Will Charlotte ever step out of Atlanta's shadow?



I live in Charlotte and for the most part, I think the city has the potential to be a cool place. But damn! Why does it seem that the Queen City is always trying to be Atlanta North?

First of all, I love Atlanta. My best friend lives down there and I spent many college spring breaks in the A, going to Club 112 and what not. But the traffic SUCKS!

Interstate 285 is a parking lot during rush hour. At least I-485 is only a parking lot at exit 60-something. But, I digress. After college, I even moved down to Georgia. It only took five months and 10 days for me to realize, that wasn't the place for me. Granted, I was in Covington, Ga. not the city of Atlanta. At that time Covington was a hick town that was still high on the fact that In The Heat Of The Night filmed there. (Gag me with a spoon.)

When I came back to Charlotte, I was happy to be out of the horrible traffic of ATL and its surrounding areas. But now a days it seems as if Charlotte is trying so hard to be Atlanta. Poorly planned street projects, a transit system that doesn't serve the entire community. And then there's this from the Charlotte Observer:

Southpark = Atlanta's Buckhead?

SouthPark leaders want area's name to have national recognition



Lessons for SouthPark from Atlanta's Buckhead

SouthPark leaders are continuing to work on a plan to increase awareness of the area nationally, and hope to have a solid direction by the end of the year.

In the meantime, the SouthPark chapter of the Chamber of Commerce has been closely examining the success of Buckhead, a prestigious community in Atlanta.

Ultimately, the chamber hopes to make SouthPark as well known as Buckhead, which includes some of Atlanta's wealthiest neighborhoods, the governor's mansion and a part-time residence for singer Elton John.

Eric Bass, chair of the SouthPark chamber, pointed to similarities between the communities. Buckhead, like SouthPark, is a destination for high-end retail shopping and upscale homes.

Bass said he also was interested to learn that Buckhead leaders help boost the community's reputation by offering a variety of service programs for needy residents. One example, Bass said, was partnering with local churches to help the homeless.

Bass said SouthPark leaders are also beginning to learn the importance of geographically defining the region. While SouthPark is loosely defined as the area surrounding SouthPark mall, even the chamber has no specific definition of the community's borders.

"In Buckhead, people want to claim they are in Buckhead, but you have to protect the name," Bass said.

For the next few months, the SouthPark chamber plans to set up meetings with other community leaders in the area. Also, they're working to establish solid contact with residential communities and government officials.

In March, the chamber kicked off a SouthPark information campaign with a computer kiosk at SouthPark mall. The kiosk, in the mall's center court, was the first of seven such displays planned for throughout the city.

The kiosks include pamphlets and a computer that takes users to the chamber's SouthPark chapter Web page.

Really, SouthPark? You can't define your own community without riding Atlanta like a rodeo show?

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