Thursday, April 10, 2008

UNCC: College, but no college town

Charlotte is home to a 22,000-student public university, North Carolina’s fourth-largest campus. But you’d never know it.


UNC Charlotte is tucked away off N.C. 49 and North Tyron Street, and it’s lovely, with wooded paths and crisp, new brick buildings. But University City, the area of Charlotte around the campus, looks and feels nothing like a collegte town or university community. It’s commercial strip-mall, chain-restaurant, big-box-store hell, complete with horrendous traffic, no accommodations for pedestrians or bicycles and very little that’s distinctive.

Sterile. Congested. And that’s a shame.

UNCC, a young university still struggling to find its identity and nurture vibrant campus life, suffers along with University City. This is no Chapel Hill or Athens or even Columbia, S.C.

That holds UNCC – and Charlotte – back. But there are things that can be done to change it, both on campus and off.

What do you think the perfect college town ought to look like and include? What kind of changes would it take to give University City a college-town feel and appearance? Do you think it can be done?:

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

The University area (as is much of Charlotte), is just a big cluster of orderless subdivision and strip mall sprawl. Most cool college towns I can think of are in a somewhat urban environment with some sort of a street grid. I keep thinking about how cool it would be if Charlotte was located closer to uptown. I think its current location and the resulting lack of college atmosphere will always hold it back.

Anonymous said...

Do Georgia Tech in Atlanta or Columbia in New York City feel like college "towns"? Of course not

Anonymous said...

Turn back time and keep the school where it started, where CPCC is today. Then, you would have a hip, urban, college near the city.

Anonymous said...

Columbia,SC....What? Are you kidding? That's fuuny!! Columbia is a dump of a city.Anyhow many colleges and universities are in urban center like Ga Tech in downtown Atlanta. University City area needs more work but with much better planning it can happen.

poolman said...

it didn't used to have all that strip-mall crap, and was basically surrounded by woods and fields, pretty nice if you liked to get out and hike or bike or even walk beside the highway because there wasn't a ton of traffic.

so, you don't throw up a chain restaurant on every block, you maintain some of the old farmland for its historical and pastoral value, and then, you get a football team so your average student will have a reason to stay around on the weekend.

stop putting all the crap up out there, keep the wooded areas which are left, spend the damn money to get a football team, and you will have one of the preeminent universities in the south.

my guess is some of you chapel hill/duke types wouldn't like that,because then you would have to compete against THE UNIVERSITY OF CHARLOTTE graduates on a level playing field (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

Madison Wisconsin is the perfect college town. The University of Wisconsin/Madison's campus is on a lake (so cool), is next to a busy city center, which is also the state capital, beautiful parks are within walking distance and it has enormous support from city residents. The city has a vibe like no other!

I just don't think anything can be done to change UNCC or Charlotte for that matter. We are one big sprawl of malls and subdivisions. Charlotte is a greedy town that is only interested in making money, thus, why it is nicknamed "city of banks". Twenty years from now we will still be asking the same questions cause nothing will ever change.

Anonymous said...

What are woods going to do? Talk about boring. Atleast you don't have to go far for food or shopping anymore.

First thing they need to do is add curb, sidewalk, and bike lanes to University City Boulevard and North Tryon Street. Then they need to zone the area around it in a more urban manner - storefronts facing the street, etc. The potential is there but the city is way too lazy to do anything about it! The problem with UNCC is that it is so disconnected from everything and you can't walk anywhere around there. This is a school in the middle of Charlotte not the middle of nowhere!!

Anonymous said...

I think light rail will help UNCC feel more connected to the rest of the city. I also agree with the previous poster that curb, sidewalk, and bike lanes should be built around the college.

Anonymous said...

UNCC should of been built Uptown to begin with! What were they thinking building it over there??

Anonymous said...

Being a fan of East Carolina I know they have a good mix of what a college town is ideally. It has a good size community, but not to big to overshadow the school itself. It has the local eatery favorites not duplicated in any surburban environment (see vinegar BBQ). It also has at least one big sport that everyone in the region gets behind (football and baseball down there, basketball is horrid). I like UNCC and can sympathize with some issues, it's tough in Charlotte metro area with so much going on with pro sports and other attractions. In Greenville the community pushed the school in a symbiotic relationship, thst a tall order in Charlotte. UNCC is not to blame, but just geography and timing. No offense to UNCC, but this could really hurt their football initiative.
Other schools in NC have similar atmospheres to Greenville, such as App. State and UNC-CH.

Anonymous said...

First thing they could do is add some sidewalks or something! I don't think upgrading University City Blvd is too much to ask.

step one said...

University City Blvd. and WT Harris Blvd. should look like Ballantyne Commons Parkway - curbs, sidewalks, bike lanes, and street lights. This is the City of Charlotte not Podunkville!

Michael said...

