Charlotte’s Uptown- the largest CBD of the Carolinas

Uptown Charlotte is split into four wards intersected by the crossroads of Trade and Tryon Streets. I used the borders of Interstate 277 and the railroad (to the north). Traditionally Dwtn extends all the way north to 277 but this area feels like a separate district to me. The term “Uptown” referring to the geographic location of Tryon and Trade Street, sitting at a higher elevation than the rest of the city. Much deliberation went into whether to use Uptown or Downtown or even City Center. Uptown eventually won out with City Center meaning Uptown and surrounding inner city neighborhoods.

The 1st Ward , once considered one of the most dangerous areas in Charlotte, has been redeveloped thanks to a HUD Hope VI grant into a mixed income district. Urban form here is ok as all housing is new. Not really mixed-use, but some good urbanism near Tyron and First Ward Park is attractive. The 2nd Ward  was formerly the location of the predominantly black neighborhood, Brooklyn, before urban renewal took over. Probably one of the biggest tragedies in Charlotte resulting in a uninspiring modernist environment.  Uptown’s third ward hosts the bulk of “Dwtn fabric” surrounding a streetcar line and Tyron Street. Lots of good mixed-use development, skyscrapers, cultural assets, sport stadiums, and the attractive Romare Bearden Park. The 4th Ward   can be considered a stand alone neighborhood as well but is integrated seamlessly with Dwtn. It contains Charlotte’s best Victorian turn of the century architecture with sensible modern in-fill and many great mixed-use amenities.

With the under development of the 1st & 2nd Wards, Uptown Charlotte has plenty of areas that need further urban development and infill to have the complete Dwtn package of vibrancy and walkability. Given the furious pace of new construction, I’m hopeful this will eventually occur. 
Click here to view my Uptown Album on Flickr


* Great ADA infrastructure and generally good sidewalks, but street can be very wide and auto centric making it uncomfortable to be a pedestrian.
* Good population density in Charlotte but often pretty spreadout. 4th Ward has excellent density.
* With all most all the building being new its fortunately that much of it is quality design and good form. Generally the best architecture is concentrated in the core (Tyron & Trade) and in the 4th Ward. The 2nd Ward is spread out with unattractive buildings and the first ward is a mix of decent residential bldgs.
* Public transit is better is Charlotte than one would expect providing excellent service to Dwtn and to surrounding inner city neighborhoods. A couple miles out transit service is so , but limited outside of the City (keep in mind that Charlotte includes lots of suburban areas.)
* Great connectivity but lots of high traffic one way streets.
* Great dedicated bike lanes Dwtn and to inner ring districts. Decent connect out to the post WW II districts. Bike sharing system is limited to Dwtn and a handful of inner city neighborhoods.
* While almost exclusively modern, Charlotte has a great skyline lots of concentrated high rise towers.
* Great array of for sale housing Dwtn with a fair amount of moderately priced options. 1-bedrooms generally sell in the 200Ks, 2-bedrooms are generally 300K-400K but more expensively luxury product, good amount of 3 bedrooms but generally very expensive. Nice array of rentals priced similarly to most Dwtns… 1-bedrooms in the $1,000s. 2 bedrooms btwn 1.5K & 3K,  and a good array of 3 bedrooms.
* Culturally a good amount of restaurants & bars but pretty average for American Dwtns, lots of theaters (only one is historic), an Imax, several live music clubs, a handful of art galleries, and a great array of museums. Regional amenities include the convention center, a wonderful dwtn library, several stadiums hosts a professional football, basketball, hockey, and minor league baseball.
* Several high quality recreational spaces & parks along with many small corporate plazas. But no definitive civic gather spot.
* Schools include a couple elementary schools, a high school, and school for children w/ cognitive disabilities. Pretty good college presence with several dwtn only campus enrolling 6-7K students and Piedmont Community College located just outside of Dwtn.


