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flaneur

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About flaneur

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  1. Three points: 1. West Coast--I so hope RIC gets a direct flight to LA or SF. I lived in LA for 7 years and encountered a surprising number of Richmonders. I think we could meet demand to fill two flights a day. 2. Southwest--What's happening with Southwest? I had such high hopes. I live in Atlanta and used Southwest several times last year, but now I'm all in on Delta as the flight times changed this year for Southwest and they're a lot less desirable (e.g., mid-afternoon from Atlanta vs. end of business day). I may be wrong, but based on my trying to fly Southwest from Atlanta, it feels as if they have fewer flights and less optimal times, but maybe that's just the Atlanta routes. Anyone know anything about that? 3. Hindsight 20/20--I so wish RVA leaders had actively pursued the Piedmont Airlines hub circa 1970's that ultimately went to Charlotte. Sigh. But great to see RVA finally thriving and focusing on the present and the potential rather than wallowing in the past. I know, I'm a hypocrite with this comment:)
  2. Also here's a relevant article I just received in ULI following their recommendations for funding and maintaining Detroit's parks: https://urbanland.uli.org/capital-markets/finding-a-funding-solution-to-maintain-detroits-parks/?utm_source=realmagnet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=HQ%20Urban%20Land%205/6/19%20ENL
  3. I honestly don't think it looks that bad from the photos in contrast to the written description in the earlier post. I wonder if the issue may be tied to the types of plantings used in the park, i.e., are they higher maintenance ? So many great public parks now such as the High Line in New York and Railroad Park in Birmingham feature landscaping that appears wilder, more natural, and I suspect requires less maintenance, though I am not a landscape architect. I love that the medians on the interstate now have a more natural look. I think the park provides a welcome connectivity given the awful tear in the urban fabric created by the downtown expressway (oh I wish we had gone with the less destructive boulevard proposed in the '70's...hindsight). I think the bigger challenge with this park is that it tries hard to connect a part of downtown that frankly isn't really urban. Yes, it abuts some of our signature high-rises, but the Fed, Dominion, and that whole swath of Cary St. until you reach Shockoe Slip is more like a suburban, auto-oriented office park. Kanawha Plaza mitigates this dead streetscape somewhat, but it can only do so much. So make the landscaping low-maintenance and work on better adjacent street-level urban fabric in this part of downtown to activate and enliven these blocks while using the park as a connective string between downtown and the "in progress in the right direction" riverfront and canal area.
  4. Personally, it's better than what might be the worst building in that area--the awful Riverside on the James I building (home of Troutman Sanders). The bigger problem with that whole swath of downtown from Cary to the river and Tredegar to the turning basin, is that it has a completely suburban office park feel with large lots, a focus on getting cars in and out, deep setbacks from streets that lead to a weak urban wall, and more difficult pedestrian connectivity than you find when you get to denser parts of downtown such as Main, Franklin, Grace, and Broad. Anything that can improve this larger urban challenge and improve density, active streetscapes, and connectivity, such as this new building and the Williams Mullen infill (again, not an architectural stunner, but filled a key gap and added some street life), is still largely positive. And once they remove the Reynolds building, I think this will serve as a critical hub along the canal between the riverfront and the Bottom.
  5. I agree. Right now it actually looks shorter than the Federal Reserve. Perhaps when they light the corona at night it will appear to emanate higher. In general, I'm a fan of dispersed density that fills in blocks and activates streets rather than one or two really tall, singular towers, but it would be neat to see the next tower appear about a half inch taller on the skyline to give it a certain pop. I was back home visiting RVA last weekend and downtown's looking great, but we still have SO MANY surface lots to fill in. That's for another thread.
  6. flaneur

