Raleigh-Durham or Char-lanta “Megalopolis”

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"Business-as-usual urbanization scenario for the Southeast US," from The Southern Megalopolis

Nothing irks a certain contingent of long-time Raleighites more than the geographical descriptor “Raleigh-Durham-Cary.” As with most societal ills, the blame falls squarely upon the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The complaints about the RDC designation usually go something like, Cary is a bland, tacky, suburban nightmare, and Durham is wretched hive of scum and villainy. NOTE – that was a Star Wars reference, and not an actual dig at Durham. Raleigh, for the most part, is neither of those things. Of course, denizens of Durham and Cary would argue their cities aren’t either.
However, a recent study by the Department of Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center and North Carolina State University predicts that a much larger metropolitan grouping, a “Megalopolis,” – which sounds like the villain in a Godzilla movie – will soon emerge in the region connecting Raleigh to Atlanta.
This geographical area, titled the “Piedmont,” is one of 12 southeastern U.S. eco-regions analyzed by the study. Of those, the Piedmont is predicted to see the largest absolute change in population, with an increase of 165 percent between 2009 and 2060. This growth is attributed to a number of qualities found in the area, such as the presence of large urban areas and a proximity to “natural amenities” such as the Appalachians and the Atlantic. 
The lead author on the study, incidentally, is Raleigh’s own Adam Terando, who works both as an adjunct professor for NC State and an ecologist with the U.S. Geographical Survey. Terando also serves on Raleigh’s Planning Commission, where he is a staunch advocate for environmental preservation.
That being said, it’s clear that being part of a Megalopolis called the Piedmont is far preferable to being known as “Raleigh-Durham-Cary” if only because the former doesn’t make your city seem interchangeable by hyphenating it.
There is one downside to this kind of grouping, however, and that is that the resulting moniker could be one far, far worse than Raleigh-Durham-Cary.
Richard Florida, a controversial (aren’t they all?) American urban studies theorist, also predicts the rise of a series of what he dubbed mega-regions in the southeast, and included in his analysis statistics for a present-day version of the Raleigh to Atlanta “Piedmont” megalopolis. But that’s not what he called it.

Florida dubbed the region … Char-lanta.

If there’s one city Raleigh’s elite inside-the-beltliners hate more than Durham or Cary, it is, without a doubt, the Queen City. Charlotte. North Carolina’s largest and most populous metropolis, and the site, this reporter learned recently, of the only other airport in the state outside of RDU from which it is legal to ship a corpse. Don’t ask.
The Char-lanta region is home to 22 million people and includes everything from Raleigh to Birmingham, Alabama. Florida noted that the economic output of the region was more than a trillion dollars, placing it among the world’s fifteen largest economies.
Those are some pretty impressive figures, but it doesn’t change the fact that, someday, the much reviled “Raleigh-Durham-Cary area” might be replaced with the dreadful “Char-lanta area.”
Happening Now-ish
Members of the Carolina Country Club should be on the lookout for a “tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white mustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.”

A mysterious construction project on nearby Transylvania Avenue, described on recent city permits as a “detached garage with walk-up storage,” sounds like the perfect place to store a coffin filled with native Transylvanian earth.
In other news, an antiques shop – don’t worry, this isn’t the set-up for a “Needful Things” joke – will soon open in north Raleigh, on Honeycutt Drive in the Lafayette Village shopping center. The shop, Ad Libs, is relocating from its current spot in Five Points. As nice as some of the items on the store’s website look, it feels as though the owner is missing out on a great opportunity – an antique store named Mad Libs, that sells nothing but, wait for it, old Mad Libs books. If you think about it, it’s a (adverb) (adjective) idea, and you’d have to be a (noun) to think a store stocked with (plural noun) wouldn’t take off like a (noun).
The corporate headquarters of Affordable Care Inc., a dental support organization, is located just north of Cardinal Gibbons High School off of Edwards Mill Road and was recently permitted for an affordable renovation of just $95,000. Although no details were available on the construction beyond its descriptor as an “interior alteration suite expansion,” it is likely there will be a lot of drilling involved.


James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

Speaking of corporate interior renovations, EDM America’s Raleigh office, housed in the PNC Tower downtown, also received permits last week, for a $132,681 renovation of its space there. EDM Americas offers its clients “optimized information management solutions,” and even after spending 20 minutes reading the company’s website, this reporter still isn’t entirely sure what that means. It’s something with computers, maybe.


James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The now-vacant Kroger in southeast Raleigh will soon be home to a new grocery store – albeit one that will share the space with a Roses discount store. The building was recently purchased by Variety Wholesalers, which manages a number of discount stores, some of which offer grocery items. The Raleigh location, located slightly east of Raleigh Boulevard on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, will be the first standalone grocery store operated by Variety Wholesalers.


James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

Variety Wholesalers is, of course, owned by North Carolina’s state budget director Art Pope. A controversial figure, Pope is often described by his detractors as North Carolina’s version of the Koch Brothers. Whatever his motivations, however, Pope’s decision to open a grocery store in the area will help fill the gap left when the former Kroger shut down.
Coming Eventually
This space would normally be occupied by the “Coming Soon” section, which discusses development actions taken by the Planning Commission and City Council. Because there were no Planning Commission or City Council meetings last week, there’s no need for that section to exist. Don’t worry though – August is going to see more than its share of zoning and site plan cases. Spoiler alert – there might be more multifamily units coming to the area.

2 thoughts on “Raleigh-Durham or Char-lanta “Megalopolis”

  1. This writer is an incredible douchebag who just can’t keep his cutesy personal observations to himself. I’m astounded by his assumption of self-importance.

  2. Wow, what a stupid concept. Atlanta does not want their name associated with Charlotte (actually Charlotte is becoming laughable, that city is the new slimmy Detroit) and Raleigh does not NEED any of Charlotte’s name incorporated with ours or anyone in the Triangle (Raleigh rules baby). The Traingle is an area of champion sports teams, we do not want to be associated with Charlotte sports which is pathetic or their dirty politicians (stupid and corrupt are the better word). Triangle will never want or need the low IQ NBA or an NBA team, our three MAJOR Universities can beat the awful BobCats (and the Panthers have stunk for years and will always stink (move the NFL to the Triangle – Charlotte cannot even support the two teams let alone one)).