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Everything posted by mistermetaj

  1. I'm not a planner so I don't know what advocacy planning is. Where does urban planning end and advocacy begin? If you're advocacy planning, is your goal for the betterment of the whole community, or only the groups by which you view as disenfranchised and protected? How does the role of an advocacy planner change once the guidelines for a plot of land or area is set? I understand goals to remove segregation barriers like highways that split socioeconomic and racial groups, fight the effect of redlining, and build low income or affordable housing requirements into zoning guidelines. But I fail to see how any of those apply to this plot where developers made a pitch in compliance with the RFP. Yes, Bruce Thompson's plan is a disappointment. I hope it's not picked. But some of what you wrote makes me think it's less you hope IT (the proposal) is not picked and more you hope HE isn't picked. Id be careful building an us vs them viewpoint based on immutable characteristics of a group of people. Usually those groups are not nearly as monolithic as you think they are and you risk becoming (or at least sounding like) that which you are working against.
  2. In my view, planners are most effective when focusing on zoning (residential, commercial, mixed use, etc), transportation, architectural guidelines, and laying out the vision for the city. If a developer meets all the city requirements for the land they want to develop, then I don't care what an "old white man" or a "black lesbian" resident thinks. City officials were elected to take care of that and represent the people who elected them. Every development can't/won't cater to the oldest, youngest, or most diverse. Developers, by their very nature, will build what they think will generate profits. In the case of this redevelopment, the city needs to come to the table with a vision. If that vision includes city investment and a stadium or creating a landmark for Norfolk, then show Bruce Thompson the door. But if the goal is minimal city investment and quick tax gains, then he is probably the right choice. But at the end of the day, it's not about residential input, but electing leaders to represent your needs and push your vision of the city.
  3. Your accusation of anyone on here being "obsessed" with the grid is completely out of left field. You derived your conclusion of this board based off of one photoshopped image over a gigantic parking lot? I think you just read an article about an alternative to the grid and got so excited that you just had to proselytize, and decided this was your moment. You sound borderline manic, creating conflict that isn't there between your views and the board. As I said previously, you are overreaching to make a point no one is arguing against. New York is definitely having a crime problem. We were talking about it being scary crossing the street. Nice, "nay" terrible straw man. I guess you've never watched Monday Night Football or had a casual conversation with a friend if you think "come on man" was a nod to Biden. But duly noted for future use and how it might be taken. I've got no interest in expressing any politics, even tacitly, on a message board.
  4. I'm really confused how the desire for a more connected Pembroke to Town Center, with the example of an overlayed street grid, turned into an - at this point diatribe - accusation of posters being grid zealots and conformists. You hate grids, we get it. But how you're conveying your message is an overreach. No one on here would protest a street overlay that resembles the medieval European streets you are advocating for, or the planned mesh design that the article you linked proposes. What people want is walkability, connectivity, and a cohesive downtown that links Town Center and Pembroke. How you get there can take many forms. If that were to include plazas, fountains, sculptures, ponds, parks. Great. Who's arguing to the contrary? As for your New York assessment of being "scary"..come on man...
  5. It's an interesting article that you posted. Whether it's a grid as I superimposed over the site or a sort of "mesh" design as the article seems to be advocating for, the elements of walkability, connectivity, and density are still there. It's a tomAto - tomato kind of thing. My issue with the Pembroke development as it is currently isn't the lack of an orthogonal grid as it is a lack of connectivity to town center. It feels wholly separated by both a large boulevard followed by a large amount of parking. A well connected midtown of any kind will need streets, sidewalks, cross walks, etc, so going to the Pembroke Mall area is more a visit to midtown Va Beach and less a visit to a faux urban Disneyland. Regardless, I am beyond happy something is going on there with this kind of vision, I just hope the city is able to facilitate a broader more cohesive buildout over time.
  6. I like the idea of bringing a more urban atmosphere and replacing the mall, but I don't see how this is going to integrate with Town Center and complete a cohesive urban fabric. We need roads and crosswalks across VA Beach blvd to connect this area. Right now, it feels like a town center next to Town Center. The city would have to make a large investment in this gridding, but I think it's as worth while an investment as a garage.
