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mallguy

Ballantyne or South End

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I've been keeping my eye on Ballantyne and the South End, and am curious as to others' thoughts:

Does either area run the risk of becoming the next downtrodden area of Charlotte, with inexpensive, dime-a-dozen condos?

Of course south Charlotte has high incomes overall, and I'd think that South End's proximity to SouthPark and uptown and light rail access would keep it desirable, but is there a risk that pockets of either area, with those inexpensive, dime-a-dozen condos, could be vacated by middle- to upper-income people who may decide to just keep moving on out to the next new development, as happened to East Charlotte and University City? Or was the downfall of East Charlotte due to having dime-a-dozen apartment complexes vs. owner-occupied housing?

Thanks.

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apples to gummy bears. I also don't think the speculation about south end is at all the same conversation as ballantyne, both are very much on the upswing right now but for totally different reasons.

short answer, no I don't think so. I see no reason to be worried any time soon.

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I'm not sure about their final state, but I would think these two areas would survive for quite a while. You have to hope we have come to a point where just moving to the next, new development starts to get old. I guess trying to change an area for the better is too difficult when you can just pack the bags and move on. South End seems to be fairly unique and appears to be gaining more character and charm as time goes on. Ballantyne really is a dime a dozen, but there's so much money there that I can't see it going downhill for a good while.

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I love these socioeconomic discussions!

I don't think South End or Ballantyne would ever become like the Eastside 'hoods. And it's has nothing to do their dime-a-dozen condos (which I agree they are dime-a-dozen) and more to do with the historical opinion about the geography of Charlotte and what it implies for status. For 100 years southside of Charlotte has been the white/successful side. East/west has been the other/blue collar side. This fact has become so ingrained in Charlotte, that ALL of South Charlotte would have to "fail" in order for Ballantyne to fail.

I suppose its plausible that SouthEnd could falter (again), but here's my take on that:

I am of the serious opinion that the suburbs are a declining thing. There is no way we as a society can continue to expand and consume the amount that the suburbs require. Detroit is the first city to experience this - but it's got to happen other places as time go on, as gas gets more expensive, and we slowly choke on plastic bags from Walmart and Target, SouthEnd will always have to remain a vital part of a centralized urban landscape.

In 50-100 years, I bet we see some serious conversations about what it means to be a suburb. I could see Ballantyne reorganizing and incorporating as it's own self contained city before it is allowed to falter (as was the case in Brookline, MA from Boston).

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Thanks- I really appreciate the feedback. I agree but want to hedge my bets, so may I play devil's advocate and, solely to provide a contrary viewpoint, claim that:

Parts of Ballantyne will go under because, as Census numbers show, the suburbs are still growing. With South Carolina being a low-tax state, middle-income people who would have occupied Ballantyne's dime-a-dozen condos move just across the border to nearby SC, leaving their former condos as dated, dime-a-dozen developments that newly-arrived middle-income people reject for newer buildings. True, Ballantyne does have office jobs in it, but people grow to prefer living in inexpensive SC or SouthPark and making the short commute to Ballantyne.

South End also goes under because it was overbuilt with inexpensive condos that don't age well, and Uptown doesn't create enough new jobs, following the banking crisis, to fill them before the condos age and become dated, and the light rail line brings crime. The 2000-era architecture grows as dated as the 1970s-era architecture around Eastland.

(Again, the two paragraphs above are just for the sake of providing a contrary and negative viewpoint.)

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Interesting conversation and thread. I agree with most thoughts and points here.

The main point I agree with is that I don't see either approaching decline. Actually I see them both continuing to grow.

Southend though is more of my favorite as I think it is continuing to build upon itself in a positive way. I think the walk ability and potential for distinct neighborhood vibe is the plus. If I had to choose a potential threat to this area it would be the overselling of high-end. I think it does have enough higher end condos and that it needs to do more of town homes and more midscale and mid-priced rental and condos to attract more first time homeowners who want to build a life.

