Articles

  • 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.
  • Three new office buildings - for Ally Financial, Honeywell and Bank of America - in uptown Charlotte. The corner of Stonewall and Tryon was formerly occupied by a Goodyear auto shop and the Charlotte Observer building. Photo: Ely Portillo

    Charlotte just wrapped up its busiest decade ever for uptown development

    The 2010s in uptown Charlotte were a decade with a split personality, starting with an epic crash and swinging to a huge boom that transformed the skyline and left an enormous mark on the city. At the start of the decade, rusting rebar poked up from the EpiCentre, a reminder of a condo project that never got started. Now, those buildings are full and cranes dot the skyline, picking their way around new towers.
  • Construction on Stonewall Street in Charlotte, NC

    What Charlotte needs to grow into a great city

    In more than three decades since she moved to the city, UNC Charlotte professor Deb Ryan has seen a lot of changes. At Charlotte City Council's annual retreat in January, Ryan said she thinks it’s time for the city to raise its expectations of developers.  “We’re not the needy little city we used to be,” Ryan said. 
  • ArcGIS Urban model of Charlotte

    What will Charlotte look like? This new tool makes it easier to visualize

    The skyline changes every year in a fast-growing city like Charlotte, as parking lots morph into high-rises and humble houses or older building are demolished to make way for the next big thing. It can be tough to keep track of the changes, and even harder to visualize what a proposed development might look like once it’s actually built. A new tool the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department is planning to adopt soon could make that easier.
  • Goldenrod Galls in Uwahharies

    Finding the exceptional in the ordinary: Goldenrod galls

    Mama has a knack for finding four-leaf clovers. We’ll be strolling along, chatting, and she’ll stoop down and pluck one. She doesn’t break stride to stop and search – they just jump out at her.  She doesn’t focus on finding the oddity. Instead, she takes in the sameness of the masses until something different catches her eye. I’ve tried her approach, but I still fail miserably with four-leaf clovers. I guess I didn’t inherit the luck of the Irish. But I have trained my eye to pick out goldenrod galls among the millions of stems in our early successional habitat in the Uwharries.