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ricky_davis_fan_21

The Big Question: 20 on 2020

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There was a great article on Charlotte.com that asked 20 people what they thought charlotte would be like in 2020. Each person wrote a paragraph on what they felt charlotte would be like in 2020. So here is what I want. I would like for everyone to write a paragraph about what they honestly think charlotte will be like in 2020. I too will write a paragraph after I've given it some thought so please put some thought and effort into your paragraph.

Here is the story if you need some inspiration.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/634/story/348292.html

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Homework? Nuts to that.

I'll play:

Charlotte of 2020 should be leading the country in progressive energy solutions. Decisions across the board will be made according to these solutions, and not according to the bottomline - this will reach every thing from housing, to automobiles, to planning, to entertainment. Duke Power should be a forward thinking, respected and coveted leader in the industry. The Charlotte banking industry (which hopefully with be reformed but still a prevalent civic presence in our community) will be partnered in this new quest. Charlotte will be known as the "test city" for energy and technology - everything from citywide wi-fi, to smart transportation solutions (light rail, walkability, smart planning). In 2020, a whole city neighborhood could be the first city neighborhood in the Nation to remove it's public infrastructure from the national grid (I vote for Noda!). Powerlines, phone and cable infrastructure won't litter our parks and streets in the way they once did. A city like Portland OR, who were the darling gem of transportation and new urbanism in the early century will have a peer in energy based planning. And we will reap the rewards of this new identity on a small scale, balanced throughout the livability of the whole city.

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I expect the city to be very hollowed out by then with subdivisions from the 1980's and early 1990's vast slums, even in South Charlotte.

I suspect the surrounding Counties will have really reached their own identity (like in many larger cities), with southern Iredell being the most desirable due to the extension of the Commuter Rail.

Closer in spots of urbanity (Central Ave, NoDa, South End) will become larger and more defined neighborhoods.

South Park will remain high-end, but will have mind-numbingly bad traffic.

Actually, I don't see inside Route 4 of Charlotte much different than today, other than just an increased density.

Banking will still dominate, but I do see a future of green-tech in Charlotte, though I don't see that leading to large downtown increases in jobs.

We will still be second tier to Atlanta (which will be much improved in term of urbanity). Downtown growth will come from serive firms (legal, accounting, etc.) chosing Charlotte to serve the "Carolinas", which will continue to rapidly grow.

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To date, Charlotte has been blessed with timing, and I think even the most recent events are working in the Queen City's favor.

In the past, Charlotte didn't boom until after the postwar auto-oriented economy dominated. While that means there is a lot of middle-suburban and exurban sprawl that will not transition well into the post-auto-era, it did ironically create the means for the Charlotte within Route 4 to now quickly adapt. It was a limited supply of pre-1950 stock both elite (like Myers Park) and working-class (like Belmont) that the former never fell on hard times, while the latter is poised to be gobbled up in pentup demand for urban living in a city of very little urban fabric. Combine this inherited compact core of limited supply with a strong CBD, and Charlotte is set up to become an inverted city of higher prices per square foot towards the CBD. The lingering question for me is whether the filtering subdivisions of middle suburbia will choke Charlotte's future as a premier 21st century city as much as say the abandonned urban neigborhoods choked large urban centers in the 20th century. As others have mentioned, I agree the future of the already built sprawl is the biggest threat. Fortunately, I think Charlotte is blessed with timing yet again, when thinking of how current events will shape a dramatically different future.

Current signs that Charlotte is still blessed include the timing of its transit ambitions and ironically the recent downturn. The former is blessed with new national leadership seeking to use transit now as a driver of what I like to call the New Eco-Urban Economy, which builds locally upon recent LYNX popularity, clearly voiced mandate (thank you repeal folks), and proven development response (thank you South Corridor developers). The latter will enable Charlotte to finally break free of its sprawl (even more so than transit) and even someday its banktown moniker. With transit, Charlotte had only aspired to change development patterns, but the recent downturn, the market for sprawl is now screaching to a halt, if not seeing a painful correction. And so, Charlotte couldn't continue poor planning practices, even if its planners lacked smart-growth ideals. As for WellsFargo, the talent pool is here to diversify employers (Morgan Stanley and now GMAC news), if not at least initially diversify the sector. In the long run, more corporate relocations and start-ups will attract other sectors.

All of this optimism depends greatly on how well-positioned does Charlotte remain in this changing economy favoring quality urban living. Despite being such an auto-oriented place, it surprisingly has always been on top of the right trend at the right time. In the past, it was not inheriting too much urban in an anti-urban period. In the future, it will be quickly expanding its limited quality places to accommodate the New Urban Era.

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2020: As peak oil hit the neighborhoods not accessible by transit, bicycle, and walking became the least desirable in the city. They became virtually abandoned except a few enclaves of people who could still afford gas on a daily basis. All development became focused around transit and the urban and intercity neighborhoods became walkable as all the big box chains died off. Creativity sprung forth as the city enjoyed a renaissance of art and new ideas. The death of the automobile became the birth of a living, breathing, city.

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2020: As peak oil hit the neighborhoods not accessible by transit, bicycle, and walking became the least desirable in the city. They became virtually abandoned except a few enclaves of people who could still afford gas on a daily basis. All development became focused around transit and the urban and intercity neighborhoods became walkable as all the big box chains died off. Creativity sprung forth as the city enjoyed a renaissance of art and new ideas. The death of the automobile became the birth of a living, breathing, city.

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