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The 2020 Center City Vision Plan

by Michael Smith

December 8,2009

We have inherited a healthy, vibrant Center City and the wind has been at our back for the past decade. This foundation is a direct result of Charlotte’s leadership over the past three decades. Today’s difficulties may seem daunting, but they are not unique…each generation has faced their defining challenges. This is our moment to lay the groundwork for the success of our city 20 and 30 years hence. We are continuing that legacy with the work of our 2020 Center City Vision Plan.

Charlotte’s growth is grounded on a 40-year tradition of city planning that began with the Odell Plan of 1966. Every decade, Charlotte has created and adopted a new plan for the Center City, providing a road map, a development framework and planning recommendations. As City and County adopted policy, these plans have been implemented and helped shaped market forces.

We are now concluding the work of our adopted 2010 Vision Plan. It has been a defining decade for the growth and development of Charlotte’s urban core. Center City has become a unique destination for our region’s residents as well as for tourists with arts, cultural and sports attractions as well as130 restaurants and 50 nightspots. We have invested more than $1 billion in venues such as ImaginOn, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Mint and Bechtler Museums, and the EpiCentre. Uptown has also become a vibrant urban neighborhood, growing to more than 13,000 residents. And, as the region’s premier employment hub, Center City grew from 55,000 to 70,000 jobs over the last decade. Our community also began building the 2030 Transit Plan with the successful opening of the LYNX blue line in 2007 that now carries more than 16,000 riders each weekday.

Now, we are faced with a global recession that is impacting our community’s economy, especially the financial services sector. This new reality will require that we look at our city’s path with fresh eyes. We, as a community, must be proactive and intentional about the city we aspire to become. Now is an ideal time to ask provocative questions and draft the blueprint called the 2020 Center City Vision Plan. And, while the 2010 Vision Plan recommendations focused more on Uptown development, the 2020 Vision Plan will contemplate a broader geography that reaches beyond I-277 to better connect our neighborhoods.

The 2020 Center City Vision Plan process, which began in September 2009, will culminate when the City Council and County Commission consider adoption of the plan next fall. An interactive and engaging public participation process has been designed and implemented to create a vision for the Center City that reflects the aspirations of our entire community for their Center City. Opportunities for participation involve attending community workshops, as well as online access at Other new media outlets have also been set up to capture public input via email, Facebook, Twitter and 2020 Blog.

The first community workshop held on October 21 was a rousing success. More than 300 people gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center and another 100 virtual attendees joined on-line via Citizens shared their thoughts and opinions about what is right and not-so-right about our direction today and where we should be in 2020. If you missed the workshop, it is not too late to share your thoughts and opinions online.  Take the Center City Survey and weigh in.

We also have six more workshops planned and we invite you to participate. In January and February, four additional workshops will be held at libraries in the north, south, east and west of Mecklenburg County. Our next community-wide workshops will be March 31 at the Charlotte Convention Center and the final workshop to present the draft plan will be in June.  Visit the 2020 Calendar to learn more. 

In these dynamic times it becomes even more critical to have a shared vision for enhancing the region’s economic engine. We hope the planning process will continue to inspire public and private partnerships and foster collaborations within and beyond Center City.

For details on how you can be a part of this journey and make sure your voice is heard as we create our vision for our future, log onto and let’s find our way, together.

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