* Next to Las Vegas, Dwtn Charlotte has the least amount of historic architecture. Certainly a feeling of sterileness with all of its newness and lack of character.
* Uptown has a very strong office market with high rents and low vacancies. Total jobs is 70K, still much lower than comparable cities like Cleveland or Cincy, but trends are certainly good.
* Dwtn retail amenities is still lackluster. While there is a  supermarket, several drug stores, plenty of banks, only a handful of boutiques and creative stores. No bookstore.
* Solid urban form along the main streets of Tyron and Trade but pretty poor in the southern half of Dwtn (1st & 2nd Wards)

South End/Wilmore- Charlotte’s hottest mixed-use neighborhood

Wilmore is the larger district, which technically includes the South End District. South End really wasn’t a “neighborhood” until recently. The Wilmore district is mostly attractive 1920s-1940s bungalow and arts & crafts housing. The South End is the portion of Wilmore running along the Lynx Blue line (built in 2007). Historically the South End area hosted Charlotte’s first railroad line, connecting the City to Columbia and Charleston in 1850s. As time passed, a thriving manufacturing community sprang up along the tracks, centered on the booming textile industry. Industry decline by the 1980s, and the South End became notorious for abandoned buildings. The new Blue Line and the general “return to the city” movement sparked an explosion of renovations and new mixed-use construction in the South End. In 2018 the South End was named one of the fastest-growing submarket in the United States for apartments.

Wilmore/South End’s success is creating gentrification issues for this historically African American neighborhood. It is hard to purchase a nice home here for less than 400K. I also observed the South End demographic was mostly young profession and white, not the kind of diversity desirable in a dense urban area. Other deficiencies in the district include a lack of walkable schools, limited pedestrian infrastructure in Wilmore, and the density is still low for an urban neighborhood.
Click here to view my South End and Wilmore Districts on Flickr


* Great public transit and very convenient access to dwtn among all modes of transportation.
* Great racial and economic diversity in Wilmore. I fear though, that is historically African American district is being displaced with the rapid increase in real estate prices here.
* Excellent urban infill (prob the best in Charlotte) with larger mixed-use structures near the light rail and plenty of attractive historic looking infill homes within Wilmore.
* Good supply of rentals but generally expensive… 1-bedrooms lease btwn $1,000-$2,000, 2-bedrooms in the high $1,000s and $2,000s, and 3-bedrooms in the 2K and 3Ks. 
* Several nice parks (i.e. Wilmore & Revolution Park) site on the north edge of the district. Nice bike/recreational trail along the light rail line.
* Solid tree canopy.
* Great array of restaurants, bars, cafes, and live music venues concentrated in the South End areas.
* Solid urban form in the south end and with good streetscaping. The other biz district along Tyron still feels very auto centric.
* Good array neighborhood amenities especially in the South End including lots of small retailers, boutiques, furniture/design stores, post office, several banks, an office depot, Lowes, a couple drug stores, and several super markets


* The south end portion of the district near the light rail has excellent walkability. More mixed in the residential portions of Wilmore where sidewalks are sometimes missing and its very unpleasant to cross Tryon St. as a pedestrian.
* For Sale housing is generally expensive. Modest SF cottages and bungalows generally sell in the high 200Ks to 500K. Renovated SF and new construction sell btwn 500-700K. Some large condo product selling in the 400Ks & 500Ks.
* Really no museums, art galleries, or theaters, although one is along about 1.5 miles to dwtn.
* No schools in Wilmore and few nearby. 

Plaza Midwood- another Comfortable pre-WW II Charlotte Neighborhood

Plaza-Midwood was first established in 1910 as a streetcar suburb of Charlotte along Central and likely Plaza Avenue. Developed filled in by WWII creating a pleasant leafy bedroom community. The neighborhood experienced a couple of decades of disinvestment, especially Centre Ave. But things started to turn around by the 1990s and the neighborhood is one of the most expensive in Charlotte with a pretty vibrant mixed-use biz district.

Yet many parts of the Plaza-Midwood feel pretty suburban with large lot homes, disconnected streets without sidewalks and auto centric stretches along Center Avenue. Access to walkable schools and recreational amenities is also lacking here. More dense in-fill development will go a long way to improving Plaza-Midwood from an urban perspective.
Click here to view my Plaza-Midwood album on Flickr


* Convenient access to Dwtn with decent transit (better close the Plaza Blvd).
* Several dedicated bike lanes run throughout the neighborhood and a couple bike stations in the SW corner.
* Great tree canopy.
* This is a very safe neighborhood.
* Very attractive historic housing and some good commercial infill along Central although so of it is pretty auto centric.
* Good access to a lot of cultural and retail amenities along Central Ave including many restaurants, bars, & cafes, live music venues, small breweries, a supermarket, drug store, public library, post office, a book store, many boutiques, several antiques, and several hospitals in the adjacent district.
* Plaza Blvd is very comfortable to pedestrians helped by its medium crossing.