Charlotte is too big of a city to be a "college town." Raleigh is a pretty large city , but you can still feel the presence of the university. Having a football team would be a great help. I don't know if it is truly financially feasible, but it would definitely do wonders for UNCC's visibility as well as allow Charlotte's basketball team to compete in a higher level conference than the A-10. We were in C-USA a few years ago and that is the conference that Memphis is in. My biggest disappointment with having a large university in town is the lack of a COLLEGE RADIO STATION. We don't get very many bands coming through Charlotte because they have no exposure on big conglomerate radio. They stop in Raleigh (because of State, Carolina, and Duke) and then they skip right over Charlotte and head Columbia (because of USC) or Atlanta. I am a huge music fan, especially live music, and it disappointing in Charlotte. Remember Center City Fest? Now we have Speed Street which only pulls Country and mediocre Classic Rock acts. I can't wait for the Music Factory village to get rolling in Fourth Ward. Thanks to Neighborhood Theater, Visulite, Snug Harbor, Evening Muse, The Milestone, Alley Cat, Buckhead Saloon, and the few others who support local music and try to bring in quality independent music without having a COLLEGE RADIO STATION at their disposal to help them. SO, 2 THINGS: FOOTBALL TEAM & COLLEGE RADIO STATION. Let me know if I can be of service helping bring either to Charlotte. Thanks, Michael mskooiman@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Boone and Chapel Hill are NC's perfect college towns.

Anonymous said...

I forgot about college radio! That is a very good point!

Anonymous said...

Is the Charlotte Observer also located on "Tyron" Street?

Anonymous said...

Madison, Wisconsin is great... if only it weren't in Wisconsin.

Anonymous said...

Guy above says Boone and UNC-CH are "perfect". How is Boone perfect, no big teams, bands, shows, or anything visit. Awesome they can win a Div. 2 title....big whoop. They are like 3-32 in their games against Div. 1 teams.Try UNC-CH, ECU, and Wake. Not to mention Boone is freezing with a bunch of armpit hair tree huggin granola girls. Have you visited UNCW and ECU? 4 girls to every guy? Would you rather enjoy an early spring in Feb. or sit for two more months of snow?
Don't say you've visited or you would know better, not even a comparison. Last time i went to Boone they had some bar on campus where bands played, no beer and its on campus? What? Cadillacs I believe, yay fun....Not!

Anonymous said...

Somebody should flush that puppy.

Zachary said...

It will take a lot more than a football team and some wooded areas to elevate UNCC to the same level as Carolina or Duke. As someone who has attended both (Carolina for undergrad and UNCC for some graduate classes), there is a vast difference between the two universities. One example, at UNCC I had to go to one building to request a transcript and a totally different building to pay for the transcript; then I had to wait three to five days for them to process the transcript and then mail it. At UNC you can request, pay, and pick up a transcript in less than ten minutes and in the same place.

Anonymous said...

Hey poolman, don't assume that Duke and UNC folks have anything against UNCC. We don't. My sister went to Charlotte and I have nothing but positive things to say about the school. I remember when "University City" was just the name of a road. Lots of poor planning all around. A rail stop will help. Football will help. But a true college town needs to be walkable and that's tough to do in that location. Many schools do ok without a college town.

Anonymous said...

I think Chapel Hill in the '60s would be my ideal college town. It was more interesting and in ways more cosmopolitan than now.

I've not ever been to Madison, but what I hear otherwise agrees with it's fans who've posted here.

I'm planning to retire in Davidson, which is trying to stay like a college town while growing and changing. Whatever happens, the advantages of having the college in town will still be there, even as the character of the town changes. It's probably too late to apply lessons learned there to the University area.

Asheville is artsy-crafty enough to have some college-town feel, and it does have UNCA and some smaller schools.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is too late for University City. Like previous posters have said, add some sidewalks and bike lanes! The first step is laying down the proper infrastructure, then more quality development will occur. Curbs, sidewalks, bike lanes, street lights, curbs, sidewalks, bike lanes, street lights, curbs, sidewalks, bike lanes, street lights - it isn't that hard to grasp!

Anonymous said...

As a recent graduate from UNCC, I totaly agree with this article. Its bad enough all the clubs downtown suck becuase of bad music, but when you decide to stay in the U area there is nothing to do! Im not saying through a bunch clubs around but please a little more culture? I also think if UNCC was where CPCC is then we might of had something....The simple fact is they put UNCC too far from the rest of the city. I can't believe we have such a large group of college age people but you never see them? This is just not a city for young people...but I just can't figure out why? And who said Columbia in New york wasnt a college town? it's new york!? I think you may be missing the point. Charlotte is not Atlanta or New York ie bigger cities were there is lots to do for young people of all backgrounds. I just hope that with all the growth the city is experiencing, some more diversity and culture come along with it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous

There is plenty of vacant land surrounding the campus. I would think that UNCC would grab onto the vacant land and build it up for walking distance stores etc. Charlotte is too overloaded with condominiums and apartments. How about drug stores, and small restaurants
for a change.