    Richmond Banks

    RVA's days as a major banking center have passed. Hopefully BB&T will maintain a strong presence, but if not, I feel very positive about the future and am frankly glad it's not Charlotte. Yes, the region likely squandered many opportunities in the 1970s and '80s that Charlotte did not, e.g., the hub for Piedmont Airlines. However, having just spent several days in Charlotte, personally I find RVA a much more dynamic and interesting city with tremendous potential. I spent time walking all of downtown (uptown) Charlotte and explored many of the historic neighborhoods and up and coming places such as NoDa., Dilworth, Plaza Midwood, South End, and yes, I had some good local food and beer, but in the end, I could not shake the feeling of overall sterility. I don't want to disparage a place; Charlotte has a lot in which it should take pride, and it offers a solid airport hub and great jobs base. I suspect it would be a nice place to raise a family. But from my view, and only mine, it didn't really feel as if it had a soul. I've visited all of the top 50 metro areas in the country and even Phoenix felt like a place with more character. So all this is to say that I while I hope RVA will work as a region to achieve its full potential, it actually has a great unique and authentic fabric that is priceless (and that we may have thanks largely to our stagnation in the latter half of the 20th century). Now we can really leverage that fabric, the river, the arts, the special grittiness, and other assets to be our own unique place--not fret over Charlotte lapping us economically, not trying to be the new Austin or Portland, or a mini-Philly, but our own vibrant place, warts and all (yes, we need to handle and address the Confederate legacy more directly).
  7. I heard from a Dominion employee that they have a tentative date of September 2019 for demolition pending permits, weather, etc.
  8. flaneur

    Retail in Richmond

    Dick's announced it will close at Stony Point: https://richmondbizsense.com/2018/08/15/sporting-goods-giant-leaving-stony-point-fashion-park/ Interesting development given Starwood's current upgrade investments and what appeared to be some positive momentum with the addition of H&M, Latitude, and some other recent tenants. I think they will struggle to find a traditional anchor tenant. Bloomingdale's would provide a strong boost and cement it as the definitive upscale center in the region, but I don't think our market can support them along with Saks and Nordstrom, plus those stores may have non-compete clauses. Traditional anchors are few and far between, and dwindling. I hope they can hang on though. I'm not a fan of malls and suburban sprawl in general, but Stony Point is so much more pleasant than the growing engine of hell that is Short Pump, and it has some real infill potential. I'd love to see Stony Point take a bold move and add residential and office in a real way to make it more of a mixed-use center. I think the townhomes and offices in the immediate area represent a missed opportunity with no real pleasant way to walk to the mall.
  9. Everything in life involves trade-offs and there are so many variables and factors involved, as well as ways to measure and interpret, success and outcomes. I agree that bigger isn't always better. In this case (and not talking about states), I find the dynamism of cities/metros fascinating. In the 1970s so many had written off both Seattle (see Boeing's downsizing and "will the last person leaving Seattle please turn out the lights?" billboards) and NYC, and today they are economic juggernauts, albeit with some serious cons to all this growth too such as displacement, housing affordability, traffic, etc. With greater RVA, I think we had some interesting moments and opportunities that could have played out very differently (and that works both ways pro and con). However, I do think that the failed merger with Henrico in 1961 is largely a net negative for the region from the perspective that we duplicate services (infrastructure, schools, utilities, etc.) and we fall farther down the food chain in terms of federal and state funding as well as legislative clout at all levels of government. Had the consolidation happened, Richmond would have a population of approximately 560,000 today and cover a geography of about 300 square miles (Charlotte is 305 square miles and Memphis 317 for comparison). That would put us at 31 or 32 in the largest US cities list by population and make us the largest city in Virginia (VA Beach has 450,000 in 244 square miles), and would not only affect funding, but also likely perceptions too from a host of sectors. I also think our not securing a hub airport likely caused many missed business opportunities, and thus jobs and a more robust economy. Of course missing out on some of the likely growth might also mean that we ended up not destroying as much of our historic architecture and we maintained an overall better quality of life. A merger may also have hindered the growth of African-American political power. Again, trade-offs. Some people are fine with RVA as is and may never want it to change. Others hope we'll hit some likely unfeasible major city level. And others want something in between. But it's all interesting nonetheless. Fun stuff. Hopefully we have a positive future as a region and grow in a way that considers the concerns of all our residents while positioning the region as a place people want to continue to live, work, and visit.
  10. I know. It's fascinating to see the dynamism of our metros and then look into the underlying factors such as the economy, politics, and so on to try to understand what accounts for growth or decline, and most importantly, why and how some regions continue to thrive for long, sustained periods.
  11. For all the urban nerds into population figures and the growth or decline of our metropolitan areas, here's an older article that has an interesting table showing populations of all the top metros in 1950 (when OMB first defined metro areas) in comparison to 2010. OMB has since changed its definition from metro to MSA (e.g., Forth Worth now listed with Dallas), but it still largely reflects our main metropolitan areas with regional economies centered around a core central city. Fascinating to see that in 1950 metro RVA at 328,000 was almost half the size of metro Atlanta, almost twice the size of metro Charlotte, Raleigh, and Austin, and on par with metro Nashville. We had a period from around 1970 to 2000 where we got bypassed, but good to see we are now back on the upswing. I think our historic lack of working together as a region (so many what ifs had the Richmond and Henrico proposed merger of 1961 passed), our failure to land the Piedmont Airlines hub (went to Charlotte), the intense racial legacies here and how we chose to handle integration (see annexation battles and massive resistance), and the deregulation of interstate banking (not our fault and NC happened to have a loophole and readiness to pick up banks from other states), among other issues, really contributed to the stagnant decades. But I think we finally have momentum and a positive future ahead. Fascinating to see how other cities fared over the last half century plus: Birmingham (same as Atlanta in 1950 and now smaller than RVA); Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh (almost unchanged since 1950 when they were top 14 metros); the significant fall of Youngstown and Wheeling from the top 50 metros list; the rise of places such as Las Vegas (less than 50,000 in the whole metro in 1950); and so on. If we can work more as a region, really acknowledge structural racism and work to tackle racially concentrated poverty, add transit options beyond the car as well as high speed rail to DC, and build on the authentic and unique architecture, art, food, drink, river, etc. elements that give the region soul and character, then I think we will see RVA make some large metropolitan growth in the decades ahead. http://www.newgeography.com/content/003821-metropolitan-dispersion-1950-2012
  12. I agree that the existing industrial architecture is an asset that hopefully developers can leverage and build from rather than demolish. Here's an interesting project underway in Atlanta that has parallels, though it's located closer to some strong residential neighborhoods. https://atlanta.curbed.com/atlanta-development/2018/1/31/16955604/pullman-yard-atlanta-vision-kirkwood-development-atomic
  13. flaneur