* Very low density.
* Connectivity, sidewalk and ADA infrastructure are so . Plenty of unconnected streets and missing sidewalks.
* For Sale housing is generally very expensive. Some for sale product reasonably priced. 1-bedroom condos and most, unrenovated bungalows sell in the high 100s & 300Ks. Modest SF but well maintained homes sell btwn 300K-700K,  larger homes 700K to 2 Million.
* Some rentals but generally expensive… 1-bedrooms lease btwn $1,000-$1,500, 2-bedrooms in the $1,000s, and 3-bedrooms in the low 2K and 3Ks.
* Recreational amenities a bit limited. They include a medium sized park and a golf course.
* Schools are limited to a couple pre-schools and middle-high transitional school.
* Quality urban massing in the urban biz districts (i.e. Central & Pecan Ave) is a mixed bag of auto centric strip malls & parking lots and quality form. Form falls apart further east along Centre.

NoDa- Charlotte’s successful arts based revitalization story

I didn’t include the portion of NoDa between the railroad tracks and route 29 as it contains limited urban fabric.

NoDa is short for “North Davidson”. The area began as a self contained industrial village and development began in the early 1900s leapfrogging over undeveloped parts of the City. The main industry was mill and textile manufacturing. Worker’s housing was provided by the companies in small by sturdy bungalows and arts and craft homes. Things begin to deteriorate after WWII with the closing the mills and textile industries.  By the 1970s housing were deteriorating and many storefronts were vacant. Fortunately revitalization began in the 1990s fueled by an arts based renovation strategy. Investment continued over the past decades and its now safe to say that NoDa has been stabilized with most homes selling between 300-600K. This also brought back the historic commercial district at Davidson and 36th Street. NoDa now hosts Charlotte’s largest historic business district.

But there are plenty of areas that NoDa can improve. For one, there is only one school in the entire neighborhood, sidewalks are missing on many streets, and the Plaza Ave business district along NoDa eastern edge is pretty blighted and auto centric. There is also need for more density which could help provide more neighborhood amenities and vibrancy. 
Click here to view my NoDa album on Flickr


* Excellent public transit access including a light rail line running thorough and convenience access to Dwtn .
* Sidewalks are spotty as many residential streets don’t have them but where they do existing ADA infrastructure is current.
* Nice dedicated bike lane cutting down 36th thru the heart of Noda but no bike sharing stations.
* Excellent economic diversity and good racial and generational diversity.
* Large supply of rental housing generally skewing expensive. 1-bedrooms lease btwn $1,000-$1,500, 2-bedrooms in the $1,000s, and 3-bedrooms in the low $2,000s.
* Good tree canopy.
* Attractive historic archiecture and great urban infill.
* Great array of restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries. Also lots of live music venues including a converted historic theater, and a few art galleries. Theneighborhood hosts regular gallery crawls.
* Retail amenities include  two supermarkets, a drugstore, many boutiques and creative stores.
* Generally a pretty safe district but certain still blight esp. along the eastern edge.
* Noda hosts the best historic neighborhood business districts in the city at 36th and Davidson St. extending several blocks. The Plaza Ave biz district along the eastern edge of the neighborhood is very auto centric and pretty blighted.


* Street grid is good in the core of Noda but its great along edges of the neighborhood.
* For Sale housing is pretty expensive. Some for sale product reasonably priced in the 200K and low 300Ks. This include modest SF homes and 1-2 bedroom townhomes/condos. Most homes selling btwn 300K-500K. High end product selling btwn 600K-800K.
* decent recreation amenities including two neighborhood parks and the larger North Charlotte Park.
*  No museums, or historic sites.
* Missing a bookstore, public library, post office, and the nearest hospital is 10 minute drive. No major retailers here either.
* Schools limited to a Montessori an a couple of pre schools.
* Nice amount of pedestria activity at 36th and Davidson, but pretty quite otherwise. 