Being closer to uptown would be nice, but the location now, can be changed.

Anonymous said...

Diversity and culture has increased here - were you here 15 years ago? It is much better now. With all the growth it will continue to increase. And the clubs downtown don't suck. We could use more of them and more of a variety. I don't care what anyone says, there is a lot more to do here in Charlotte than in Raleigh.

By the way, they were talking about Columbia, South Carolina, not NY.

Anonymous said...

Just wait until light rail is extended to University City. Things will change for the better (especially for pedestrians)! Rome wasn't built in a day! Charlotte is growing and it keeps getting better and better.

Anonymous said...

Even less appealing than the strip malls that surround campus are the apartment complexes, which range from cheap to bland to run-down. The crime in the area surrounding the university is a real issue, and it tarnishes the university's reputation. Clean them up or close them down and move the thugs out, please.

Anonymous said...

Athens, Boulder, Chapel Hill. Those places thrive off of the university. They are the university. That's their banks. Except for the capital college towns like Madison and Austin and so forth. They have that side show of state politics. They are the state capital. But awesome college towns just the same! That's really the model for UNCC. Right now it's lost in the many side shows of Charlotte. But I think there is hope. There needs to be more connectivity with the surrounding areas. If you are standing on campus and want to go to a restaurant, you will have a hard time doing that without driving. There also needs to be more exposure to the rest of the city. Ads (cheesy, I know), a couple of satellite campuses and REAL cultural attractions could do the trick.

Anonymous said...

The best college campuses have great sports teams! Among my favorites are Ann Arbor, Charlottesville, Athens, Madison, Bloomington, Chapel Hill and Austin.

They are all located in medium size cities and have communities that rally around them. Unless UNCC gets some great sports teams, the suburbanites will stay tucked away in their own little worlds.

Besides, the area around UNCC isn't exactly the safest part of town.

Anonymous said...

FIRST, you bulldoze ALL Section 8 and public housing around the University and give the residents bus tickets out of town...one way.

Then, you build some underground bars and restaurants. Any of my Chapel Hill brethren out there remember the dank stank of Trolls? How about the "Gambler" and the lasagna at Ramshead Rathskellar?

Sadly....UNCC will remain just the same way it is. There's no history out there...just masonite-sided houses and strip malls.

AND...it should not have been built downtown like some have posted. It should have been built in Myers Park or Eastover...places that actually do have some funky restaurants and bars.

Anonymous said...

Madison WI is by far the coolest campus on the planet! I wish I had gone there. That's where I plan on sending my kids!

Anonymous said...

I think it is simple, stop building developments with giant parking lots around them so no one wants to ride or walk and build wide highways around the university. Get the light rail line through the campus and build some southend type development around it. also, fix the roads that surround the university with landscaped medians, bike lanes and wide sidewalks. create pedestrian refuges and bulbouts to slow down traffic rather than trying to get traffic out to cabarrus county as fast as possible.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if UNCC was built downtown, there might be more "funky" places there. The whole point of saying they should of built it downtown originally is that downtown would of been a lot different if they did!

Since that will never happen, they need to add sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaped medians, street lights, etc. I don't know why the school isn't pushing the city to do things like this!

Anonymous said...

Being a current UNCC student I must admit to a large disconnect between Charlotte and the campus. I'm not sure that targeting Athens, GA or Charlottesville is a good idea. Those towns are primarily focused on being just a college town. Charlotte has much more to offer than just UNCC. We need to make the campus and the students more visible to the public. The train would be a great start, or if I had my way a trolley. A trolley is unique and defining, a light rail is run of the mill. Have restaurants and activities that are unique to UNCC. Have people want to come to campus and give the students easy access to uptown. Maybe build a campus village on school property or next to the property. And get rid of that awful phallic tower in the middle of campus.

Anonymous said...

What, wait? Is this the same Observer Editorial that's so concerned with football costing money? Making University City more like a college town also cost, *gasp* money *gasp* Justification? It adds to the college experience and feel of the area, JUST LIKE FOOTBALL WOULD.

Too funny.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a 'Franklin Street' type of area with bars and local resturants that students can walk to. I propose the old portion of Mallard Creek Church Road that is now John Kirk I think. It's right near the new Greek Village and a proposed rec field will be going in there. Clean up some of the 'shady' apartments, put in some sidewalks and maybe even sell/lease some of the University property along this portion of road to a developer. It's just used for parking now. There are tons of apartments and the greek village right next to this area so there is a potential.

Another huge investment in the University would be to add FOOTBALL!!! Nothing says college like tailgating on a Saturday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

It appears some toes in Chapel Hill were stepped on when our local university (one of only 3 research universities in the state) started looking into football. I've seen nothing but one cheap shot after another in the Observer since then.

