Five Points Plaza celebrated its first anniversary on Saturday with music, roller skating, and dancing.
The $5.5 million plaza was built as a public space to host events and gatherings for West End residents. The plaza includes an amphitheater, water splash pad, public Wi-Fi, swings, tables and chairs, artwork and signage, solar-lighting brick pavers and a decorative wall.
Since its opening in March of last year, Five Points Plaza has hosted about 25 events, from movie nights to 5K runs, according to event planner Jessica Macks.
Macks attended Johnson C. Smith University and can recall when the Five Points Plaza was just a vacant lot. As the sole event planner, she told QCity Metro that her goal is to “create awareness of the space.”
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Engineering Services Division Manager Veronica Wallace, who grew up in the West End, was involved in planning the Five Points Plaza venue.
“I’m just really proud, having grown up off of Beatties Ford Road, to see how we have been able to sustain our area, not just with the housing market but also with the spaces that, at one time, people didn’t feel comfortable being in,” Wallace told QCity Metro.
Macks said Five Points Plaza’s first year “changed the idea of success” in her mind as it was a project that was “grassroots” and “very new.”
“We typically like to gauge our success on numbers that exceed expectations. But for a space and a new program, we work slowly on just the marketing side of it. Whenever I had an event, and someone showed up, it was a success.” Macks said.
Macks said event attendees over the past year have consisted of people from surrounding neighborhoods, a “faithful few” in the community.
One of those faithful few are Tiara Vanginderdeuren, who has lived in the area for over a year. She said she goes to the events to feel more connected to the neighborhood and that the one-year celebration on Saturday was the best turnout she had seen at the venue.
As for the future, Vanginderdeuren wants to see more people showing up at Five Points Plaza.
“If we don’t come out and support what’s here, it’ll go away,” she said.
Among the other attendees on Saturday were two first-timers to Five Points Plaza: Amauria and Leah Young.
Leah Young, who has lived in Charlotte on and off for the last twenty years, said she only knew of Five Points Plaza when she saw posts about the first anniversary on social media. “I’m so proud of what they’re doing. The last time I lived in this area, it didn’t look like this,” Leah Young said.
Amauria Young, who was on spring break from Winston-Salem State University and visited the event, said she had never been to the West End before Saturday. She described her first visit as a “big cookout.”
Macks said the second season of programming at Five Plants Plaza would have more events that feature music and art programming, which Macks said the community wants more of based on social media.
One event Macks is excited to see return is the 5K Run, which she said exceeded her goal last year.
Macks’ initial goal was to register 50 people in last year’s 5K, but the run ended up having 150 people registered, including participants from Mad Miles Run Club.
“Hopefully, they’ll come out in [large] numbers again this year; I really did appreciate their support,” Macks said.
This year’s 5K will be held on August 12, with early registration opening on April 10.