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monsoon

Decline of Center City Charlotte?

Will Center City Charlotte be in Decline in 20 years?  

84 members have voted

  1. 1. Will Center City Charlotte be in Decline in 20 years?

    • Yes
      16
    • No
      68


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monsoon    0

Before scoffing at this question considering all the new project announcements, I am referring to 20 years from now.

On the news this morning they were discussing the new Epicenter and other similiar developments. Charlotte's Center city partners spokesperson Moria Quinn said the CBD appeals to a "Completely new kind of urban dweller, young urban types, who are... the knowledge class, the creative class, and there are alot of empty nesters coming into the city". (I love people who only speak with buzz words)

What his zeal misses however is what happens when these creative knowledite yuppies decide to have families and the childless couples decide to move to retirement communities? Since we are building housing to acommidate only one or two demographics do we risk a big decline in the center city when the current generation of both types decides to move on?

This quick answer to this is the next generation would move in, but experience shows that succeeding generations almost never follow the same trends of the prior generation. (to the shock of the present generation). Then there is the San Francisco effect where this trend has been going on much longer and now the city is experiencing a significant population loss.

So the question is: Will the CBD's limited choices of expensive housing cause its decline in 20 years?

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dubone    622

This is a VERY good question, and i 've thought about it quite a bit. I think there are competing factors that could lead to either outcome.

Why it could decline/these will be detracting factors even if it does not decline:

- Baby boomers are still at an age where they are working, even though they are empty nesters. Right now they are choosing to live in business cities like charlotte in order to keep their jobs or continue to make the money to fund their retirement. Most, i believe, will not ultimately stay here during retirement. The minority that do stay will stay for its airport to travel, mild but 4 season weather, equidistance to mountains and beach destinations. All are very good reason to retire here, but will not be good enough to keep most baby boomers away from florida or the outerbanks or asheville or the like.

- The young urban professional won't be young in 20 years, and will likely move to suburban locations to raise their kids. I know of multiple first ward residents that are moving to the suburbs because they are preggers. I personally would have a hard time staying in first ward if/when we have kids. But i would likely try to get a place that is still what many consider center city in Elizabeth/Dilworth/Myers Park/PlazaMidwood because they have 20s charm and are as good/better places to raise kids than way out neighborhoods with no trees.

Why i don't think it will eventually decline

- Racial tension that caused the initial death of urban life throughout the country is constantly declining, and taking major positive steps with each generation. Boomers are better than WWIIer, but Echo/X/Gulfers are better than boomers about racism/comfort with integrated neighborhoods. At the same time, minorities, who tend to prefer urban living, are gaining wealth and economic status, making center city living less of a poor-black thing, and more an integrated-middle class thing.

- Charlotte/Charlotte businesses are doing a good job of creating interesting, well-designed projects in the center city that are good for business, and support interesting, non-eye-rolling environment for newcomers from more urbanized areas. Furman's architecture, for example, helps to create an interesting and UNIQUE identity for charlotte that will lead this place to national respect over the next twenty years. Most urban architectural of the 90s/00s, when charlotte grew the most, is more timeless than most urban architure of the 60s-80s... Center City Charlotte will benefit from that design, which supports longer-term aesthetics as well as urban liveability. These factors will create a larger market for people moving here for people that would otherwise choose to move to atlanta. (This also includes drawing young people from NC that otherwise move away).

- Drug culture seems to have moved beyond the types of drugs that seriously hurt downtowns in the 80s (like heroin/crack, etc.) The kinds of drugs that lead people to lose control and commit random murder for 15$ has faded away. People who were kids during reagan/clinton/bushes eras seems to have either not let drugs play a role in their lives, or stuck to drugs like pot or extacy. This a very broad-brushstroke, but i think that the people in the world now who may do drugs (including older people who may have done serious drugs in the 70s/80s) are learning how to not let those drugs ruin their lives, and follows the lives of urban communities across the country.

- Environmental laws will only get more strict, and gas prices will only get more expensive over the next twenty years. These factors will direct higher percentages of people to urban living. As long as it is only an economic factor, I think many people will chose urban living... but when it becomes a social (people thinking that crime, black riots, drugs, homelessness are major factors to downtown living), then the equation shifts to favor suburban life for middle class people.

- Urban amenities that will like be built in the next few years will go a long way to attracting people to live downtown versus exurbs over the next 20+ years: 2 urban parks, street retail, movie theater, bowling alley, target, lowes/home depot, other major retail, street cars, trolleys, museums, theatres, greeways. Whatever macro trends exist, when all these are within 2 miles of eachother, there will easily be 20-30k people willing/wanting to live near them.