I can immediately think of at least 50 major universities that are in worse surroundings than UNCC, but Observer readers are one again subjected to the propaganda that we are all supposed to bow down and worship a school located 150 miles away.

Anonymous said...

I like the chains and big box stores around campus. I came to UNCC to get away from the lameness of something like a Chapel Hill. I think our campus is cool the way it is. I think we need to urbanize our campus more to blend in with the heart of the city.

metroniner said...

its not the fault of the University. Its the fault of sorry zoning by the city and county.

Chapel Hill comparisons are ridiculous.

Go Niners.

Anonymous said...

On downtown being different now if UNCC was located there. Downtown was pretty neat back in the day from what I've read, seen and heard. Back in the 70's "they" decided to rip the soul (character) out of the town. It's slowly coming back. I'm not sure UNCC being downtown would have made a difference. It's would've helped a litte. Of course the nice people never left.

Anonymous said...

I think U City can be saved. It's to be redefined as far as boundaries go. A trolley system of sorts would be awesome for students. That could help the connectivity. A lot of schools have a transportation system of some kind. I think a Gold Rush type deal would be good. Getting more students to live on and around campus would be great. The school is trying on that front.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has pointed out the fact that the Mallard Creek Greenway comes near campus and that they will soon be building the Toby Creek Greenway to go through campus to connect up with the Mallard Creek Greenway.

Otherwise, as a faculty member at UNCC, I add my support to a lot of the suggestions above, including:

The many good suggestions about fixing up the surrounding roads.

The need for some stores/bars/etc. that would be accessible from campus, and facing campus rather than set back behind parking lots. John Kirk Road has great potential.

The light rail line will really make a great connection between the campus and the city - good for students and the rest of the people of Charlotte.

A college radio station would be an awesome thing.

And while football could bring a lot of people to campus, it's not going to transform things year-round like the other suggestions - you would only have like 6 home games a year, not near enough to transform the area into a college-town kind of place.

Anonymous said...

Yes! John Kirk rd. has big time potential. that area could be the answer. It's near housing. Shops, bars with housing above located along that rd would be great. And the land beside the new buildings on 29. there is a ton of land going all the way to Mallard.

Anonymous said...

As a recent Chapel Hill grad, I'd like to comment on a few things said comparing UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Charlotte. My sister attends UNCC and loves it. UNCC definitely needs more support from both the City and the University system as a whole. To improve its image and distinguish itself, it should be the University of Charlotte, so there isn't wholesale out-of-stater confusion; UNC-Charlotte is not a corollary of Chapel Hill- it is and should be its own entity.
Having worked and lived around University City, I see a lot of great potential for UNCC if the State, the City, UNCC itself, and its students just commit the resources. The City of Charlotte in particular needs a kick in the pants insofar as better land use regulations around the University.
Sure, a football team would be great and a lot of fun, but I think the point that Dr. Bill Friday was making was that academic programs have to come first for UNCC to build its image. I didn't think it was approrpriate the way someone earlier in this thread referenced the "propoganda" of "worshipping" Chapel Hill by the Observer or that somehow CH feels threatened by having to compete. Dr. Friday was simply weighing in, not as a Chapel Hill alum, but as a former president of the university system that includes both CH and UNCC.
Chapel Hill is my small slice of Heaven, a great college town and I wouldn't trade my years there for the world, but UNCC has its own unique potential and should neither submit to or try to live under Chapel Hill's shadow. Build a law school, a medical school, etc. and then worry about football when you have the institutional infrastructure to back it up and make it a successful venture. It isn't a zero-sum game between the two universities. I do think greater attention is due to UNCC by the 16-campus system though, but that doesn't necessarily mean at the expense of my alma mater.
I guess my final point is this: Chapel Hill started classes in 1795. Didn't UNCC open as Charlotte College around the Truman administration; like 1949? UNCC is growing in great leaps and bounds considering its relative youth! UNCC will develop its own identity as time goes on if the institutions surrounding it, especially its students, commit to making it so.

Anonymous said...

I think a name change to the University of Charlotte would be a good thing. It would help give the university a unique identity instead of being just one of the "other UNC" campuses.

j said...

test

Anonymous said...

We need to find out how we can get the city to improve the roads around campus, especially UC Blvd.

Anonymous said...

As an alum of UNCC I have to say that the campus is an island of crap surrounded by a moat of blacktop parking lots, protected by a line of big box strip malls.

Best campuses in town? CPCC and JC Smith.

Football team? What a joke. Dubois got it bass ackwards. He should have changed the name to Univ. of Charlotte and reject football program.

Planning around University City? Good job department of Geography. Ever driven down J.W. Clay Blvd.? You probably have but I doubt you've ever walked it.

Close to an urban center? We'll need the rail line to become anything other than UNC Cabarrus.

Jason said...

UNCC is blessed in many ways, but isn't too distinctive in my mind compared to all the campuses I have toured and visited.

