The Rosengarten Park Neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina has been given new life. Founded in the early 1900s and close to extinction multiple times over the decades, Rosengarten Park now holds the promise of being one of the most culturally rich, historic and centrally located neighborhoods in the city.
Despite the bright future ahead, the Rosengarten Park of the 4th Ward Neighborhood has not always fostered a sense of hope and prosperity. In 1875, Raleigh was gerrymandered into four wards to give unfair advantages to candidates in elections by disenfranchising black voters. Subsequently, Jim Crow laws were enacted that prevented Raleigh’s black residents from living in specific neighborhoods. As a result, these laws led to an acceleration of minority residents in certain areas of the city including the 4th Ward.
In 1914, a Russian-Jewish immigrant named Aleck Rosengarten was responsible for the creation of the Rosengarten Park Neighborhood when he gave land on West Cabarrus Street over to the public. This land soon became home to some of Raleigh’s most prominent black citizens looking to make a better life for their families. The 4th Ward emerged as a community of approximately 600 homes, shops, churches and schools. In close proximity to downtown and the railroad, the Rosengarten Park Neighborhood of the 4th Ward was populated by some of the most skilled tradesmen of the day. This community ultimately fostered the education and independence of generations of Raleigh citizens.
Decades later, the 4th Ward would face near extinction. In 1974, Raleigh was not immune to the Urban ‘Renewal’ movement that was sweeping the nation. Real estate development during this time undervalued the historic areas in many cities, especially those predominantly occupied by minorities. Most of the 4th Ward was demolished to make way for Heritage Park public housing. History and vital structures would be tragically lost forever. The neighborhood went into rapid decline and became one of the most crime-ridden areas in Raleigh. Known as the ‘one-way,’ a hotspot for drug dealers, South Saunders Street in Rosengarten Park was considered so dangerous that postal carriers refused to deliver mail and pizza delivery services would not accept orders in the neighborhood.
In 2009, a renewed interest in The Rosengarten Park Neighborhood began. Thanks to the efforts of Richard Johnson of CitySpace Real Estate Sales and Development, Starcraft Builders and new residents like Johnny Chappell, the neighborhood is alive and thriving once again. Rosengarten Park is now fully occupied by individuals and families who see the value in dense urban living, historical context, and an independent downtown lifestyle. TightLines has aided the effort by providing custom design services for some of the infill lots on which original structures could not be saved. The designs are historically sensitive, efficient and address challenging lot conditions often requiring variances. The community is also governed by a HOA and Architectural Review Board to protect historic integrity.
Neighbors in Rosengarten Park might be described as pioneers of a downtown revitalization movement. A sense of safety and community has been restored in the neighborhood. Nearby residents of neighborhoods like Boylan Heights feel comfortable walking down the street with strollers in tow. Rosengarten Park residents Dan Meyer and his wife Amanda were two of the first homeowners to move into the neighborhood. As first-time homebuyers, Dan and Amanda’s home search took them to locations all over Raleigh. However, a decision to settle in Rosengarten Park soon became clear. “There was something that drew us back to the neighborhood itself,” Dan said. “It seemed like there was an energy there.”
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A recent announcement has linked Rosengarten Park to its railroad past. In June 2012, Raleigh received a $21 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) federal grant to help develop a multi-modal transportation center – Raleigh Union Station. In close proximity, Rosengarten Park will once again have direct access to a rail system that brings renewed hope for a truly livable and sustainable urban community.
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