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UptownJ

Charlotte's Cool Factor

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UptownJ    1

The following article was posted on the www.charlotte.com today. What do you think?

--------------------------------------------------------------

Posted on Tue, Feb. 01, 2005

Does Charlotte have the cool factor?

Consultant says: Image needs some enhancing

KERRY HALL

Staff Writer

POLL | Does Charlotte need to be 'cooler'?

Charlotte has good energy for young people, is diverse but racially segregated and needs to be more accepting of minorities, especially lesbians and gays.

That's the message a group of young professionals delivered Monday night to Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and other city and civic leaders.

But perhaps the city's most urgent problem, the group said, is its lack of identity, something upon which people can "hang their hat."

These findings are the first from a study looking at how Charlotte can better attract younger, educated workers -- and subsequently the jobs that follow them.

In October, a group called the City Committee hired Rebecca Ryan, founder of Next Generation Consulting in Madison, Wis., to study Charlotte's reputation among what's been called the "creative class -- ambitious workers ages 25 to 44 who are more interested in quality of life than specific jobs.

Nearly 200 people attended the meeting at Johnson & Wales University. Among them were Charlotte City Councilman Pat Mumford and former Charlotte Mayor John Belk.

"This study opened my eyes," said McCrory, a baby boomer who said there is much he doesn't know about younger generations.

"This generation, they're more impulsive," McCrory said in an interview. "They'll narrow their choices by where they want to live first, versus who they want to work for. My generation first looked at who we want to work for. That's a dynamic change."

Proponents, including McCrory, say cities must attract these workers if they are to prosper. Experts say the nation will face a shortage of six million to 10 million workers starting in 2008 as the baby boomers retire.

Ryan's study continues through March, when she will make her final recommendations. Her initial findings were based on focus groups with 56 Charlotte-area residents.

Ryan, who did a similar study for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, said Charlotte needs to ensure that center city housing is affordable to a range of workers.

"If (uptown units) are expensive to buy, you're building a downtown for only one kind of professional, and that's bad."

Ryan also told the group Charlotte needs a "stroll district" similar to Austin's music row, where residents can shop, eat, sip espresso, chug beer and hear live music.

It's unclear what, if anything, will be done with Ryan's findings.

City Committee members say they are looking for volunteers and will decide how to proceed once Ryan makes her recommendations this spring. In Nashville, for instance, she convinced the local chamber to sponsor quarterly training sessions for human resource managers. During those sessions, managers learn how to talk with young recruits and promote the city to prospective hires.

"Economic development folks talk about affordable housing and job growth, but what young professionals want to know is how many Starbucks there are and if there are farmers markets nearby," she said.

The idea of luring younger, educated workers isn't new to Charlotte.

Richard Florida, a public policy professor who coined the term "creative class," visited the city in spring 2003 to lead a seminar called "Thinking Creatively For Our Economic Future." The event was hosted by the Foundation for the Carolinas, the Arts & Science Council and UNC Charlotte. But little has been done since then.

The City Committee, formed two years ago to pitch in on civic projects, chose the issue out of concern that Charlotte was losing young workers to cities such as San Diego, Boston and Raleigh.

Charlotte resident Molly Shaw, 24, wasn't excited about moving to the city almost three years ago when she took a job as associate director of the Annual Fund at Davidson College, her alma mater.

The Durham native fancied bustling cities such as New York and Portland, Ore., instead.

But she's since grown excited about Charlotte, especially after participating in one of Ryan's focus groups. She enjoyed talking with other young professionals about the city's potential.

"There were so many young people that want the city to develop and grow," Shaw says. "Not just physically and economically, but culturally and aesthetically."

"I honestly believe this is something that's going to make a difference."

What Makes a Community Cool?

Rebecca Ryan asked that of focus groups involving 56 people ages 22 to 44. Here's a sampling of what respondents said about Charlotte:

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ElricSeven    0

We're in a catch 22 in the Uptown funky stroll district development aspect. The boom in condo development is good in that it legitimizes uptown living, but at the same time it has made all the land Uptown very, very valuable. So, no one wants to be the one who passes up the opportunity to make a mint on the condo boom by instead putting in small shops and a stroll district. I'm a little concerned that without that stroll district, Uptown won't take a firm hold in anyone's consciousness.

