Amazing Place series: Residents of Charlotte, NC expect to live in “great places”

We’re bringing five U.S. cities together at the Amazing Place Ideas Forum, an innovative, experiential event that’s all about placemaking as the core of an economic development strategy. As we prepare for the forum later this month, learn about each of the participating cities in our #AmazingPlaceForum series. Find out what Charlotte, NC has been up to, and what they hope to gain from the Forum.

Economic development

Council Member Vi Lyles on expanding transportation options in Charlotte, NC

lynx-light-railA planned expansion of the Blue Line on Charlotte’s LYNX light rail system will connect the center city to the NoDA art district and University of North Carolina Charlotte Campus. Photo by Reconnecting America, via flickr.

Charlotte is the largest city in the state of North Carolina, with a metropolitan area population of 2.3 million as of 2013. Over the last half century Charlotte’s economy grew primarily around the financial sector, and as the home of Bank of America’s headquarters, the former headquarters of Wachovia, and a host of Fortune 500 companies the city was the  second largest banking hub in the country when the economic recession hit in 2008. In recent years leaders in Charlotte have worked to make the city’s economy more resilient by cultivating and expanding other industries, particularly energy, logistics, defense and healthcare.

In line with these efforts, there is a growing movement among many city leaders to provide a high quality of life in Charlotte’s unique and diverse neighborhoods, which radiate out from the historic center city, in order to attract and retain new businesses and residents and promote Charlotte as a great place to live, work and play. At-Large City Council Member Vi Lyles, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to provide these neighborhoods with a greater variety of transportation options to help foster a sense of community and connection to the city among residents. “We are focusing on making Charlotte a place where people want to be. To do that, we have to provide those people with choices,” says Council Member Lyles.

Local Leaders Council

Since the workshop: Charlotte, NC plans for economic and fiscal health with Smart Growth America workshop

The City of Charlotte, NC, is working to spur economic development and community reinvestment within five geographic areas with the help of a technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America.

Property values have increased in many of Charlotte’s neighborhoods over the past decades. However, several areas in Charlotte have lagged behind.

This observation prompted the City to apply for technical assistance from Smart Growth America. In May, our staff visited the city to host a “Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health” workshop. At the workshop, Smart Growth America’s experts and City officials discussed strategies for attaining quality growth throughout Charlotte, and how better development strategies could contribute to the city’s economic competitiveness and stability.  Five areas in Charlotte were targeted for city investment including: Whitehall/Ayrsley, Prosperity Village, West Trade/Rozelles Ferry, Sunset/Beattie’s Ford, and Central/Eastland/Albemarle.  In their “next steps” memorandum after the workshop, Bill Fulton and Roger Millar of Smart Growth America recommended a number of possible high-impact public investments for each of the five target neighborhoods. Ultimately, the hope is that these types of investments will strengthen the five areas by making them more desirable for commercial and retail markets and middle-income housing.

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Planning for economic and fiscal health in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, NC
Downtown Charlotte, NC. Photo by James Willamor via Flickr.

Smart Growth America will be in Charlotte, NC next to speak with city officials there about how development strategies can benefit the city’s finances and its economy.

Charlotte residents are invited to join the discussion at an introductory presentation on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 from 6:00–8:00 PM at the UNC Charlotte Auditorium, Uptown Campus, 320 East 9th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202.

Technical assistance

Charlotte, Tampa to showcase smart growth features at this year's political conventions


The Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa Bay, FL, overlooking the Tampa Riverwalk, will host this year’s Republican National Convention. Photo by Flickr user Judy Malley.

Republicans and Democrats alike will be enjoying the benefits of smart growth strategies later this summer as both parties prepare for their respective conventions.

The Republican National Convention will take place in late August at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a 670,000 sq. ft. arena that’s normally home to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The arena overlooks the scenic Hillsborough River and the Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.6-mile riverfront walkway that connects the Forum with restaurants, shops and parks in the area.

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Smart growth news – June 27, 2011

Champion of Cities
Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011
Chairing the City Planning Commission since 2002, Burden, age 67, has revolutionized its role in the city, transforming a once-sleepy bureaucratic agency into an activist department championing good design by using zoning as a weapon to enforce her vision. In her second-floor office near New York’s City Hall, she reviews applications for all new buildings that come before the commission, instructing developers and architects on what they can and cannot do—something that comes as a dramatic shift in the order of business to executives accustomed to getting their way.

Committee Poised to Introduce Transportation Bill
Journal of Commerce, June 23, 2011
Leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are ready to introduce a new surface transportation bill, but want a commitment from the Senate Finance Committee to find a way to pay for it, a Capitol Hill source said this morning. The committee will propose a two-year transportation bill that will cost $12 billion more than anticipated revenue from the Highway Trust Fund. Committee leaders believe it has a better chance of passing than the traditional six-year bill.

Group working across state to aid vacancies
The Newark Advocate (Ohio), June 26, 2011
Smart-growth advocate Greater Ohio has been pushing for redevelopment of abandoned properties and keeping vacant properties from blight through policy and code enforcement. They’ve put the housing stock of Akron, Youngstown and other large cities under the microscope, but Lavea Brachman, executive director, said the same basic strategy applies for a mid-sized or small city.

Cleaning the Central Corridor in St. Paul, courtesy of the EPA
Twin Cities Daily Planet, June 24, 2011
The construction-burdened Central Corridor can seem like a messy ordeal to drivers, walkers, bikers, and bus riders, but a cleaner future lies ahead. University Avenue property owners in St. Paul could receive aid to get the ball rolling on future developments due to a $1 million grant awarded through the EPA’s Brownfield Program.

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