Land development

Losing a spot of urban magic that’s not likely to be replaced

Courtyard at the Common Market in South End. Photo: David Walters When the Common Market leaves its South End spot next year, it will mean the loss not only of the market, which can reopen elsewhere, but the loss of its courtyard—a small spot of urban magic of a sort almost impossible to find in the city any more. Commentary

Charlotte’s goal is to mix uses, but change is slow on the ground

Metropolitan mixed-use development just outside uptown Charlotte. Like many cities, Charlotte has a goal of encouraging mixed-use development, after decades of conventional zoning practices that separate uses. PlanCharlotte took a look at zoning throughout the city to see how single-use zoning compares with mixed-use zoning.

For better designed development, we’re going to need a better code

Central Avenue multifamily. Photo: David Walters Charlotte’s apartment boom plus development in popular areas like Plaza Midwood and NoDa are generating questions by residents about why new development looks the way it does and whether it could be better. Yes, it could be better, but that requires a different kind of zoning ordinance. Commentary

No flood in your city? Lessons from New Orleans still apply

Damaged house in New Orleans in 2006 Photo: Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Ten years after devastating floods, New Orleans is proof a city is a hard thing to kill. Roberta Brandes Gratz, in We're Still Here Ya Bastards: How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City, burrows into the city’s revival and concludes small, incremental, community-led rebirth offers the best hope of success.

Change is coming to South End. Don't blame Gaines Brown

Gaines Brown on South End lot used for food truck Fridays. Photo: David Walters As an important block on Camden Road faces likely development, its recent history reveals a complex narrative of a once-derelict area and a man with a vision, and shows how success changes a neighborhood. Commentary.

Confessions from the cul-de-sac

Mecklenburg subdivision 2005. Nancy Pierce photo A dedicated Charlotte urbanist confronts a choice when house-hunting: Walkable urbanity in the heart of town, or affordable homes with the assurance of good schools in an auto-dependent suburban area? Commentary.

The Charlotte streetcar: Y’all have got it wrong

Charlotte streetcar is launched July 14. Photo: Erin Chantry Since I celebrated the launch of Charlotte’s streetcar I’ve cringed as the news media got it wrong and people made fun of it. If more people understood its value to neglected areas and to the whole city’s future, more people would support it. Commentary.

What they said about Charlotte’s outerbelt

Providence Road and I-485. Photo Nancy Pierce 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.

How zoning reveals our deeper cultural values

This scene of Ashburton, in southwest England, shows how English land use law, unlike typical zoning in the U.S.,  protects open spaces from development. Photo: David Walters Although originating in British and European concepts, U.S. land use zoning today differs markedly from other countries. A new book explores how zoning codes reveal American values and prompts concern about coming challenges. Book review/commentary. 

Protest petitions: Valuable or harmful? A pro/con package

Rezoning sign near I-485 in 2014. Photo: Nancy Pierce A bill in the General Assembly would end a decades-old provision for rezonings, the protest petition. It lets nearby property owners force a supermajority City Council vote on a rezoning. Read two opposing views: Dilworth resident Jill Walker opposes the bill; Joe Padilla of the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition supports it.