My one big hope is that Mr. Levine does something like a several long rows of mixed condo/shops where small business entrepeneurs can live on top and have their little arts and crafts shop, coffee shop, indie bookstore, etc., on the bottom.

I guess we'll see.

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Nostyle    0

This article goes far beyond merely Uptown. I recognize Charlotte's image problem though. It's simply a good place to live. There's not a lot of hoopla to such a claim. No bells and whistles. The city doesn't have an image that catches outsiders' attention. I guess that's a problem...but then again, Charlotte hasn't exactly been struggling for the past two decades, now has it.

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monsoon    0

The word is bohemian.

So Ryan says "....what young professionals want to know is how many Starbucks there.... "

This sounds about about as braindead as the type of people who think that drinking expensive chainstore coffee somehow makes them cool. Charlotte is already attracting plenty of this type of crowd so my guess is the City is wasting their money again on another useless study. It is the protoyuppies that make downtown boring.

They have already bulldozed down everything in the center city that could have been made bohemian, so they are going to have to focus on other portions of the city if this is what they want. You can't manufacture this by throwing up starbucks and tents for farmers to come in and sell food.

The sad fact of the matter is that while they focus in the relatively small amount of land within the inner loop and simply ignore what happens in the rest of the city by continuing to allow bad development, Charlotte will continue to be a medocre city (in the eyes of the bohemians) at best. You don't need to pay a silly consultant to figure this out.

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ElricSeven    0

The word is bohemian. 

So Ryan says "....what young professionals want to know is how many Starbucks there....

This sounds about about as braindead as the type of people who think that drinking expensive chainstore coffee somehow makes them cool.  Charlotte is already attracting plenty of this type of crowd so my guess is the City is wasting their money again on another useless study.  It is the protoyuppies that make downtown boring.   

They have already bulldozed down everything in the center city that could have been made bohemian, so they are going to have to focus on other portions of the city if this is what they want.  You can't manufacture this by throwing up starbucks and tents for farmers to come in and sell food. 

The sad fact of the matter is that while they focus in the relatively small amount of land within the inner loop and simply ignore what happens in the rest of the city by continuing to allow bad development, Charlotte will continue to be a medocre city (in the eyes of the bohemians) at best.  You don't need to pay a silly consultant to figure this out.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I was actually at the talk and she had a lot of good points. However, it is difficult to make broad-brush statements about any segment of the population. Just about all of her points, however, were things I thought it important to take into consideration if you wanted to continue to attract new generations of people to Charlotte. We have strong points, but also certain weaknesses and the lack of a stroll district and a marketing message for Charlotte are two of them.

I don't like Starbucks personally, either, by the way. But, helping to urge Charlotte in the direction of being more of an "experiential" place with centralized entertainment, nightlife, shopping and living would go a long way to attracting and keeping younger workers.

I vote for transforming SoDa into our first funky, stroll district community. Hopefully we can have our little "Manhattan" with Uptown and SoDa, NoDa and Plaza-Midwood as our little SoHo.

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monsoon    0

I vote for transforming SoDa into our first funky, stroll district community.  Hopefully we can have our little "Manhattan" with Uptown and SoDa, NoDa and Plaza-Midwood as our little SoHo.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

These areas are far too gentrified now for that. The cost of property in these places relegates it to the Starbucks drinking crowd. NoDa was the most promising, but they got that one too.

See

NoDa Pt. I & Noda Pt. II

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ElricSeven    0

These areas are far too gentrified now for that.  The cost of property in these places relegates it to the Starbucks drinking crowd.  NoDa was the most promising, but they got that one too. 

See

NoDa Pt. I  &  Noda Pt. II

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What about South Davidson? There's still junkyards and dilipidated houses all along there. You can still get a house for like $50K in some parts of SoDa and Belmont.

It does seem to me that real estate speculation is just getting too intense in some parts of NoDa. Wait until interest rates hop up two percentage points and all the people having overpaid for something they just can't filp for a profit start to lose their shirts. It will return a little normalcy there.

Also, what about Wesley Heights?

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waccamatt    8

Please don't take this as a flame against Charlotte, it has a nice skyline and is experiencing rapid growth. It's not a place that I want to live, but I can see the appeal for alot of people. I do really like the new trolleys and the developing light rail. It looks like the city's leaders are coming around.

