Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Suburban Decay Comes to Charlotte

Thanks to Urban Indy for linking to an article about suburban decay in Charlotte. The interesting things it that this isn’t happening in older areas, but practically new starter home subdivisions. Many of these homes were very cheaply built, were sold to people with marginal credit, and are now experiencing significant blight as the housing market turns south. Cheap buildings and common areas are damaged and unsightly. Homes get converted into rentals as investors swoop in to buy them out of foreclosure. And crime is skyrocketing.

Charlotte, like Indianapolis and many places where there is ample cheap land, threw up thousands of these types of home. Many of these subdivisions are struggling, though I haven’t heard of it being this bad before. Many of these places were built as borderline disposable communities, and they appear to have a very short shelf life.

One of the Charlotte city council members referred to these starter home communities as the “projects of the future”.

It will be interesting to see what happens. As I noted in my latest brief on Indiana annexation, municipalities are stepping up to take the lead on development in Indiana now, not counties. And municipalities take a jaundiced view of these types of developments. Many of them are implementing minimum design standards to mandate, for example, brick facades, and various anti-monotony ordinances designed to keep these places out. This pushes the developers further out on the fringe. Speculating, this could start leading to a development pattern where there are alternating rings of thriving and decaying communities, with some of the worst on the actual suburban fringe. There’s a thriving downtown at the core, ringed with traditional urban decay and some older, decaying suburbs. Then you’ve got a ring of newer, properous, higher end suburban communities, then you’ve got an exurban ring of cheaper suburbs where the development standards are lighter, featuring new suburban decay. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.

Topics: Demographic Analysis, Economic Development, Public Policy, Sustainability
Cities: Charlotte

5 Responses to “Suburban Decay Comes to Charlotte”

  1. Yehudi01 says:

    Interesting blog…here in Portland, OR, we have the same problem.

  2. SOS says:

    There is a zoning case in Pike Township, whose remonstrance is partly based on the issues outlined in that article. This case has been called up for hearing at te City-County council. There are many subdivisions that or at or near the same state here in Indianapolis, however no one has admitted it nor has anyone in the news media paid close attention to this issue. Even without the foreclosures, the criminals were migrating outward with everyone else.

  3. NDG says:

    Scary. It has taken over 90 years for my own block in old Indianapolis to get 11 abandoned house on it.
    It only took lees than 10 years for this to happen in exurbs Charlotte.

  4. Kevin says:

    Yes, it’s not looking good for the cheaply built communities on the fringes of the suburbs. I found that article on Streetsblog.

  5. Anonymous says:


    That’s not a zoning case, it’s a replat. Replat’s are generally very cookie cutter and don’t display much in the way of forethought or neighborhood context. The rezone is a couple of blocks north and was glossed over in the Indy$tar on Saturday.

    Now, if CP Morgan and Beazer would only follow KB’s example…

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