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Skyybutter

Charlotte..What are we doing right...what are we doing wrong?

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I was looking at pictures and discussion of cities such as Chicago and Toronto today.I consider these cities International cities based on diversity in their economies and demographics. They have great skylines but I am not convinced that a BIG skyline makes a city international, however it usually comes with the territory. I doubt Charlotte will see much going vertical any time soon. However, we are still growing and Im wondering if we are growing smartly.

Ive always thought Charlotte missed being a true walking, biking, don't need a car city by about 80 years or more. Philadelphia, San Francisco, and of course NYC are all examples of what Im speaking about. It is pratical in those cities to exist without a vehicle.

But Charlotte will continue developing for better or worse. I have started this thread to get everyones opinion about what we have done right, what we have done wrong and if you think Charlotte will emerge at some point as a true international city? And if so when? There are signs that we are digging out of the downturn and some places like Houston and Dallas didn't suffer much at all. I think it's time for Charlotte to dust herself off and get the cranes flying again!!! If this has been discussed in detail somewhere else let me know.

Edited by Skyybutter

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I think you've got a number of topics in this first post but I'll take a stab:

Le Skyline stuff

First as far as the big skyline stuff - I think that's the icing on the cake versus the cake itself. Yeah there is a feeding on itself factor in that big skylines impress and pull more in and so on and so forth, but after being in Prague, Paris and London (not talking canary wharf) you get to realize that the skyline isn't what makes a city and certainly not what makes it an international city. History aids it and having a vital or at least important role ion world culture is what makes it international.

As far as Charlotte - we've got a ways to go. Though I do see us a solid third tier rank international city on the rise.

Hey My dogs ain't tired, but my butt is asleep!

I agree with your statements about walking cultures versus driving cultures. I admit being a prejudiced bigot but I have trouble accepting any city that relies on car transportation for the majority of their day's activities as a real city, but then again I was never a fan of Los Angeles,,, Charlotte is making progress in the area and I have high hopes that it will continue on the smart urban planning that encourages walk able streets.

and the Question at Hand.... (or at least the thread title question(s)

I think what Charlotte is doing right is something it has a history of doing - and that is reinventing itself without care of history. Yeah the wrong in that is that it will shed it's history faster than Lindsay Lohan will a jail sentence, but the good of it is that the city is too busy moving forward (or trying to move forward) to get caught up in self pity when things go bad. That is not as easy to do (for a city) as one would think. That's a culture that is bred into its citizens. WHat Charlotte has is a whole lotta Chutzpah and frankly it makes it both a laughingstock and the envy of others because of it.

The Question you didn't ask, but I'm on a roll

Charlotte will continue double digit population rises and further diversification of its economy landing it a nickname as the other engine of the Southeasts dual carb economy. It will also see a great growth of a creative class economy that will do more for its placement in the leagues of major cities than just economic prowess or brilliant skyline alone could ever achieve.

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I was looking at pictures and discussion of cities such as Chicago and Toronto today.I consider these cities International cities based on diversity in their economies and demographics. They have great skylines but I am not convinced that a BIG skyline makes a city international, however it usually comes with the territory. I doubt Charlotte will see much going vertical any time soon. However, we are still growing and Im wondering if we are growing smartly.

Ive always thought Charlotte missed being a true walking, biking, don't need a car city by about 80 years or more. Philadelphia, San Francisco, and of course NYC are all examples of what Im speaking about. It is pratical in those cities to exist without a vehicle.

But Charlotte will continue developing for better or worse. I have started this thread to get everyones opinion about what we have done right, what we have done wrong and if you think Charlotte will emerge at some point as a true international city? And if so when? There are signs that we are digging out of the downturn and some places like Houston and Dallas didn't suffer much at all. I think it's time for Charlotte to dust herself off and get the cranes flying again!!! If this has been discussed in detail somewhere else let me know.

I mentioned earlier that on my recent trip to Eastern Europe, I met with people from Singapore, Australia, South Africa, Great Britain, and Scandanavia. Practically everyone had heard of Charlotte. The South Africans knew Charlotte from banking as practically all banked here. The British had all heard of Charlotte either through the airport, various BBC reports, friends that visited there or general news. A few of the Aussies knew Charlotte either through work, business trips, or NASCAR for which several were followers. My friends from Singapore had knowledge mostly based on banking knowledge or friends that had immigrated to the area.