Elizabeth- Charlotte’s main urban Institutional District

* Great access to Dwtn and high quality transit service including a light rail line that runs through the district.
* Dedicated bike lanes and bike sharing stations are concentrated in the north section of the district.
* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is generally good but can be uncomfortable for pedestrians to cross several busy streets.
* Lots of attractive historic Pre WWII Single family homes in the residential areas of Elizabeth.
* Quality tree canopy, especially in the residential portion of the district.
* Large supply of rental housing generally skewing expensive. 1-bedrooms lease btwn $1,000-$1,500, 2-bedrooms in the $1,000s to the low $2,000s, and 3-bedrooms in the high $1,000s and $2,000s.
* Independence Park is an expansive, centrally located park with lots of recreational amenities. Other parks in Elizabeth include: Chantilly Park, Colonial Park, Elizabeth Park (more of an urban plaza), and convenient access to Little Sugar Creek bike & recreational path.
* Culturally a nice array of restaurants, bars, & cafes, several live music venues, live performances at Central Piedmont Community College, and a couple art galleries.
* Good retail amenities including convenient access to several supermarkets, a target, drug stores, a handful of boutiques & creative stores, a public library, lots of bank branches, and several hospitals- some of the best in the regional are located here. The Midtown shopping district is adjacent to Elizabeth and includes a Target, Marshall’s, BestBuy, West Elm, and much more.
Click here to view my Elizabeth Album on Flickr


* Decent racial diversity but limited economic and generational diversity. Large student population here and only 1/4 of households have children.
* For Sale housing is almost as expensive as Dilworth. Some for sale product reasonably priced. 1-bedroom condos sell in the high 100s & 300Ks. Modest SF homes sell btwn 400L-800K,  larger homes 800K to 1.25 Million.
*  No museums, Historic theaters or historic sites, but good access to museums located Dwtn.
* Schools are limited to an elementary. Some schools nearby in adjacent districts.
* Urban infill is a mixed bag. More recent in-fill has decent design and good urban form but lots of ugly auto friendly institutional bldgs from the 60s-90s.
* Urban massing of commercial districts and mixed-use bldgs is also a mixed bag. Lots of surface parking and vacant lots here around the institutions (esp. hospitals).
* Decent vibrant at commercial nodes (10th Street, 7th & Pecan/Hawthorne, and Elizabeth Ave) but lots of dead zones.


Some overlap btwn my evaluation areas of Elizabeth and Commonwealth along 10th Street.

Elizabeth began to rapidly developed after 1902, when a trolley line was completed. The neighborhood was annexed into Charlotte in 1907. The district is home to the City’s first public park (Independence Park) and home to many large early 20th century single family homes which sale generally close to 1 Million. Elizabeth can be divided into two halves: the primarily institutional north (home to Central Piedmont Community College,  Novant Health Presbyterian, Atrium Health Mercy, and many churches); and the primarily residential southern half. Several quality urban pockets stand out in this semi-autocentric neighborhood (i.e. 10th Street, 7th St & Pecan, & Elizabeth Ave).

The most important area for Elizabeth to improve is filling in with dense mixed-use development the many surface parking lots and vacant lot surrounding the large institutions. This could help create a wonderful urban district connecting seamlessly to Downtown and other inner ring neighborhoods. Improved urban massing is also needed along the major commercial corridors mentioned above. All this would help boast density, making Elizabeth more walkable and amenity rich. 

Dilworth- Charlotte’s most Exclusive Urban District

Dilworth was Charlotte’s first true streetcar suburb established in the 1890s to allure upper middle class residents through stately trees, curvilinear streets, convenient access to parks, and large homes.  Commercial development is concentrated along South Blvd and East Blvd with a mix of urban and suburban orientated buildings. Recent in-fill has generally improved the urban form of existing commercial nodes especially at East Blvd & Kenilworth and South Blvd adjacent to the light rail line and across from the dense development of the South End.

