Axios Charlotte

Picture of the Charlotte skyline with CLT written across it.

August 28, 2023

Happy Monday, and first day of school to the CMS kiddos, teachers and staff!

  • It's Alexandria.

Weather: Thunderstorms. High of 86.

🥳 Happy birthday to Axios Charlotte members Margaret Foster, Toni Johnson, Jenna Wilson, David Terrell, Cay Craig, Sheila Deese, Justin Bonaparte and Mark Perkins.

Today's Smart Brevity™ count is 995 words — a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: 🚊 Why the Blue Line never reached PNC Music Pavilion

CATS was looking to save about $92 million when it shortened the planned Blue Line route in 2010. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

If you've been to a concert recently at PNC Music Pavilion, you probably know how annoying it can be to get to the north Charlotte venue.

It leaves us wondering: Why doesn't the Blue Line light rail extend to PNC Pavilion?

  • The extension, which opened in 2018, stops a few miles short, on UNC Charlotte's campus.

Why it matters: It's harder than ever to reach PNC Pavilion as University City explodes with growth. A Dead & Company fan told our news partners at WBTV that they missed the show because they couldn't get a parking spot.

Flashback: Former CATS CEO Ron Tober told Axios the plan around 2010 was to build another park-and-ride garage on I-485 — not directly at the music venue, but close.

  • Planners were more interested in the Blue Line heading toward the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Cabarrus County than the music venue.
  • Yes, but: "They needed to cut back on expenses, and they terminated it … at the university," Tober said, "and that was a little controversial," because then UNC Charlotte became the end of the line.

If the original plan had been carried through, today there would be one stop at Mallard Creek Church and the other at I-485 and North Tryon.

Keep reading

2. By the numbers: 🍎 Back to school

Illustration of a pattern of beer school buses.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

It's back to school today for more than 142,800 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students. Here are some quick facts about this year:

  • 1,598: The increase in students from last year. CMS enrollment is the second largest in the state, behind Wake County, and the 17th largest school district in the nation.
  • 175 countries are represented in the student population. 204 native languages are spoken.
  • 22 million miles are traveled annually by CMS buses. It's the largest public transportation system in North Carolina, transporting nearly 70,000 students to and from school every year using about 13,000 bus stops.
  • Two new schools are open: Esperanza Global Academy and Grove Park Elementary.
  • Only 15.9% of Black and Hispanic third-grade students had acceptable reading scores in 2021. CMS aims to increase it to 50% by next year.
  • Less than 5% of high school students scored on par in math in October 2021. CMS' goal is to get it up to 25% in 2024.
  • 516 teacher positions were vacant as of Aug. 21, as well as 34 bus driver and 156 cafeteria worker roles.
  • $2.75 is the price of lunch in grades K-8. It's $3 for high school students. Free and reduced meal applications are here.

💭 My thought bubble: The teacher shortage isn't going away. Last year CMS started the school year with more than 300 open teacher positions. I want to hear what you think about the problem. Email me at [email protected].

3. 🗳 Pat Harrigan is running for Congress again

Pat Harrigan

Photo: Courtesy of Pat Harrigan's campaign

Republican Pat Harrigan will announce today that he's making a second run at representing Charlotte in Congress, his campaign tells Axios.

  • Harrigan, a combat veteran and firearms manufacturer, lost to U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson less than a year ago in a bid to represent North Carolina's 14th Congressional District.

Why it matters: Harrigan's announcement comes before it's clear what his district will look like and how easy — or difficult  — it could be for him to win.

  • Yes, but: The state Republican-led legislature will redraw congressional districts in the coming months and is expected to draw numerous districts that are more friendly to Republicans.

Keep reading

Fresh job openings around town

💼 Take your career to the next level and see who's hiring.

