Jump to content

Unintentionally walkable neighborhoods


Recommended Posts


We all know the inner ring neighborhoods of Charlotte represent more of an ideal residence/retail balance than elsewhere in the area. Dilworth, Elizabeth, Chantilly, Midwood-near-Central are all places where you can have a nice house, small yard to grow stuff in, and still be able to walk to some restaurants and a grocery store. However, for a young couple, even where both have relatively good jobs, these neighborhoods have limited to no affordable housing purchase options.

(defining affordable as $200k or under for enough space for 2 people, or about 1000 sq ft.)

Starting in Charlotte's middle ring neighborhoods, housing becomes more affordable, however due to the hub/spoke nature of roads in this city, the neighborhood planning degrades into cul-de-sac and sprawl very quickly.

So, what can a young couple that want to live a walkable lifestyle do in this city?

The Food-Centric Search:

Having just ended a housing search generally defined above, I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience in this city. If so, did they eventually make one of their main housing search arguments:

"I just want to be walking distance to a Harris Teeter" (substitute any good market here- even Food Bazar qualifies imo - also define walking distance as 3/4 mile or less)

Where, even if I have to drive or take the bus to work, at night and on the weekends it is possible to get to a grocery store and a few good restaurants with as little car use as possible.

Using this watered down version of urbanism, Charlotte's walkable neighborhood options opened up a bit more, and it seems there are a few areas of the city where developers are learning to depend of foot traffic a bit more.

How this relates to Urban Planet:

Even though real estate is a generally open market in that people will pay for what they want, I haven't found much new near-town or infill development in Charlotte that caters to first time / first couple buyers.

The best 'wedge' of Charlotte that I have found for turning sprawl neighborhoods into walkable neighborhoods is the South Blvd/Park Rd wedge (encompassing Sedgefield, Madison Park, Montclaire, Huntingtowne Farms) where on the Park Rd side there's basically a Harris Teeter every mile, and on the South Blvd side a lot of immigrant markets/restaurants, so all of those neighborhoods are within at least a short bike ride of food.

Is there any momentum to extend this idea to eastern Charlotte neighborhoods, as Independence killed walkable retail along that corridor. Central south of Midwood is nearing the neighborhoods->market balance but is still a bit of a developing part of Charlotte in general.

Not sure what conclusions were made here, so yeah - discussion on middle ring walkability can commence!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 6
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Younger buyers can look in "not so known" places within more established neighborhoods. I know NODA has areas that were developed in the 1950's. Great little houses for under 200K but they don't have near the charm of their 100+ year old brothers but the streets are great and the neighborhood feel is still strong and walking into NODA and the future light rail is simple. Or instead of Elizabeth look in Cherry.

Buy a fixer upper in a more established hood like Plaza-Midwood. Or look in neighborhoods that are starting to turn like Wilmore, Optimist Park, etc.

Look along the South Rail line (or North Line). That whole area will tranform in the next couple of years.

Point is, Charlotte changes (and is urbanizing) so rapidly that even if you don't have everything within walking distance at first (mainly a grocery store) odds are if you place yourself well you'll have it all in a year or two. Don't rule areas simply because they don't currently meet your criteria. If your buying you'll likely be there for several years and after a year or two when the area begins to urbanize you'll be glad you had the forsight to buy there. One big key is for younger buyers to look their butts off. You never know what you'll find even in the best neighborhoods. And people shouldn't be so afraid of fixer-uppers. Just my opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply, and I considered the soon-to-be neighborhoods as well, however my GF derided many houses with potential as feeling unsafe (Wilmore, Belmont, Northern part of Midwood). Also, while I did find a couple of affordable places that needed work in the old neighborhoods above, when both parties are in grad school time isn't as available as would be required for a place like that. I ended up putting money down on a place in the Park/South wedge described above, moving in May actually.

The other objective of this thread was probably more to think of ways that existing 60's-80's sprawl subdivisions can become more like real neighborhoods and improve walkability, notably small market based shopping centers with a few independent restaurants - the one on the corner of Park/Selwyn with the Harris Teeter, Portofino and Fairview Grill seems pretty well done for how little space it takes up, and more a day-to-day useful part of the neighborhood than Park Rd. shopping center or even Quail Corners which are much larger spaces.

Granted all of these places are about a mile from South Park, which somewhat defines that part of town as far as retail goes... however looking at Mountainbrook, a lot of places on Caramel Rd or Providence between Fairview and HW51... there are rows of subdivisions that can only get places by car.

However I'm not sure Charlotte is the right type of city where people would support smaller, perhaps even independent markets close to home over the Harris Teeter / Chain Restaurants that are only a 5 min drive away.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sedgefield is one where there is good connectivity and is walkable to grocery stores. Although it is definitely in the Park-South wedge that you already mentioned.

I just hope TAP gets a funding source, so that the city can add connectivity and sidewalks throughout the city.

I'm not that familiar with middle-ring neighborhoods to know any other good examples, but I agree that investing in a transit corridor is your best bet. Not only will you gain access to stores on the line, but there will also be proper zoning and plenty of private and public funding for building brand new walkable neighborhoods.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem with any of the inner ring neighborhoods, Noda and Plaza Midwood included is that you are either going to deal with very high prices or high crime. Plaza Midwood is already well beyond the 200K range, and I think Noda has been invaded by speculators as prices for the mill houses shacks there are really unrealistic.

So as you discovered, you are left with the next ring out and even there $200K is going to be pushing it a bit. The areas you mention are probably more realistic, especially as you head further South. I would look South of Scalybark down to Montclair. I used to live in Montclair (20+ years ago) and at the time, it was a great neighborhood. Keep in mind that some of the streets are getting a bit rundown so that isn't a good sign. I'm not sure if this will head back into the other direction or not and how the transit line might affect it, but the area around Scalybark station looks to be a good bet. The problem with most of these neighborhoods however is they are not real walkable.

Another place to consider is the area bound by Kilbourne, Eastway and Shamrock. This area has similar type of housing, is fairly close to downtown, and seems to be on the rise due to its proximity to the country club area. Unfortunately its not real walkable to stores.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was in a similar predicament as you when I was serching for a home, except im single and wanted to stay under 150k. I looked in Wimore, Sedgfield, off Monroe, even off W. Trade. Alot of those neighborhoods are just too expensive already. You can buy a fixer-upper for 150K but then have to put another 60k into it. I ended up buying just off Park Rd. in that wedge and certainly dont regret it. My community is not gridded and not historic but was built in the 50's and I can walk to the HT and just about everything else along Park. If your within walking distance of either South or Park you can't lose. IMO

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Urban residential (12+ units per acre) is only feasible when lot sizes are 60 feet wide or less. Chantilly for example, has 45 to 50 foot lot sizes. That's what creates the intimate, walkable feeling.

The middle ring neighborhoods mentioned here, generally have 80 foot width lots. They will remain suburban in character, for a long time. I live in one of these neighborhoods, in fact. Guests at my house have remarked how "it doesn't feel like being in the city".

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.