asthasr

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About asthasr

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  1. asthasr

    Carolina Place Mall

    I think the Centrum is already dead. The only thing there that's worth anything is Home Depot, which is a sort of "point to point" store... you go to Home Depot when you need something, and then go back home to use the thing you needed. (There's also Patel Brothers in the outparcels, but I don't really count that as part of the shopping center.)
  2. asthasr

    Legacy Union (former Charlotte Observer redevelopment)

    BoA CC Hearst Plaza BoA Plaza Springhill Suites 300 South Tryon
  3. asthasr

    Learning from Other Places

    This is a great video about Mississauga, Ontario, that captures some of the problems of trying to densify without paying attention to the urban fabric:
  4. asthasr

    Learning from Other Places

    Oh, agreed--but it's a chicken and egg problem. You get increased density by not building single-use cubes surrounded by acres and acres of parking. As our population increases, I do expect that we'll get more high density development Uptown, but right now it's kind of an island. It will need to be more comprehensive and common throughout the urban fabric if living without a car in Charlotte is ever going to be anything more than a conceit.
  5. asthasr

    Learning from Other Places

    It's been a while since I did something like this, so I decided to take a few minutes this morning and compare "here" to "there." The other day I'd had the thought that these big box stores that pretty much make up the "retail landscape" take up a lot of room... so I thought I'd check the space requirements and see what that "buys" you elsewhere. I chose Costco, because that's where I was when I had the thought. I'm not going to count the parking area, because that's just unfair. Costco is roughly 150m by 100m. (That's 1.5 hectares.) Let's compare this to a couple of different international cities: two in Asia, one in North America, and one in Europe. First, let's look at Seoul. Seoul is an Alpha world city, characterized by a steadily redeveloping downtown and suburban outer ring characterized by Asian-style tower development. I'm not interested in the classic neighborhoods of Seoul, which do still survive, because there's simply no way that those will be built here in the US. They're not a viable alternative. Instead, let's look at what passes for "suburbia" in many large Asian cities... This is a new(-ish) "skyscraper suburb" in the Songpa district of seoul. It looks alien from above, but if we look at the street level, many of the towers actually engage the street directly. It's certainly not a beautiful neighborhood, and these buildings aren't particularly well-executed, but (as I've said before in other comparisons), if you lifted this street directly and put it into Charlotte, it'd immediately be one of Charlotte's best streets. Next, let's look at North America. A city that's considered a paragon of modern urbanism, Vancouver! I chose this because of the Brent Toderian video I linked above. It's a pretty good mid-rise development with The Home Depot(!) as one of its primary tenants, called "the Rise." It's actually quite a bit smaller than the Costco building footprint: about 110m by 80m. Like a lot of Vancouver, I actually think this is a pretty "Asian" looking building. It's a residential-over-retail design, with Home Depot and other retailers occupying the bottom two floors and multifamily on the top three. It's kind of an island--the rest of the streetscape is pretty dismal--but the massing is nice and the development itself is excellent. Next up is Amsterdam. I chose a relatively undistinguished street in Amsterdam-West. In street view, you can see that the footprint of Costco constitutes a well-defined "street as room" type of space, with ground floor retail and the rather typical three floors of residential above. Last, I've deliberately chosen a "weird" city. Seoul, Vancouver, and Amsterdam are well known internationally, but the next city is a sprawling Chinese mess: Ningbo. This is an in-town block of Ningbo a few blocks from their river, a couple of blocks off the blue line of their metro. (They currently have two lines with 75km of track, and another 75 km planned.) Street view isn't available on Google, but it is on Baidu. This block includes the Portman Plaza hotel, which contains various restaurants, banks, and other services, and across from that about 120m of typical Asian mixed-use: a floor of retail with six floors of residential above. Ningbo is not a particularly well-known or scenic city, but this block includes street trees and docked rental bicycles along with the universal plague of dockless bicycles. "So what's your point?" Well, I continually think about how a city basically has two components: land and people. It strikes me that big box retail, which makes up so much of our city (and others around the country), basically wastes half of that equation. The building for Costco alone is 150m x 100m. These comparison projects, which I've chosen mainly because they're undistinguished and not particularly notable, illustrate what we could be doing instead. Are they tourist destinations? No, they're not -- but neither is Costco, and you can see what other places are doing with comparable pieces of land. Just imagine the difference in amenities and services that can be offered when, instead of giving up large percentages of land to single corporations (ignoring the issue of tax breaks!), hundreds of taxpayers and dozens of businesses can occupy the same space. Why have I chosen these places in particular as comparisons? Well, that's just it: this was pretty much at random. I picked places that aren't particularly well known or historic; that get a lot of everyday use by everyday people; that aren't tourist destinations; and that (with the exception of the Amsterdam street) have a similar "lack of history" to Charlotte. I hope that this helps make the point that these types of places are achievable and can make up much more of the "mix" in Charlotte than they currently do.
  6. asthasr

