Many people probably know Charlotte, N.C., as the home of the National Football League's Carolina Panthers or as the headquarters for Bank of America. Fewer know that Queen City—founded in 1768 and named for King George III's wife—was the nation's major source of gold prior to the California gold rush. The Carolina Mint opened in 1837, and Charlotte has been a banking and finance hub ever since.
Today, the 280-square-mile city is in the middle of a land rush. “Charlotte continues to grow and evolve at an amazing pace,” says architect David Tobin, principal at Tobin+Dudley. “The renewed interest in downtown redevelopment, both commercial and residential, is countered with the development of many 'edge cities.' ” This split development strategy, says Tobin, is providing both urban and suburban business opportunities.
“Like much of the nation, Charlotte saw a slowing of the economy during the early part of the decade,” says Tony Crumbley, vice president of research for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. “Since 2005, employment growth has picked up, and 2007 is looking like [a record year], with as many as 25,000 new jobs.”
Charlotte's population of 664,342, which makes it the largest city in the Carolinas, is expected to grow by 110,000 over the next five years.
Job growth since 1997 has been 24.1 percent, twice the national average.
In May, Forbes magazine named Charlotte—where the 2006 median home price was $190,600—the least-overpriced real estate market in the nation.
Office vacancy in the central business district is 3 percent, with average asking rates of $23.09 triple net.
- Sunbelt location
- Comparatively low cost of living for high quality of life
- Solid job growth
- Managing growth
- Public education
- Roads and transportation infrastructure
About 10 percent of the city's land is still available for development.
“Ideally, Charlotte will begin to develop a reputation for innovation. Forward-thinking corporations will be required for future economic growth,” says local developer Clay Andrews. “It will take major willingness by the public and private sector to do smart planning. Innovation is not always politically popular—it takes risk and a willingness to not ... go for immediate profit.”