UNCC
PROS
- strong capital invesment shows. Buildings are relatively new and solid.
- Comparably Easy parking to other schools
- Affordable on and off campus living, too affordable?
- well planned heart of campus with some room to expand on fringe
- several strong academic departments
- critical mass of students to allow diversity in culture and majors

CONS
- too many commuters causes lack of night & weekend activities
- yet too far from students needing continuing education around Charlotte suburbs
- 49 and 29 highways in close proximity to school present pedestrian challenges
- low income housing too close to school campus to keep pristine charm
- not enough density around campus to facilitate walkability
- sterile neighborhood lacks arts and gallery district


My feeling is UNCC is missing... critical mass in several areas:
- no theme
- sports
- arts community
- campus history & tradition
- rivalry of by nearby school
- off-campus charm
- student focused shopping & nightlife
- national draw & publicity

In comparison to other schools I toured before attending college:
===================
UNC Chapel Hill
PROS
- 300 year old trees
- brick sidewalks & stone walls
- old homes nearby & historic buildings on campus
- very large research hospital
- very large sports program
- top notch students
- some nightlife on Franklin Street but not too much
- free public transportation anywhere in town
CONS
- Hills are steep in places
- Campus is out of land. Making satellite campus to expand.
- parking is near impossible
- cost of living/rent is exorbitant
- 4000 students still live in aweful highrise dorms
- research publications are priority over teaching students
- too difficult to enjoy student life. grading scale too harsh.
- Panhandlers and homeless rampant on Franklin Street

Virginia Tech
PROS:
- Solid academics. More a teaching school than a research university.
- Beautiful setting with mountain activities
- Strong sports program
- Critical Mass of students to have diversity and choices
- Not top notch school in state (UVA, Georgetown) but
CONS:
- in the middle of nowhere. Limited non-school activities
- cold mountain weather
- not enough arts community

NC State
PROs
- Solid engineering programs
- Diverse campus large enough to give choices
- Raleigh takes pride in its school
- Close enough to UNC & Duke to have exciting local rivalry
- Strong enough sports programs to stay competitive
CON
- Almost too large - too anonymous
- Some old nasty buildings & dorms
- Campus has no good plan... too many square buildings without aestetics
- Research satellite campus is far from main campus
- Train runs through campus
- Only a small neighboring arts/bar community. Some bad neighborhoods nearby.
- Stadium and Arena are disconnected several miles from campus
- Lack of identity on national level as a top notch school


DUKE
PROs
- Beautiful buildings on heart of campus
- Not too walkable, but nice mix of cars & pedestrians
- National recognition for academics and sports
- Duke Chapel & Sarah Duke gardens are a great PR machine
- Parking is not easy, but reasonable.
- Nationally known research Hospital
- Enough money to do whatever they want
- Durham embrases the Univerity as a gem, but is not a university town
- 6 miles from UNC Chapel Hill, rivalry and competition is strong

CONs
- In the middle of the absolute Ghetto in Durham... don't cross the stone wall or get mugged
- Campus is split into two campuses East vs. West - pretty miserable segregation of freshmen & upper classmen
- Proximity to downtown doesn't give much nightlife, but there is a bit more than UNCC
- People aren't the friendliest - Yanks abound

ASU
PROs
- beautiful setting in mountains
- walkable campus, except for snow
- medium sports presence
- strong arts/hippie community
- More a teaching school than a Research school
- medium size prevents getting lost in numbers, but large enough to have choices
CONs
- freezing cold all winter
- not diverse - all white population
- somewhat accessible parking
- not enough nightlife in town

ECU
PRO
- small town with some nighlife
- strong Medical school and Arts schools
- decent sports teams
- medium size allows for choices
- Rolling campus is a bit sprawled, but still walkable in most places
- some bad neighborhoods nearby
- Its the biggest entity in town, so the town embraces the school
CON
- Eastern NC is not the most scenic
- a bit redneck & party school
- reputation for being too easy to attract top notch students
- no national recognition
- not much PR happening

Davidson
PROS
- Charming old campus with classical planning, old trees, historic buildings
- Nearby town with charm
- High level of academics, nationally respected
- Great Radio station & PR in the area
CONS
- too boring of a small town
- not enough critical mass to have many choices
- just an undergrad teaching school, not grad & research
- No critical mass to draw for sports or arts

timbo said...

I recently graduated from Charlotte in 2006. ...and I have since moved on to life in the Pacific Northwest. I work in Seattle and pass the U-District on my commute to work. If you aren't familiar with Seattle, the U-District is the area that encompasses the Univ. of Washington. UW has a massive identity, and the campus sits about 6 or 7 miles north of downtown Seattle. Granted, the area is congested, but there is a great deal of identity at the university. They have all the sports, a hospital, all sorts of research. ...and national notoriety. ...and there is a vibrant college community and nightlife. Great bars in downtown Seattle, and transit access and a future light rail system connecting students with urban centers in the area.