I definitely think some of the macro generational factors that started the trend to urban living will dissipate, but i think that the infrastructure that is being created now, is being built in a way that will compete well with the suburban lifestyle, and urban lifestyles in other cities. As a result, i think that there will be sufficient in-migration from other parts of NC, nationally, and internationally, that charlotte's downtown will thrive. The one exception this will be if a serious social issue arrise (such as destructive drugs, racial tension, or terrorism) that causes the middle class to flee as in the past. I think those will not occur, so Charlotte's CBD will be thriving in 2025. (although, the bobcats will be asking for a new arena then).

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Viper    0

Decline? Yes.

Doom? No.

Almost every DT and urban core goes through a series of cycles. Charlotte will see a time when DT development stops and many leave for greener pastures. Or at least a green front yard.

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skysdalimit    0

There is no chance that Charlotte's CBD will decline. For every young professional there will be another to take his/her place, and with urban living becoming even more popular, I see the numbers only growing. And with the baby boomers moving elsewhere, I'm sure some will, but I know my parents plan to stay in Charlotte when they retire, and more people will be retiring to take their place even if some do leave.

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StevenRocks    0

I voted yes, but I feel like I should explain why.

The fact that most of the residential growth uptown is being led by the single, professional, no kids demographic means that when these people get older and settle down, there's always a possibility that they'll want to move to have more space for the kids. Center cities are not great places for kids to have outdoor playspaces.

That's not to say that they'll abandon the center cities entirely. Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, for example, are filled with healthy famailies living in urban envirenments. And the children of these young professionals as well as the in-between generations could find a lot to love uptown, thereby possibly staving decline.

But it's a fact that areas decline over time only to be gentrified again. Even with all the great things happening in center-city Charlottte, it can't be assumed the momentum will last forever. One incident or a new idea elsewhere can doom any area.

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appatone    13

I certainly see a decline in Uptown from your argument but not the center city as a whole. As Dubone put it he would probably look for a place in Elizabeth/Dilworth etc. I believe these neighborhoods and new ones like them have the ability to trample the suburbs at there own game. I believe that many of these "young professional types" will know that the suburban neighborhoods are only cheap approximations of real neighborhoods and that that same demographic will want the real thing. I believe large swaths of single family neighborhoods in the center city with less then dramatic houses will be destroyed in favor of new urban single family neighborhoods that build there new homes up to a standard superior to the "designed like everyone else's vinyl suburban cracker box" standards. I see Elizabeth, Fourth Ward, and Dilworth being used as models of how to build these much better single-family neighborhoods in the center city the way they are poorly used today to inspire suburban imitations. But this is one of my gripes with mixed-use, I believe it's okay to have a totally single family residential neighborhood in a center city. Not every neighborhood has to have a local bar, hair salon etc. Families want quite and a strong sense of safety and mixing too many uses threatens that. I believe Charlotte has plenty of space near uptown outside of 277 to support what may be the next craze in development, "urban single family". Because I believe that if you can offer these families the convenience and character of a center city neighborhood with the feeling of safety and privacy that they assume they have in the suburbs then I don't see these neighborhoods as a very hard sell. This is why I enjoy seeing a great new project announced for neighborhoods like SouthEnd, Elizabeth, Dilworth, and Plaza-Midwood grow as much as I enjoy seeing uptown land a new scraper.

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atlrvr    1002

appatone......i for the most part agree with your vision......I don't think their needs to be major infill in most the neighborhoods, but I do think that major streets (Providence, Park, Randolph, South, Central, Davidson, Morehead, Beatties Ford, Monroe, etc...) should be very dense, with housing and some office over retail, and then the neighborhoods behind them would remain single-family..........

It's starting to become this way, and I think it's a very positive trend.......all neighborhood services could be accessed by walking, biking, or very short car trip, but the character and appeal of the single-family neighborhoods would be largely left intact.

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monsoon    0

One note about Manhatten that does not apply to Charlotte. They have thousands of rent controlled apartments which makes it possible for the not so well off to live there.

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Skyybutter    60

The thing Charlotte has to do is create housing for ALL income types. I am from Charlotte but now reside in Philadelphia. I think you can compare a good city to a good "tossed salad". Philadelphia has housing options ranging anywhere from $500 per month all the way up to $6000 per month. This makes for a dynamic mix of people with varied interest. You can see a head shop next to a upscale boutique. It has worked and will continue to work for years. Charlotte is creating an uptown that though it will be very dynamic in its own right, it will NOT be for everyone. It will be exclusive. After all is said and done, how interesting will it be?

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maybe I sound kind of snobby by I would not want my neighbors paying only $500 a month. Maybe I am afriad of people in lower income classes or something but the point, for myself, of higher prices is to keep the riftraft out. This is the reason I do not go to Motel 6s and Budget level hotels.

Maybe its not the same in housing.

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dubone    622

maybe I sound kind of snobby by I would not want my neighbors paying only $500 a month. Maybe I am afriad of people in lower income classes or something but the point, for myself,  of higher prices is to keep the riftraft out. This is the reason I do not go to Motel 6s and Budget level hotels.