Ballantyne seems to be strong and growing and it's placement at the border is actually a strength versus a potential weakness in my mind as it offers a Charlotte address but allows workers to live in cheaper South Carolina. I also wouldn't doubt the power and money behind the Bissel family to keep the area strong . I do think Ballantyne needs to start focusing more on infill and creating a more connected community within itself though.

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Great topic.

My guess is that the days of "middle- to upper-income people who just keep moving on out to the next new development" is coming to a close. This is not to say that suburban growth is ending (something that I think is impossible given the SFH preference of many Americans combined with the immutable laws of geometry) just that people will eventually stop moving further away from where they work. This assumption turns the question into a debate on where job growth will occur -- and both Ballantyne and downtown have been very successful in luring new jobs. Couple the job-proximity trend with shifts in the duration of employment (the 'life-span' of jobs are getting shorter so people must change jobs more frequently) and you have a situation where only large employment centers are attractive to workers. I suspect that workers will select residential locations which maximize their (and their spouses) opportunities for employment (without big commutes) over many years. The location of professional jobs may shift to take this preference into account -- creating job growth in places that already have lots of office jobs (updowntown and Btyne) and a movement of professional jobs out of less dense employment clusters like the SC counties, Cabarrus and U City. In short, as long as Btyne and updowntown can continue to add jobs without choking on their own traffic I would predict their residential character will remain affluent.

Just a guess.....

Disclaimer: if knowledge industries begin to embrace telecommuting to a greater degree then all of the above is meaningless

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Thanks again for the feedback.

If either area were to go under or at least develop pockets of ghetto, which would it be?

I'd say Ballantyne, since its dime-a-dozen condos and "feel" are the same as any other outlying area, making it no more desirable than any of one of many other areas on Charlotte's fringe, and even though it does have office parks and jobs, it is also bordered by rural areas (thus not sandwiched between 2 employment areas). Plus, the holders of lower-paying jobs in SouthPark and Ballantyne will of course want to live close to work as well, and they'll snap up those "dime-a-dozen" condos as soon as the prices are right, resulting in "de-gentrification".

Conversely, South End has a "feel" to it that isn't like anywhere else in the area other than maybe NoDa, and it is in between jobs uptown and in SouthPark (although its condos could also be snapped up when their prices are low enough, resulting in "de-gentrification", and light rail could be a mixed blessing).

ETA: Also, did east Charlotte ever have a decent number of office jobs? Or in the '60s and '70s, did uptown have most all of the area's office jobs, before those started migrating to suburbia as well?

Am I totally off base? Please poke holes in my argument as much as possible.

Thanks again.

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I suppose its plausible that SouthEnd could falter (again), but here's my take on that:I am of the serious opinion that the suburbs are a declining thing. There is no way we as a society can continue to expand and consume the amount that the suburbs require. Detroit is the first city to experience this.

I'm not sure what you mean by this--what is it that suburbs can't continue to consume? Energy?

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I'm not sure what you mean by this--what is it that suburbs can't continue to consume? Energy?

Resources to afford the collection of garbage, recycling, water works, etc. It gets very expensive to deliver what people expect out of a large city when density is low.

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I think both areas will be stable for the forseeable future. Theoretically, to me Southend would falter first. The area is adjacent to still transitional neighborhoods that stagnated when the economy halted gentrification. The inertia could bleed over.

Ballantyne has a sizable amount of sprawly less than attractive development. But I think being adjacent to Piper Glen,and by extension Weddington\Marvin etc, serves as a buffer.

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To say that South End would fail first would ignore national trends back to the city. It is suburban areas that are now in the hotseat, imo. The affluent areas on the 21st century will increasingly be in the inner city. However, as much as Ballantyne has been knocked here, it does have a better sense of planning than say, University City. There are plenty of sidewalks, housing somewhat integrated near retail, buried utilities, etc. It was a planned development, just not a very good one.

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Speaking of suburbs vs. downtowns: both seem to be doing fine (at least until the '08 crash), with population growth in both areas, but inner-ring suburbs have fallen hard (witness Eastland, and other '50s-'70s suburbs). Do we think that South End runs the risk of being considered a dated and unattractive inner-ring suburb in 20 years? Its architecture now is fine, but who knows what the latest style will be in 2030.