BUT...for lack of a better term, UW is much like UNCC. It's a commuter campus.

You'd be amazed what traffic is like with UW on summer furlough. When I first went to UNC Charlotte in 2002, there were house parties everywhere in neighborhoods surrounding the university. Buffalos was a bustling place with a great College Night, but after a couple years, the bar was sold and the shine wore off the penny. ...but something happened in 2004. Mayor (kiss the rears of center city folks) pushed a lot of the low income people out of the core. Apartments and homes around UNC Charlotte were then turned into Section 8. ...and there came the crime element.

When I finally hit 21, I enjoyed going to places like Boardwalk Billys, The Grad/Tipsy's (I guess it has another name now), and other bars/pubs around town. I think if UNC Charlotte were built near or established a center similar to that of Plaza Midwood, there would be much more pride. To me, a "Plaza-Midwood" would complement UNC Charlotte. A nice urban feel, Fuel Pizza, nice bars and clubs....you can run down the road and hit the Landmark for late food.

I remember seeing ideas for a University City Future Plan. ...with sidewalks, bars, clubs, college gear stores, etc. What happened to that plan?

Anonymous said...

If this City was smaller, I would enjoy having a college town atmosphere; but since it is a large city, I think we need to capture the urbaness of it. I think the campus sits well with its surroundings but we do need a more urbaness to link the campus to University City so we do need sidewalks and bike trials but we do not need the other "college town" stuff. Our campus should be like those in other large cities.

Anonymous said...

1. A light rail line connecting the University to the rest of the city.

2. A network of pedestrian/bicycle paths connecting up the various apartment complexes, shopping centers, etc.

3. Encourage new development to be built with pedestrians and cyclists in mind, rather than motorists.

Anonymous said...

I do not think football is the answer. I think it could be a huge financial pitfall. How many people can we expect on a given Saturday when you have Clemson, UNC, State, East Carolina, South Carolina, VT, and Wake playing home games? It seems like the media and community is more focused on our pro sports teams if they are winning and the overall fan base here is lack luster for university activities especially after we moved from C-USA where almost every game generated a packed house and now to the A-10 when we only can pack the house rarely. It is like there are more UNC, Clemson, State, ECU, Wake, Duke, UGA, VT, and South Carolina fans here than 49er fans.

Changing the name of the university to the University of Charlotte will give us a better identity and become more attractive than UNCC, a branch campus of the UNC system.

Anonymous said...

Go ahead and bulldoze the entire school..Not much of a loss anyhow.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see more events on campus that include the greater community like I-Fest. It's the best International Festival I've ever been to (including ones I've attended in Raleigh and in Bloomington, IN).

I wish we had a community radio station at the college - where students and community members could volunteer.

I wish the diversity of the shops that are in Grand Promenade were closer (in walking distance) to UNCC.

I think part of the problem is the weak admin at UNCC - someone needs to lobby the state legislature. Why do we see billboards for UNC Pembroke in Charlotte? Where are the UNCC billboards? Where's the local UNCC pride? Why does the Kohls and Target in the UC area sell Duke, UNC and State merch, but not 49ers gear? I think the University is as much to blame as the city of Charlotte.

UNCC Alum said...

As a Charlotte Alum and a former member of the University staff, I've seen the University area change dramatically since I first stepped foot on campus in 2000. The whole vibe of UNCC was different then. I would even go so far as to say it had more of a "college-town" feel then, than it does now. When I was a freshman on campus there were house parties every weekend night, there was something to do every night if you knew the right people, the apartments surrounding the campus were safe to go to at night without the worry of getting robbed and the traffic was not a problem. Over the years the whole vibe of the area changed. With the advent of section 8 housing right across the street from the school (that was the biggest downfall of the area...putting section 8 so close to an academic institution is a terrible idea!), the enormous growth of both the University area and the University itself in such a short time brought all kinds of headaches with it. It's really sad when a city pushes the poor and lower class out of an area they had been settled in for years and then send them up to the next cheapest area in the city.... the University area. The Univ. area is cheap for a reason, college kids don't have a lot of money. When you mix college kids in with the criminal elements that, sadly, come with a lot of section 8 housing...the outcome is a spike in crime.

The university isn't the same as it was, and if I were an incoming freshman now I probably wouldn't have chosen Charlotte only because of the area and lack of character. There aren't any house parties any more, the bars in the Univ. area are empty every weekend and just the overall feeling of the area just isn't the same as it used to be. It's really sad....I wish the kids who are coming in now had gotten the chance to live through some of the experiences I got to live through only 8 years ago! In only 8 short years the whole area has really lost a lot of the its character.

Anonymous said...

Michael said...
Charlotte is too big of a city to be a "college town."