Maybe its not the same in housing.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Although it is not through rent control mechanisms... first ward has this type of rent variation/income diversity you guys are speaking of (in positive and negative terms).

This same hope vi program is expected to transform belmont/optimist park in the next 5 years, and some aspects of the program are being baked into the business model of CHA overall. Instead of building big all-poverty complexes, creates a ghetto effect that strains neighborhood socially. By weaving a subsidized unit here and there in otherwise middle-class neighborhoods, poor kids make friends with middle class kids and learn behaviors that are more likely to lead to future success than those behaviors learned in ghetto neighborhoods.

I pay handsomely for my condo in first ward, but it doesn't bother me that some families fallen on hard times pay almost nothing a block away... that is, as long as they don't rob or assult me... And given the low crime in first ward, the notion that mixed-income neighborhoods can be successful.

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Spartan    682

I think that if Uptown continues to be an exlusive place then it will ultimately decline. You don't have to mix in subsidized housing necessarily, but a varitey of apartments with a variety of prices would keep a significant transient population that would keep the area active. There will come a time when Uptown stops growing, but by that time there will be so much activity there that growth won't really be an issue.

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NCtarheel    0

Actually, I dont think this will hurt so much. Think about it...by the time all of this is done uptown and the surrounding neighborhoods could effectively be a seperate city...sort of the urban enclave that stands in contrast to the sprawl everywhere else. When you have that kind of urban, more unique atmosphere I think people could more easily become attached to the area which means there shouldn't be a problem finding new residents to replace those that leave. I think the population of uptown (inside the loop) should probably level off somewhere around 25,000 people.

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Dale    593

I side with the optimists among you that believe that uptown can adapt and thrive indefinately. Oh, we may see ebb and flow over the decades. But I can't help but think there is an apocalyptic impulse in Americans (this goes beyond urbanism) that fosters the dread that things cannot last. Why not ?

Sorry. Got to waxing philosophical there. ;)

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appatone    13

But I can't help but think there is an apocalyptic impulse in Americans (this goes beyond urbanism) that fosters the dread that things cannot last.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I see that too.

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I think that if Uptown continues to be an exlusive place then it will ultimately decline. You don't have to mix in subsidized housing necessarily, but a varitey of apartments with a variety of prices would keep a significant transient population that would keep the area active. There will come a time when Uptown stops growing, but by that time there will be so much activity there that growth won't really be an issue.

How cheap do you want it go? $160k is not too much for uptown living in any city, I am amazed at how affordable some of it is. Granted though that is for a one bedroom 800 sq feet condo.

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NCtarheel    0

You're right....160-200,000 isn't that much. And that's actually about what most of the construction out in the burbs costs anyway (and in many cases cheaper). So the trade off...less space but closer to where you work, same relatively easy interstate access, closer to the restaurants, nightclubs downtown etc. etc. I don't think it'll decline too much.

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I don't think there will be a decline. Remember, transit issues are only going to get worse as time goes on. Who wants to sit in a car for hours to get to work? One of the reasons urban living is in such a renaissance is because of this. People are tired of wasting time driving somewhere.

With gas now over $2 a gallon, air pollution concerns, the inability of government to continue widening freeways (or even build them), close in becomes a hot commodity. Not to sound snooty, but I think urban cores will become places for upper-income folks and the suburbs (at least some of them) will be for the less fortunate. We already see this happening in Union County. Indian Trail is full of "starter homes" that have no resale value at all. Houses get built out of crappy materials, fall apart, homeowners can't sell them, so rental comes about. We are creating new slums daily that have names like "Ridge Valley", "Lake Park", and "Holly Park". Meanwhile, Myers Park, Dilworth, Elizabeth, Plaza-Midwood, Sedgefield and Cotswold have skyrocketing property values. Of course, this is all dependent on how much employment stays in town. The outer belt and it's Ballantynization could spell doom for uptown because of cheap office space.

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Raintree21    2

2002

Huge map deleted. Please resize or post link

It shows most all of uptown as stable. Course, 20 years from now that could all change.

But it also lists Southend as Threatened, and it seems to be on the upturn currently.

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Mobuchu    36

I was about to complain about some things on here but then saw that its from Oct 2002.

Alot has changed since then. A Gentrification catagory could be made on here in blue and take place over most of the yellow's. Morningside is shown as threatend, lol. I drove through there a couple weeks ago and couldn't afford any of those houses...

On a side note, the Scaleybark area was said to be on a down turn on here in another thread. Collingwood (#70) is shown as stable, is this still true? Or is it just certain apt complexes over there that have gotten worse.

The same with Seneca Pl and the neighborhoods off of it. Looks like very quiet peaceful neighborhoods. Do you think this will continue. I ask because I'm looking at a house in Selwyn Park off of Seneca.

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