A major area for Dilworth to improve in order to become a premiere urban district is more density. Its current density of 5,000 souls per square mile is more akin to a post War II suburb. Higher density could facilitate more walkable schools and retail amenities. The district is also pretty exclusive and needs more diversity.
Click here to view my Dilworth Album on Flickr


* Good public transit and very convenient access to Dwtn.
* Solid ADA and sidewalk infrastructure.
* Great dedicated bike lane system but only a couple bike share along the northern edge of the district. 
* Large supply of rental housing generally skewing expensive. 1-bedrooms lease btwn $1,000-$1,500, 2-bedrooms from $1,000s to the low $2,000s, and 3-bedrooms btwn 2K-4K.
* Great park amenities with the expansive Freedom park on Dilworth southern edge with its extensive recreational path and the multi-faceted Sedgefield and Latta Park. Also a nice bike path on the northern edge of the district.
* Very safe district with really no blight.
* Culturally Dilworth hosts a great array of restaurants, bars, cafes, art galleries, and a handful of live music venues,
* Quality urban amenities although some are pretty auto centric. Several full service supermarkets,  including a supermarket, drug store, public library, post office, good array of chain retailers at the Atherton Mill and many other higher end retailers, plenty of boutiques,  a couple book store, and Charlotte’s largest hospital sits alongside the district’s southern border.
* Great early 20th century SF historic architecture. Modern in-fill is good as well with a nice mix of urban townhomes, MF, and historic looking SF homes.
* Excellent Tree canopy. 


* Racial, economic, and generational diversity are
 all fair.
* This is one of Charlotte’s most expensive urban districts, but still some for sale product reasonably priced. 1-bedroom condos sell in the high 100s & 200Ks, 2-bedroom condos btwn 250K-500K, modest SF homes btwn 500K-800K, larger homes 800K to 1.5 Million.
*  No museums, theaters or historic sites.
* Schools are limited to a highly rated elementary.
* Urban form of the business districts (South End & East Blvd) is a mixed bag.
* Good vibrancy at commercial nodes (South End & East Blvd and East Blvd & Scott Ave) but plenty of dead spots.

Charlotte’s Commonwealth District- One of the City’s best Commercial Nodes

I included the traditional boundary for the Common Wealth district and expanded it west to include the sliver of land south of 10th St. The Commonwealth district is a historic crossroads of Charlotte where Central and Pecan Avenue meet. This district hosts lots of restaurants, bars, cafes, and neighborhood retail service along with many live music venues. The commercial district spans several blocks mixing historic and modern buildings but with mixed urban form. Also lots of new apartments, condos, and townhomes here generally with good urban form. Still many areas of historic pre WWII fabric remain comprised of pleasant 1920s-1940 single family homes.

Plenty areas to improve in the Commonwealth District from an urban perspective. Most importantly is increasing the neighborhood’s very low density, and replacing autocentric commercial. The neighborhood also has limited access to schools and affordable for sale housing.
Click here to view my Commonwealth album on Flickr


* Very convenient access to Dwtn (only 2 miles) across all modes.
* Decent Bike infrastructure includes a couple dedicated bike lanes and handful of bike sharing station.
* Great ADA infrastructure but areas of uncomfortable sidewalks crossing through strip walls and located too close to busy routes.
* Good middle income diversity although very limited % of residents living in poverty.
* Good amount of rentals and a nice diversity of price points. 1-bedrooms generally lease in the low $1,000s, 2-bedrooms in the high $1,000s and $2,000s, 3-bedrooms in the $3,000s.
* Nice large park (Veterans Memorial) Located in the center of the neighborhood. Includes tennis courts, ballfields and playgrounds.
* Good cultural amenities including a great array of restaurants, bars, cafes, and small breweries, lots of live music venues, and a couple art galleries.
* Quality urban amenities although some located in strip malls including a supermarket, drug store, public library, post office, a book store, many boutiques, several antiques, and several hospitals in the adjacent district.
* Overall a very safe district.
* Lot of urban in-fill and most of it is pretty good. 


* Density is very low. More similar to a suburb.
* Decent racial and economic diversity.
* For sale options are generally expensive but good diversity. Bottom of the market are small homes in the high 200Ks. Most properties selling between 300K-700K. Some larger mansions sell over 700K. Plenty of new townhomes and condos in the mix.
* Good tree canopy.
* No museums or historic sites.
* A public middle school is located in the neighborhood but little else.
* Quality urban massing in the urban biz districts (i.e. Central & Pecan Ave) is a mixed bag of auto centric strip malls & parking lots and quality form. Form falls apart further east along Centre.

