Planning for 400,000 new neighbors

If you’re a Charlotte resident today, you may have over 400,000 new neighbors by 2045, so what does that mean for our city?

That’s one question that will start many conversations about our city’s future.  Today, we’re a city of over 800,000 people and we’re a popular place – we add 44 people every day!  More than half of these people are coming here from other places, the rest are a result of natural increase (births – deaths = population increase) That’s like a CATS bus full of passengers arriving every day, every year for the next 30 years, or like the cities of Sacramento, CA or Kansas City, MO moving here in the same time period.

By 2045, our city will likely have over 1 million people, so it’s really important to have conversations today to plan for tomorrow.

If our population increases 58% by 2045 and we want to maintain our current population density, that means we would have to add 210 square miles of land to our city – a land area the size of Columbus, Ohio.  Since we can’t make new land, that means our city is going to become denser, growing “up” rather than “out”.  And assuming current travel patterns, this same population increase could put an additional 101,000 cars on the road – that’s the same amount of daily traffic that passes by Bank of America Stadium on I-277.

With these scenarios in mind, planning for the future allows us to consider alternative scenarios for guiding our City’s growth and development.

Density, Diversity, and Design in the Future

Talking about the future often starts with talking about the past – did you know Charlotte had a greater population density in 1950 than we do today? The City of Charlotte’s planning area grew from 30 square miles in 1950 to 376 square miles today and that’s about as big as it will ever be.  In 1950, the city was 72% white and 38% black with an average household size of 3.4 people.

In 2015, the city was 50% white, 35% black, 14% Hispanic, 6% Asian, and 2% two or more races with an average household size of 2.5 people.  In the future, Charlotte will have more people and more kinds of people with diverse needs for housing, transportation, and employment, so density and diversity will influence our city’s design.

Charlotte’s population density (left) and Charlotte’s planning area (right)

Tools for Designing Our Future

Since Charlotte’s population will be more dense and diverse in the future, what are some tools for designing our City?  Land use policies and development rules are two big factors affecting our City’s future growth and development and that’s why they’re being updated as follows:

Charlotte Place Types: Updated Land Use Policies

Place Types are a classification of land that provides guidance for how future development should look and function. They describe types and intensities of land use as well as important characteristics such as scale, site design, and accessibility.

Unified Development Ordinance (UDO): Updated Development Regulations

The UDO will be the primary tool to implement Place Types and Charlotte’s other plans and policies through development regulations. It will combine multiple development ordinances, including the Zoning Ordinance, into one set of regulations.

Help Think Our City Forward

As our City approaches the 2040s with over a million people, we’ll need to grow differently than we did in the past and Place Types and the UDO present opportunities to consider creative options for future growth.  These policies and rules will shape every aspect of our city, so join the conversation in Thinking Our City Forward.