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Moving up: Charlotte a TOP ‘Destination City’

Dozens of metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. are dealing with an issue that has evaded Charlotte: suburban sprawl.

North Carolina’s most populous metro area is one of a handful in the nation that saw more urbanized growth from 2010 to 2016, according to an article published this week by The New York Times.

The story disputes the notion that residents are flocking back to American cities, stating that 80% of 51 metro areas with more than 1 million inhabitants have increasingly become suburban during the six-year period.

“There’s a clear pattern in which metro areas are becoming more urban: Dense metros are getting denser,” said Jed Kolko, who penned the piece. Kolko is’s chief economist as well as a senior fellow at the University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. “Meanwhile, sprawling metro areas are spreading out further. It’s another example of a polarized America, of places becoming more unlike each other: not only with respect to income inequality and politics, but also with growth patterns.”

The Queen City was the only Southern city to see its average neighborhood density increase. Seattle had the largest uptick in urban expansion.

The state’s capital of Raleigh, however, followed a pattern typical of other Southern metro areas: growing out, rather than up. Those markets also are experiencing quicker overall growth, according to the article.

For the analysis, Kolko used population estimates from the 2016 Census Bureau as well as U.S. Postal Service data on residential addresses receiving mail.

And a previous study produced by The Atlantic showed the same trend persisted in Charlotte four years ago, when population growth within the city limits exceeded the surrounding suburbs.

Also noted are the following stats:

An 8.9% increase in U-Haul arrivals to Charlotte last year puts the Queen City at No. 10 on the moving company’s list of top U.S. Destination Cities for 2016.

Charlotte inched up four spots after landing at No. 14 in the previous year.

The list signals the busiest places in the U.S. for incoming U-Haul trucks based on the total number of one-way rentals to a city during the past calendar year. It accounts for “the volume and regularity of do-it-yourself movers coming into a community” rather than departing traffic, which reflects growth.

The most recent population estimates released in March by the U.S. Census Bureau show that nearly 50,000 residents moved to metro Charlotte from July 2015 to 2016. About 2.47 million people called the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia area home as of July 1, 2016.

The metro area ranked 34th in the nation in terms of percentage gain and 12th for its numeric increase of new residents.

“Charlotte will continue to be a winning city because of our good jobs, great weather, and our commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive city,” said Mayor Jennifer Roberts in a statement.

For the report, U-Haul tracked the top drop-off locations for more than 1.7 million one-way U-Haul truck rental transactions. The do-it-yourself moving and self-storage company, based in Phoenix, has more than 21,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada.

U-Haul will continue its countdown of the top 10 U.S. Destination Cities through May 26.

Jenna Martin