Face-painting at Anne Springs Close Greenway in April 2010.

The allure of greenways, throughout the region

Contributor: Nancy Pierce Communities around the Charlotte region are building greenways for residents to use for walking, bicycling, hiking and even skating. The Carolina Thread Trail has played an important role in making these new pathways a growing transportation and recreation resource. The Foundation For The Carolinas helped initiate that project and The Catawba Lands Conservancy […]

The decline (and rise?) of Carolina manufacturing

After decades of decline, manufacturing jobs across the country have seen a modest uptick. This long period of industry restructuring has left a strikingly different geography of manufacturing in the Carolinas; we still make furniture and textiles, but that’s no longer the whole story. New industries have taken root. Many offer higher wages than the […]

In Jane Jacobs’ footsteps, exploring what’s ‘urban’

Tom Hanchett and I have been having this discussion – some might call it a debate – over what’s the most “urban” part of Charlotte. Hanchett, staff historian at Levine Museum of the New South, contends that the most urban corner in the city is Central Avenue at Rosehaven Drive. For weeks I have respectfully […]

Is retail’s future on display in region?

At a rural crossroads 30 miles from Charlotte, an experiment is under way that could reshape the national retail landscape. Walmart, famous for its ubiquitous supercenters averaging 185,000 square feet, is testing a much smaller, 15,000-square-foot format called a Walmart Express store in the Stanly County town of Richfield, population 516. The Richfield store, newly […]

Celebrate Jane Jacobs on walking tour of Central Avenue

The late author and urban thinker Jane Jacobs tends to be pegged as a historic preservationist, an advocate who wanted to preserve her Greenwich Village neighborhood in amber. Although this great champion of cities wrote much about the importance of old buildings to a city, and as an activist fought valiantly to kill a proposed […]

Transit station futures: Gloomy or bright?

Is it prescient and forward-thinking for the city to encourage subsidized housing at rapid transit stations in coming decades? Or would that be the nail in the coffin, killing any near-term chance to halt a pattern of sinking property values near some of those stations, especially in troubled parts of east and northeast Charlotte? Two […]

Two secrets to city success: Trust and explore

Smart cities around the world use two secret weapons to form leadership and stay ahead of the pack in planning and economic development. One mechanism is internal, an informal, diverse but cohesive planning elite. Another is external, an outward-looking and systematic search for new knowledge, often by visiting other cities. I use “planning” in a […]

‘Green’ author: Redevelop in increments

Architect, planner and author Stephen Mouzon, did more than just give some lectures from his book, Original Green: Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability, when he was in town recently. He also took a look at a section of south Charlotte that he thinks might be ripe for a different kind of long-range plan: the […]

Some react to freight resurgence with ‘Not In My Back Yard’

From Davidson to Harrisburg to Gaston County, public and private officials are working to capture some of a national increase in freight rail traffic. But those efforts have upset some residents. And the possibility of freight NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) might create yet another obstacle for a proposed commuter rail line from uptown […]

Boosters: Downtrodden downtowns can thrive

Around the Charlotte region, many downtowns share similar histories: A long-ago heyday followed by decay as dollars and foot traffic flowed to suburban malls and interstate eateries. A growing list of those places, however, are fighting back, seeking to revive their economies and preserve their histories by joining North Carolina’s Main Street and Small Town […]