Belmont- A quality inner ring neighborhood in Charlotte North Carolina

Belmont is a typical Charlotte medium density neighborhood built up built between the 1910s-1930s. It appears the neighborhood experienced some blighted after the 60s but gentrified significantly over the past couple of decades. Quality urban attributes include convenient access to dwtn, good public transit, great ADA infrastructure, and good parks and recreational amenities.

Important areas to improve before Belmont becomes a great urban district include significantly more density, creation of a cohesive urban business district helping to create a better sense of place, and more affordable housing.
Click here to view my Belmont neighborhood on Flickr


* Very convenient access to Dwtn (only 1.5-2 miles) across all modes. Bike infrastructure includes several dedicated bike lanes and one bike sharing station.
* Some sidewalks missing but overall excellent ADA infrastructure and curb cuts.
* Great racial, economic, and generational diversity. 
 For Sale hsg is generally expensive but good diversity. Some smaller unrenovated options selling in the 200Ks & 300Ks. Most homes selling between 300K-500K. Larger, luxurious product selling between 500K-800K. Mix of SF home, condos, and townhomes.
* Great tree canopy.
* Lots of great park amenities along Little Sugar Creak including a lengthy bike trail, sports fields, open space, and a public pool.


* Due to its low density and lack of a cohesive commercial district, vibrancy is lacking here.
* Rental options are generally expensive but very limited.
* Cultural amenities are limited to a several restaurants & bars, a couple cafés & breweries. But surrounding neighborhoods have good amenities.
* Neighborhood retails are also pretty limited to a couple boutiques, Good cluster of retail amenities nearby in Commonwealth.
* Historically a pretty high crime area, now closer to the national average.
* Only a couple middle schools located within the neighborhood and convenient access to other schools in adjacent districts.
* Imageability is not great with not definitively urban biz district and pretty spreadout housing.

The 4th Ward- Charlotte’s best Victorian District

Charlotte’s 4th Ward has great location sitting basically within Charlotte’s CBD. The neighborhood also hosts a good array of turn of the century Victorian architecture mixed in with some pretty good in-fill. Downtown’s two main arteries (Tyron and Trade Street) form the edge of two sides of the district providing the district some quality mixed-use district with good urban form. Also some great neighborhood parks weave recreational space into residential areas.

The biggest areas to improve from an urban perspective is more density and better urban form along Graham and the northern and eastern edges of the district.

Click here to view my 4th Ward album on Flickr


* Generally good sidewalk and ADA infrastructure. ADA compliant curbs are often missing however.
* Excellent Tree Canopy.
* Probably Charlotte’s best collection of turn of the 19th century arch. But much of the neighborhood is mixed in with new urban in-fill of a general good quality.
* Dedicated bike lanes are limited within 4th Ward but good coverage nearby in Dwtn and lots of bike sharing stations.
* Good racial and economic diversity.
* For sale housing is generally expensive but some good diversity. 1-bedroom generally sells in the 100sK and 200Ks. Fair amount of 2-bedrooms condos and townhomes selling in the 200Ks & 300Ks. But plenty of 2 & 3 bedrooms selling between 400K-800K.
* Several nice smaller parks well integrated into the neighborhood fabric along with convenient access to other great Dwtn parks.
* Great cultural amenities including many restaurants, bars & cafes, several live music venues, several performing art theaters, a cineplex, Imax theater, and a good array of museums.
* Good neighborhood amenities as well with a full-service supermarket, a couple drug stores, banks, some locally owned creative stores, a good amount of higher end clothing stores, a Dwtn library and post office, and several small shopping malls.
* Generally a very safe neighborhood. Being so close to Dwtn, certainly some homeless here.
* Several grade and middle schools within the Dwtn area. No high schools.


* Very poor generational diversity with only 10% family households and most adults are below 40.
* 4 bedrooms are very limited
* Good amount of rental product but pretty expensive. 1-bedrooms lease in the low $1,000s. 2-bedrooms around $2,000s. 3-bedrooms in the 2Ks and 3Ks.
*Art galleries are pretty limited.
* Density is very low, especially for an urban are so close to Dwtn. There in affect leads to just okay vibrancy.