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Speaking of suburbs vs. downtowns: both seem to be doing fine (at least until the '08 crash), with population growth in both areas, but inner-ring suburbs have fallen hard (witness Eastland, and other '50s-'70s suburbs). Do we think that South End runs the risk of being considered a dated and unattractive inner-ring suburb in 20 years? Its architecture now is fine, but who knows what the latest style will be in 2030.

While I certainly can't disagree with your observation on the eastside I don't think it is fair to say that inner-ring suburbs (as a group) have fallen hard. The same period that witnessed the decline of the eastside saw significant revitalization in Southend, Dilworth, Wilmore, Elizabeth, Madison Park, Sedgefield, Wesley Heights, Plaza Midwood etc. Proximity to employment (for both adult members of the household) has been a significant driver of residential choice over the past decade. My view of the decline of the eastside is not so much location but rather the poor quality of much of the housing stock -- its not easy to refurb / upgrade a 1960s or 70s era brick 2br 1 bath house (Clearly there will be exceptions to this blanket statement). Once the housing stock became less attractive the neighborhood began its demographic shift (this shift was compounded by conditions in CMS and the inability of Independence blvd to handle peak hour traffic)

The same housing pressures could certainly impact the Mcmansions in Ballantyne (Christoper Lineberger of brrokings has written a great deal about this) and the apartments in Southend (just as occurred with overbuilding in the U City area in the mid 1990s) but my guess is that the proximity that the two areas will have to high-wage employment will keep investment flowing to both areas.

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Speaking of suburbs vs. downtowns: both seem to be doing fine (at least until the '08 crash), with population growth in both areas, but inner-ring suburbs have fallen hard (witness Eastland, and other '50s-'70s suburbs). Do we think that South End runs the risk of being considered a dated and unattractive inner-ring suburb in 20 years? Its architecture now is fine, but who knows what the latest style will be in 2030.

I'm noticing a trend suggesting that neighborhoods with a distinct architectural style (matchy-matchy, or otherwise distinct to the era in which they were developed) are fated to fail/succeed all together - and I understand what you're getting at: Most of Eastland's buildings look dated today because so many of them sprung up together around the 60's & 70's. Will SouthEnd look dated in 2030 for the same reason?

But consider that styles come and go in architecture, and everything that is new is a reaction to that which is old. Maybe 2020 will see a renewed interest in 60's/70's modern/minimalism, and a disinterest in um...let's call it "Furman-ism"...you know where every building has spoilers, and turrets and metal cladding. I can see that happening.

I don't think you can blame the disinterest in housing stock though, because my 'hood has HORRENDOUS housing stock (NoDa mill houses were not constructed to be lived in for 100 years). But we enjoy our 'hood anyway because it represents our own personal style.

Someone's style must be reflected in those 1970's brick ranches in Eastland.

Disclaimer: quite possibly the majority of 1970's building and planning was totally misguided. So maybe no one will ever find nostalgia in Eastland. But I ascertain that has less to do with the housing stock, and more to do with what is "en vogue" at any given time.

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An overwhelming stock of rental apartments can doom a neighborhood. Just look at Sharon Road West. There is a stark dividing line where the road transitions from signal family to apartments and cheap townhomes. It should be a thriving area sandwiched between the light rail line and Quail Hollow but unfortunately it's a kinda rough area by South CLT standards. This is a future problem for WT Harris between university city and 77, too. I wouldn't worry so much about the styles of the new Southend buildings but more about the high concentration of rentals.

The average (non urban planet) person is far more affected by aesthetics now that in years past. What buildings look like and how they're arranged is more important than it used to be. Why do places like Birkdale thrive while strip malls with similar tenant mixes suffer? Why do homes in Baxter Village command such a high premium on micro building lots? East Charlotte is unfortunately faceless 1970's and 1980's suburbia and it has a very dim future that is probably going to be focused on mass redevelopment. I have seen some rather mundane brick ranches with craftsman style porches added to them and they look really good! It would be hard to do the same sort of facelift to the mcmansions in Ballantyne.

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