  7. Hey all, apologies for the bump in this thread, but does anyone/could take some progress photos for block 19 and 20?
  8. The more renderings I see, the less of the details I actually like, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's filling in a massive parking lot and helping to push downtown Norfolk's urban footprint more north. This is one of the most important infill developments in the city.
  9. This can't be built fast enough. Really healing the wound of a massive parking and setting the stage for redevelopment across Brambleton in the future.
  10. My only issue is that they don't really seem to be gridding the area up and connecting it to town center. I hope they figure that part out at some point so it feels like a big connected area.
  11. Exactly why there was no point in the having the conversation and why it wasn't going to be meaningful if we had it. You've now added "elitism" to the ledger followed up by saying how it's "not about you or me". Clearly the conversation we could have had would have digressed quickly into unnecessary mud slinging, as it seems to already have. I never said it was about you or me, and was happy to reject the notions you provided, while simultaneously realizing from your post there was no benefit taking that part any further. If you want the last word on it in future posts, you are welcome to have it. I fully concede my views differ from the "folks...and City Council" as these renderings clearly show. That doesn't make any of this a good idea or require I adjust my worldview. Simply stated, i think what they are building right now is a mistake in its pseudo-urban form, function, and design. Limiting input to just the current community (if that is even what they did) when there is a goal of attracting a much broader community to the area is a mistake and limits potential now and in the future. While this is only a percentage of the land, it's still multiple blocks and, along with the surface parking, remains everything I said about it in my previous post. Clearly there is enough intent behind this design to show us the direction they have chosen, and I find it pathetic. We've waited YEARS for this redevelopment and from what I see in these renderings, it's very disappointing. Taste in architecture is personal no doubt. What you don't find offensive, I do. I expressed it just as you did. The budget didn't need to be huge to create a cohesive, brick centric, faux historical look, with small details design that invokes the history of Norfolk and create a sense of place. Even St. Paul's Apartments, which I'm sure were as low a budget at least tried to do that. Being just a step above 60s government housing is hardly a step above anything architecturally.
  12. I think we look at this plot of land from such diametrically opposed views that it's not worth talking about some of those points you made. All I'll say is I reject the concept of "their community" and "real neighborhood" or having a handful of people's opinions serving as the standard for a plot of land 1/3 the size of all of downtown. This area represents much more than that for the small community that lives there now and the much larger community this is meant to attract in the future. Per your question of density and architecture, why can't it be both? I've never been one to care much for height, but certainly believe the eradication of surface parking and having at least 4-6 story buildings goes a long way in building an urban fabric that is worth while. Detached townhouses with surface parking? GTF out of here with that kind of rendering for a downtown. It's pathetic. In terms of architecture, whatever the design team attempted to do in these renderings, they failed. It's a hodgepodge of cheap looking apartments and bland sometimes standalone townhouses. There is nothing historic looking or forward-looking. It's unoriginal, in-cohesive, and underwhelming. There are plenty of buildings in the Freemason district and Ghent to get inspiration from, of what would add to and revive this land. They have fallen terribly short.
  13. This update looks to be a consequence of too much community input and too much of the city trying to appease everyone. If this is really the route St. Paul's is going to take, at least go all the way Ghent with it with faux historic brick colonial homes and apartment buildings. Give me columns and cornices. Give me a fake Old Town Alexandria. Revive the look of 1920-1940 Norfolk. Bring back hits history. Just please don't be the architecture we see in those renderings.
  14. I like all the proposals. Greatly prefer the addition of full sized stadium, no matter which one is chosen. The Wellness proposal is perfect for St Paul's Quadrant, and it's an absolute shame it's not planned there. Besides adding an arena, which would be near the casino, ball park, lightrail, and Amtrak, it also adds a strong community component around housing and education with YELLOW. There is no area that needs that more than St Pauls and no area riper for this kind of development.
