Articles

[title_1]
Dead trees can help make a healthy forest
   February 26, 2021
Ruth Ann Grissom

My husband and I recently hiked the Birkhead Trail, starting at Tot Hill Road for the first time since that section was hit by a wind storm in June 2019. Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of mature trees were snapped or uprooted along the trail. I hate to see a mature hardwood forest in the Uwharries suffer such extensive damage. It will take a century to replace those massive oaks. As I trudged...

Read more


[title_1]
Who’s paying attention to the planning conversation in Charlotte?
   February 24, 2021
Ely Portillo

Charlotte City Council members confronted an uncomfortable question Monday: How can you get people in the general public to pay attention to technical, somewhat boring, but extremely important matters like the city’s new development rules – before a major controversy erupts?

Planning staff are nearing the finish line for Charlotte’s...

Read more


[title_1]
Moving to the suburbs: Three things I’ve learned that make me hopeful
   February 22, 2021
Ely Portillo

When the moving truck pulled up to the Dilworth duplex we’d been renting for years, I felt more than a twinge of regret to be leaving the urban amenities I’d come to love.

Living within a short walk of two supermarkets, plentiful coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and some of Charlotte’s best parks was a fantastic convenience. But after nearly a decade in Dilworth, three different...

Read more


[title_1]
Updated maps let you explore Charlotte’s changing housing
   February 18, 2021
Ely Portillo

Which Charlotte neighborhoods have gotten denser, with more residences per acre? Where have average home sizes ballooned? Is the proportion of single-family homes rising or falling in neighborhoods where new apartments and tear-downs vie for space?

Newly updated maps on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Quality of Life Explorer allow you to probe these...

Read more


[title_1]
What’s next for uptown once the pandemic fades?
   February 11, 2021
Ely Portillo

A few minutes after noon on a recent Friday, a single customer waited for lunch at the Halal food cart parked on the sidewalk at Trade and Tryon streets.

A couple of workers in construction vests and a handful of security guards were the only other people in the plaza. The lunchtime crowd that would normally fill the streets with office workers taking the chance to stretch their legs...

Read more


[title_1]
Exploring the racial wealth gap and housing
   February 3, 2021
Ely Portillo

Charlotte’s notorious “50-out-of-50” ranking for economic mobility has many roots, ranging from systemic discrimination to gaps in education, health and jobs training. 

But one of the most consequential factors for intergenerational economic mobility is likely wealth, and the simple fact is that some families have much more than others. A key component of wealth is home ownership, an...

Read more


[title_1]
Can a street help heal America’s fractures?
   February 3, 2021
Mary Newsom

I’ll never again look at a city’s Main Street the same way. In Mindy Thompson Fullilove’s newest book, Main Street: How a City’s Heart Connects Us All, she does something relatively rare for books about urban issues.

Some focus on cities’ physical attributes, such as low-density single-family sprawl, building design, street...

Read more


[title_1]
Feeling harried? Watch harriers
   February 1, 2021
Ruth Ann Grissom

In January, a month when birders across the state and around the world launch headlong into a rigorous endeavor called a Big Year — in which they rush around a given geographic area trying to see as many species as possible — I hunkered down in the Uwharries and became obsessed with a single species.

The Northern harrier, also known as the marsh hawk, is an enthralling raptor. Harriers...

Read more


[title_1]
Here's what it would take for our park system to reach ‘the Disney model’
   February 1, 2021
Ely Portillo

Parks in Charlotte can be a bit of a touchy subject. The system took a decade to recover funding and staffing levels after the Great Recession, and we’ve consistently placed near the bottom in national rankings for park space, spending and accessibility. 

So last week, Park & Recreation Director Lee Jones laid out three scenarios for the future of Mecklenburg County’s parks: “...

Read more


[title_1]
Plans for the Silver Line are taking shape
   January 26, 2021
Ely Portillo

The multibillion dollar Silver Line light rail is years away, but Charlotte is moving closer to a final vision for the east-west transit line that could reshape much of Charlotte.

This week, the Charlotte Area Transit System presented a more detailed map of the proposed routes and stops. It’s an ambitious undertaking: At roughly 26 miles, the Silver Line would be nearly twice as long...

Read more