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Ballantyne may be more racially diverse than you think
Plus: Where are Charlotte's least diverse neighborhoods?; Popular breakfast restaurant headed to SouthPark; Renderings of aviation museum plans; We ask CMS board members about mask-less photo
Good morning! Today is Monday, August 16, 2021. You’re reading The Charlotte Ledger, an e-newsletter with local business-y news and insights for Charlotte, N.C. You might enjoy listening to our audio version on Spotify 🎧.
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2020 CENSUS: CHANGING CHARLOTTE
Asian residents account for 20% of population in Mecklenburg’s southern tip, new census data show, fueled by growth of Indian newcomers; backyard herbs, Diwali holiday lights
Festival of India is one of the biggest international festivals on Charlotte’s annual events calendar, drawing tens of thousands to uptown. Charlotte’s Indian community continues to grow, especially in the suburban area of Ballantyne. (File photo courtesy of Samir Shukla/Saathee)
by Cristina Bolling
Charlotte’s Indian community was small and tight knit in 1999 when Samir Shukla and his brother Divakar noticed a need for a community news vessel. They typed up a 4-page flier with local news, printed off 1,000 copies and distributed it in local Indian businesses and temples.
Fast forward 22 years and they’re still cranking out monthly dispatches, but now in the form of the glossy Saathee magazine, website and e-newsletter to an Indian community that has undergone explosive growth in the last 20 years — most noticeably in the Ballantyne area of south Charlotte.
A Ledger analysis of new 2020 census data released last week shows that 20% of residents in the Ballantyne-area census tracts are Asian, and it’s clear that a large percentage hail from India. Asians make up 6.4% of the county’s total population, or nearly 72,000 residents — up from 4.6% in 2010. Census estimates last year showed that residents of Indian descent accounted for about 3/4 of Mecklenburg County’s growth in its Asian population in the last decade.
Additionally, 2020 Census figured showed that the Ballantyne area is 57% white, 10% Black and 9% Hispanic.
Of the 10 Mecklenburg census tracts with the highest concentrations of Asian residents, seven are in Ballantyne. Two are in the Mallard Creek area in northeast Charlotte, and one is in southwest Charlotte, where new development has sprung up on the site of the old Charlotte Coliseum.
For residents of Ballantyne, these numbers won’t likely come as a surprise. But they might be a bit of a revelation to people who think of Ballantyne as being not very racially diverse.
Of the 10 Mecklenburg County census tracts with the highest concentrations of Asian residents on the 2020 Census, seven were in the Ballantyne area.
‘All about the schools’: School data mirrors the trend. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district is 7.3% Asian, but Ballantyne-area public schools report Asian populations that often make up a quarter to a third of the student body.
At Ardrey Kell High School, Asian students made up 23% of the student body last year; Asian students made up 31% at Community House Middle School, 39% at Elon Park Elementary, 35% at Ballantyne Elementary and 31% at Hawk Ridge Elementary.
“The prime thing is these words: ‘It’s all about the schools,’” Shukla told The Ledger from the Saathee offices last week. “For Indian families, that’s the prime thing to look at when you’re looking at houses and property.”
What’s the draw? Many Indian families who’ve moved to Charlotte were drawn by jobs in information technology, some coming on federal work visas. A large percentage hail from southern India, which is rich in workers with computer engineering degrees, and upon moving to Charlotte they settle into neighborhoods with other Indian families.
Charlotte’s increasingly diversifying neighborhoods reflect what the 2020 Census showed nationally — that the country is becoming more diverse and more urban.
Here in Charlotte, Indian families tend to look for new home communities, Shukla said, and census maps bear that out. Tracts with new housing drew larger numbers of Asian residents.
“Friends of friends (move in), and all of a sudden you realize there’s 10 Indian (families) living on one long street,” Shukla said.
In Ballantyne-area neighborhoods like Stone Creek Ranch, Parkside and Ardrey Crest, you’ll find houses with decorative door hangings called Bandhanwar draping the front doors, signifying the bringing of good fortune to those who live in the home or visit there. Some have backyard gardens lush with herbs used in Indian cooking, which neighbors share with each other.
In some neighborhoods, houses and trees illuminate with holiday lights in October and November, as families celebrate the Hindu holidays of Navratri and Diwali.
