Urban growth

Feb 02, 2016
Jim Matthews, a retired UNC Charlotte biology professor, is a botanist whose mission is to collect and catalog the plants of the 15-county region of the North Carolina Piedmont, preserving a record of what we have, before it’s lost to development.
Nov 10, 2015
Dr. Alfred Stuart, professor emeritus of geography and earth sciences, had a long and distinguished career at UNC Charlotte. We should take a minute to appreciate and celebrate his accomplishments, many of which still have an impact on our region and state. 
Jul 23, 2015
When the final leg of I-485 opened in June, motorists cheered its unclogged lanes. But a look at traffic count data for the outerbelt segments that opened 20 years ago in south Mecklenburg indicates that unclogged lanes may be a temporary condition.
Jul 14, 2015
The building of I-485 was one of the forces shaping Mecklenburg County growth patterns over a quarter century. Some areas near I-485 grew more than 1,000 percent. Our interactive map shows 30 years of population growth in Mecklenburg and nearby counties.
Jul 08, 2015
Charlotte leaders have been talking about the outerbelt, Interstate 485, for decades. While most residents were concerned primarily with what it would mean for drive times, planners and others spent time contemplating the highway's effect on the area's growth. A sampling of comments over the years.
Jul 08, 2015
I-485’s last segment opened June 5, but for two decades its route lured development. A look at the road's past, with a map showing how it shaped Mecklenburg County growth patterns since the 1980s.
Apr 15, 2015
Just when many demographers were speculating that suburban growth was waning, the latest Census Bureau population estimates show a rebound. In the Charlotte region, for the first time since 2010, adjacent counties' growth rates have leapfrogged Mecklenburg's. 
Dec 05, 2014
We know Charlotte is growing, but where do all these new residents come from? Interactive maps and charts let you explore the answer.  
Dec 02, 2014
In cities and counties surrounding Charlotte, tensions are swirling over rapid residential growth and – especially – how to pay for it. Can their low tax rates support urban services new residents want? (Explore interactive maps.)
Oct 15, 2014
It is easy to forget that Detroit was a city on top of the world 50 years ago. Charlotte is not Detroit, but the recession brought a reality check. Did it bring the resolve to fight the complacency that comes with success?
Sep 24, 2014
Recently the site FiveThirtyEight.com reported that of the largest U.S. metros, only Charlotte’s median income, “experienced a statistically significant decline” in 2013. What’s going on?
Sep 17, 2014
By 2050, residents in the Charlotte region would prefer to see more rural areas preserved, less suburban development and more areas that blend housing, stores and offices.
Jun 27, 2014
The city faces important decisions about its Eastland Mall property, and the future of east Charlotte. But the city's vision could be undermined by an upcoming rezoning. Commentary. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
May 16, 2014
Transit advocate Benjamin Ross wondered why so many suburbanites fight development. After researching the founding values of U.S. suburbia he concludes it's based on status-seeking. He'll speak this evening at UNC Charlotte.
Apr 03, 2014
Since 2010, the home counties of Charlotte and Raleigh have accounted for nearly half of all population growth in North Carolina. Just 10 N.C. counties tallied nearly 80 percent of the state's increased population. (Image: John Chesser, Tableau maps)
Jan 23, 2014
As hundreds of apartments pop up around transit stations in Charlotte's South End neighborhood, the city's plan for more high-density housing near its rail line is taking shape. But a sister policy encouraging apartments for low-income families isn't faring as well. (Photo: John Chesser)
Oct 23, 2013
Today (Oct. 24) is the last chance for members of the public in Mecklenburg County to add their voices to a series of workshops that are part of a Charlotte-region-wide effort to chart a future for ourselves. Commentary. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Sep 16, 2013
Charlotte-area residents will have an additional opportunity to voice their opinion on the region’s growth. A fourth Mecklenburg County workshop will be held Oct. 24 at Freedom Park as part of the  “CONNECT Our Future” planning program. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Aug 21, 2013
Charlotte area planning and sustainability enthusiasts can have their say about the future of the region in coming weeks by getting involved in two long-range regional planning efforts.
