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Friday, March 4, 2016

    Zoning and Density. More or less?                               
    Our Zoning requirements may be rewritten and given that can we see a tug between the Professional Planners aboard and the City Council.One wants less density, the other more.

    Digging in our archives, I found this written May 14,2008
     in The Charlotte Observer.Looks like a good place to start.                                          Behind the Scenes by Scott Dodd
"Republished with permission from The Charlotte Observer.
Copyright owned by The Charlotte Observer. 

Published May 14, 2008

Zoning has its very own language

If you've ever been involved in a fight over a new development in Charlotte or come across a City Council meeting on the government channel, you've probably heard something like this:
"Petition No. 2001-30 for a change in zoning from R-3 and R-5 to CC, MX-1 and BP."
Roughly translated, that means a developer wants to build a shopping center, homes, apartments and a business park on a spot currently zoned for homes.
So why don't they just say that? Because NASA can launch a space shuttle using fewer abbreviations and acronyms than you hear at your average zoning meeting.
Planners and developers have developed their own language, just like people in most industries do. The difference is, from time to time regular folks have to try to figure out what's going on, especially if someone wants to build an R-43MF or a BP (that's a large apartment complex and a business park, respectively) next door.
In the hopes of helping you decipher what those people on the government channel are talking about, here's a partial glossary of planning terms that I've picked up during my stint covering growth and development in Charlotte.
CWAC: Pronounced "sea whack," this is Charlotte's "city within a city" program, which deals with economic development and quality-of-life issues in older urban neighborhoods and business districts. If you live inside the Route 4 loop, you're part of the CWAC.
ETJ: Extraterritorial jurisdiction, which sounds like something you'd hear on "Law & Order." Basically, it's an area outside a city's borders in which the city can control land use, in anticipation of future annexation. It's designed so that a developer can't buy land right outside of a city's borders to avoid city zoning rules.
MX-2, UR-4, MUDD-O, and a bunch of other confusing letter/number combinations: These are some of the more colorfully named zoning categories. Zoning ranges from R-3 (the lowest residential category), meaning you can build three homes per acre there, to UMUD (uptown mixed-use district), which allows 60-story office towers. In between, you've got everything from R-22MF (22 apartments per acre) to I-1 (industrial) to CC (commercial shopping center). These are the categories in Charlotte, by the way. They vary in other places.
PED: This is a special zoning category known as a pedestrian-overlay district, designed to preserve walkable neighborhoods such as Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood. It requires developers to build stores closer together and closer to the sidewalk, making them more inviting to people on foot. Right now the "ped" is only a concept - it hasn't been applied anywhere yet.
MUMPO: Pronounced like it's spelled, this is the Mecklenburg-Union Municipal Planning Organization, an appointed board that makes recommendations to the state about transportation needs, including where new roads should go. Other regions have their own MPOs.
2010 plan: Shorthand for the Center City 2010 plan, which envisions how uptown Charlotte should develop over the next decade. There are a number of other plans identified by dates, including the 2015 transportation plan.
GDPs: Charlotte's general development policies give planners and developers an idea where things should be built.
ZBA: Say your business is in a commercial zoning district that calls for you to have 100 parking spaces. But you don't think that's necessary. You can appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment and ask for a variance on that or a number of other requirements.

They use jargon, too, so good luck.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Photo:Brian Flicker. "After the storm". 

One of my teachers says, “If you want to know where you are going, look back at where you have been.”
In our archives there are newspaper articles back to the early 2000’s.I used to call the Charlotte Observer once a week and ask for permission to reprint several news stories. Stories about real estate and zoning and development. You know, the growth of Charlotte, the stretching of the country side in Union County. And I have to say, the writers were writing, the city was growing, the developers were doing just about whatever they wanted in their usual manner… capes, smoke and mirrors…and it seems nothing stopped the inevitable and nothing will stop what is going on now. I keep finding the stories and want to post them. Kind of like saying, it doesn’t stop. We go along. The cycle repeats and maybe we don’t see it because we, too, move on.
So I have to decide if I hold up the mirror and why. I love what I do. I feast on knowing where we are and where we might be going. What I want is to bring a different view without being negative or snarky.
Or blame or finger shaking. So know that I know and tell me what you want.
I am trying to figure out a way to post some of the actual paper news stories in our archives. Many I pulled off line and have them ready to go. I read and read and become intrigued all over again as I envision the large swaths of land being   prepped for building. This is this time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

CondoCanDo's® Archives!
 Here is a screen shot of where we are working tonight! 

What am I doing? One of our web projects is trimming® for better viewing on phones and pads.
So we reduced the size, everything is in a very small book, called "The Book of Condos". And you can GET the info one of three ways depending on how much you want to
know and how fast.
There is "Hot Spots" and that gives you the bullet in 30 words or less. If you want MORE, click and you will go to the long version of each sublect, this is to the heart of CC's website. Then if you want hear the information, like loans, new construction, important notes for  condo buyers and sellers while you are walking the halls, click on PODCAST and there I am, broadcasting the best condo info going.
I snapped a picture of the monitor because I have a due date this evening and am wearing down. So enjoy this. We are digging deep and will have a better schedule for you soon. We just keep finding such interesting information in the condo library.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Close In Primer of Historic Dilworth  

Our real estate columnist offers her run-down of key in-town neighborhoods,including new and coming attractionsBy Karen R. MartinReprinted by permission from the January 2003 issue of Charlotte magazine. for  our website