Businesses that cater to the growing Indian community have blossomed, too. Ballantyne boasts at least five Indian restaurants, and nearby Indian grocery stores like the Patel Brothers supermarket in Pineville do steady business.
Raising the profile: Dimple Ajmera, who immigrated to the U.S. from India when she was 16, was elected to an at-large seat on Charlotte City Council in 2017. She’s the first Asian Charlottean elected to the City Council in the city’s history.
Shukla expects to see more leaders like Ajmera within the younger generations of Indian residents.
“They’re fired-up activists, … (interested in) leadership, philanthropy and support of the arts” Shukla says. “They’ve had the best of both worlds. The struggle was there for their parents to establish their roots, so their kids can really, really launch.”
Cristina Bolling is managing editor of The Ledger: firstname.lastname@example.org
Census gives view of Charlotte housing patterns by race
There are lots of fascinating tidbits of information in the census data released last week — like the revelation about the growing percentage of Asian residents in the Ballantyne area (above).
Surely, there will be more analysis in the coming weeks that will show surprising tidbits of information about Charlotte. We’ll share additional trends as we discover them and will place them in context to show how our city is growing and changing.
One of the newest pieces of information in last week’s data is race and ethnicity figures at the neighborhood level (by census tract), which is not regularly estimated at that level of granularity.
We found these numbers interesting and thought you might, too:
Greatest percentage of white residents:
92.8%, Census tract 28.00, Myers Park/Eastover
89.8%, Census tract 30.20, Carmel Country Club area
89%, Census tract 62.16, Cornelius (north of Torrence Chapel Road)
89%, Census tract 62.20, Cornelius/Huntersville (north of N.C. 73, west of Catawba Avenue)
88.5%, Census tract 27.01, Myers Park
Greatest percentage of Black residents:
84.5%, Census tract 46.00, Washington Heights/University Park/West Charlotte High
83.2%, Census tract 49.00, east of I-77 by Brookshire Freeway (Greenville neighborhood)
82%, Census tract 54.06, south of Sunset Road by Beatties Ford Road
79.1%, Census tract 51.00, west of North Graham Street (Druid Hills neighborhood)
78.6%, Census tract 48.00, west of I-77 between I-85 and Brookshire Boulevard (Oaklawn, Lincoln Heights)
Greatest percentage of Hispanic residents:
70%, Census tract 38.08, west of South Boulevard between Archdale and Arrowood
64.6%, Census tract 53.08, west of North Tryon Street between Tom Hunter Road and Orr Road (Hidden Valley)
49.1%, Census tract 59.20, west of the airport, between the Catawba River and Wallace Neel Road (Dixie-Berryhill area)
48.3%, Census tract 31.09, east of South Boulevard and north of Sharon Road West
47.6%, Census tract 38.07, between South Boulevard and South Tryon Street near Tyvola Road
Today’s supporting sponsors are Payzer …
… and T.R. Lawing Realty:
Millennial brunch hotspot Snooze to open in SouthPark
Popular breakfast and brunch chain Snooze A.M. Eatery is planning to open in SouthPark, at the corner of Sharon Road and Morrison Boulevard in the new Apex SouthPark development.
Chris Thomas of Childress Klein tells The Ledger that it could be open by early next year. The chain — with eggs, pancakes, avocado toast, mimosas and breakfast cocktails — is popular with the millennial brunch crowd. Its two other Charlotte locations, in Plaza-Midwood and South End, regularly have waits of 90 minutes or more on the weekends.
“SouthPark is ready for a better breakfast and brunch experience,” Thomas says. “I think it’s going to be the place to meet for breakfast and where you can have a bigger family brunch on Sundays. For people the age of my kids, brunch is a sport. Whether you can get in, that’s another story.”
Apex SouthPark, which features apartments, a Hyatt Centric hotel and SouthPark Church (formerly Sharon United Methodist), has been building out its retail and restaurant space. Other tenants include Steak 48, Tiff’s Treats and Just Salad, with more on the way. The hotel’s rooftop restaurant, Japanese-themed Mizu, opened last week: “If there’s a better view in the evening from anywhere, I don’t know it,” Thomas said. —TM
Plans taking off for new aviation museum at the airport
Plans are moving ahead for a new Carolinas Aviation Museum, which is expected to open in 2023 on 10 acres on the northeast corner of Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
The museum will include a new main gallery with a STEM innovation center and the renovated historic Southern Airways Hangar, which is now used for storage of the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane that landed in the Hudson River in 2009. The airport will renovate the hangar according to an agreement with the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office.
