Land development

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Can a community land trust stop gentrification in west Charlotte? This group thinks so.

Rickey Hall,  a lifelong west Charlotte resident who co-founded the West Charlotte Community Land Trust, and executive director Charis Blackmon in front of the first lot the group purchased, on Tuckaseegee Road. With a full-time executive director and a $200,000 grant, a three-year-old west Charlotte nonprofit is accelerating its efforts to stave off displacement with a housing strategy that’s unprecedented in this fast-developing city.

Charlotte’s torn down a lot of old buildings. But one type has staying power.

Optimist Hall, a food hall and Duke Energy Innovation Center, is in a reused mill that dates to 1891. Breweries, apartments, hip food halls, creative offices, coworking spaces: Charlotte developers keep finding new uses for the city’s old mills. As a post-war, Sunbelt boomtown, Charlotte has garnered a reputation for tearing down its old buildings and replacing them with sterile plaques to make way for the city’s glittering new skyline. But while many once-grand buildings have fallen (Goodbye, Masonic Temple and Hotel Charlotte), the humble, sturdy mill has proved surprisingly resilient. 

Why do old places matter? A Mecklenburg native explores the question.

Piazza Navona in Rome. Credit: Paul Edmondson/National Trust for Historic Preservation Why do we care about old places, and why should we work to preserve them? A Huntersville native and prominent national preservationist takes a look at those questions through a lens that stretches from Eastland Mall to the historic wonders of Rome. 

(Almost) everything you ever wanted to know about TOD but were afraid to ask

Light rail and TOD development make their mark in University City. From this intersection to Uptown by rail takes about 20 minutes. Photo by Nancy Pierce. Since City Council approved TOD Article 15 - the new Transit-Oriented Development ordinance - last April, land use consultants, architects, real estate attorneys and other insiders have had ample opportunity to sort out these new rules. As for laypersons, gleaning what they need to know from TOD’s eighty-one page assemblage of definitions, rules, standards, charts and graphics can be a real challenge, despite efforts by staff planners to make the document as jargon-free and user-friendly as possible. 

Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?

The I-77 bridge (foreground) over the Catawba River, south of Charlotte. Photo: Nancy Pierce After visiting a city with a waterfront, maybe stopping for a drink and a bite to eat along whichever river or ocean it’s built along, I’m usually left with one overriding thought: “Wow, Charlotte could really use some of this.” Water plays a prominent role in the design and history of most cities, whether it be a river, bay or ocean. And Charlotte’s skyline and downtown sit tantalizingly close-but-yet-so-far from a major river and lake system. So, the question looms: Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?  It’s a straightforward question I realized I had never actually asked, despite a decade living in Charlotte. So I called up an expert. 

Turning to a board game for insights on planning Charlotte’s growth

Novel Stonewall Station construction It isn’t quite “Risk” or “Monopoly” or even “Settlers of Catan.” But city officials are using feedback from a new board game called “Growing Better Places: A More Equitable and Inclusive Charlotte,” as they craft the comprehensive plan and unified development ordinance that are meant to guide the next two decades of growth. 

Want to know why developers are embracing walkable urbanism? Follow the money.

A Charlotte City Walk in the Belmont Neighborhood. Three structure demonstrate the changes in Belmont: From left: new affordable housing apartments, historic neighborhood music venue now a private residence, a new large house. These are on Harrill Street. Photo: Nancy Pierce. Charlotte’s suburbs are starting to look more like urban areas, and a new study is pointing to the value to be gained from promoting walkable, transit-connected, urban-style growth. Real estate experts have said they’re responding to market pressure: Businesses, workers and residents want to get from home to work to dinner without spending big chunks of their day in a car, and suburban-style developments that cater exclusively to drivers no longer cut it. 

How should Charlotte grow? Decades-old study points to some lessons worth remembering.

The cover of a 1955 report that raised some of the same questions about Charlotte's growth we're still asking today. The year was 1955, but the city’s problems would look pretty familiar to its modern residents. Charlotte was confronted with growing traffic, inadequate transportation options, a lack of park space and the fear that growth was running away without a real, comprehensive plan.

Data, urban agriculture and opportunity zones: Lessons from Milwaukee

Antonio Butts, executive director of Walnut Way in Milwaukee. Sometimes it can feel like the world is drowning in data: Big data, data mining, data science, data analytics and other buzzwords have become so familiar as to be cliches.  But the meeting last week of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, held in Milwaukee, was also full of reminders about the power of data to tell stories and inform decision-making. 

From Ballantyne to SouthPark to University City, the suburbs want to be more like the city

"Ballantyne Reimagined" seeks to redevelop an office park into a mixed-use hub of activity. It’s happening across Charlotte: Apartments, office buildings and restaurants are popping up in parking lots, as dense, mixed-use developments, connected by bicycle paths and walking trails, invade suburbia. What’s driving the shift at some of the city’s most iconic suburban centers?