public.