  1. Director of Engagement at Christ Episcopal Church.
  2. Office Coordinator/Receptionist at Colony Family Offices.
  3. Director of Youth Ministries at St. Stephen United Methodist Church.
  4. Director of Membership and Community Engagement at Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Access Corporation.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

4. 😎 Outdoor yoga, soul food fest and more to do this week

Camden Road in South End. Photo: Andy Weber/Axios

There are 21 things to do in Charlotte this week, as Axios' McKenzie Rankin shares in our weekday planner. A few stand-out events:

🧘‍♀️ Zen out to outdoor yoga this evening at Pearl Street Park. It's donation-based.

🎸 Rock out to Guns N' Roses tomorrow night at Spectrum Center. Tickets start around $59.

🍷 Sip on, and learn the facts behind, different wines this Wednesday at Sip City in Plaza Midwood. It's free to attend.

🖊 Learn how to bullet journal with SkillPop's class at Camp North End.

🍴 Eat well at the Soul Food Music Festival, starting Friday night at The Park Expo and Conference Center. Ticket prices range.

Full weekday planner

5. 🚨 Reversing overdoses

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Last week we reported that CMPD has seized enough fentanyl this year to kill 15 million people. We wanted to follow up with some resources on overdoses.

What's happening: As fentanyl overdoses rise, the over-the-counter overdose reversal drug naloxone, better known by the brand name Narcan, can be found at an increasing number of locations around the Charlotte area:

  • Both independent and chain pharmacies all over the region, from CVS to Pike's Pharmacy, carry Narcan. See the map of pharmacies where it's available here.
  • The Mecklenburg County Health Department offers it at its various locations.
  • Find more information on

Why it matters: Narcan is an easy-to-administer nasal spray that can save the life of someone who's overdosed on an opioid like fentanyl. Drugs like cocaine are sometimes laced with fentanyl, and even a very small amount of the opioid can be lethal.

Flashback: Last spring, when four Carolina Ale House employees overdosed on the job, paramedics administered Narcan and saved them all.

🌀 The loop (we're keeping you in it)

News you can use from our partners.

  • 🍷⚽ Wine down with Charlotte FC: During the game next Wednesday against Orlando City SC, glasses of wine will be just $6.99. Get tickets.
  • 😁 When you get a professional whitening treatment at Pearl. Dentistry Reimagined, you can kick up your feet, slip on noise-canceling headphones and watch TV. Book a treatment.

6. 🗞 Speed reads

Illustration of a pair of eyes with the pupils moving left to right.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  • Goodwill opened a new store in Belmont Friday at 6507 Wilkinson Blvd.
  • The Hebrew Cemetery in North End is interested in the old Double Oaks Elementary School land. The city is currently looking for a developer to build mixed-income housing on the 11-acre site. The cemetery's plan includes 22 townhomes for sale, open space and an expansion of the grounds. (WFAE)
  • Charlotte City Council could choose tonight a redevelopment proposal for the eastern 29 acres at the old Eastland Mall site. (Axios)

7. 🍻 Welcome to NoDa, Bulldog

Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Bulldog Taproom's sign is up for its new spot in NoDa, which opens soon.

Flashback: Owner Rob Johnson purchased the Room & Board bar/restaurant at 36th and North Davidson earlier this summer.

  • Over the last several weeks, his team has been rebranding the business. Its new name: Bulldog Taproom/Social NoDa.

Why it matters: Bulldog opened in South End eight years ago and quickly became a spot beloved for its low-key vibe. Now the popular brand is expanding into another one of Charlotte's fast-growing neighborhoods.

📺 I have been watching too much TV, and I need to get a few thoughts off my chest.

  • 🔥 "Hell's Kitchen": Can someone please tell me where I can get beef Wellington in Charlotte?
  • 💍 "The Ultimatum": Yes, I finished it in one weekend. This show might as well be an advertisement for a Charlotte brewery tour. These couples were at OMB, Wooden Robot, Hi-Wire ...
  • 👁 "Big Brother": I'm rooting for Cory, so far.

This newsletter was edited by Katie Peralta Soloff and copy edited by Lucia Maher.