Aug 08, 2013
Whether you recall the old “inner city” image of poverty and dysfunction, or today's hipster downtowns, both images focus on the central core. That’s one of the biggest challenges facing U.S. cities today: the need to address the whole urban organism of city plus suburb plus exurb. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
Jul 30, 2013
Development patterns along Charlotte's Blue Line show a mixed bag of more low-density neighborhoods than planners recommend. That means the corridor is brimming with opportunity to develop more intensely, and in a way that puts walkable, diverse urban neighborhoods near transit. (Photo: Melissa Currie)
Jul 10, 2013
It’s no secret the Charlotte region has seen a huge influx of newcomers, with homes built by the thousands. New Census data show the high percentage of homes that are only a few years old. With interactive, county-by-county data.
Jun 26, 2013
WAXHAW – The question came from the audience during a presentation about the future of N.C. 16 through this fast-growing Union County town. “If we do all this, will we still be considered a small town?” (Graphic: Lawrence Group)
Jun 14, 2013
You’d think I would have known better. I’ve been writing about growth since before they called it Smart Growth. That’s why last week’s regional planning exercise made for an eye-opening glimpse of the real world. (Photo: Melissa Currie)
Jun 05, 2013
How can the Charlotte region prepare for the thousands of new jobs and houses expected to come here? RealityCheck2050, part of the CONNECT process, let regional participants develop their own versions of the future. (Photo: Melissa Currie)
May 31, 2013
Aided by a $5 million federal grant, residents and businesses throughout the 14-county Charlotte region are engaged in a process to envision the region's best future and create a roadmap for getting there. This interactive article describes the process, plans and players for CONNECT Our Future. (Photo: Nancy Pierce)
May 02, 2013
Changes to how metropolitan areas are defined added nearly a half-million people to Charlotte’s MSA, making it the 23rd most populous in the country. How did the changes affect Charlotte's peer metro areas such as Atlanta (pictured)? (Photo: dbking, used under CC-BY-2.0)
Apr 09, 2013
A new study of access to jobs via automobile, across the United States, ranks the Charlotte metro area near the bottom. Unlike simple congestion studies, this one looks at land use as well as the transportation system.  
Mar 20, 2013
Of metro areas with more than 1 million people, Charlotte ranked ninth nationally in population growth from 2011 to 2012. That growth was strongest at the center of the metro area, in Mecklenburg County, which outpaced the suburban counties in the region for the second year. (Image: Bing maps)
Mar 19, 2013
In conjunction with the photographic exhibit, Favelas: Architecture of Survival, the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture will hold a reception Friday, 6-8 p.m., at the Projective Eye Gallery at UNC Charlotte Center City.
Feb 28, 2013
Huntersville Town Hall was the setting for Wednesday afternoon’s public information meeting about HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes proposed on I-77. HOT lanes are a red-hot topic, and citizens were vocal about their concerns. Is the region ready to accept pay-as-you-go highways? (Photo: Melissa Currie)
Feb 14, 2013
Times have been tough in the local economy, but it looks as if we’ve finally turned the corner. If growth is starting to make a comeback, exactly where will it be? Is your county ready? (Photo:  U.S. Census Bureau, Public Information Office)
Feb 07, 2013
Since Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx gave his State of the City speech Monday, most publicity has focused on his remarks about the proposed streetcar and about a proposal in the legislature to remove Charlotte/Douglas International Airport from city control. Those are important issues. But another one may well trump those, and it’s not getting much publicity:The way Charlotte used to grow is over.
Feb 07, 2013
PlanCharlotte can't be at today's Charlotte City Council retreat, but we're using an innovative social media technique to let you read what others are reporting from the retreat. 
