Articles

  • Ideal Way in Dilworth

    Opinion: Let’s steer clear of the “D-word” when it comes to housing

    Post-war zoning effectively made America’s historic neighborhoods illegal. No longer could you live above the store. No longer could you build a duplex, triplex, or quadraplex  amidst single-family houses. Now, most new housing was a homogenous spread of nothing but single-family bungalows. Apartments were all lumped together and quarantined off in a different part of the city. But stroll through any historic district here in Charlotte and what do you see? Exactly that old-fashioned mix of duplexes and quadraplexes nestled amongst single-family dwellings.
  • Charlotte CLT250 seesaws Levine Avenue

    Would closing these streets help our lack of public space?

    A steady rain of giggles falls on a busy street in Uptown Charlotte. It’s May 2019, and a neat row of see-saws undulate back and forth, bright LED strips highlighting their movement, as elated, carefree riders push off. The smell of food trucks serving eager patrons wafts through the air. Parents watch, relaxed, knowing they don’t have to pull their child out of oncoming traffic, as kids run about.  You stop to marvel, and think: “Why isn’t it always like this?” 
  • Blackbird flock North Carolina

    What can flocking blackbirds in the winter teach us?

    Nothing speaks of the winter sky quite like a flock of blackbirds flying in unison above a sprawling pasture, field or marsh.  They spiral and bank and funnel, breathing life into a void of leaden gray. It’s a spectacle you won’t observe in any other season.  In the Piedmont, these flocks are often composed of an assortment of common species, not all of which are native or even considered true blackbirds: starlings, robins, brown-headed cowbirds, common grackles and red-winged blackbirds. Sometimes the rusty blackbird, an erratic winter visitor in our region, joins them. In other times of the year – when these very same birds are establishing territory, breeding and raising their young – they tend to be more solitary and competitive, and nest in pairs or loose groups. When winter comes along, they become more cooperative and sociable. 
  • I voted stickers

    See highest and lowest voter turnout areas in Charlotte

    Ads have been running for months, streets are blanketed with yard signs and North Carolinians have cast early ballots, but with Super Tuesday this week, the presidential election officially kicks into high gear locally.  But how many of us will actually turn out to vote? It turns out that the answer depends a lot on where you live. Like patterns of race, income, education and even average lifespan in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, you can see clear geographical differences. 
  • Blue Line Charlotte

    ‘You can only make roads so big’: Charlotte region launches first transit plan

    Leaders from across the region gathered Monday in a conference room at Charlotte Douglas International Airport with an ambitious goal: Creating a comprehensive plan for public transit, covering a dozen counties and setting the transit agenda for decades.  Called CONNECT Beyond, the 18-month planning effort by the Centralina Council of Governments is, to put it simply, big. The planning area covers 12 counties, in two states, with 17 different transit systems. Previous transit planning efforts have been focused mostly on one county at a time. The goal here is to come up with a plan to coordinate and prioritize projects, as well as funding requests, across the whole region.  “Twenty years from now, I think everyone is going to look back on this as the jumping-off point,” said John Muth, the Charlotte Area Transit System’s chief development officer. 
  • Houses under construction in southwest Charlotte

    Can we build our way out of the housing affordability crisis?

    There’s a growing consensus that if we want to get out of the housing affordability mess we’re in, we need to hear a lot more swinging hammers. Policymakers, developers and housing advocates are all talking about the need to build more, and more of everything: single-family houses, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, townhouses and apartments. It’s fast become the conventional wisdom that we need to lower regulatory barriers, streamline the development process and unleash the power of the market on our housing problems by allowing as much density as possible.
  • View from Grandfather Mountain, NC

    North Carolina’s parks showcase the state’s diverse landscapes

    North Carolina is truly blessed with a fantastic and diverse system of state parks and nature preserves, stretching from the mountains to the coast.
  • Five Points intersection in west Charlotte

    Putting a ‘there’ there: Placemaking aims to boost overlooked areas

    A vacant park in a bustling downtown. A waterside bandshell and lawn that sit empty most days of the year. A busy intersection thousands of people drive through every day without a pause. In a fast-growing city that lacks parks and other public gathering spaces, planners are looking at ways to make these places into more of, well, places. Not just somewhere to pass through, but somewhere to meet a friend, take a walk, have a cup of coffee or just spend time.
  • Smokestack emitting gas

    Invisible pollution: Spotlight on clean air coming to Charlotte

    It’s all around us, but we usually can’t smell or see air pollution. A major art piece and a series of events coming to Charlotte this spring could help change that.
  • Richmond Va. bus rapid transit system shelter

    Trains, buses and people: More lessons for Charlotte

    In his recent book, Trains, Buses, People – An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit, Christof Spieler dispenses a refreshly forthright  assessment of 47 of America’s larger systems, including Miami, Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Dallas and other Sun Belt cities. Never before has a publication compared this many cities and transit modes for a mainstream audience. Research included photographs at all locations and interviews with agency staff, elected officials, and advocates. The final product is compressed into a digestible format of full-page maps, abundant infographics and the author’s informed commentary.  Spieler’s opinions derive from several complex factors: political dynamics, funding challenges, planning dilemmas, land use constraints, ridership fluctuations, and conceptual biases all come into play.  He reveals a few winners, but also a lot of losers. Charlotte hovers precariously in between.