That statement is complete b.s. I recently returned from a business trip to Minneapolis-St. Paul and was blown away by the number of colleges and the large student population within the city and its surrounding area. The U of M, which is the 3rd or 4th largest public university in the country, is located right outside of downtown Minneapolis. The campus has a very urban feel, yet it maintains the college atmosphere. One can sense Minneapolis has a large student population there as there are some great radio stations - Radio K and the 89.3 the Current. The city also attracts bands that Charlotte never sees and I’m sure it has something to do with having a large student population. Neighboring St. Paul also has several smaller, private schools and it too has a college town feel to it. If Minneapolis – St. Paul (central city pop. 600,000+, metro pop. 3,000,000+) is able to attract over 100,000 students while having a huge corporate presence (30 Fortune 1,000 companies and some of the largest private companies in the country), I’m sure Charlotte can too.

BTW, the city is about to construct its second light rail line that will connect downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul. The line will run right through U of M.

Pround 49er said...

1-anyone who says football is A) a waste of money or B) wouldn't help give the school an identity, much less a serious athletic presence on our campus and our opponents, is experiencing a serious case of denial and ignorance. We have the best golf team in the state (by far) a strong/ranked baseball team, sweep our conference in every other sport, and again have a strong basketball team that will continue to excel...

and don't say the University needs to get it's academics in line first, we are 1 of 3 research Universities in the State, 1 of 2 with an Architecture program, the only with a motorsports program, a national top 25% MPA program with increasing admissions standards, and on and on; plus we have 23,000 students and counting, so any arguments against football are ill formed and based in bias

2-the school needs to be renamed The University of Charlotte, several good and comparable schools are: U of Louisville, U of Cincinatti, U of Miami, U of Houston, U of Denver... we are THE university in Charlotte and should be appropriately named

3-the area does have room for improvement and light rail will help, as would many of the above suggestions: sidewalks, expanded public transportaion to areas such as the boardwalk across 29, campus adjacent stores/shops...

4-stop saying you aren't biased against UNCC in favor of CH unless you admit that CH's pursuit of a medical school in our city is disgraceful, that the likes of Friday no longer have any business coming to our campus in an attempt to negatively influence our faculty on the prospect of football, that the O is brainwashed by the "glory" that is UNC-CH and only print articles covering UNCC when they can degrade us and for that matter when was the last positive article of the Univeristy printed?

I could go on and on but as a proud alumnus of Charlotte I love both the University and the City and never had a problem occupying my time in the company of my friends and in and around the areas of campus. We have room to grow of course, everyone does, it just seems to me however, that the Charlotte Observer/Chapel Hill Mouthpiece is always happy to point it out....

Mitch Williams said...

Changing the name of UNC-Charlotte to the UNIVERSITY OF CHARLOTTE (but keep the college under the UNC sytem) is the ONLY thing that will turn UNCC's identity crisis around. PERIOD.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Pat McCrory's behind the name change right? I say don't waste any time and just go ahead and do it!

Anonymous said...

Charlotte, the city, has virtually no interest in Charlotte, the University, because it is too infatuated with the Big Four (defined only as “big” since they are the four NC schools in the ACC). Did you see that wet-fest when the ACC rolled into town?

We are far enough away to be a convenient cousin to visit when needed, but not close enough to enjoy every day. That’s why the Chamber and Center City folks have no interest in us but to list us in their brochures as “higher education opportunities”.

The UNC System has killed us. It quietly throws sludge on our every move. See the ridiculous visit by Spangler and Friday as proof over the football opportunity! Why grow, we like you as you are little kid?

Instead of working towards a Med School, they help UNC build an extension here.

Instead of helping us build a Law School, they do nothing but enjoy the scene as the Charlotte School of Law is recruited and funded with infrastructure by the City, to help develop a downtrodden area off Wilkinson Blvd.

Then, just when it makes sense that Charlotte get behind something, instead of realizing the depth and strength of light rail to the entire University Area, protests are produced and mounted by critical views in the media.

We are such an afterthought that in my 20-plus years here, I still have to tell people – I almost have to spell it out -- that I graduated from UNC Charlotte; you know the University located in Charlotte? Then, I tell them where in Charlotte it is.

Great debate, though. Thanks for making me vent. Until we do something extraordinary, we will be Cousin Ordinary.

Anonymous said...

The area needs higher density of students, so that it actual becomes a town. Streets with less cars and full of pedestrians. Then move the resturants and stores closer to the students, so that they can walk to them, instead of using a car. This will create an atmosphere.

aulukey said...

The first thing that needs to change is Charlotte's lack of support from the state on almost every issue in the book. Charlotte has the lowest funding per student from the state in the entire system. Literally, look up the student population and the state funding to each university and do the math.