Jan 29, 2013
Some well-known intersections in the city hide the remnants of a now forgotten, but once major highway through the Carolinas. It was known as Potter Road and its name referred to the one-time pottery industry in western Lincoln County. Today, after neighbors pushed the city to save a piece of the old road's route, an obscure patch of trees at Central Avenue and Kilborne Road is all that’s left to tell the story.
Dec 06, 2012
Ghosts and cities often occur together, and not only in fiction. Kevin Lynch writes about how we "read" cities. Many descriptions of our surroundings are accompanied by the ghosts of what used to be there. Changes can leave scars on our mental map.
Dec 06, 2012
When I moved to Charlotte more than 30 years ago, Matthews was the suburb. Years of attracting people looking for a small town and a private getaway have built a fabric of large lawns and scattered houses, and more lawns and more houses. Where does a it go from here?
Dec 05, 2012
Commonwealth Morningside neighbors are trying to do what Plaza Midwood did six years ago: work with neighborhood parents and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools until the parents are comfortable sending their children to the neighborhood public school. Assignment to a low-performing public school is an issue in many revitalizing Charlotte neighborhoods.
Nov 27, 2012
Learning to speak each other's language about urbanism means understanding New Urbanism, Landscape Urbanism and more. So let’s sort a few things out and get at some simple definitions.
Nov 15, 2012
By 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004 – with Echo Boomers leading the trend. Here in Mecklenburg County, however, younger drivers are on the road more, not less.
Nov 07, 2012
By nearly 3 to 1, apartment construction is outpacing single-family construction in Charlotte, a reflection of a tough economy as well as city policies encouraging higher density housing. It's also pushing planners to start thinking about how to focus on building communities, not just apartment projects.
Nov 07, 2012
Commuting stories – we’ve all got one.  How does your commute time stack up to your fellow Mecklenburg resident?  Check out our maps, using 2010 U.S. Census data to break down average commute times.
Oct 02, 2012
The Charlotte metro was definitely a hotbed of growth for the state during the past decade. But the pattern within the metro region is uneven, with much of the strongest population increases concentrated in areas north and south of Charlotte.
Aug 17, 2012
Photos by Nancy Pierce Click here to read related story.
Aug 16, 2012
What’s next for transit in Mecklenburg County? “We’re stuck,” says Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. While he’s optimistic the Blue Line Extension will be funded, “Sales tax revenues won’t support anything else.” The mayor also said the City Council will hold meetings this fall on the future of the city’s five-year Capital Investment Plan, which the council rejected in June. Read more, from an interview with the mayor ... 
Aug 13, 2012
It was a hot night in a hot city the day after the hottest month ever recorded in the United States. By 7 the temperature had slid from the 90s to the high 80s, as I pulled up to a 1960s split-level on a half-acre lot in a subdivision of 2,450 single-family homes. Inside, a small group sat overlooking a back yard of mature trees, talking about their neighborhood’s future.
Aug 08, 2012
How much are homes in your neighborhood worth? The era of upside-down mortgages and foreclosures has left homeowners across the country anxious about home values – theirs and their neighbors'. In the midst of this housing market upheaval, explosive growth in the Charlotte region has reshaped residential patterns.
May 03, 2012
Once mill villages, then low-income, drug-ridden neighborhoods, Villa Heights and neighboring Belmont are undergoing a transformation fueled largely by young, white professionals in search of affordable housing close to uptown. Will the changes push out long-time residents?
Apr 18, 2012
Do developers have undue influence in Charlotte? Does the city's zoning ordinance need a revamp? And can Charlotte residents get used to development that looks different from what they’re used to? Charlotte Planning Director Debra Campbell tackles these questions and more.
Apr 18, 2012
Where are urban regions growing – in their cores or suburbs? What is happening in rural areas? New population figures have fostered speculation about what growth in urban regions will be like in the future.  For rural parts of the Carolinas, the issue isn’t about growth at all, but widespread decline in population.