Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Is a 'Ballantyne West' coming near Charlotte airport?

At a breakfast Tuesday morning, some of the city's most powerful business and political leaders sought new ways to give Charlotte a better competitive edge on the global economic stage. Mayor Patrick Cannon, Mecklenburg commissioners' chair Trevor Fuller and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison all called for leaders to rally behind that goal.

It's part of an ongoing effort in which Central Piedmont Community College President Tony Zeiss and others are trying to pull together a cohesive vision for what the Charlotte region needs to do to stay ahead in the global competition for jobs and prosperity.

They gathered at Bank of America Corporate Center and talked about various paths to achieving that, but all centered on improving Charlotte's ability to make products, create products and move products. In one of the more interesting items that came up, Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee said the city's aiming to use redevelopment opportunities around Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to create the region's next big "edge city."

Around here, that phrase immediately makes you think of Ballantyne, arguably a prototypical edge city.  Some 5,000 acres of undeveloped land sits across Interstate 485 from the airport, and some of the city's biggest developers already hold big chunks of it. Carlee said the city is putting together an interdepartmental effort to update its 1997 strategic plan for the airport area. Officials have visions of the area west of 485, now mostly just woods, becoming an "edge city" development zone.

"The 1997 strategic plan called for a new edge city. We now are beginning to have the infrastructure and the momentum in place ...  to actually realize that edge city," Carlee said. "We're pulling together with the airport, infrastructure, planning, public safety, all of the agencies, to look at what does it take to really make this happen, partnering together with the community and other stakeholders?" It will also entail hiring an economic development expert "to lead the effort to exploit this opportunity that we've created," Carlee said.

That western stretch of 485 near the airport has historically been one of the metropolitan area's sleepiest sectors. Sounds like that's about to change.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Poor schools, high crime, airport noise - I don't see the rich moving to that area any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Why is developing raw land into additional urban sprawl the strategic plan? Re-developing rundown areas should be the highest priority, like inside 485 e.g. Wilkinson, West, Freedom, Tuckaseegee.

Anonymous said...

Spot on, Anonymous 2:43! Such a waste to see them bulldoze trees (not far from The Catawba River!) in lieu of areas that already have the infrastructure and labor. This is probably why Johnny Harris wanted to be on the airport commission so badly. King of sprawl. Nothing to be proud of.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? I had higher hopes from Carlee. When did we start looking at (more) ATL-type sprawl development for Charlotte?

Anonymous said...

who in the heck will wanna live there.. that is the airports flight pattern over those woods.....

Tom said...

I question how many will be displaced in affordable homes that are unable to relocate at a comparable price? Is this a concern of our city leaders?

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's not under airplane flight patterns. Planes take off and land north and south so land west of the airport has no air traffic. Also, this area is on a lake and 15 mins from downtown vs 30 from landlocked ballantyne. Crime statistically is lower than Ballantyne (probably because of less density, but nonetheless) and more/better schools come with increased population. They are actually building $1M+ homes out there as we speak..