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westsider28

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westsider28 last won the day on June 11 2012

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About westsider28

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  1. The Main Street Mall did NOT kill downtown. That's a common misconception. National trends of suburbanization killed downtown at that time. It would have died, MSM or not. Time and context matters. If something didn't work 40 years ago, it doesn't mean it will NEVER work. So much has changed, nationally and locally, with the resurgence of downtowns and the increased awareness of the importance of place and of local restaurants and businesses. Downtowns aren't like the suburbs where you go directly to a specific store/restaurant, or drive around looking for something. You go downtown to go downtown, knowing there's a variety of selections close together. Park once and walk around. Explore on foot. Also, Morgan Square lends itself better to being pedestrianized because it's a square, rather than just a street. The large open area is much more conducive to events and gatherings (formal and informal). But I'm not actually wedded to a permanent shutdown to cars. I'd be okay with a redesign that puts pedestrians first and drastically slows cars. And I'd be fine with temporary, weekend shutdowns.
  2. The hotel received final approval at tonight's special meeting. The developer brought several color options, and the board really liked the one where the black was changed to navy blue and the greys were generally lightened. IMO, this was the best choice and looks brighter and more cohesive than the other options. The developers hope to submit for permits in June/July with construction to begin in the Fall. There was also a useful explanation of how the approval process is intended to work. The developer is supposed to get preliminary approval for the massing, general design, etc. Then they're supposed to go forward with the development process to make sure that design works from an engineering and financing standpoint, before coming back after that with potentially any--usually minor--changes for final approval (and more detailed drawings, material samples, etc). These developers chose to do the whole approval process prior to final engineering/pricing. That's a risk, because they must comply with the approved design. So we have a situation where the applicant didn't follow the intended process. The DRB worked with what they had, considering that unorthodox choice by the developer. Hope that clarifies why there was some confusion/awkwardness with this particular review process.
  3. City Council voted 4-3 tonight to keep West Main at Morgan Square closed to vehicular traffic for the rest of the summer. The issue will be revisited in August. I think this is the right choice. I'm baffled by the objections by East Main businesses who feel like they're getting less car traffic (but also more cars parking?) and that's supposedly hurting their business. If passing cars mean that much to you, why are you downtown? I encourage you to read the previous stories on this issue if you haven't already (Petition to reopen, Redesign Morgan Square, City Manager addresses concerns). I'm definitely on the side of closed/redesigned square. Pedestrians must come first in the heart of downtown.
  4. Cladding on the Ellington is essentially complete. Retaining walls for the Howard Street townhomes have been poured. Foundations have started on the rest of the townhomes too. Here's another article about the modular units being used for the Robert Smalls apartments. Some new-ish renderings are included, too.
  5. The City has put the downtown Rail Trail extension back up for bids (due May 18). Here's the (very large) PDF file of the engineering drawings. It's impressive overall, but I still think the Henry Street crossing is potentially very dangerous, especially with a right-only lane on NB Union to EB Henry. And the block of Converse from Kennedy to Henry is a mess. I don't understand why they split it into separate bike lanes when there's a 2-way path on the east side of Converse on both ends (RT ext and MHW Greenway). I suppose it's not surprising that there are some awkward sections when it's the first-of-its-kind in the state, and was designed by committee over the course of 7 years. Hopefully it works out well in practice.
  6. I was perusing the agenda for Monday's City Council meeting and found a cool project planned along the Rail Trail near Marion Ave (see pages 92-102). The developer envisions a multi-phase development to create a mixed-use gathering place at 101 Fretwell Street. The development plan contains multiple structures, a stage, concession stand, various access points to the Rail Trail, and a new home for Little River Roasting Company. In the first phase, the developer will invest a minimum of $2.4 million. I've said it before: I think the Pine-Union corridor is poised to really take off.
  7. The DRB deferred a decision until a special meeting next week to see a different color option for the white portion (likely a light grey instead). The development team also agreed to put clerestory/transom windows on the west side like those on the east side. DRB members were initially split on colors, which led to some confusion, but they finally settled on some concrete details to guide the design team, who were concerned about undue delays. (BTW, the Cambria developer seems to be involved in this project in some fashion, as he participated in the meeting). As for the eastern sidewalk, the portion in question is mostly outside the hotel's property, so it's more of an issue between Duke Energy and the City (and USC Upstate, as it would involve their property to some extent). Fully ramping the sidewalk (eliminating the weird stairs at the George) is being looked into as the ideal solution, though it would be expensive. I hope the City realizes that it's worth it to do this right.
  8. The DRB approved these duplexes, as they were sympathetic to the challenging topography and tight site. They did encourage the developers to try to put trees wherever possible (like to the sides of the buildings).
  9. The hotel will be up for final approval at tomorrow's DRB meeting. The black center section is now "thin brick" rather than aluminum panels. You can also see the HVAC vents more accurately. Subtle changes again overall. Here's the packet (PDF). And here's the City consultant's recommendation. He recommends simplifying the overall color palate and that perhaps the brick should all be the same color. He also mentions a blank wall portion on the west side, and at least adding a design element there (if not windows). Finally, the consultant says that the eastern sidewalk needs to better transition to the sidewalk in front of the George (like moving the pole to allow a wider sidewalk). @Spartan your post about that actually inspired me to write an e-mail to the City Manager, so I'm glad to see the issue has gotten attention. I hope it is addressed.
  10. These 3-story duplexes are coming before the DRB tomorrow for final approval (packet). The City's consultant does not recommend approval due to large blank garage doors and substandard sidewalk conditions (consultant memo). Will be interesting to see what the board thinks.
  11. Roof starting to go up on Liberty Street building. Community building going up too (near Silverhill homes).
  12. There's a notice in the paper today about a rezoning for Robert Smalls Phase 2. The parcel is currently split-zoned R-6/B-4, and the developer wants to go full B-4 Heavy Commercial to support the construction of a proposed multifamily development. The Planning Commission meeting is Thurs, April 15 at 5:30 pm. Hope we learn more about the plans at that time.
  13. Reviving this thread because there's a rezoning notice in the paper for the property next to Beaumont Mill. Gibbs is requesting a change from I-1 Light Industrial to B-3 General Business to support "multifamily development and retail trade and services". The Planning Commission meeting is Thurs, April 15 at 5:30 pm. Below is a photo of the parcels from Gibbs' website. I'm surprised the front parcel is considered build-able. But generally, this rezoning seems promising. Not sure if Gibbs plans to develop the land, or if they're just rezoning to facilitate a sale to another developer (the land appears to be for-sale, according to Gibbs' website). Hopefully we'll learn more at the meeting.
  14. This is a bit off-topic, but I found this rendering of a potential rework of Heron Circle several months ago. The former Hardees is currently for-sale. Honestly, SCDOT should buy it to allow expansion/reworking of the off-ramp there, because it's by far the worst part (backing up onto Bus-85 regularly).
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