Manuals and Metrics
Place Types: Regional Activity Center
Goal: Provide major employment locations and cultural destinations for residents from throughout the Charlotte region.
Regional Activity Centers are large, high-density mixed-use areas, typically along transit corridors or major roadways, that provide access to goods, services, dining, offices, entertainment, and residential for regional residents and visitors.
- Uses in Regional Activity Centers, which are frequently vertically-mixed, include office, multi-family, retail, restaurant and entertainment, personal service, and institutional.
- This Place Type is characterized by its urban form, with mid to high-rise commercial, residential, and civic/institutional buildings in a pedestrian-oriented and transit-friendly environment.
- Regional Activity Centers in Transit Station Areas are typically more intensely developed than Regional Activity Centers in other locations.
- The transportation network supports transit access and complements land uses and design to create a “park once” environment, so that even those who drive to the center are comfortable and encouraged to use other modes within the center.
- The street network is very well-connected, with small blocks and highly walkable connections along streets and between destinations.
- Easy access and multiple connections between these centers and surrounding residential neighborhoods help reduce auto trip lengths, keep some vehicles off the Arterials, and encourage using transit, walking, or bicycling to the Center.
- Arterials provide for safe and comfortable transit, pedestrian, and bicycling movement. There are frequent opportunities to cross the Arterials, and the pedestrian facilities accommodate large groups of people.
- Mobility hubs with transit stations, pick-up and drop-off areas, bike parking and share, and micro-mobility options should be provided within this Place Type to accommodate the high-level of non-vehicular traffic.
- The predominant building type is a mid- or high-rise building (over 5 stories) with commercial, institutional, multi-family or a mix of uses in the buildings. Buildings within Regional Activity Centers (outside of Uptown) that exceed 20 stories should be developed with benefits to the community.
- Buildings are designed with active ground floor uses to support a vibrant pedestrian environment.
- Buildings, especially non-residential structures, have tall ground floors and a high degree of transparency using clear glass windows and doors.
- Buildings are encouraged to step back after 3-5 stories, to provide a human scale at street level.
- Buildings over 8-10 stories, may have “point towers,” where only a smaller portion of the building mass is built to the maximum height in order to maintain views and natural light. The portion of the building that is stepped back to the tower can be used for private open space and amenities.
- Buildings orient to streets with prominent entrances connected directly to the public sidewalk system. Buildings also orient toward existing or planned on-site open spaces and abutting parks and greenways.
- Improved open space is a key feature of this Place Type.
- Regional Activity Centers include numerous improved open spaces such as plazas, patios, and courtyards that may include landscaping.
- Public open spaces such as small parks and greenways, and natural open spaces such as tree preservation areas, are also an important feature and should be included in centers.
A.Safe pedestrian connections, including midblock crossings
B.Wide sidewalks with hardscape amenity zone or landscape zone
C.Safe, accessible bike facilities (grade separated or buffered on major streets)
D.Highly amenitized public realm with transit stops and mobility hub
E.Ground floors with retail or other active uses, buildings oriented to street
F.Rooftop patios and upper story balconies
Bird’s Eye Highlights
A.Mid- to high-rise mixed-use, hospitality, office, and high-density residential development
B.“Point towers” can be used to step down the tallest buildings
C.Active ground floors and buildings oriented to the street
D.Organized/gridded street grid with 400-500’ blocks
E.Frequent pedestrian connections to and between buildings and blocks
F.On-street parking, screened, or wrapped parking lots and structures
G.Transition down in density to adjacent neighborhoods
- Buildings are primarily mid- to high-rise mixed-use, with a variety of forms and uses. They are typically over five stories.
- Buildings may be as tall as 20 stories in Uptown or when developed with benefits to the community such as public space and amenities or affordable housing.
- All buildings should have a highly transparent and active ground floor to support a vibrant pedestrian environment, where uses spill into the public realm.
- A large, comfortable public realm with many amenities is key to creating a dense, walkable, mixed-use environment that supports offices, businesses, residents, and other active uses.
- Buildings orient and front directly onto streets with prominent entrances connected directly to the public realm. Buildings may also, secondarily, orient toward shared open spaces, parks and greenways.
