Charlotte Region

A Winter Hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Over the years, my husband and I have hiked many trails near the Blue Ridge Parkway – Graveyard Fields, Mt. Pisgah, Black Balsam Knob, Looking Glass Rock. This fall, we lucked into an opportunity to hike on the parkway itself. We happened to be in Asheville after remnants of Hurricane Nicole passed through the mountains. […]

Small towns like Badin have lessons for big cities like Charlotte

As Charlotte continues its quest to become a more urban and cosmopolitan city, is it possible that the small towns and former mill villages dotting the land around Charlotte have something to teach us about how to solve some of the biggest and most pressing needs facing our big cities and suburbs today? Bill Fulton, […]

What does COVID-19 mean for place-based development?

When Paul Sires and his partner Ruth Ava Lyons started looking at the neighborhood that would become the NoDa arts district in north Charlotte back in 1983, it looked like opportunity. The main drag had a ribbon of historic buildings with “structural reality,” and the kind of masonry where the inside is revealed from the […]

Can we build our way out of the housing affordability crisis?

There’s a growing consensus that if we want to get out of the housing affordability mess we’re in, we need to hear a lot more swinging hammers. While local governments, including in Charlotte, have raised more money to subsidize affordable apartments and low-income rent payments, the scale of the problem is daunting. Mecklenburg County is […]

Fort Mill’s historic black neighborhood maintains the old, but braces for the new

From her porch in booming Fort Mill, S.C., Barbara Mackey can point out three houses where neighbors who love her live. One takes her to church every Sunday morning. Another trims her hedges and mows her grass. A third chauffeurs her around town whenever she needs to run errands. “Here, everybody knows everybody,” says Mackey, […]

How to brand a region: Searching for authentic identity in the Uwharries

Rural communities around Charlotte are looking for new economic engines. Urban residents are looking for more outdoor recreation. That provides an opportunity for communities around Charlotte to use their public lands and waterways to fuel growth. And two areas in the region that were ahead of the curve offer lessons for other communities trying to […]

Rebuilding the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection: Where do we go from here?

Bill Graves and Jeff Michael served as co-principal investigators for the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection project. Dr. Graves is Associate Professor and a J.H. Biggs Faculty Fellow in the UNC Charlotte Department of Geography & Earth Sciences. Michael is Director of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. Two years ago, we set off on a journey to […]

How our changing landscape sustains us all

Ecosystems such as forests and wetlands provide clean air and water, food, building materials and recreational opportunities. The benefits people receive from nature are referred to as “ecosystem services.” Our interactions with ecosystems can have a positive impact, boosting our health and the economy. We can also have a negative impact on the health and […]

Small towns and rural communities seek to boost affordable housing

In Gastonia, construction is underway on the Parkside on Hudson apartments, an 80-unit, garden-style affordable housing development that will offer a gazebo and picnic shelter — for monthly rents mostly ranging from $600 to $800. Early next year, work is expected to start on the first project in Mooresville under the town’s new zoning ordinance, […]

Why intermediaries are key to viable local food systems

Growing and buying local food is a business: complex, rich in heritage and culture, essential to health and well-being, consumed by all but understood by few. The Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection A special project from the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute Read the whole project here Introduction: Strengthening ties to revitalize communities A ‘crisis that’s brewing’: How […]