Thursday, November 18, 2010

What's ahead for uptown? A sneak peek

Here's a quick and non-specific glimpse of what'll be recommended in 2020 Plan for Charlotte's center city. Details will be fleshed out at a 5:30 p.m. public workshop today at the Charlotte Convention Center. All is part of the updating of Charlotte's uptown plan - the last big update was the 2010 Plan, so it's clearly time. Charlotte Center City Partners and the City of Charlotte planning department are shepherding the Center City 2020 Vision Plan.

With the help of some sources I've gotten some sense of what's to be unveiled tonight. Examples:
1. More higher education presence uptown. The consultants previously had talked about better links among UNC Charlotte, which has a new uptown building under construction; Johnson C. Smith University; Johnson & Wales University; Central Piedmont Community College; and various other higher ed institutions with operations in or near the center of the city. Blue-sky ideas mentioned previously: Maybe a joint student union for all the students? Beefed-up education opportunities in center city?
2. Solve the shopping problem. Just about everyone in the workshops wanted more shopping downtown. This is tricky for many, many reasons. I look forward to hearing more specifics from the consultants, because if this were easily solved it would have been solved by now.
3. A network of parks and green spaces. This was another popular item in public workshops. And it isn't just as easy as buying up an old parking lot somewhere, ripping out the concrete, planting grass and waiting (and waiting and waiting) for people to use it. Finding the public money, civic will and - crucial - the good design and strategic locations to create well-designed and sited green spaces will be harder than it sounds. And don't forget the "network" part. Again, I'll be eager to hear details.

Look for other strategies on cultural venues, the nexus of research-jobs-innovation, and closer attention to building neighborhood centers.

Disclosure: Observer publisher Ann Caulkins is a co-chair of the CCCP uptown plan effort. She doesn't know I'm writing this and hasn't told me what I should or shouldn't write, or even whether to write anything. You're getting my own thoughts on this topic.


Anonymous said...

Who cares?

tarhoosier said...

Regarding shopping, Belk was the last one out and should be the first one in. As a major local retailer with presence throughout the South and soon to be a sponsor of a nationally advertised college football bowl game, this can be the catalyst for more. If Belk returns to downtown, even in a small way, others will want to ride in with them.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte's official motto: "Charlotte's got a lot".

Charlotte's real motto: "You'll love our CCCP Ten Year Plan, comrade"

Larry said...

So like the suburbs but with people living in over priced boxes on top of each other?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad we keep asking the same 20-30 people what uptown charlotte will look like in the future. Steering committee might has well be a list of contractors for the next 10 years. More of the same.
I suppose we'll continue to grow by gift of corporate america so when we fail to diversify again (because of our iron curtain and good old boy network) we can all feel the same way in 2020 that we do now.
When will Charlotte realize their potential and get some of these jack-legs out of the city board room?!

Anonymous said...

What's up with all the negativity? If you don't care, don't take the time to read it and comment. A strong downtown makes for a strong city, no one is forcing you to buy an "overpriced box" or even visit.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope the lack of retail will be addressed.

Anonymous said...

What's up with all the negativity? If you don't care, don't take the time to read it and comment. A strong downtown makes for a strong city, no one is forcing you to buy an "overpriced box" or even visit.

Well, let me help you out. Someone has to pay for this green utopia.

Anonymous said...

Bringing U.Clt into the mix would be a great addition to downtown and, imo, help bring a much-needed hipness factor to U.Clt that I always perceived it lacking.

Also, would love to see some shopping options but only if the stores are good; otherwise, SouthPark wins my $$$. If downtown isnt big enough to attract upscale dept. stores, I think something along the line of a specialty shops like Philips Place would do well.

Anonymous said...

@2:10 - there is no requirement that bloggers be ignorant fans of anything Charlotte. Blogging draws, as it should, a variety of opinions.

- Why does this article use uptown and downtown interchangeably? Further evidence of Charlotte's identity crisis.

- Is there information on how the city performed against the 2010 plan. Now that would be research/news.

Anonymous said...

retail needs to be added downtown. Also a park needs to happen

Anonymous said...

"If you don't care, don't take the time to read it and comment."

So, agree or shut up? Those are our two choices?

Whatever happened to dissent being patriotic?

Mary Newsom said...

I use uptown/downtown because the contrarian in me resists the official Observer stylebook which decrees "uptown." Though the late Jack Wood would remind anyone that it is, actually, UP on a ridge.

