Charlotte region full of great places

Concord’s Union Street, downtown Belmont and Charlotte’s First Ward and Plaza Midwood neighborhoods have all been nominated for “People’s Choice” awards in this year’s “Great Places in North Carolina” contest. North Carolinians are being asked to vote. Polls are open until March 15.

North Carolina residents can vote online by going to At that website they will find information on how to vote for the “People’s Choice” in North Carolina. The online voting contest is part of “Great Places in North Carolina,” an initiative sponsored by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-NC). The program highlights various categories each year, including “People’s Choice” components, which this year are “Great Main Streets” and “Great Neighborhoods for Kids.”

Options for the “People’s Choice” of “Great Main Streets” are (regional options in bold):

  • Beaufort: Front Street
  • Black Mountain: Cherry Street
  • Chapel Hill: Franklin Street
  • Concord: Union Street
  • Hendersonville: Main Street
  • Wilmington: Market Street

Click here to go directly to the voting site for “Great Main Streets.”

The “People’s Choice” options for “Great Neighborhoods for Kids” are (regional options in bold):

  • Belmont: Downtown Belmont
  • Black Mountain: Lake Tomahawk
  • Charlotte: First Ward
  • Charlotte: Plaza Midwood
  • Clayton: Riverwood
  • Jacksonville: Downtown Jacksonville

Click here to go directly to the voting site for “Great Neighborhoods for Kids.”

The finalist with the most votes in each category will be recognized as the People’s Choice. Voting in the online contest ends March 15.

In addition, an expert panel will choose “Great Main Streets” from the mountains, Piedmont, and coast from nominations submitted by APA-NC members, as well as a “Great Place in the Making” that exemplifies local residents’ efforts to improve their community. All selections will be announced in mid-March. Each place chosen will receive a framed certificate and be featured in APA-NC outreach efforts and on

“We are excited about the nominations of so many wonderful places that help make North Carolina such a vibrant and special place,” said Emily Beddingfield, co-chair of the initiative and a planner with the Town of Clayton. “We are impressed by the work that communities across the state have invested to make their main streets great places and to create wonderful communities for children.”

“Through this program, we celebrate the great places that make North Carolina special,” said Kate Pearce, co-chair of the initiative and a planner with LandDesign. “We invite people across the state to help us by voting online for their favorite main street and neighborhood for kids.”

The expert panel includes George Chapman, former planning director, City of Raleigh; Ben Hitchings, planning director for the Town of Morrisville and APA-NC president; Elizabeth Hudson, editor, Our State magazine; Rodger Lentz, planning director for the City of Wilson and member of the board of directors of the American Planning Association; David W. Owens, Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Government, UNC School of Government; Mary Joan Pugh, chief of staff, North Carolina Zoo; Ed Johnson, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, NCDOT Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation; Beth Poovey, registered landscape architect, LandDesign.

“This is the second annual Great Places in N.C. initiative,” Hitchings. “Communities rallied behind their nominees last year, and we look forward to a robust competition again this year.”

The North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association is an organization of 1,500 professional and citizen planners dedicated to preserving and creating great communities throughout North Carolina. For more information, please visit