The difference that I found with people from other parts of the world was that they had mostly all heard of Pittsburgh, Portland, Cincinatti, Columbus, and Indianapolis, but they couldn't associate either place with anything. Most could with Charlotte.

I believe that people in Charlotte should stop worrying about being a Philadelphia,Chicago, or other place. It will be what people like you and I make it become. I have no problem with places to run, bike, or hike. I have all amenities within walking distance, so I am happy the way things are going. I would love to have rail service in certain parts of the city and surrounding area and would like to see more cops walking the downtown beat. That area seems to be getting seedier and seedier. I would definately like to see a 'safe' walkable link to NCMF and NoDa. I would also like to someday see a cental area where there is a market with dozens of food booths and small bars like you see in Europe. But, I think that Charlotte is growing nicely and it is exciting to watch the growth even though crime is scary lately.

The plusses for Charlotte is the rebirth of a vital uptown with museums, restaurants, hotels, bars, etc. I would like to see some major retail move there since the uptown population is larger now. Heck, I would settle for a Stein Mart in the bottom of some building.

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I'd say Uptown is missing great public schools for (well, now part of) its residence. If Center City Partners really wants to attract more families and retain individuals as they get married and have kids, then you cannot ship their children to a substandard, overcrowded elementary school in west Charlotte.

And why the powers that be decided that half of Uptown should be zoned for one set of schools (Dilworth/AG/MP), while the other half ends up at Ashley Park (K-8)/West Charlotte.

There are many people that have worked tirelessly to make Uptown (and its urban cousins) a true neighborhood, but without a cohesive and quality neighborhood school many families are put in a tough situation when time comes for their kids to go off to school.

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^When combined with intown neighborhoods also lacking good schools, such as Wesley Heights, NoDa and Plaza-Midwood, I would think Center City already has enough kids to support its own schools. And since CMS is tight on cash, maybe re-purpose some existing properties not currently used as neighborhood schools (First Ward, Piedmont, Elizabeth, etc.). Plus, if you include other intown neighborhoods in the mix, such as Belmont and Cherry, you're not talking an exclusive student body.

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...more cops walking the downtown beat. That area seems to be getting seedier and seedier.

Really? I lived Uptown for the last 3 years, recently moved to Southend, and I don't really find that to be true at all. There may have been a 10-20% increase in homeless population if I had to guess, but I've only felt safer as time went by regardless.

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^^^ I definitely agree with an uptick in the homeless population, but I feel very safe in Downtown/Uptown/Center CIty.

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Over the past few years I've started to develop this opinion about Charlotte (and it's growth): We're a city of planners...and that's good and bad.

I really like urban planning. I like to see how regions grow, and I like when regions grow "smart," and make good decisions for the future. BUT: over-planning has turned cities in to Disneyworld. We hear the same comments all the time about Charlotte: It's so clean and easy - and - it's soulless and predictable. These two comments are because Charlotte is planned from top to bottom - and has been for a long time.

Cities should have some grit to be real. Where there's grit, there's grime. Cities should be overwhelming and bewildering at times. We've programmed that right out of Charlotte over the years.

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^At least Charlotte's planning tools have evolved with its changing landscape. Most of Charlotte is still governed by conventional suburban zoning codes that require significant parking and large setbacks and buffers. But fortunately, these codes aren't equally applied to Uptown, South End and the intown neighborhoods. These areas have more recently benefitted from newer, unconventional tools. These more progressive tools include urban zoning districts, transit-oriented development zoning, and pedestrian overlay districts.

All of these newer tools have enabled the core of Charlotte to intensify as a vibrant, more walk-friendly "Center City," which is Uptown and its surrounding ring of neighborhoods. Everyone knows the success story about the transformation of South End via TOD. But a lesser-known success story, especially outside of Charlotte, is Plaza-Central. The City's pedestrian overlay district tool actually encourages the re-use of existing, older structures, by softening the suburban code's requirements. Thanks to this tool, all of the new restaurants and retail spaces in Plaza-Central were able to re-use existing spaces that wouldn't otherwise meet parking and other auto-oriented code requirements.

