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About ChiefJoJo

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    urban renewal, sustainable development, walkable communities, and transit

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  1. Yes. I went back and looked at the thread to view the older proposal and I think they reduced the allowable building heights in the original zoning petition, so while it's still quite dense, it's a much better fit for the area IMO (6-7 stories as opposed to 10+). Two issues on the development side in play here are building materials and parking costs. Most of the recent urban apartments are stick-built on a concrete podium, which maxes out the allowable height by building code at (I think) 6 stories--1 concrete podium, often for retail, 5 floors wood framed, including Tucker St, Park & Market (N. Hills), Oberlin Court. If you want to build any higher than that, you have to go to concrete or steel throughout. Hue did all steel frame, but they were 7 stories: 1+6. Look at the price point for Hue and some of these other apartments and you are talking $1000/month for ~700 sf, and that's for a mediocre quality building, with poor sound proofing, low quality exterior materials and finishing, uninspiring architecture and such. Of course, as you build taller, builders can spread out the costs over a larger volume of product (# units), so you can economically justify a higher quality product. Then there's parking. Concrete and steel decks are very expensive (~$20k+/space), and although most modern zoning codes are now offering parking reductions for mixed use, we're still talking over a space per unit in most cases, so we're talking hundreds of deck spaces, not counting retail or office parking demand. That all adds up. My sense is there's probably a break point at which you either do stick built housing at 6 stories (probably what Crescent is doing), or you have to go up a few notches with steel/concrete and do 9+ stories to recover the higher materials costs (what Crescent may have been planning initially) to be able to make the numbers work for the marketplace. Not unlike other eras, we'll probably end up with a bunch of 6-story stick-build urban apartments that are more or less uniform in their design sprinkled throughout the region.
  2. I believe it's the revival of the Seaboard Apartment project. Urban apartments are very hot right now, as you'll note the Bolton tract rezoning at Hillsborough/Morgan, the Crescent project at Cameron Village, the Stanhope student apartments, Seaboard, and rumors of others on the drawing boards, including one in Glenwood South near 712 Tucker.
  3. The future of the Dix Property is back in the news. Dix is winding down it's operations, with the remaining patients scheduled to be transferred to other facilities. Of course, there are still over a thousand DHHS employees on site to consider. Meeker is pushing for the state to build a new building downtown that would house the DHHS employees in a more centralized location. Hmm, where have we The wildcard here is the state budget is in shambles and the GOP now controls the legislature. That means the state is going to be scrambling for cash, to include selling surplus property like Dix. Now that cuts both ways, meaning a new downtown office building is likely out of the question for now. However, this could be a historic opportunity for the city and various Dix groups to try to come up with an attractive package for the state. Not the best time to raise money for these sorts of things, but maybe with the regional market slowly recovering, there might be some opportunities to raise private money. Although the Mayor has been trying to get the Lightner Center built with city funds, raising property taxes a couple of pennies to help pay for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this would be a much easier sell to the public IMO. Raleigh already has the lowest property taxes of any major NC city. Leveraging city funds, private donations, and other mechanisms might provide the type of cash the state could not resist. I'm thinking on the order of $120M or so, which would be almost $400k/acre, and just between the assessed land value of $83M and the total value of $182M. Call the campaign "Pennies for Dix Park"
  4. CATS has been planning a commuter rail project (from Mooresville to Charlotte) there for several years. Check it out here.
  5. The Tier II Draft EIS for Raleigh to Richmond was released today. The public hearings have been scheduled along the corridor as well. Literally hundreds of pages of information, so have at it... Public Hearing Schedule Learn more about the project and provide your input at the Tier II DEIS public hearings! Dates and locations for the public hearings are listed below. “Open House” information sessions will be held from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. followed by public hearings at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Tuesday July 13, 2010 Warren County, NC Northside Elementary School 164 Elementary Avenue, Norlina, NC 27563 Thursday July 15, 2010 Brunswick and Mecklenburg Counties, VA Southside Virginia Community College Christanna Campus 109 Campus Drive, Alberta, VA 23821 Tuesday July 20, 2010 Richmond, VA Virginia DMV Cafeteria 2300 W. Broad Street, 1st floor Richmond, VA 23269 Wednesday July 21, 2010 Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights, and Petersburg, VA Union Station 103 River Street Petersburg, VA 23804 Thursday July 22, 2010 Dinwiddie County Sunnyside Elementary School 10203 Sunnyside Road McKenney, VA 23872 Monday July 26, 2010 Wake County, NC Raleigh Convention Center 500 South Salisbury Street Raleigh NC 27601 Tuesday July 27, 2010 Vance County, NC Aycock Elementary School 305 Carey Chapel Road Henderson, NC 27537 Thursday July 29, 2010 Franklin County, NC Franklinton High School Gym 6948 N. Cheatham Street, Franklinton, NC 27525
  6. If you recall, this is the tract that proposed leveling a large portion of Kidds Hill to make way for the development. Good riddance, as far as I'm concerned. Crabtree Place, on the other hand, I would like to see built as currently designed.
