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monsoon

Land Use Report on CLT Metro Area from Brooking Institute

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The Brookings Institute has compiled a report detailing the Land Use regulations of the 50 largest metros in the USA. Here is the specific report for our area. Though the information is not broken down by municipality in the Metro, it does not paint a good picture for our region.

One of the comments that stand out is this one: "The Charlotte region has few rivals in terms of low density, dispersed development. Its density ranking placed it 49th out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in 1982, and it slipped to last place in 1997 when its density dropped 17 percent to 2.3 people per urban acre."

I wonder how much that has changed since 1997. It's probably better when framed of the context of just Mecklenburg county, but outside the county line, I would say its pretty much on the mark.

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I hear on WBT this morning that it is projective by 2030, there will be 100,000 people living in the uptown area, due to the high cost of fuel and transportation. I would say that would increase density in Charlotte.

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Exactly. It doesn't matter what city you really live in...for the next 20 to 30 years there is going to be a mass migration to center city or close to. With the rising fossil fuel prices and the long outlook on alternative fuel sources, the cheaper solution is high density and mass transportation. Take Europe for an example. That is the direction the U.S. is headed. That is one of the reasons I think that the light rail system and commuter rail programs that Charlotte is trying to build is a really really good thing. Watch and see, the next couple decades will rival the roaring 20's in so many ways.

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I hear on WBT this morning that it is projective by 2030, there will be 100,000 people living in the uptown area, due to the high cost of fuel and transportation. I would say that would increase density in Charlotte.

It's not clear to me the cost of fuel drives people to live in dense environments. In the European example you mention, suburan growth is pretty bad there as well despite the much higher fuel costs. 2/3rd's of the Paris metro is suburban now. The difference is they drive much smaller vehicles. During the oil shocks of the 70's the movement out of the cities accelerated so there is no evidence that oil will cause dense urban development.

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True, I think that most people are moving closer in due to convienence and due to the fact that most people don't have the same negative feelings about living in a diverse neighborhood now as they did in the 1960's.

You could get a house in Dilworth in the 1970's for about $30,000, take a look at the housing prices in Wilmore now and see what I mean. Gentrification is right around the corner for that neighborhood as well.

While Charlotte certainly has it's share of sprawl, I think that study is probably focusing on the broad picture only. I've lived in this area for a long time, and Charlotte is a LOT denser than it's ever been...and that's increasing. I think the rapid growth in the outer parts of the counties is probably skewing the numbers.

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I hear on WBT this morning that it is projective by 2030, there will be 100,000 people living in the uptown area, due to the high cost of fuel and transportation. I would say that would increase density in Charlotte.

I also don't see how fuel and transportation costs automatically equal everyone fleeing the suburbs to live in Uptown. While density is certainly increasing Uptown, job creation within a metro tends to be pretty significant in the suburbs, if not greater than in the core. From the Urban Planning Research blog:

In a model with centralized employment, the suburbs materialize for those who want more affordable larger homes (and other suburban amenities).

What if jobs suburbanize too? In real cities, firms do not all locate downtown. They also face tradeoffs between the benefits of clustering (agglomeration economies), the cost of land (versus access to markets), and from being nearer their workers (to reduce commute costs and thus potentially wages). In this story, job decentralization occurs when the benefits of being near workers are sufficiently high compared to the benefits of firm clustering. Shorter commutes therefore go hand in hand with decentralization...

Our evidence supports the argument that decentralized employment is associated with shorter commutes on average. This is not to say that commutes are shortening as cities expand their footprint; indeed, they seem to be slowly lengthening. Contrary to some conventional wisdom, however, the marginal effect of job suburbanization appears to be to bring jobs and workers closer.

Of course, this is a very complex industry, as many jobs that gravitate towards the suburbs tend to be industry-specific. But the author does a pretty good job of accounting for all of the complexities before stating his conclusion. I know that the urban developments are what excites us here on this board, but the suburbs aren't slowing down whatsoever, in terms of job growth, housing, amenities, etc.

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I also don't see how fuel and transportation costs automatically equal everyone fleeing the suburbs to live in Uptown. While density is certainly increasing Uptown, job creation within a metro tends to be pretty significant in the suburbs, if not greater than in the core. From the Urban Planning Research blog:

Of course, this is a very complex industry, as many jobs that gravitate towards the suburbs tend to be industry-specific. But the author does a pretty good job of accounting for all of the complexities before stating his conclusion. I know that the urban developments are what excites us here on this board, but the suburbs aren't slowing down whatsoever, in terms of job growth, housing, amenities, etc.

Atlanta's example does reinforce the expectation that jobs suburbanize. However, high order financial activities (and their associated producer services such as PR, legal services etc.) are almost always concentrated in the CBD. These guys feel like they need the prestige of a 'high street' address, an impressive building (so depositors are sufficiently impressed with the permanence and security of the institution) and agglomeration (financial activities require the constant trading of information, much of it face to face). Because of all this a large chunk of Charlotte's employment is unlikely to ever suburbanize. The story is very different in the Triangle, Atlanta, Orlando etc.

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But what percentage of the local economy does high order financial activities constitute? It wasn't as high as I (and others) once thought.

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However, high order financial activities (and their associated producer services such as PR, legal services etc.) are almost always concentrated in the CBD. ....

Most of Wachovia's employees in Charlotte are located the huge suburban complex and rented buildings around Harris Blvd.

But what percentage of the local economy does high order financial activities constitute? It wasn't as high as I (and others) once thought.
I believe we have determined the entire financial industry is responsible for about 10% of the jobs in Charlotte, much less in the metro.

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^I knew the Wachovia Campus off Harris had a large amount of employees, but I didn't know most of them worked there.

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^I knew the Wachovia Campus off Harris had a large amount of employees, but I didn't know most of them worked there.
Wachovia (as First Union) has advertized 10,000-12,000 employes at that center. They have less than 20,000 employees in Charlotte so I would say that is more than 1/2 when you subtract out the people working in the branches.

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And being that only about 10% of the jobs in Charlotte are in the financial services sector, I don't see how the city is immune from the job suburbanization that other cities are experiencing.

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And being that only about 10% of the jobs in Charlotte are in the financial services sector, I don't see how the city is immune from the job suburbanization that other cities are experiencing.manufactur

I didn't mean to suggest that the majority of Charlotte's jobs would be immune from the pull of the suburbs, rather that Charlotte has a larger portion of these high-order, executive level jobs than many other cities in the South.

Data sources such as the REIS (http://www.bea.gov/bea/regional/reis/action.cfm) are not much help with the distinction between high-order and low order employment, but we can make some estimations from numbers which have already been discussed. If Wachovia has roughly 10,000 uptown workers, and BofA another 10,000, they draw from a substantial number of local (e.g. uptown) producer services suppliers (the REIS says that their are 43,000 'professional and technical services workers and 21,000 "information" workers in Mecklenburg, if 1/3 of these folks are tied to the two banks then we end up with approximately 40,000 workers tied to the center city due to the financial industry. This represents about 15% of the county's employment and is is rapidly growing. Many of the suburban jobs out there are (or will) gravitate towards lower cost locations (think India rather than Lancaster).

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