NoDa residents try to preserve historic neighborhood

- Charlotte's NoDa district has its own feel to it. Some say it has character, and that's why development is booming.

"It's not polished and it's very pedestrian oriented," said one resident.

But off Alexander and 37th St., there's a growing conflict surrounding the question: what is NoDa?

"You know, there's been so many changes it's hard to find one word."

Leigh McDonalds lives in this NoDa home. It's more than 100 years old and it looked quite different before she fixed it up.

"I just knew immediately that it was the house I wanted," Leigh said.

There are dozens of old mill houses in NoDa just like hers. With so much new development, there's now a group effort to label them with this protective covenant from the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina.

"It prevents people from tearing the property, the house down."

Preservation North Carolina’s Ted Alexander says it's not just McDonald’s mill house he's working to preserve, there are several, all along the same street.

"It's inevitable that neighborhoods change and that's not necessarily a bad thing,” said Alexander.

Alexander says too much history is being demolished as the neighborhood becomes a hot spot for growth.

"The neighborhood becomes a victim of its own success."

This is McDonald’s dream home.

"There's a depth to that. It's pretty sweet," she said.

She has an art studio where she's free to paint and there are new additions to the home, but there's plenty that remains the same. Everything from flowers planted in the beginning, to original doors, Leigh says it's easy to see this transformation.

"It was a front porch community when they first built the mill houses."

As the neighborhood washes away the dirt for up and coming growth, there's hope more property owners take action to make people remember.

"It's unlike other places in Charlotte."

It’s what makes NoDa...NoDa.

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