The pre-1910 Alex Phifer Grocery Store, at 1125 Belmont Avenue is being studied for historic landmark status Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

The pre-1910 Alex Phifer Grocery Store, at 1125 Belmont Avenue is being studied for historic landmark status Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

Historians have set their sites on protecting northeast Charlotte’s Belmont community from the same unbridled redevelopment that turned South End into a series of dorm-like apartment buildings.

Their starting point: The pre-1910 Alex Phifer Grocery Store at 1125 Belmont Ave.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission says it is studying whether the building should be given landmark status. Such a designation would allow the city to offer preservation incentives to save it from being destroyed.

“The Belmont neighborhood has one of the largest collections of historic streetscapes in Charlotte,” historian Dan Morrill said in a statement.

“Belmont is also the best preserved early 20th century working class neighborhood in Charlotte. Protecting Belmont’s historic built environment should be a priority.”

The name “Alex Phifer” can still be seen on a recessed brick panel near the top of the front facade. Phifer once represented Belmont on the Charlotte Board of Aldermen, historians say.

Work began on his two-story brick store in 1896, at a time when there were no automobiles in Charlotte. Streetcar service was also unavailable at the time, Morrill said, making residents of the area totally reliant on a neighborhood store for food.

The current owner of the site supports historic landmark designation, Morrill says. “He also believes that the current residential zoning of the property is outdated and should be changed,” Morrill said.

Historians would like to see the building adapted for reuse in a way that keeps it located in the same spot.

The next step is for the Historic Landmarks Commission to produce a report documenting the history of the Alex Phifer Grocery Store. That will begin soon, Morrill said.

The Charlotte City Council will ultimately decide whether the Alex Phifer Grocery Store becomes a historic landmark.

Originally posted on The Charlotte Observer by Mark Price

 

The Press Release from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission posted on December 3, 2016:

For Immediate Release
Contact Person: Dr. Dan L. Morrill

The Alex Phifer Grocery Store In The Belmont Neighborhood Is Studied To Be A Historic Landmark

The Historic Landmarks Commission is studying historic landmark designation for the most imposing commercial building in the Belmont neighborhood of Charlotte – the pre-1910 Alex Phifer Grocery Store at 1125 Belmont Ave. The Commission recognizes that the Belmont neighborhood has one of the largest collections of historic streetscapes in Charlotte. Belmont is also the best preserved early 20th century working class neighborhood in Charlotte. Protecting Belmont’s historic built environment should be a priority. Historic landmark designation would protect the Alex Phifer Grocery Store from inadvertent demolition and would provide incentives for its preservation.

Construction began in the Belmont neighborhood in 1896. Because there were no automobiles in Charlotte before 1900 and because streetcar service did not reach Belmont, then on Charlotte’s outskirts, until about 1910, grocery stores that could be reached on foot were essential. Alex Phifer, who represented Belmont on the Charlotte Board of Aldermen, opened a grocery store in a two-story brick building at the corner of Belmont Avenue and Pegram Street during the first decade of the twentieth century. The building also had a series of retail tenants next door on the ground floor and a large rental hall upstairs. In keeping with construction techniques of the day, the Alex Phifer Grocery Store has load-bearing brick walls. The name “Alex Phifer” can still be seen on a recessed brick panel near the top of the front façade.

The owner of the Alex Phifer Grocery Store supports historic landmark designation for the building. He also believes that the current residential zoning of the property is outdated and should be changed. Adaptive reuse is the best tool for preserving historic buildings. The Charlotte City Council will decide whether the Alex Phifer Grocery Store becomes a historic landmark. The next step is for the Historic Landmarks Commission to produce a report documenting the history of the Alex Phifer Grocery Store. That will begin in the very near future.