As far as "coolness" is concerned, Charlotte does not have the basis for having alot of cool areas. It's not a college town at all. The only fairly large school there is UNC Charlotte and it is located way out in suburb-sprawlville land. Without a ready supply of young people and bohemians/professors/researchers/merchants that go with a large, young educated populace, the basis for having these types of areas is gone for the most part. Charlotte is more a yuppie realm where people hope they are still cool, but probably are past that age. (unfortunately I probably fall into that category, too. :(

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Spartan    682

Please don't take this as a flame against Charlotte, it has a nice skyline and is experiencing rapid growth. It's not a place that I want to live, but I can see the appeal for alot of people. I do really like the new trolleys and the developing light rail. It looks like the city's leaders are coming around.

As far as "coolness" is concerned, Charlotte does not have the basis for having alot of cool areas. It's not a college town at all. The only fairly large school there is UNC Charlotte and it is located way out in suburb-sprawlville land. Without a ready supply of young people and bohemians/professors/researchers/merchants that go with a large, young educated populace, the basis for having these types of areas is gone for the most part. Charlotte is more a yuppie realm where people hope they are still cool, but probably are past that age. (unfortunately I probably fall into that category, too. :(

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Its interesting that you say this. I think the exact opposite here :)

I have thought that it would be nice to live in Charlotte. It would take some adjustment on my part since I am not used to daily activity in a city this size. Of course I would have to get a job there first :whistling:

I personally think that the Uptown area is pretty cool. There is a good nightscene as best as I can tell. My girlfirend and I go up there occasionally. There are alot of "young professionsals" as they are called. Late twenites I would think. A major university would help, but I don't think it is necessary to be successful.

"If (uptown units) are expensive to buy, you're building a downtown for only one kind of professional, and that's bad."

This is something I have said before. There needs to be apartments and condos for middle America too. I think if downtowns anywhere are to be successful they need to pull in middle America. I would love to live in Uptown Charlotte, but my perception is that there aren't any apartments to speak of, and none that would be in my price range. For these areas to succeed in the long run, they need to not make them an exclusive place for the rich that the average guy like me can only visit with his girlfriend then retreat back to his suburban apartment.

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49er    127

i think one aspect has been over looked. as more condos and housing are built, a certain percentage will end up as rentals. I know that these buildings are new now and command high purchase prices and rental prices, but after they age for a while and some are paid off by the owner, they can become more affordable.

there are even a lot of options today. i was in town last weekend and visited friends who pay 740/month to rent a nice apt in 4th ward. its roughly a 150 unit complex.

anyway, what about asheville? theres no housing for "bohemian" types in the heart of downtown there. yet the locals come to downtown to eat, drink, hang out, shop, etc.

the biggest problem in dt charlotte is that retail space rent is so high that only chains and starbucks can afford it.

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UptownGrrl    0

The word is bohemian. 

So Ryan says "....what young professionals want to know is how many Starbucks there....

This sounds about about as braindead as the type of people who think that drinking expensive chainstore coffee somehow makes them cool. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Just wanted to clarify a couple of things - the Starbucks comment is a bit out of context. The point emphasized in the report was actually very clear about authentic, local establishments -- not chains -- being important to the "cool" factor. Starbucks came up in a different context -- namely, that previous generations, when evaluating the strengths of a city looked for things like rate of job growth and other typical generalized indicators. To attract the next generation of knowledge workers a city has to go well beyond that. Its not enough to say we have 10% job growth. You have to sell that image of people strolling in and out of coffee shops all weekend long, going to a pottery class, stopping to buy some fresh vegetables on the way home, having people over for dinner, than hitting a live music show down the street. The recommendations were overall greatly in favor of adding bohemian flavor over cookie-cutter yuppie-dom.

