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Steele Creek Neighborhoods Maintain Quality, Study Shows

  (November 7, 2010) In September, the Charlotte Department of Neighborhood and Business Services released results from the 2010 version of the Neighborhood Quality of Life Study that the University of North Carolina at Charlotte conducts every two years.

The study evaluates social, crime, physical, and economic conditions in Charlotte's neighborhoods and is used by local government to evaluate neighborhood conditions and make changes to improve neighborhood vitality.

The Neighborhood Quality of Life Study divides the city and its future annexation areas into 173 Neighborhood Statistical Areas (NSAs).  The study examines 20 neighborhood variables in each NSA, mostly collected from local databases maintained by the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.  The research converts the individual statistical values into three NSA neighborhood-ranking categories of stable, transitioning, or challenged.

As the map to the right shows, all NSAs in Steele Creek are classified as either stable or transitioning. No NSAs have changed in classification since the 2006 study, but four (100. 103, 105, and 199) have trended up. See more results on the city's Charlotte Neighborhood Quality of Life web page.

The study excludes non-residential areas, such as the Westinghouse Boulevard corridor. One boundary change was made since the last study in 2008. The Ayrsley area was transferred from the Non-Residential Area to NSA 101 for this year's study.

As the maps below show, three NSAs have a medium level of need in the Social Dimension. Factors affecting these ratings most likely are: NSA 102 - Percent of births to adolescents and Youth Opportunity Index; NSA 107 - Percent of persons over the age of 64; and NSA 199 - Dropout rate and percent of births to adolescents. The Youth Opportunity Index attempts to measure potential opportunities for youth to get involved in extra-curricular activities within the NSA. The index for NSA 102 is arbitrarily low because it is almost 100% residential and contains no churches, schools, recreation centers, or libraries.

All NSAs show a low level of need in the Crime Dimension. Variables for almost all NSAs were well below the rates for the city as a whole. This may come as a surprise to people who have the false perception that Steele Creek has high crime.

The study shows that much of Steele Creek has medium need in the Physical Dimension. One factor used in this dimension is projected infrastructure improvement cost, which estimates the cost of providing sidewalks, curbs, and minor drainage improvements where they are lacking. Many parts of Steele Creek rate low in this dimension because may neighborhoods were built before current subdivision standards were in place or they contain area that is still largely rural. Other factors include percent of persons with access to public transportation, percent of persons with access to basic retail, and pedestrian friendliness, all of which would tend to be lacking in rural areas of Steele Creek.

Much of Steele Creek falls in the medium need category in the economic dimension. This is primarily due to rates of percent change in income and percent change in housing value that are below the city rate. Dr. Owen Furuseth of UNCC, who directed the study, said in a recent community workshop that many Charlotte neighborhoods took a big hit from 2008 to 2010 due to the national economic situation, which has caused housing values to go down and unemployment to go up.

The maps below show the categories in the four dimensions for Steele Creek NSAs. For more details, click on the 2010 Quality of Life link on the city's Charlotte Neighborhood Quality of Life web page.
Steele Creek

What the study report fails to note is the one big change that has been occurring in Steele Creek: the population is booming. The 2000 study showed a total population of about 20,900 in Steele Creek. The population reported in the 2010 study is about 48,061, an increase of about 130% in ten years. Even though growth has recently ground to a crawl, the latest study showed 2008-2010 with the highest increase (6504) of any two year period.

The table below shows population reported for the six NSAs entirely within Steele Creek and uses one half of the reported population for the three NSAs partly within Steele Creek.

Population Counts for NSAs in  Steele Creek
 NSA Study Years
2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010

Percent Change 2000-2010

 100 (50%) 968 753 881 1497 1465 1508 56
 101 2484 2982 3743 5125 5355 7126 187
 102 3233 4122 4536 4537 4442 4571 41
 103 1892 3001 3492 4136 4515 4847 156
 104 2278 4052 5337 6753 7247 8219 261
 105 2122 1897 1972 2176 3120 3502 65
 106 2694 3114 5359 6854 8192 10550 292
 107 (50%) 2036 1546 1639 1602 2313 2602 28
 199 (50%) 3173 3224 4099 4867 4907 5136 62
20880 24691 31058 37547 41557 48061 130
  Decreases reported in NSAs 100 and 107 earlier in the decade likely resulted from removal of housing due to airport expansion and noise abatement buyouts. Significant growth has occurred recently in the Berewick and Stowe Creek developments, which are in the southern end of NSA 107 and likely account for almost all the growth in that NSA.

However, the total population of Steele Creek from the 2000 Census was 25,282, so these counts likely are low, and the population of Steele Creek likely is closer to 58,000. 2010 Census results for small geographic areas will be available in early 2011.

The study assigns names to each NSA. Most of the names for NSAs in Steele Creek do not accurately represent the complete NSA areas.

  NSA Number   NSA Name
  100   Eagle lake
  101   Olde Whitehall
  102   Griers Fork
  103   Brown Road
  104   Yorkshire
  105   Pleasant Hill Road
  106   Steele Creek
  107   Dixie / Berryhill
  199   Yorkmount

Five of these (Eagle Lake, Olde Whitehall, Griers Fork, Yorkshire, and Pleasant Hill Road) are named after smaller neighborhoods within them. Only Yorkshire takes up more than a small portion of its NSA. It appears that these names were selected because someone within each of the neighborhoods had signed up for the Planning Department's Neighborhood Contact List. Most should have different, more representative names. NSA 103 is named Brown Road, but it contains no road named Brown Road, and the origin of that name is a mystery. NSA 106 is named Steele Creek, but certainly is a small part of the larger Steele Creek community.

Dr. Furuseth said that they will be evaluating the boundaries and names of NSAs before the next study in 2012. There will be community meetings about possible changes.

To comment on this story, please visit the Steele Creek Residents Association Message Board.

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