  7. ^ Awesome stuff. I love reading about these sorts of hidden treasures. You must be one of the foremost experts in hidden Raleigh history.
  8. Looks like the renovation is complete. Glad to see some investors stepped in and are improving the property. There are so few true historic urban residential options in the city, it would be a shame to lose another one. They are petitioning for local historic landmark status as well. Come to think of it, does anyone know exactly what local historic landmark status provides in the way of incentives or protections for historic preservation?
  9. The tolls will only pay for a portion of the facility cost... I think it may be in the neighborhood of 60% but not sure The toll revenues assumed are based on a study forecast, and are not guaranteed to materialize (Greenville) The state of NC is on the hook for completing the revenue stream to cover the gap that tolls will not finance The forecast that supports the financial plan (requires that people actually use the road) is based in part on speculative development in the county It's a bad idea to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to support a new road that exists chiefly to support poor local government land use planning that would destroy an attractive rural setting. I find it hilarious that the PPT included a slide talking about context... as if any of those pastoral scenes will somehow be respected by a new multi-lane highway. Utter nonsense. Where is the study of local land use planning and regulations, how those decisions are made and how they influence the transportation solutions? What about commuter rail to Charlotte, ramp metering, congestion pricing, or HOT lanes on I-85? Could any of those ideas be at least a part of the solution? I don't see any serious discussion of that, despite some dissatisfaction among citizens in the affected area about how the road might change the rural character in southern Gaston county. A lot of of people seem enamored by the newness of NCTA and that they are not NCDOT (which everyone likes). The approach may be improved, but at the end of the day, they are still just building out an 1980s era highway plan, which doesn't strike me as terribly innovative or new in any way. And by the way, the above rant could be applied to any number of crappy highway projects in NC.
  10. I can see the argument for opposing the funding of the building on the grounds that it isn't the right building program for the site, or that it isn't the right time for a tax increase. However, what about the sunk costs for pre-construction, that I hear total $22M? In that light, I would like to see a discussion of which city council members voted to fund the design of the building, but now oppose funding the construction. Why that hasn't been discussed in the local media, I have no idea.
  11. Maybe, but you never know what the future holds, particularly 40 years out. If you asked most transportation experts in 2008 whether 2 years hence, the federal government would fund HSR to the tune of $10.5B ($8B now + $2.5B later this year), most would have said no way. We know petroleum is limited and energy demands are increasing factor than we can keep up. We know that highways are congested, airports are overburdened and security continues to be a major threat. We can see the success that Spain has had in developing their HSR program over just the past 20 years, particularly in corridors of under 500 miles. The demand for this option is not going away, so eventually, the timing will be right for the country to invest more heavily in HSR. If the national HSR program is funded at close to $50B in the next transportation bill as has been proposed in the US House, it's not a stretch to suggest that given the $545M initial federal commitment, SESHR could be a reality before the end of the decade. So, if you imagine the possibility of trains from Charlotte to DC by say 2020, it's not a stretch to believe that after 30 years of building up the market, we might need to at least consider what alternatives exist and should be preserved for future expansion.
  12. I thought some might appreciate a recent blog posting, by Durham native and former UP poster Yonah Freemark ("yfreemark") about the challenges facing major transit development in the Triangle. Not 100% accurate, but generally a good read.
  13. NCDOT does not have the power to do this. The oft-ridiculed "Equity Formula" is written in state statutes, and therefore can only be changed with a repeal of that law by the legislature and signed by the Governor. NCDOT's new Secretary (who most agree has done a very good job in beginning to repair the agency) has even said publicly stated that that formula is unfair to the state's urban areas, so acknowledgment of the problem is the first step (of 12? ). As I understand it, they are now undertaking a process to revamp the decision-making process for the state's transportation priorities, such that it will be more data-driven and less political (knowing that politics will always play some role). I believe DOT's hope is that in presenting the data of where the actual needs are today versus where the money is being allocated, that information may be used to re-examine the case for the current viability of that 1989 law.
  14. I'm speculating here, but perhaps it is due to a combination of the east coast travel markets, speeds that could be achieved on the current SESHR lines and freight RRs competing for track space... perhaps some combination of these. Maybe the biggest practical consideration is that the stretch from Greensboro to Charlotte is the Norfolk Southern RR mainline, and they have only agreed to a max speed of 90mph on that corridor (also including the remaining NCRR line from Greensboro to Raleigh). Also considering future SESHR stops in Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte, Spartanburg, Greenville, Atlanta and Macon with 90 speed limits along the way, and you can see that the line to the west may be of more limited value to long distance east coast travel from the NEC to FL. That leaves the line from Boston-NYC-Philly-DC-Richmond-Raleigh to Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville, and points south as the primary north-south east coast corridor to FL, especially if there is any hope for achieving competitiveness with air travel (150mph+ speeds over 500-600 miles)... although one can debate the value of trying to compete with air travel up and down the east coast. Even though the line from Raleigh to Columbia is federally-designated as HSR, I doubt it's anything more than a line on the map at this point.
  15. This topics has been dormant for a while, but I thought these photos of the freeway cap in Columbus shows some of what can be done.
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