Building has boomed in Mecklenburg County since the depths of the recession, but the growth hasn’t been spread evenly throughout the area.
A map of building permits (below) from 2012 through 2015, compiled with information from Mecklenburg County, shows how development has clustered through the county. For example, Mecklenburg issued more than 200 residential building permits for South End and Dilworth, data show. But it was a different story along Independence Boulevard: The county issued fewer than 10 permits for most of the neighborhoods along Independence between uptown and Matthews.
The broad pattern of building mimics other maps of Charlotte, such as this map showing the distribution of poverty, with more affluence and building activity clustered in the county’s affluent southeastern “wedge” and less in the higher-poverty “crescent” around uptown. That pattern is especially apparent in single-family residential building permits.
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“The findings don’t surprise me,” said LaWana Mayfield, a Charlotte City Council member. District 3, which she represents, contains booming areas such as Steele Creek and more challenged areas such as the Freedom Drive and Wilkinson Boulevard corridors. “I’ve seen amazing growth in my district.”
But she said the imbalances between growth in different neighborhoods exacerbate the city’s affordable housing problem, with rents and property values shooting up in some areas while others stagnate. That leads to more segregation by income in the city, which ripples through to other issues such as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools assignments.
Charlotte City Council has started to take steps to address the affordable housing imbalance in the city, including a commitment to create or preserve 5,000 units of affordable housing over the next three years. That will still leave Charlotte well short of the 34,000 affordable units the city is projected to need over the coming decades.
Here are some other observations about growth in the county (Building permits are mapped by property record parcel number, so the size of the dot doesn’t necessarily correspond to the size of the building permitted):
▪ Apartment buildings have been heavily clustered around the Blue Line light rail, with 20 developments worth more than $360 million permitted in South End. There are also clusters in Plaza Midwood, SouthPark, uptown, Steele Creek and Ballantyne.
▪ The map can give you some idea of why traffic is such a frequent concern with new developments in certain parts of the county. Look at how much new construction is underway in SouthPark, around Sharon and Fairview roads, and you can start to understand why people there often say they’re under assault from a wave of development.
▪ The amount of residential building has surged in Charlotte since 2012. In 2012, the cost of single-family and townhouse permits issued totaled $212 million. That rose every year, until it reached $393 million in 2015 – a whopping 85 percent increase. Through September 2016, residential permits totaled $329 million, on pace to break 2015’s total.