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About southernnorthcarolina

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  1. We need to hope for (and take steps to enable) the best, while preparing for the worst. I hope and believe that we won't have an Italy-like situation, but we must prepare for such an outcome, or even worse. Conventions have been or will be canceled, at a minimum for two to four months, and likely longer. At the same time, we may end up with an acute hospital bed shortage. City and County officials need to get a plan in place to convert the Convention Center into a temporary medical facility. It is spacious, has great ventilation, is already kept immaculately clean, has large food prep areas, lots of plumbing, and vast loading areas.
  2. Put in foundations sufficient to add several additional office floors in the future, and provide for a future additional elevator or two. As the demand for parking spaces per square foot of office space declines, you'll still have enough parking to satisfy the demand, even with additional office floors. A few office floors on top would be much more attractive to tenants than office space lower in the structure in former garage space.
  3. Haha. Sounds like a body-building contest winner. "Mr. Southernnorthcarolina" will compete for the title of "mr. Universe" next month." Of course, neither my real last name, and certainly not my stature, were "Southernnorthcarolina" -- my real last name is two syllables, not seven. My screen name is a reference to my physical location, close to the SC line.
  4. Mid 1980s -- 1984 as a guess. Funny how the passage of time blurs the details. Now that I think about it, this wasn't quite during the "last years" of the Epicurean, which was open, I think, into the mid-90s. Also, by then, Charlotte had liquor by the drink, and the Epicurean was getting a lot of competition, and began to look a bit stodgy (and its customers much older) by comparison. It persisted in its practice of hiring black waiters almost exclusively (I can't put a year on the end of that practice, maybe 1990 or so), many of whom worked in the kitchens, dining rooms, and fairways of local country clubs. I recall at least two who caddied on weekend mornings and afternoons (two big bags, two 18-hole rounds), and who were waiters at the Epicurean on weekend nights. They must have been exhausted! So a 50-year-old black waiter would call my 17-year-old self "Mr. Southernnorthcarolina," and I'd call him by his first name. It is extremely uncomfortable in retrospect, but I thought nothing of it at the time.
  5. I, too, will admit to being old enough to remember the Epicurean. Mostly from dinners with my parents, but a couple of date nights in its last years. Some called it the EpiCURean, others the EpicurEan. The latter was deemed more sophisticated. It was the place to take business or social guests to dine if you weren't a member of a country club, or even if you were and were tired of the club -- or if it was a Monday, when the clubs' dining rooms were closed. In fact, many of the waiters (all black, if memory serves) worked both at the clubs and at the Epicurean. Sure, there were other places to take one's clients, but they were mostly on the "wrong" side of town; the Epicurean, on the other hand, was on the edge of Dilworth, and within blocks of Myers Park. It was a steakhouse. A damn good one, but a steakhouse nonetheless. That's what Charlotte was, lacking liquor by the drink. Sure, the Epicurean could turn out a good lobster, or a broiled salmon, lamb chops, or a roast chicken -- I guess; I never had one. Steak was the thing, a New York Strip, or a filet, and a huge baked potato. I remember the appetizer (was it complimentary with dinner, or was it extra? I can't remember) of spanakopita, spinach and cheese in phyllo, one of the only hints that it was a Greek establishment. And, of course, the bottle of Dewar's my father would bring along. The waiter would bring a bucket of ice, a jigger, bottles of club soda, and glasses. Lime wedges and tonic water, of course, were provided if gin or vodka was the spirit of choice. Wine and beer were available, though I'm sure the list was meager by today's standards. My fondest memory was the first time I took a date to the establishment. The waiter, who recognized me because he also worked at a country club my father was a member of, and also because I'd been there with my parents, greeted me with "good to see you tonight, Mr. Southernnorthcarolina," and asked if we'd like a beer or a glass of wine. Never mind that we were both 17 (a year shy of legality at the time). My date was mightily impressed that I was known in such an establishment, and that I commanded influence sufficient to bend the law.
