[6.7] Victoria Yards is solid, but too easy.
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Development on North Tryon is a tricky conversation.
Uptown is an expensive neighborhood in which to rent, and is home to powerhouse concepts like La Belle Helene, Cicchetti, and other triple-dollar-sign-on-Google restaurants.
But it also plays host to a soup kitchen, low income housing, and a ballooning homeless population, mostly in its northernmost corner. I'd say it starts as soon as you pass Discovery Place heading north, a sudden drop in open businesses and an increase in empty buildings and people wandering around with no place to go.
This area is underdeveloped due to its homeless population. It's an almost embarrassing kind of first world self-involvement we're forced to nurse when we wish this part of Uptown was better leveraged.
Enter Victoria Yards, the pop-up beer garden hosted jointly by Resident Culture Brewing and Charlotte Center City Partners. The event will run on Wednesdays and Thursdays until November 16th at the corner of Tryon and 7th.
It's craft beer, live music, and food trucks. It's a prime example of the maxim "minimize effort, maximize impact." This fail-proof execution functions just fine, but if this is the best solution to the larger question of what to do about North Tryon, then I'm unimpressed.
As I walked up, I saw a homeless man being asked to leave by security, likely because he didn't have an ID. I get it, but it's also a microcosm of exactly what will happen once the developers come in: just tell the homeless they can't be there anymore.
When I arrived at 7pm, there were about 120 people. Each of the tables were nearly fully occupied. This crowd is young. I'm guessing hosting the event on weeknights is going to draw a crowd of mostly those who already work or live in Uptown. There's not much in this neighborhood that's inexpensive, fun, and uniquely ours, and in that sense I wish Victoria Yards could be permanent.
The space itself makes fun reuse of industrial elements, like pallets of wood and metal crates. This mashup isn't particularly hard to think of, and is really just a remix of the kind of manufacturing necromancy that happens with every new brewery, but it's hard not to appreciate the touch.
There was no line at the bar, so I grabbed a beer ($9 with tip) and kind of... waited for something to happen. Nothing did. It really is just a parking lot you can drink in, which is fine, because drinking places with your friends is fun.
The most interesting part of my night was when the band came back from their break and began their set with Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder, and the white girl behind me said to her friends "This is Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder," as if it was a Jeopardy Daily Double level trivia fact.
I liked Victoria Yards and I can't imagine anyone not liking it, but more thoughtful presentation would've gone a long way. Perhaps thematic elements that called attention to gentrification or homelessness or mental health would've made for a meatier, stickier event. Without that, Victoria Yards is a figurative and literal message to Charlotte's Uptown population to continue closing itself off from the reality of its homelessness crisis.