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fulcrumsf    0

I agree with this report. Even though more people outside of the Southeast now know more about Charlotte, I remember telling people a couple of years ago when I lived on the west coast that I was from Charlotte. Some people didin't even know where that was. One of my friends who is actually from Little Rock,AK thought Charlotte was in South Carolina. Maybe some people are bad with geography. But I do agree most people have a sterotype that Charlotte is a Nascar city. Even thought there are plenty of things to do outside of going to Nascar events, the Nascar events out weight the other things to do, as far as what the rest of the country sees. So that is why a lot of people generalize Charlotte. The only time people hear about Charlotte in other citeis is when the are flipping through tv and a Nascar event, or Panthers game somes on. They really have no other perception unless they have either lived,visited, or know someone that has lived there. What major event does Charlotte really have to offer televised or non-televised. Other than Nascar, Panther and now Bobcat games. There is not much. I mean we have festivals like the Greek Festival and Charlotte Music Fest. But not that many people ouside of our region know about these things. Musicfest in other cities tend to be more wellknown, like Boombershoot, Southwest,New Orlean Jazz Festival, Chicago Blues Festival. Charlotte doesn't really have any anual events to claim. And I forgot Clay Akien, I meet this Eithopean girl in Toronto and I told her I was from Charlotte, so was like ohh that's were Clay Akien is from, I thought that was really funny.

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larry    0

Actually, it has nothing to do with Charlotte. It just shows how ignorant Americans are. Most people think that Charlotte is Charleston. What is wrong in our schools today? When I was in school, I was taught all of the largest cities and capitals of each state. I was amazed last summer while in Boston when a camcorder crew did candid interviews with Ivey League students in the Boston area and they knew nothing about geography or history. I would have thought that one woud have to pass some pretty hard academic tests to get into such praised universisies as MIT, Harvard, etc. There is still lots of prejudices against the south and many refuse to beieve that there important, model cities here.

My only complaint about uptown Charlotte is that there doesn't seem to be that many places for the over age 35 group except restaurants. There seems to be plenty for the young crowd. I remember my last trip to Charlotte. Streets were fairly quiet at 10:00 pm on Friday night byt very busy at 2:00 am Saturday morning. I wish there were some beach music clubs in town so I wouldn't have to meet my old friends and go out South Boulevard to dance and party. But seriously, Charlotte really is doing great and I see improvements each time I visit.

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atlrvr    1002

I think this report is for the most part complete bullcrap. I don't think that Charlotte is a "cool" city, but this kind of mindless drivel is about as canned as SPAM. To say that Charlotte is racially segregated is absurb when compared to the national level or even international level of race relations. Charlotte is socio-economically segregated....there is a huge difference. Also, it seems that Charlotte is very tolerant of gays/lesbians, especially when compared to the amount of religious conservatism that exists. Charlotte is way to polite to make people feel out of place.

To say that downtown should cater to more than one genre is ignorant of both the existing conditions and economics. First Ward Place and Sycamore Place are for people well below the average income. There are several elderly apartments. There are plenty of starter homes $100-$150k condos. Why should our government subsidize housing to the point that urban living costs the same as suburban living.......there is obvious unmet demand without it.

Why are we trying so hard to make Charlotte a contrived "cool" city. Natural growth always produces the most successful long term result, and at the rate Charlotte is growing, we will have that "cool" city sooner than later. We just need to encourage public investments in sports, arts, museums, transit and the rest will sort itself out.

For those who have read Richard Florida's book, you might agree that it is interesting at the acadmeic level, but it's real world application is somewhat suspect.

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UptownJ    1

I think this report is for the most part complete bullcrap.  I don't think that Charlotte is a "cool" city, but this kind of mindless drivel is about as canned as SPAM.  To say that Charlotte is racially segregated is absurb when compared to the national level or even international level of race relations.  Charlotte is socio-economically segregated....there is a huge difference.  Also, it seems that Charlotte is very tolerant of gays/lesbians, especially when compared to the amount of religious conservatism that exists.  Charlotte is way to polite to make people feel out of place.

To say that downtown should cater to more than one genre is ignorant of both the existing conditions and economics.  First Ward Place and Sycamore Place are for people well below the average income.  There are several elderly apartments.  There are plenty of starter homes $100-$150k condos.  Why should our government subsidize housing to the point that urban living costs the same as suburban living.......there is obvious unmet demand without it. 

Why are we trying so hard to make Charlotte a contrived "cool" city.  Natural growth always produces the most successful long term result, and at the rate Charlotte is growing, we will have that "cool" city sooner than later.  We just need to encourage public investments in sports, arts, museums, transit and the rest will sort itself out.