    Learning from Other Places

    This is an excellent talk by one of Vancouver's planners, Brent Toderian:
  7. asthasr

    Learning from Other Places

    Yep. It's common throughout Asia, too. Even the bits of Chinese cities that get knocked down and rebuilt as large concrete blobs would be astounding paragons of urban form if you excised them and put them in the middle of Charlotte. (For example.)
  8. asthasr

    Learning from Other Places

    You'd think, but it also seems like it'd raise the risk of downed power lines after an earthquake. It seems like they're trying to bury them for the 2020 Olympics.
  9. asthasr

    Learning from Other Places

    I saw this rebuild on ArchDaily and couldn't help but compare it to some of the uninspired/ugly EIFS things we get. It's hard for me to imagine how this type of structural concrete and wood building could be any more expensive to build, and yet it's far more interesting looking. I'd love to have a building or two in Charlotte in this style. Edit: And another example, this one in Japan. (Although I'll note Tokyo has worse electrical wires than Charlotte!)
  10. asthasr

    Legacy Union (former Charlotte Observer redevelopment)

    It's sad to me because this is most likely the most significant uptown tower of this cycle, in my opinion, and there are some truly breathtaking towers being built in this era... Chaoyang Park Plaza, Marina One, Lotte World Tower, Beijing Greenland, Guangzhou CTF, Mahanakhon. Of course we're not as big/significant as those cities, but at least they could've looked around to see what's being built instead of just taking a Ballantyne building and cloning it a few times vertically.
  11. asthasr

    Perception of Charlotte Nationwide

    Yep, I know. My post was mainly about the "never having the chance" phrase. There are a lot of people who will never want to partake of our fair city, no matter what amenities are on offer, simply because it's different than their previous experience.
  12. asthasr

    Perception of Charlotte Nationwide

    I grew up in the foothills and I can say that it goes beyond just "never having the chance." The feeling, a lot of the time, is that Charlotte/other urban areas are not available to them. They simply won't go. I've still got friends from my hometown who will talk about how they can't find a job, and I will tell them, you know, Charlotte's right there, they could come and find something. "But it's so far," etc. It's 45 minutes or an hour -- a bad commute, yes, but not insurmountable. You could make it work! But it's as if we have a wall around the county in some peoples' minds. (Also weird are the "Oh, I've been to Charlotte, I didn't like it" people who, it turns out, drove by the city on 85.)
  13. asthasr

    SouthEnd Midrise Projects

    Wait time at Pineville (which is 200+ beds as well) is 5+ hours. They process you in quickly and then sit you down in the waiting room to suffer.
  14. asthasr

    SouthEnd Midrise Projects

    They need to upgrade Pineville. Badly. Wait times at the ER there are many hours long and they are at capacity in terms of beds.
  15. asthasr

    Learning from Other Places

    @KJHburg The one thing I don't like about Durham's downtown is that they still haven't gotten rid of the one-way race track that rings the center. People fly on those two-lane one-ways. It's a menace to pedestrians.