As its planning has evolved, Charlotte has become a stronger city. From Uptown to Ballantyne, or NoDa to South Park, Charlotte offers a variety of housing choices. When suburban living was en vogue, Charlotte boomed. One can only hope now that urban living is the new mode, that Charlotte will continue to flourish, given its revitalized core. Just as you don't put all your eggs in one basket, Charlotte has invested wisely in its future through a variety of urban and suburban developments. A diverse patchwork of neighborhoods, Charlotte seems built to attract a variety of households and businesses, no matter what the changing fashion may be.

Edited by southslider

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Really? I lived Uptown for the last 3 years, recently moved to Southend, and I don't really find that to be true at all. There may have been a 10-20% increase in homeless population if I had to guess, but I've only felt safer as time went by regardless.

I am glad to hear that you have not had a bad experience. Although most of uptown seems to be safe, there are still some places that are potentially dangerous when it is dark and the crowds are elsewhere. I had an issue with a couple of drunk homeless guys on my way to Harris Teeter one evening. A woman might have had a worse outcome. And there are also issues around Gateway Village where more police would certainly help deter crime.

Edited by caterpillar2

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I am glad to hear that you have not had a bad experience. Although most of uptown seems to be safe, there are still some places that are potentially dangerous when it is dark and the crowds are elsewhere. I had an issue with a couple of drunk homeless guys on my way to Harris Teeter one evening. A woman might have had a worse outcome. And there are also issues around Gateway Village where more police would certainly help deter crime.

That kind of thing certainly happens in almost any urban area, and I've had one or two annoying harassing incidents (didn't feel in danger though, just angered), but it was the "seedier and seedier" comment I was questioning. Although you're right that ideally, you don't want to walk just anywhere at night alone, I don't think I've seen anywhere in uptown trend downward in the last 3-4 years and I think the crime statistics overall support that.

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Over the past few years I've started to develop this opinion about Charlotte (and it's growth): We're a city of planners...and that's good and bad.

I really like urban planning. I like to see how regions grow, and I like when regions grow "smart," and make good decisions for the future. BUT: over-planning has turned cities in to Disneyworld. We hear the same comments all the time about Charlotte: It's so clean and easy - and - it's soulless and predictable. These two comments are because Charlotte is planned from top to bottom - and has been for a long time.

Cities should have some grit to be real. Where there's grit, there's grime. Cities should be overwhelming and bewildering at times. We've programmed that right out of Charlotte over the years.

Couldnt agree with you more. The one thing I miss about living in Philadelphia is not the nice suburbs or big houses on a tree lined street-think Myers Park- I miss the grit. The row house neighborhoods with crazy colors and art work glued to the side. And the hundreds of murals all over the city.http://www.phillymuralpics.com/Philadelphia_Murals/Page_1.html , it made it different and memorable.Honestly if it weren't for NoDa-which IMHO is becoming too expensive to remain a true art district- and if it werent for Plaza-Midwood and the other intown neighborhoods Charlotte would be plain boring. We have to continue to offer a wide range of housing options in our neighborhoods.

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Add yet another success story for Charlotte planning to my prior post in this thread. The redevelopment plans for the Harris Teeter at Plaza/Central are the latest example of the City's pedestrian overlay tool. That this tool can be used for the re-use of structures (Zada Jane's) or urban redevelopment (Plaza Vu) really shows flexibility in design and planning that works. Onward and upward with Charlotte's urban renaissance!

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^ I'll echo that point. While we here on this board spend a great deal of time criticizing the failures of zoning in Charlotte the city has developed a national reputation as a leader in land use and planning. When I speak with folks in Atlanta (and even the Pacific Northwest) they almost all see Charlotte as a progressive, well designed place. It is (much to my surprise) becoming a bit of a Southern mecca for urbanity.

None of this is to say I think we are doing a great job just that when viewed from the outside we apparently look pretty good.

Edited by kermit

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I think Charlotte needs a few more Harris Teeters....there aren't nearly enough ;-p (j/k hehehe)

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That kind of thing certainly happens in almost any urban area, and I've had one or two annoying harassing incidents (didn't feel in danger though, just angered), but it was the "seedier and seedier" comment I was questioning. Although you're right that ideally, you don't want to walk just anywhere at night alone, I don't think I've seen anywhere in uptown trend downward in the last 3-4 years and I think the crime statistics overall support that.