    Retail in Richmond

    Not picking up the fro yo topic; responding to a couple posts back re: Stony Point. I concur that a Bloomie's would be a better fit than Dillard's, but I really doubt the RVA MSA (metropolitan statistical area) can support two luxury department stores. Someone once told me Neiman's had seriously considered Stony Point, but I wonder if Saks has a non-compete clause precluding other upscale anchors in the same center. But back to my earlier post, I think Stony Pont seems to be doing well with the super high-end stores that cater more to women. That core around Saks with Tiffany, Luis Vuitton, Coach, Anthropologies, BCBG, etc., seems to do well and SP has clearly emerged as the high-end winner in the market. But it can't seem to hold on to the mid-market stores that seem to have pulled out in droves (Sketchers, PacSun, Hollister, American Eagle). I guess the mall can do fine if that upscale core stays strong and it continues to build on that line-up, but all the other vacant storefronts create an impression that's hard to counter. I hope CineBistro is doing well, and I hope that Restoration Hardware maintains its lease (they've pulled out of many prime locations recently such as Old Town Alexandria and MacArthur Center, and their departure would create a straight empty wall from Talbot's to the bridal store).
  14. flaneur

    Retail in Richmond

    Does anyone know how Stony Point is performing? I usually avoid malls and support local businesses, but so far as malls go, it's a nice one and I love that the tax dollars actually support the city, so if I can't find something in Carytown whenever I'm back in RVA, I try to visit this center. I just looked online and it appears as if the Hugo Boss and Hollister stores have both closed since when I was last there at Christmas. If that's true, this leaves some fairly significant vacancies in key areas emanating from Saks (the area near Dick's and Dillard's has always seemed to be more marginal). It would be great if Stony Point could land a J. Crew, Apple, and Crate and Barrel to tighten that strong upscale core. I really hope the mall performs well as it's so much nicer than Short Pump. Of course, I hold out hope that cycles will reverse and we'll one day see retail back in downtown.
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