Last week, the museum announced a $1.5M gift from Honeywell for the museum project. Charlotte Douglas International Airport plans to give $5M for site development. Another $3.5M have been raised from private donations, the museum said in a statement.
Check out this stirring video (with renderings!):
We ask CMS board members: Why no masks?
Several Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members gathered last week to celebrate the 60th birthday of board member Rhonda Cheek. A reader pulled this photo off Cheek’s Facebook page showing (l-r) Margaret Marshall, Elyse Dashew and Cheek at the party, and sent it to us with a question:
If school board members voted overwhelmingly (8-1) to require all CMS students and staff to wear face masks during school, and CDC guidelines recommend that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public settings in high-transmission areas, then why aren’t school board members wearing masks while out in public? (Board member Sean Strain was also captured mask-less on social media photos of the party; he was the lone no vote on the board’s face mask policy.)
We don’t like being the mask police. But it seemed like a fair question, so we emailed the three board members pictured for their comments. Only Cheek, who is a nurse, wrote back. Here was her reply:
Thanks I am aware that it’s being shared.
I don’t have any comment other than that is a photo of 3 vaccinated people standing together.
Have a blessed day
Today is my actual birthday and it's a joy to have you reach out!
She followed up with a second email:
I should have mentioned that Margaret and Elyse were wearing masks until we took the photo. But have a blessed day
Mask mandate announcement today? A group of city and county officials and hospital representatives is scheduled to meet in private today and is expected to discuss whether to implement a mask requirement in Mecklenburg County. A news conference is scheduled for this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. On Friday evening, a group of 13 local news organizations, including The Ledger, signed a letter to the county asserting that the meeting should be open under state public meetings statutes. Mayors and the county health director can issue an order requiring masks with no vote from city and town councils.
Red Ventures in the NYT: The New York Times published a profile of Red Ventures over the weekend, which it called “perhaps the biggest digital publisher in America” that has “built a culture that blends warm enthusiasm, progressive social values and the ruthless performance metrics of the direct marketing business.” Some writers who work for the company “roll their eyes at Red Ventures’ rah-rah retreats, which feature fireworks and song” and worry that “owners have eroded the already rickety wall” between service journalism and product sales. The company, based in Indian Land, S.C., owns the brands CNET, The Points Guy and Bankrate, among others. (New York Times)
Life in the fast lane: A law that bans drivers in South Carolina from using the left-hand lane unless they are passing took effect over the weekend. Slow-moving cars in the left-hand lane on interstates have been a longtime complaint. State troopers will issue warning tickets until mid-November and then could start writing tickets that are $25 and won’t include points on driver’s licenses. (WFAE)
Breakthrough Covid: Of the 24,000 Covid cases logged in Mecklenburg County since March, the health department says it knows of only 412 diagnosed in fully vaccinated residents. (Observer)
Glitchy game: TV football watchers hoping to catch the first Panthers preseason game vs. the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday were disappointed by a glitchy broadcast that made the first half of the game impossible to watch. WSOC news director Mike Oliviera told The Observer just after the game went back on-air in Charlotte: “We don’t know where the issue started or where the problem was. We worked as quickly as we could to fix it, and we’re back on TV.” The Panthers lost to the Colts, 21-18.
Unless you are a day trader, checking your stocks daily is unhealthy. So how about weekly? How local stocks of note fared last week (through Friday’s close), and year to date:
Nucor surges to new highs on infrastructure bill vote
The stock of Charlotte-based steel-maker Nucor hit a new high, surging 21% last week as passage of an infrastructure bill in Washington looks likely — and is expected to lead to more demand for steel. The stock has more than doubled in price this year. From CNBC:
The chief executive of Nucor cheered the Senate’s approval of the bipartisan infrastructure package Tuesday, telling CNBC’s Jim Cramer the steelmaker is eager to help “rebuild this country.”
Investors also reacted Tuesday to the crucial role Nucor will play in those efforts. …
“Today was a significant day for our nation. Seeing bipartisan support in approval through the Senate is such a huge step,” Nucor CEO Leon Topalian said in an interview on “Mad Money,” adding that it’s the closest the U.S. has been to having a “meaningful infrastructure bill” in his roughly 25 years in the steel industry.
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