"seedier, seedier" is hereby withdrawn from my previous comments and replaced with 'curious'.

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Wrong: The basics of keeping main roads clean has not been a strong suit for Charlotte in the past number of years.

Do other cities have such bad street appeal as Charlotte? I am not referring to neighborhoods where it's usually the home owners that keep their curbs clean, but rather the medians and curbs on major thoroughfares. They are practically never cleared of trash and debris in this city. This photo is just one example (Hwy 51 @ Carmel) but it is evident all over Charlotte's main roads. Is there no "system" in place that keeps our main roads looking like someone cares? Does Charlotte DoT even own any vehicles made to vacuum curbs of cig butts and debris? I've seen them in Atlanta. They were even sucking up plastic water bottles. I do travel to other cities typical in size to Charlotte and just don't see their main roads looking this trashy. I realize there are bigger fish to fry than roadside trash in Charlotte but at least we know where our tax dollars are NOT being spent, or very little.

post-9912-0-13575100-1305954484_thumb.jp

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^^^ I kinda sorta give a qualified nod of agreement with your point.

The part I agree with is that I don't believe Charlotte has a system (or at least a strong system) for the maintenance of curbs and medians outside city center (I do see the street cleaners in city center). That is something the city needs to pay attention to in general.

That said - Thereason my agreement is half-hearted is that in the last couple of years of budget crisis for the county and city - I have no qualms about letting garbage and weed maintenance fall to the bottom of the priority list. This isn't to minimize your point, but I personally don't think that it's a high concern right now when we've got significantly higher road funding issues.

One thing I will say that the city is doing right and is in relation to your point is the 311 system. Have you reported this specific intersection to 311 (either online or via phone). It may not be remedied immediately but it will be taken care of.

Edited by Urbanity

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Charlotte consists of approximately 30 percent of people actually from here. Charlotte has historically been a progressive city with forward thinking local businessmen that put us on the map and made us a target for outsiders to settle. Over the last decade or so, Charlotte has witnessed the invasion of tens of thousands of people moving here from outside. If Charlotte is lacking what these people desire, it would be nice if newcomers that feel that things are being done wrong would realize that it it isn't the fault of local people, but instead the failure of newcomers to build, invest, or be innovative enough to fullfill the needs for which people feel are lacking. Generally, I think it is insane to even compare Charlotte with Chicago or Houston. We should compare with others within reason, ie. Columbus, Oh., Indianapolis, or those of more comparable size and demographics. I believe that we are generally on the right track but lack money and the kahoonas to take chances. We need to just add a dollar to gas prices and build light/heavy rail throughout the county.

PS. The reason I mentioned that only 30 percent of locals are natives is that it seems that anything that is criticized is blamed on locals (natives). I am also convinced that those that criticize roads, biking, parks, etc. haven't been to "lots" of other cities enabling a true evaluation. There is room for some improvement, but we are working at it and we are experiencing a population boom at a rate not seen by many other cities.

Edited by caterpillar2
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Charlotte consists of approximately 30 percent of people actually from here. Charlotte has historically been a progressive city with forward thinking local businessmen that put us on the map and made us a target for outsiders to settle. Over the last decade or so, Charlotte has witnessed the invasion of tens of thousands of people moving here from outside. If Charlotte is lacking what these people desire, it would be nice if newcomers that feel that things are being done wrong would realize that it it isn't the fault of local people, but instead the failure of newcomers to build, invest, or be innovative enough to fullfill the needs for which people feel are lacking. Generally, I think it is insane to even compare Charlotte with Chicago or Houston. We should compare with others within reason, ie. Columbus, Oh., Indianapolis, or those of more comparable size and demographics. I believe that we are generally on the right track but lack money and the kahoonas to take chances. We need to just add a dollar to gas prices and build light/heavy rail throughout the county.

PS. The reason I mentioned that only 30 percent of locals are natives is that it seems that anything that is criticized is blamed on locals (natives). I am also convinced that those that criticize roads, biking, parks, etc. haven't been to "lots" of other cities enabling a true evaluation. There is room for some improvement, but we are working at it and we are experiencing a population boom at a rate not seen by many other cities.

