Cover Story: Center City 2020 Vision Plan

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Our city in 2020.  No flying cars. No smell-o-vision. No full scale dippin' dots conversion.  But big changes in the next decade.

The future of Charlotte becomes more clear.

They do it every decade.  City planners set goals for what they want Charlotte to look like 10 years from now.  Right now, the vision is 2020.

What does the future hold?

There's a focus on partnering with UNC Charlotte to developing an Innovation Corridor, a drive for more greenspace and connecting neighborhoods to each other.

The Center City 2020 Vision Plan came out Monday and Charlotte City Council members are getting their first look at it today.

They are Charlotte's future.  Ben and Ethan Jacobs, six years old, were enjoying a moment with their mom on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in midtown Charlotte Monday afternoon.

"You get to see nature. You get to be outdoors. I tire them out a little bit. It all seems to work out pretty good," said mom Lynn Jacobs.

The greenway's good for that.  A great place for a walk, ride a bike and things less strenuous like ride a Segue, and patrol the city on a motorcycle.

The Greenway wouldn't be here today without the idea being born years ago.

"What we're sharing here is the enduring vision."

Monday in Uptown, Center City boosters took the wraps off a final product of a consultant's two-year work exploring what Charlotte wants to become in the next decade - the Center City 2020 Vision Plan.

"It's thinking through those kinds of things that Charlotte has done every ten years and has created frameworks for major employers, corporations to partner with developers and partner with academic institutions and with the city and county to make these things happen," said Michael Smith, president and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners.

It was past vision plans that led to the development of the Greenway.  Turning the old Convention Center property into the EpiCentre entertainment complex.  And developing the Midtown Mall site into the Metropolitan.

"This is the kind of dialog that helps Charlotte define itself," said businessman Terry Montgomery.

He got involved two years ago and was a part of the more than half a dozen community and neighborhood workshops and working groups.

"It's not a 2020 plan.. this is a vision plan period. It goes way beyond 2020," said Montgomery.

One part of the vision plan is a dream to turn the area from Center City to UNC Charlotte (the area that runs along North Tryon Street) into a so-called "Applied Innovation Corridor," turning it into a place for developing companies and entrepreneurs - focusing jobs along a future transit line that parallels US Highway 29.

Another part of the vision plan is to expand retail in Uptown.  There is some now but more is needed.

Rachel Demeter is from Indianapolis and that was one of the first things she noticed when she came to Charlotte several years ago.

"They do have a lot of those retail shops downtown and here I have noticed that they don't have any of that. So it's hard to attract a crowd downtown," said Demeter.

Center City is the region's economic driver.  No single place holds more of Charlotte's workers - the number is 83,000 and counting.  It's also the home to 9,000 people, who live inside the I-277 loop.

Leaders say a thriving downtown creates a place where people can live, work and play and is a critical draw for businesses who want to relocate.

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