  15. I understand the sentiment and felt it for many developments in Norfolk. This one specifically though is removed from downtown, so a tall building there now would almost make it awkward. It is however, eliminating an expansive parking lot, and hopefully attracting more to the area, where they will use Amtrak (bringing more service to Norfolk) and light rail to get to downtown. It looks pleasant and walkable in the renderings. There is too much to like about it for me to be upset over a substantial hair cut. Long term, this might be the spur that generates high rise residential and mixed use developments on the other side of the ballpark, creating a brand new distinct district for Norfolk. That is ultimately what I am hoping for there.
  16. Everyone is way too focused on height. Give me a development that interacts well with the street, is walkable, connected, and adds to the urban frabric of the city. This does all these things and will spur more developments around a ball park, casino, train, and lightrail stations. This is a net positive for Norfolk. We don't need height to enjoy what this will add to the city.
  17. The intent of public housing was to be more akin to a halfway house, not a lifetime or multi-generational dwelling. The fact it has become a way of life to the point you refer to it as a community in need of protection shows the depth of the failure of public housing. To your point of gentrification (not related to public housing per se), where do you draw the line between owner rights and non-owners or "community" rights?
  18. I haven't watched the video, so I don't know what position they are taking. However, the title is "...Disrupt & Dismantle The Gentrification of Urban Communities" This is why I have little to no faith that anything of significance will happen in Norfolk. St Paul's isn't an "urban community". It isn't a thriving or working class historically black neighborhood where a bunch of yuppies are moving in to their old apartment building and causing rent to shoot up (a la West Harlem). This is public housing. If these activists and the city aren't willing to distinguish between rundown public housing and true historically black neighborhoods, then this project is as good as dead IMO.
  19. They razed the large parking garage on the site of the Wells Fargo tower. If the McArthur garage is an economic catalyst, it can be the last piece to be torn down, but it shouldn't be saved at the expense of connectivity and restoration of Norfolk's core. I always thought Norfolk needed their version of a mall (a la Washington DC) connecting the museum to the opera house. This isn't quite what I had in mind, but hopefully it's a step towards a plan to link 2 of the most architecturally significant structures in Norfolk with a beautiful public space.
  20. It might not be the only option, but it is the best options. This is a prime opportunity to reimagine Norfolk in the middle of downtown. You can't leave it non-contiguous. Like St Pauls, reestablishing the grid is the single most important thing Norfolk can do here.
  21. The city needs to do a better job of proposing an actual plan for the TG residents. That doesn't mean empty promises of employment training, jobs during construction, or moving them to other public housing sites. It means setting up residents with section 8 housing throughout the city. The argument to removing public housing is the decentralization of poverty (something Paul Riddick clearly doesn't care about). There are plenty of landlords in Norfolk or the greater Hampton Roads area who rent to section 8 and are always looking for more residents. The federal government might not be a great landlord or developer, but they pay on time and actually require the landlords to treat the residents decently and maintain their homes. There is dignity in living in a private property over public housing. Nobody who needs public assistance should be forced to live in unkept barracks. The gaslighting in this article is so harmful. Referring to an underdeveloped, literally sinking public housing project as a "historically black neighborhood" is damaging to the image of Norfolk and residents who live in TG. It's turned gentrification into an almost racist word and keeps people, both city residents outside and inside public housing, stuck in the status quo. It's anti-progressive and divisive.
  22. I still don't understand why they put a bus terminal there instead of by the Amtrak station and light rail. By all means put a stop by SPQ and in downtown, but that terminal just interrupts the flow of the area which needs a full re-establishment of the grid and better connectivity to the rest of downtown.
  23. That's a really disappointing update. Really watered it down back to a pretty generic apartment complex. Removed all uniqueness from the building. Even the color got blander. Value engineer much?
  24. The new treatment of the stairwell and additional balconies on the side street definitely help elevate this from pseudo suburban to a much more urban look. Great work by the architectural review board.
  25. Too many people ignore the fact that the majority of developments in Norfolk are really just a Hobson's choice for the city. Same applies to what is currently going up on SPQ. In reality, this is the best the city can be right now. This development, regardless of the merits of the architecture, moves the city forward by removing vacant plots downtown and adding more to the tax base. It's these small infills that will hopefully drive up demand and future property values - the two things you need for the kind of developments we all wish for.
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