Agrees. As far as cleanliness we are still a clean city compared to other cities our size. We are not, however, as clean as we use to be. We have had so many newcomers from places such as NYC, NJ, Philly to name a few. Many people in these cities are use to dirty neighborhoods and even throwing trash out of the car window. I can't understand this logic, but alas, having lived in Philly I've seen it hundreds of times. Hopefully Charlotte can get it under control before it gets out of hand. Another thing that helps is for newcomers to get involved and feel a sense of ownership to their new home.

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Agrees. As far as cleanliness we are still a clean city compared to other cities our size. We are not, however, as clean as we use to be. We have had so many newcomers from places such as NYC, NJ, Philly to name a few. Many people in these cities are use to dirty neighborhoods and even throwing trash out of the car window. I can't understand this logic, but alas, having lived in Philly I've seen it hundreds of times. Hopefully Charlotte can get it under control before it gets out of hand. Another thing that helps is for newcomers to get involved and feel a sense of ownership to their new home.

Haha. That's a generalization. I think anyone (from anywhere) can be a "litter-bug," it all depends on the jurisdiction to understand the relationship of population/use/services. Is Uptown trashier in 2011 because more people from NYC, NJ, PA moved there? No. It's because Uptown's use has shifted dramatically from 9-5 bankers, to clubs, pro-sports, restaurants, etc.

I think one of the biggest problem Charlotte has not faced is design vs. maintenance (I started a thread about this a year ago). Grantd, Charlotte has more sidewalks, more planting strips, more tree cover, more medians than most urban cities. But as the region continues to sprawl, and the same streetscape plans are used in outlying areas, it is going to cost more and more to maintain, mow, edge, weed, prune the streets.

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Haha. That's a generalization. I think anyone (from anywhere) can be a "litter-bug," it all depends on the jurisdiction to understand the relationship of population/use/services. Is Uptown trashier in 2011 because more people from NYC, NJ, PA moved there? No. It's because Uptown's use has shifted dramatically from 9-5 bankers, to clubs, pro-sports, restaurants, etc.

I think one of the biggest problem Charlotte has not faced is design vs. maintenance (I started a thread about this a year ago). Grantd, Charlotte has more sidewalks, more planting strips, more tree cover, more medians than most urban cities. But as the region continues to sprawl, and the same streetscape plans are used in outlying areas, it is going to cost more and more to maintain, mow, edge, weed, prune the streets.

I am not suggesting that people from NYC, NJ and Philly are the only litter bugs. I am suggesting that people from these areas are use to being in dirtier cities. Having said that, I am also not suggesting that these cities are worse or better for it. I myself miss some of the grit in Philly, not so much the piles of trash littering the city. http://www.rd.com/travel/50-cleanest-dirtiest-cities-in-america/

according to one study...out of fifty cities

49th dirtiest city- NYC

48th dirtiest city-Pittsburgh

44th dirtiest city-Philadelphia

43rd dirtiest city-Boston

Edited by Skyybutter

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Agrees. As far as cleanliness we are still a clean city compared to other cities our size. We are not, however, as clean as we use to be. We have had so many newcomers from places such as NYC, NJ, Philly to name a few. Many people in these cities are use to dirty neighborhoods and even throwing trash out of the car window. I can't understand this logic, but alas, having lived in Philly I've seen it hundreds of times. Hopefully Charlotte can get it under control before it gets out of hand. Another thing that helps is for newcomers to get involved and feel a sense of ownership to their new home.

They need to understand that lawns don't cut themselves and dog crap on the sidewalks doesn't evaporate and go away either.

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My yard may not necessarily win accolades on HGTV or anything, but it's interesting that the people on either side of my house definitely do not do a good job of yard upkeep. One just happens to be from Boston and the other is from Philly. So you won't get any arguments from me in that northerners do not do a good job of house/yard upkeep. Most of the people in my neighborhood that are from Charlotte (or the south in general) do a much better job at maintaining their property.

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Hey,

I'm from NYC and I'm really starting to resent all this Northerner's don't know how to take care of yards stuff.

BTW What's a yard? dontknow.gif

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