How the city conquered its sprawl to create a bustling downtown.
Not too long ago, Charlotte, North Carolina, was an emerging metropolis attempting to solve its explosive population growth issues through sprawling development. However, over the past 20 years, it has consciously reinvented itself as a city of sidewalks.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Charlotte had fewer than 20,000 residents. By 2000, the city had a population of 540,800. In fact, from 2000 to 2010, no American city with one million or more people grew faster than Charlotte. Over that 20-year period, Charlotte shifted from a largely agricultural and manufacturing region into the region’s urban center with a financial stronghold.
Initially, the city dealt with the onslaught of residents by building more roads and developing office space in the suburbs. Growth was accompanied by the familiar issues of sprawl, congestion, and urban decay.
But Charlotte's top-tier workforce rebelled.
The regional economic development partnership brought in an Urban Land Institute advisory services panel of real estate and land use planning experts to study the city's downtown...