UNC Charlotte
17032 undergraduates 21519 total
Operating budget: 161,588,211 Per student: 7509

NC State
23730 undergraduates 31330 total
Operating budget: 349,253,626 Per student: 11147

UNC Chapel Hill
17124 undergraduates 27717 total
Operating budget: 269,229,699 Per student: 9713

UNC Asheville
3613 undergraduates 3639 total
Operating budget: 33,648,196 Per student: 9246

App State
13447 undergraduates 15117 total
Operating budget: 121,866,775 Per student: 8061

East Carolina
18587 undergraduates 24351 total
Operating budget: 200,929,741 Per student: 8251

Elizabeth City State University
2620 undergraduates 2681 total
Operating budget: 31,770,080 Per student: 11850

Fayetteville State University
5399 undergraduates 6301 total
Operating budget: 53,131,616 Per student: 8432

NC&AT University
9687 undergraduates 11098 total
Operating budget: 91,017,204 Per student: 8201

North Carolina Central University
6614 undergraduates 8675 total
Operating budget: 76,599,430 Per student: 8829

NC School of Arts
727 undergraduates 845 total
Operating budget: 24,650,862 Per student: 29172
um, wtf?

UNC Greensboro
13024 undergraduates 16872 total
Operating budget: 145,859,443 Per student: 8645

UNC Pembroke
5158 undergraduates 5827 total
Operating budget: 53,241,514 Per student: 9137

The list goes on and doesn't get any better. This proves that UNC Charlotte is underfunded by at very least $500 per student. That goes a long way when you consider how much money that really is. That's about $11mil a year the college isn't getting from the state. You know how much can be done with that money? A denser street network could be built in and around campus, more buildings could be built, etc.

The next issue that must be addressed is city planning. Charlotte is a joke when it comes to planning in the UCity area. Before the University City Partners formed, the city approved anything a developer threw at them. That's why nothing in University is within walking distance of pretty much anything else. The closest thing we have to a pedestrian commmunity is the area directly around the lake off JW Clay. The problem with this area is that it is completely cut off from the world around it by vast parking lots and 4-8 lane roads. Nothing screams pedestrian safety like crossing WT Harris by foot.

One way to solve this problem is to realize the possibilities this area has. There is still a lot of undeveloped land directly next to campus. One example is where the proposed athletic fields at the end John Kirk Rd where it hits Mallard Creek Ch Rd. That area is prime for something much more appropriate such as a strip like those on Franklin St in Chapel Hill or on King St in Boone. If we get some more pedestrian friendly style development going up in the University Area, we will see a lot of improvement in campus life in general. Yes, having a football team will help create more buzz around campus on weekends... six-seven home games a year. But still, we need something next to campus to sustain that life for the 30 weeks of the year we don't have football to bring us together.

With the development of the Charlotte Research Institute along N Tryon, we are going to see redevelopment along this area which will also help bring down speeds along N Tryon which, in turn, will create a much more pedestrian friendly environment.

Yea, we all love to drive our cars to concord mills and uptown, but in just a few short years, there will be the Light Rail to ride all through town. We need to realize how much we're detracting from the university by driving everywhere. By supporting this type of suburban lifestyle, we are going to continue to tell developers that it's ok to build suburban shopping strips with huge parking lots and four lane roads without bicycle or pedestrian orientation in mind.

Plain and simple, there needs to be some kind of organized group on campus that focuses on life around the campus both on and off the property. There needs to be a group of people that can work with the Planning and Zoning boards as well as the University City Partners to maintain that this sprawling growth does not continue along this same trend.

These developers are killing our university's appeal, and we're supporting it? Something needs to change. We have to look at this from a development perspective, adding a football team won't fix this issue (although I 100% am for getting one.) It will help bring the student body together, but it will not improve the area to the point that people will stay around campus when there aren't games. That's the issue at hand.

These are a couple amazing threads that explain the area's needs (and one on football too.)
49er Football Thread

UNCC Master Plan

IKEA planning

University City Planning Thread

I'd really like everybody to take a look at those and throw some imput in as well. University City is in need of an overhaul and that can't take place without people first planning it out the correct way.

Vanessa said...

I still don't know if anyone should step in to fix it. It happens how it happens, usually there is a reason, even if not planned.

Check out:UNCC Apartments

You can see how it is laid out, not too bad.

Luke said...

Vanessa, if by it's not laid out that bad, you mean the website, then yes.

If, however, you mean UCity, I wholeheartedly disagree. UCity is one of the worst laid out areas of Charlotte period. It is commuter highways built to sustain traffic into Cabarrus County. The only cross "town" (uc) roads we have are mega-highways Harris Blvd, Tryon, and UCB. Then we have MCCRd which is now just as bad.

I still can't believe that nothing has been done to improve this corridor. I hope the plans of University City Partners comes true. Belgate (aka the IKEA development) is only going to add more traffic to the area and push development further from the campus. I wish they would just put together a system of roads around the campus that can support pedestrian activity.

Oh yea, and move Section 8 housing away from any and all higher education institutions. That should be a no brainer, I can't believe the city made that mistake to begin with.