For those who have read Richard Florida's book, you might agree that it is interesting at the acadmeic level, but it's real world application is somewhat suspect.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'd wouldn't say this this report is all crap... I think it raises a good question.

What are we (business') going to do when are those baby boomers in there 50s and 60s retire. At the present moment, Clt does not bring in the number of "creative class" into its core. Not when there are cities like Atl, DC, or many others with lots of world class charm, local specialties, and plenty of retail all in DT.

That creative class is what a lot of employeers are looking for when hiring a employee. Why? becuase the bring a new way of thinking that the baby boomer generation did not/does not bring.

Trying to make Charlotte "cool," is just another way of getting this old sterio typical vision that the rest of the country (if they've even heard of CLT) has. Even with a beautiful skyline, nice sports venues, and a few good bars, is not enough to draw in a group of ppl that some of our elite employeers are looking for.

We need something that sets us above the rest... something that will bring our Southern City to the national spot light (in a good way).

When the Panthers made it to the super last year... it gave people a chance to really see charlotte, or at least hear about it on tv. But with the name "Carolina Panthers"... it didn't help too much to boost charlotte, just because they play here. They are not a charlotte team... they are two different states team... we just benefit because they play here.

Charlotte does need a image boost in the worst way... For example:

When someone says... Georgia... they think Atlanta

When someone says... Tenn... they think Nasheville

When someone says... Mass.... they think of Boston

But when someone says .... North Carolina or even Carolina... Theres a "?"

I was somewhere out of state once (Tx I think) and told someone where I lived...they said.... Charlotte... isn't that in West Virgina! Which is true btw but sad considering that place is a pindrop in comparision.

I think as even as the second largest banking hub... it doesn't do much to boost our image... the only people that know that fact is.... US

I said that to my friend who lives in ATL and he just laughed and said so...?

So does Charlotte need to raise its coolness factor a noche or too....YES

How... By adding the things that make a world class city.... a world class city and that takes three things... Money, Time, and commentment from the communities

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Interesting article.

I agree with the part about there needs to be affordable living for everyone in the city core. It's great to see a growing interest in DT living but it's not being done because it's practical. Many growing southern cities are going through the "en vouge" DT condo movement, but many of these condos are priced well beyond most peoples means, unless your pulling in 6 figures of course. To help curb some sprawl cities should seriously take the urban movement into consideration not just b/c it's cool but because it's practical. Build and develop the "boheimian village" or areas like it and then build affordale housing in the vicinity. Just my 2 cents.

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ebw02    0

To reference something said by Ryan last night in the presentation, there is an essential difference between tolerance and inclusion of others. You might be right that Charlotte is very tolerant of and polite toward the gay community, but does the city as a whole make them feel welcome? I haven't seen a lot of evidence of that in Charlotte, taking into account rants against Gay Pride parades in the Observer and similar public sentiments. Charlotte seems fine with the idea of a gay community, as long as it never comes out of the closet.

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UptownGrrl    0

I think this report is for the most part complete bullcrap.  I don't think that Charlotte is a "cool" city, but this kind of mindless drivel is about as canned as SPAM.  To say that Charlotte is racially segregated is absurb when compared to the national level or even international level of race relations.  Charlotte is socio-economically segregated....there is a huge difference.  Also, it seems that Charlotte is very tolerant of gays/lesbians, especially when compared to the amount of religious conservatism that exists.  Charlotte is way to polite to make people feel out of place.

To say that downtown should cater to more than one genre is ignorant of both the existing conditions and economics.  First Ward Place and Sycamore Place are for people well below the average income.  There are several elderly apartments.  There are plenty of starter homes $100-$150k condos.  Why should our government subsidize housing to the point that urban living costs the same as suburban living.......there is obvious unmet demand without it. 

Why are we trying so hard to make Charlotte a contrived "cool" city.  Natural growth always produces the most successful long term result, and at the rate Charlotte is growing, we will have that "cool" city sooner than later.  We just need to encourage public investments in sports, arts, museums, transit and the rest will sort itself out.

