Optimist Park Market

If you have lived in or around the area for any significant amount of time, you are familiar with that famously quiet stretch of land in Optimist Park between Uptown and NoDa. Between high-speed Parkwood Avenue and desolate North Brevard Street, it is typically used as a cut-through for drivers on their way to NoDa.

With North Davidson Street one block over, one would think it would see more action, particularly with the Blue Line Extension running right alongside. Not so for many years. Luckily that is about to change.

Enter the Optimist Park Pop-Up Street Market, located and hosted by the brand-new Alta Warp + Weft Luxury Apartments, directly across from 25th Street Station. Teaming up with local artists and artisans, this event is poised to make this barren cut-through the new happening spot on this west leg of Little Sugar Creek.

The very first Saturday market, held on April 13 this year, featured Hiya Korean food truck, King of Pops, and live music by Todd Johnson (of Todd Johnson & the Revolvers), and was a great time to all. We asked an attendee who has lived in NoDa for many years their thoughts: “This area has so much potential, I’m so pumped to see what is possible here as this gets bigger!”

Local artist, Denise Ciccone, was in attendance selling her wares: “This area has so much potential to become another community node.” Ciccone has been the lead organizer of pop-up markets all over the region for over 35 years, including the former pop-up market behind Smelly Cat, and most recently on Main Street in downtown Gastonia. She will be connecting organizers with her decades of networks—artisans, artists, craftspeople—to bring a diverse range of offerings to the market. “I’m really excited to see what is possible at this great spot throughout the summer!”

Keep an eye out as the weather warms up, because the next big street market will be later this summer located outside Alta Warp + Weft apartments, directly across from 25th St Station. You can expect more featured food trucks, new-to-the-scene (and quick favorite of this author) dessert/brunch cart Rich Waffle, and live music from local acts. Permits are currently being filed to take over the street. Plus, with the future Little Sugar Creek Greenway extension located directly behind the community, and the upcoming 25th Street bridge connection to begin this summer, this is set to become the next hot block.

As this event grows and turnout to this formerly quiet stretch increases, expect festivities to become grander and more frequent as the season rolls on.Vendor spots are still available but going fast. If interested, please send an email.

Mark Lynch is a Matthews, NC, native and has been a neighbor in NoDa, Optimist Park, and Villa Heights over the last decade. He currently lives in the Belmont neighborhood and is a Leasing Specialist at Alta Warp + Weft Luxury Apartments.