The 9.3-mile Blue Line Extension will open Friday, March 16, CATS announced this week.

The first extension of the LYNX light rail system since the original Blue Line opened in 2007 continues the route from 7th Street Station in Uptown to UNC Charlotte’s campus.

It’s a monumental addition to Charlotte’s public transit system and will bring with it tremendous change for surrounding neighborhoods.

If you were around to see South End before the light rail rolled through, you understand the development that’s coming — for better or worse — to Optimist Park, NoDa, University City and other neighborhoods along the new route.

So to celebrate what’s already there (and to give you an excuse to hop on a train when the extension opens in a couple months), I rounded up existing businesses that are about to find themselves within walking distance of one of the 11 new light rail stations.

9th Street Station

Located on E. 9th Street between N. College and N. Brevard Streets

UNC Charlotte Center City – 320 E. 9th Street – Even if you’re not a student, the university’s Uptown campus features an art gallery, book store, Einstein Bagels and event space.

Subsecreto – 325 E. 9th Street – The offbeat craft coffee bar and retail shop maintains an air of mystery with quirky books and gifts, snake membership pins and a secret bookshelf “portal” to another room. Get a shot of espresso in an edible cookie cup.