For those who have read Richard Florida's book, you might agree that it is interesting at the acadmeic level, but it's real world application is somewhat suspect.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Keep something in mind - these statements (while perhaps shaded to appear as overarching conclusions in the article) were actually just feedback received from individuals who participated in a series of focus groups. Certainly, some members of the community feel Charlotte is more segregated than others and some members of the community feel more tolerated/included than others. Some probably think everything is perfect just as it is and some might like to see BIG changes to keep Charlotte their continued residence. These were individual perceptions of the current state of things, and, looking forward, what the state of things needs to be in order to keep attracting new workers in decades to come.

"Contrived" coolness for its own sake is not the goal. The goal is recruiting people and companies to the immediate region. Listening to, and working toward some of these ideas is a way to get there. The companies will move to where the concentrations of talented people are; and some people want to undertake the effort to make sure Charlotte continues to be a place that attracts these people. I applaud the effort to try to be proactive about it instead of waiting and seeing for twenty years.

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atlrvr    1002

Well I certainly agree that Charlotte should take a pro-active approach, but creating a "walking street"? These are things that happen over time. Elizabeth Avenue is developing this way, but the city has a very limited financial role in it, and it is certainly demand driven more than a creation for the sake of coolness.

If we want to become tolerant, why not recommend "same-sex" benefits to domestic partners for city and county employees. (I have an objection to this, but I'm more concerned with the policy abuse rather than morals) Why not require that 50% of all publicly funded art come from local artists and 50% of that from people that have never been hired by the city. Why not have international design competitions for public buildings/parks etc, rather than turn to the same regional stand-bys. There are lots of ways to create equality and cultural enhancement rather than straight-up subsidy for a contrived real estate project that could not support itself in the marketplace.

This is not a very dense city, yet downtown land is very overpriced in comparison. Not everyone needs to live there. We are building a light-rail system, have a fairly effective intown bus system and decent network of streets within 3 miles of downtown. Land is SoDa is priced 8 times less than on the other side of I-277. There is demand for lower-cost housing and it is being met there. This is not New York, or Boston, or San Fran. where there is a limited supply of space to build adequate affordable housing near the employment centers.

As far as gay pride parades.....I'm sorry, but any group that parades to make a statement is asking for controversy. The KKK is going to draw protests at thier marches as well. If we are a city trying to achieve equality, the parading around because that group is different doesn't seem the solution to me.

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UptownJ    1

This is a continued part of the article that I posted that started this ...

Posted on Wed, Feb. 02, 2005

Look harder to find cool in this town

TOMMY TOMLINSON

Commentary

Here's what young professionals want in Charlotte: independent bookstores, ethnic restaurants, live music, good local bars.

Here's what Charlotte has: independent bookstores, ethnic restaurants, live music, good local bars.

But there's a problem.

You need a full tank of gas to enjoy it.

A just-released report -- based on focus groups made up of Charlotteans ages 22 to 44 -- says Charlotte lacks some things that people in the "creative class" look for in a city.

That "creative class" includes the young and ambitious, the arty types, the folks who show up for gallery crawls. They tend to reclaim old neighborhoods, chip in to support museums, do a lot of volunteer work, make cities more interesting and livable.

Plus (ahem) they tend to hold down good jobs and pay a lot of taxes.

On Tuesday I devised a Cool Tour of Charlotte, touching on three of my favorite spots: Manifest Discs on South Boulevard (CD shopping), Newsstand International on Independence (magazine browsing), and Thomas Street Tavern in Plaza-Midwood (a bite and a beer).

In an ideal Charlotte, you could park your car and walk to all three.

In the real Charlotte, starting and ending uptown, I drove 24 miles.

That's a problem if you want to go out but don't want to spend all day in the car.

Dan Hutson at Newsstand International has to solve the problem soon. He and his wife, Kathryn, are co-owners of the store, which has built a following in hard-to-find magazines. One regular drives 115 miles from Sumter, S.C., to stock up.

But their lease at Independence Shopping Center runs out toward the end of the year. They'd love to relocate to a "stroll district" -- one of those places where you can park and spend a whole day shopping, eating, maybe catching a flick.

They've looked at lots of places, including two that come close: NoDa on North Davidson Street, and the area around Central Avenue and the Plaza.

"Those areas appeal to a part of me," Dan Hutson says. "But there's not enough there yet. The business side of me kicks in and says that we've got to keep making money."

