Urbanizing the (former) suburbs

The Park Road Shopping Center - what an awesome sign.

The cluster of leafy, quiet neighborhoods collectively known as the Park-Woodlawn area in Charlotte are about to embark on a city-led planning effort to become more urban (via Next American City). They once were sleepy suburbs on the edge of downtown Charlotte, and now the city has grown up all around them. They are now desirable, in town neighborhoods facing increased traffic and development pressures.

The primary challenge for Park-Woodlawn is how to make an area that’s largely auto-oriented and suburban in design better match its in-town surroundings.

“It was built in a suburban pattern, but it’s really an urban neighborhood,” Gonzalez [the city planner in charge] said. “How do you work that transition?”

Gonzalez said planners will seek to preserve the area’s strong, middle-income neighborhoods while enhancing the accessibility and walkability of its commercial core.

Neighborhoods all over the country are facing the same set of questions. We’ll see if we can find a Charlotte correspondant to report back on how the process goes.

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