- A tall ground floor, stepbacks and articulation in the facade helps create a human scale and a vibrant public realm.
- Tree canopy is made up of primarily street trees and along pedestrian paths to reduce heat stress.
- Tree canopy will also be accommodated on-site with internal trees and urban open space. Newly constructed and rehabilitated streets, sidewalks, plazas, and pocket parks on public and private properties will support the growth and longevity of large stature trees.
- In on-street and off-street parking areas, design and construction criteria are such that there are sufficient trees planted to mitigate heat island effect and stormwater run-off. Greater use of innovative approaches such as pervious pavement and green infrastructure will be encouraged.
- Tree canopy cover ranges from 15-25%. 90% of all public and street planting sites will have trees.
- Transitions use site-based elements such as parking, open space, and landscape buffers to create separation from less intense Place Types.
- Building heights will be lower along edges abutting neighborhoods.
- Buildings are typically located near the back of the sidewalk on local and main streets, and on arterial streets greater separation between the building and street travel lanes is provided.
- A majority of the street frontage is occupied by buildings and urban open spaces, particularly on primary frontages.
- Buildings are located near the side and rear property lines. When abutting neighborhoods, the buildings are further from the property line and there is room for a landscaped buffer.
- Space between the sidewalk and the face of buildings contains outdoor seating or usable open space that contributes to a lively streetscape and a robust public realm.
Parking & Loading
- Parking is more limited in this Place Type than in others, especially in Uptown and Transit Station Areas.
- Parking is generally located in parking structures. Structured parking is designed to be screened or wrapped in other uses and should consider green roofs. Surface parking is very limited and is always located to the side or rear of buildings.
- The ground floor of structured parking facilities includes active uses when fronting streets.
- Loading facilities are located to the rear of buildings and screened from street view.
- Parking areas and areas adjacent to buildings and destinations include accommodations for rideshare access, micro mobility options, and designated bike and scooter parking.
Block Lengths & Street Network
- Regional Activity Centers have the densest street network, reflecting the emphasis on accessibility by all modes. Short block lengths allow for more connections and create more (and shorter) route options to and through the Regional Activity Center, thereby encouraging walking and cycling, while helping disperse vehicular traffic.
- The preferred block length is 400 feet and block lengths typically do not exceed 600 feet.
Pedestrian & Bicycle Facilities
- Local and Arterial streets have 8-foot sidewalks with amenity zones or planting strips. Planting strips are only used on connecting Local streets with lower density residential uses or on non-parked Arterials outside the core of the Regional Activity Center.
- Main streets have 10-foot sidewalks with an amenity zone.
- Sites include a robust internal pedestrian network to encourage walking between buildings, and excellent connections to adjoining sites and neighborhoods to reduce unnecessary auto trips to and within the Regional Activity Center.
- Sites always include clear and direct pedestrian and bicycle access between streets and the buildings.
- Shared use paths are provided where they are shown on the adopted Streets Map.
- Separated bike lanes are provided on Arterial streets, sharrows or bike lanes are included on Local and internal streets. The bike network is complete, well-marked, safe, and easy to use.
- Regional Activity Centers typically have a high level of non-auto mode trips due to an emphasis on transit access, a diverse mix of land uses, and a “park once” environment.
- On-site parking is accessible from Local streets or alleys, rather than directly from Arterials.
- Driveways are limited (preferably one per block) to maintain a high-quality pedestrian environment.
- Cross access is used to help limit the number of driveways and reduce short distance auto trips on the Arterial streets. Alleys take on a larger role and are frequently used as part of the internal network to improve connectivity between sites, and/or to provide for deliveries, access to parking decks, and access to loading zones.
- Driveways are designed and located to align on either side of Local Streets.
Curb Lane Management & On-Street Parking
- On-street parking is required along Local streets and Main streets and might be provided along some Arterial streets.
- The curb space has high turnover, particularly along Local Streets and Main Streets, requiring curb lane management to accommodate multiple users.
Transportation Demand Management
- There are significant opportunities for Transportation Demand Management.