• Profile: Charlotte’s first suburb, Dilworth sprang up in the 1890s as the new electric streetcar stretched away from the center city. About seventy-five years later, homeowners departed the neighborhood, seeking newer construction and greater acreage in Charlotte’s expanding suburbs. The pendulum swung back in the late 1980s when buyers became interested in living close in. They brought their architects and contractors, and have renovated the houses into gracious homes and office spaces—and prices reflect the renaissance. • Style of home: Typically turn-of-the-century bungalow-style houses, each different from the next, and most expanded with historically appropriate additions, because Dilworth is one of Charlotte’s historic districts. • Shopping: Several shopping centers are along East Boulevard, with shops boasting everything from high-end consignment clothing to ski accessories to natural remedies to fine women’s lingerie. • Other highlights: Latta Park is a popular gathering place, thanks to its stately trees and kid-friendly playground. At the far east end of East Boulevard, Freedom Park is a destination for those who engage in soccer, tennis, in-line skating, and, on a small scale, fishing. • New or coming additions: The most visible is the brand new Latta Pavilion office/restaurant/condo project at the corner of Kenilworth Avenue and East Boulevard. People began taking residence late last year, in condos that range from $160,000 to $400,000. • Defining characteristic: Aside from the wonderful sidewalk system that encourages everyone to walk to stores and restaurants, Dilworth is known for its astounding home values. A home bought for $200,000 in 1994 now may be appraised for nearly twice that amount.

The Art of Real Estate: Listening and Experience

This is my view.

There must be as many perceptions as there are agents and brokers, licensees who made it and those who missed and tried again. It is not for everyone and given the clamor in the world, one might think that real estate as a moving piece, a puzzle, an end goal for either home or money or both is a string in our DNA and maybe it is. Because like the art itself, everything, every piece is subject to shift and change and disappear altogether. Yes, it is a people business and like a clock or a watch or a metronome or an hour glass the keepers and tellers of time are all different. Except the time they tell a different tale to the artist or the model, the paint or the brush, the canvas or the clay.
Like Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy in The Land of Oz or Kansas, Pinocchio  and Gepetto, each transaction is different even if they all or some seem alike, there will be pieces, even a minute, a second that are different. Each is unique.
The story starts with a person and a want or need. I am a broker in residential real estate. I am a broker in residential real estate and I work with people looking/needing/wanting to buy or sell residential property. The clock, of course, has started long before this joining of people, the one who should know the steps and the person who wants to travel that path. I like to think there is a ‘getting to know you’ part. I want to know “why”, what is important? Is it time or money? Why? And I listen. And listen more. And each time I learn more than what they are telling me. This person, this family who is entrusting me to be their captain. And I am knowing that they in fact are. My job is to guide, to listen, to observe, to make sure we move together and check, recheck every step. My job is to look for problems in every step we take or might take or have taken.
So we start with two or three people and then each layer, more come. I think of  the ensemble: the mortgage broker, the appraiser, the underwriter, the sellers of homes we might see, the other agents directly or indirectly, the inspectors, the surveyors, the repair people, the painters, the lawyers and para-legals, the showing service, our MLS staffers, the printers, the sign people, and more. And each has process. Each has documentation, sign and seal, read and absorb, act and wait, wait and listen, all step together. One. That this world moves and can move well or fall apart slowly or quickly depends largely on the broker. The broker has to know where the glitch might be and then know how to catch it or fix it, to attend a problem and with professionalism. It is not a gotcha’ moment.

What it is I believe is the moment we see that the whole story is about power and control on every level. And I believe that is where the experience begins for the broker. When to listen, how that feels, when to listen, and slowly move through the process mending and smoothing and yes, sometimes very quickly, to catch a falling plate. It is the experience that comes, the doing and undoing, the feeling, the catch as you walk across a floor, smell a familiar smell, see the angle of a crack. We are not experts in other fields but we are experienced in our world, with our paints or mallet or pen as the artist, the broker.

Lynnsy Logue, The Real Estate Lady ®

Monday, February 29, 2016

Chuck Graham.And then we do the numbers…

I have a friend who has a bird’s eye view of our market.
More importantly he speaks in numbers, has a working relationship with statistics and he assembles data with the deft strokes of an accomplished and applauded artist. He is the architect of  happening, past, present and future. His name is Chuck Graham.

About Chuck: As the principal of Newton Graham Consultants, Chuck directs all integrated marketing communication, feasibility and marketing assignments, as well as general management consulting in the areas of strategy development, organizational structuring, control systems and financial management.

Chuck Graham
I am fortunate enough to have permission to share on my websites, his quarterly reports. I have snipped the latest from the fourth quarter of 2015 pertaining to condominiums and town homes.
So I lifted portions  to give you a glimpse. Chuck is a regular contributor to


Charlotte’s total condominium (existing and new) closings reached 2,282; 90% over the trough, but only 48% of the previous peak.  Median total prices reached $170,000; 13% over the trough, but only 97% of the previous peak.
Charlotte’s existing condominium closings reached 2,199; 152% over the trough, but only 79% of the previous peak.  Median existing prices reached $168,000; up 20% over the trough and 17% over the previous peak.
Charlotte’s new condominium closings reached 83; still reaching for the trough and only 4% of the previous peak.  New median prices reached $312,000; 73% greater than the trough but only 18% greater than the previous peak.
There were no condominium permits!
Charlotte’s total townhouse (existing and new) closings totaled 2,684; 107% greater than the trough and 59% of the previous peak.  Median prices reached $147,500; 3% greater than the trough, and 95% of the previous peak.
Charlotte’s existing townhouse closings reached 2,109; 245% better than the trough, and 21% better than the previous peak.  Median prices reached $137,000; 16% better than the trough and 6% better than the previous peak.
Charlotte’s new townhouse closings only reached 575, still reaching for the trough and only 20% of the previous peak.  Median prices reached $179,500; up 13% over the trough and 99% of the previous peak.
Townhouse permits reached 1,100; 73% better than the trough but only 21% of the previous peak.