Hutson likes the prospects of the Grubb Properties project near Presbyterian Hospital -- plans call for a movie theater, a Whole Foods Market, condos and shops. But it'll be years before all that gets built.

In the meantime, we apparently have development money just lying around. Sysco, the food conglomerate, could get an incentive grant of more than $200,000 for expanding its Charlotte plant -- even though it announced the expansion two months before the city approved the cash. (The county hasn't voted on it yet.)

Maybe a few of those bucks could go toward herding some shops into whatever old storefronts we have left -- West Morehead Street, maybe? -- and giving them a few tax breaks to hang in there.

Remember, this is the city whose most well-known artistic achievement is "Days of Thunder." We need all the cool we can get.

-----

Enjoy

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monsoon    0

Tommy Tomlinson opinions usually only state the obvious and cater to any of the current cliches that exist in Charlotte. His opinions are not worth the paper they are written on.

I find this whole idea of a "creative class" a bit pompus and arrogant of the people who put forth ideas such as this. (of course they include themselves in this bunch) If there were not creative people in Charlotte, we would not be adding tens of thousands of residents to the county year after year especially when many of the so called "creative" cities continue to lose out. Do they think that all these people moving here are dullards who deserve to be looked down upon by the ivory tower?

Also, there is no difference in this generation vs generations that came before them. Again another arrogant statement. People are going to move where they can get a good job. It has always been this way and it will always be that way for most. Before you go out tye dying shirts, you have to put food on the table, a roof over your head, and clothes on your back. If this wasnt the case, San Francisco would not be suffering one of the biggest population drops in its history. This despite being called the capital of the "creative class". I am reminded of the old saying "Money Talks and BS Walks".

Consultants are a waste of money and are no substitute for just plain old common sense.

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NorthStar    0

Interesting article. I'm surprised that some people in Charlotte care so much about one man's opinion. It's been almost five years since my last visit to Charlotte so I'm not sure how "cool" or "creative" it is now. From what I can remember though, the city's vibe and the people seemed to be moving towards that realm. It's not worth hiring someone to tell you something that's obvious. The people and city leaders of Charlotte have to make things happen. It's a long process so obviously it's not going to happen overnight.

Also, what's the main industry attracting the "creative"people to Charlotte? I'm assuming it's banking.

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appatone    13

Although Charlotte could indeed stand a little more cool I agree that it is something that can't be forced but something that has to evolve over time. I also think Charlotte does have a lot more to offer than most people see. A lot of the so-called creative class does in fact live and party in the center city, just not uptown. These people typically entertain and live in neighborhoods like Elizabeth and Plaza-Midwood. That is also the way most of them like it. I don't think they feel shut out of uptown they just feel more at home in these smaller, closer knit communities outside of 277. A lot people that fit the "creative class" description are my friends and I hear their gripes or praises all of the time. Of course everyone wants Charlotte to be "cooler" everyone wants their city to be cooler but these people came to Charlotte for one very important reason and they aren't leaving for the same reason. That reason is they can get better jobs here and make more money here and live more cheaply here than in any of the so called "cool" cities. I've read Florida's book, I've also read his critics. There is a balance and I think Charlotte will find it and it never had to hire a consultant for that. I think that if we continue to add quality jobs to our market people of all walks will continue to come into our city and they will create the "cool" on their own.

If anyone would like to read a critique of Florida just for the sake of reading it you can find one here. This article also talks about why it is dangerous for a city to follow all of Florida's guidelines:The Curse of the Creative Class

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atlrvr    1002

I quickly read that essay. I agree with some points. I also agree with Florida on some points. There is another book out there by Joel Kotkin named "The New Geography" that goes into many of these same points. The problem with all the theories is that assumes the economy is strong enough that a person would have the leisure to move to wherever they want and then find a job. Since the burst of the internet bubble, I don't think that's been the case. Also, large corporations are especially likely to be lured by incentives when the economy is less than full-steam. I think ignoring things like schools, taxes, crime etc. is definetely flawed, because let's face it, there will almost certainly always be more workers who have families than are single/gay, and these things are important, and 100 software firms doesn't impact the local economy anywhere near the extent of one Fortune 500 headquarters.

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