Re the 2010 Plan - there was an assessment which concluded a lot of it had come to pass. Of course, it called for things like "more condos in uptown" and "a new basketball arena." I.e., some of what it called for was already in the works, and some of it would have happened without any 2010 plan.

But I note the 2010 plan did make a pitch for a greenway along Little Sugar Creek - an idea that arose from an actual non-developer, non-politician member of the public at an actual public workshop.

Anonymous said...


There are 210 parks covering 17,600 acres in Mecklenburg County (straight from Parks & Rec website).

If parks matter to you, MOVE NEAR ONE OF THE 210 THAT ALREADY EXIST.

GetSmart said...

to: Anon @ 3:51pm
Meck County only has 5% of available land set aside for parks. Most cities have at least 10-15%.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mary. I am the 2:34pm poster. It's great that you interact on your blog.

Appreciate it! Keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

responding to this guy's response to someone else:

Well, let me help you out. Someone has to pay for this green utopia.

For those of us who have always lived in central charlotte (but not downtown), we have always subsidized those of you in the far-flung parts of town and the suburbs. You have it backwards. How old is your infrastructure compared to that of central charlotte, for example? Also, there is a special district tax on downtown for those who live there, so get the facts straight.

Larry said...

I just love how people say no one is forcing you to do this and that yet all the toys that suck the taxes are located downtown.

I have never set foot in the stadium or the other toys, only on principal.

Look have the party but why are we stuck with the bill? Especially now that the downtown has the biggest sucking sound of employment around?

We know you are coming looking at us for money and now notice we are just as poor as you.

Ghoul said...

So did the committee say how they plan to pay for this? More magic money?

How about we tax newspapers, why are they still exempt from sales tax?

Anonymous said...

This country is going down the tubes. We are screwed! It's not left vs right. It's the STATE VS YOU.

Anonymous said...

No Shopping! No Peace!

Anonymous said...

If uptown/downtown shopping has the ability to be profitable then I would think that private business would already be there making money. I would think that it is not profitable so why push it?

All great ideas, as long as the tax payers aren't on the hook.

Anonymous said...

Making parks for homeless to enjoy....sounds like a great idea to me.

Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

I like the comment about Belk anchoring some uptown retail. I dislike all the anonymous posting, so hard to tell who is who and respond. It all just melts into one voice with an identity crisis.

Cato said...

It all just melts into one voice with an identity crisis.

I know what you mean. It's like sorting through the wish lists of Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, the Foundation for the Carolinas, the Arts & Science Council, UNCC, the boosterist wing of local government, and the Observer editorial board.

Anonymous said...

How about.. some character.

Anonymous said...

One things that strikes me with all this brban center city mumbo jumbo in Charloot is lack of things for children/families. The urbanists don't want children and families around. They just want the beautiful yuppies drinking in their party zones. There is no mention of playgrounds, schools, etc.

They still are trying to create this one dimensional Disney office park in Pleasure Island.

Anonymous said...


For those who don’t have a sense of history of Charlotte, the tract of land currently called uptown is little changed since 1955.

At that time the northern limit was Sears(and Roebuck), now the Hal something or other government building. The south end was the Old Knight Publishing brick tower, replaced in 1970 by a beautiful white box but still printing the Observer. East was and still is McDowell. West used to be the Krispy Kreme and a vegetable stand near where Johnson and Wales cooks.

Few call still call the intersection of Trade and Tryon “The Square”. What it should be called is “The Dot.” Yes, because it is dead center in that I-277 interloop that too tightly constricts any retail growth in Uptown.

On the outside of I-277 is where retail will thrive: Charlottetowne, Southend, CPCC, Dilworth, Wesley Heights(maybe). Why do you think they want to build that dang trolley?

And even though it is a waste land today, eventually North Tryon beyond 12th Street may bloom.

But if you’re an optimist, here are a few clues to an improved center city.

1. A name change. No more “Uptown”, hello “New Downtown”
2. More police
3. Fewer bums. No, no bums.
4. More street lights
5. Special luxury buses stopping at the square
6. A special tax

Get ready, and if we’re all lucky we can buy 99cent/pound tomatoes at a million dollar vegetable stand and walk across the street to purchase a $5 fancy donut from a place that fails the smell test of a good Krispy Kreme.

Bolyn McClung