• Uptown Charlotte as seen from NoDa

    'Stay true to what we are': Looking ahead while appreciating the past

    What a year 2019 has been been for the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute: The completion of a two-year study of the connections between Charlotte and surrounding rural communities. The launch of a new Urban Institute Faculty Fellows program focusing on economic opportunity. The inaugural Schul Forum Series. But it was also a year of reflection, as the institute celebrated its 50th anniversary.
  • Little Long Mountain trail view Uwharries

    Enjoy hiking? You should help build a trail

    Most people who hike trails don’t take time to think about who makes and maintains paths through the woods.  In the Uwharries, as in most recreational areas, most trail-building is done by dedicated volunteers.
  • Artist's rendering of the pedestrian bridge across Interstate 277 in Charlotte

    What’s on our city’s wish list? See some gifts for Charlotte

    It’s hard shopping for the city that has it all: Gleaming office towers, a new-ish light rail line, a booming population and one of the world’s busiest airports. But that doesn’t mean Charlotte couldn't still use a few gifts this holiday season. After all, despite the city’s obvious and explosive growth, there are still plenty of challenges: Housing that’s too expensive for many, a rising violent crime and murder rate, increasing traffic and low economic mobility for those born into poverty.  So, what would you get Charlotte this year, if you could gift the city anything? I took a (very informal, totally unscientific) poll on Twitter, and received more than 100 replies and suggestions. 
  • Eastern hemlock needles and cones in Charlotte, NC

    Some mountain conifers make the Piedmont their home

    In December, the familiar Fraser fir population reaches its fleeting peak in the Piedmont as Christmas trees are harvested from farms in the North Carolina mountains and brought to market.  But two other species of conifers largely restricted to the mountains have found surprising refuge in our region — at least for the time being.
  • An apartment construction site at 500 West Trade Street in uptown Charlotte. Photo: Nathan Griffin

    Single-family construction once dominated Mecklenburg, but that’s changed

    After the 2008 recession, apartments came to dominate housing construction in Charlotte, reversing longstanding trends and outpacing the number of single-family buildings. What factors led to this, and will this furious pace of construction be sustainable?
  • Barbara Mackey sits on the front of her home on Joe Louis Street in Paradise. Mackey's lived in the neighborhood since she was 14 and has owned her current home since the late 1980s. Photo: Jonathan McFadden

    Fort Mill’s historic black neighborhood maintains the old, but braces for the new

    From her porch in booming Fort Mill, S.C., Barbara Mackey can point out three houses where neighbors who love her live. One takes her to church every Sunday morning. Another trims her hedges and mows her grass. A third chauffeurs her around town whenever she needs to run errands. “Here, everybody knows everybody,” says Mackey, 77.  Since she was 14, Mackey’s lived here in Paradise, a historic, predominantly black neighborhood just outside downtown Fort Mill off busy S.C. 160. Comprised of streets named after prominent African Americans, Paradise seems like its own island in this bustling Charlotte suburb.
  • The Carnegie Library in Charlotte.

    Charlotte has had four main uptown libraries. What do they tell us?

    Charlotte is a city with a reputation for tearing down its old buildings to replace them with the next big thing, and perhaps nowhere is that go-go approach to development more apparent than at the site of the Main Library.
  • The 1903 Carnegie Library in Charlotte
  • CATS buses in uptown Charlotte

    Book review: Can we fix our struggling bus systems?

    There’s been a lot of discussion lately within transit planning circles about how to attract customers to ailing regional bus networks that connect core cities, nearby towns, and far-flung suburbs — including the Charlotte Area Transit System. A handful of bus systems have actually grown, such as Austin, Houston and especially Seattle. But overall, the prognosis for bus ridership is grim.
  • Cyclists enjoy pedaling through downtown and making stops at breweries and bottle shops. Photo courtesy Burke TDA.

    Building on natural assets: How Burke County is capitalizing on recreation

    Rural communities around Charlotte are looking for new economic engines. Urban residents are looking for more outdoor recreation. That provides an opportunity for communities around Charlotte to use their public lands and waterways to fuel growth.  And two areas in the region that were ahead of the curve offer lessons for other communities trying to tap this potential source of growth (one in the Uwharries east of Charlotte, and the other in Burke County). Here, we take a look at the experience of Burke County, and how it might inform the efforts of other communities in the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection region that are interested in tapping into the outdoor recreation industry.