  6. Happy MMXX to all. I'll add a handful. I'll assume the title will be adjusted to 2020; I'll try to avoid duplications of KHJ's and others' forecasts, except to build on them; some -- well, most -- of these predictions are are longer term than one year; and there's no particular order. 1. Carowinds will be sold, as it becomes apparent that roller coasters are not the highest and best use of this land. Speculation will swirl that Tepper is behind the purchase, and intends to build a new, retractable dome stadium for the Panthers, and for Final Four basketball tournaments, but this will not be the case. Massive office/distribution/assembly center to be built out over two decades. 2. "The" Convention Center Hotel (the long-awaited 1000-room one) will be announced for the Duke Energy data center which occupies the same block as the Convention Center. Charlotte's first atrium hotel, 50+ stories. First three floors will be convention/exhibit/meeting area tying in with the existing facilities. Overstreet Mall connection across College Street. A big-name luxury brand -- maybe a Conrad. 3a. Serious discussion begins on the financing of a Blue Line extension to the south, across 485, to Pineville/Carolina Place, Ballantyne, and Blakeney ... or 3b. ... a Blue Line spur route from Tyvola to SouthPark, Olde Providence, Arbo, and Waverly... but not both. And, for 2020, just the beginning of discussions. A line to the airport will be more of a priority. 4. Redevelopment of Cherry to be announced, with a ginormous financial commitment to those displaced (in contrast to the Brooklyn/Second Ward fiasco of the 1960s-70s). Ironically, the long-planned Brooklyn redevelopment might contain the answer to those moved out of Cherry. The new Cherry development will incorporate the new Wake Forest/Baptist Medical University, as well as medical office buildings. Note that it is within easy walking distance from both Carolinas Medical Center and the Presbyterian Hospital complex; ultimately (a decade or two) a system of enclosed pedestrian bridges, like those internally connecting the existing medical complexes, could be built. 5. Consideration of the idea of tearing down the Belk Freeway and replacing it with a surface-level boulevard will slowly advance. It's going to happen, but not next year, and not next decade. Meanwhile, improved road/bike/pedestrian/transit connections across the gap will enter serious planning stages. 6. SouthPark: Kenny will be killed. Oh, wait, not the South Park TV show. The retail/office/hotel/residential Edge City of SouthPark in Charlotte will continue to boom. A new office tower or two, and the announcement of a luxury hotel tower on the SouthPark property -- possibly adjacent to, and connected to, Dillard's. Plans will begin to be formulated for a pedestrian bridge system (not air-conditioned like Overstreet Mall, but possibly covered) to span Morrison, Sharon, Fairview, and Barclay Downs Roads. Ultimately, some nearby neighborhoods (possibly along Barclay Downs Road between Morrison and Runnymede) will get together and agree to sell their homes at 3x tax value to facilitate further dense development. Something like this took place near Perimeter Mall in Atlanta a couple of decades ago. 7. Tigers to win the NCAA Football Championship in New Orleans. 8. The Charlotte Observer and the [Raleigh] News & Observer will formally merge, an acknowledgment of what is obvious, given the ownership of both by McClatchy, and their overlapping editorialists and columnists. Will the combined N&O and Observer become popularly known as NOO, or ONO? Both will cease their print operations within three years, attempting to survive as on-line only operations. This, too, will fail within five years. 9. A new hotel/conference center will be announced for Charlotte/Douglas Airport. Not near the airport, but on the airport property, with covered, air-conditioned pedestrian access from the terminal. It will have a rooftop bar (possibly revolving, if that's not deemed overly retro) with views of takeoffs and landings. 10. Hottest suburban/exurban growth areas: northern Lancaster County, SC (Indian Land area, which will incorporate with a more politically correct name); western Union County (Waxhaw, Marvin, Weddington, Wesley Chapel, though anti-growth sentiment may slow things a bit); and York County, SC (especially around Fort Mill). Slower-than-expected growth: the River District, which is still on the wrong side of town; its day will come, but it'll be slow for a few years.
  7. R.I.P. Cesar Pelli, dead at 92. The Argentina-born architect designed Bank of America Corporate Center, among many notable buildings worldwide.
  8. I'd really love to find out how much BB&T/SunTrust paid the marketing firm for coming up with the new name. I think ego got in the way. In this "merger of equals," BB&T is driving the bus. And they just couldn't bring themselves to use the strongest brand which was sitting right in front of them. No, not BB&T (not many people even know what the initials stand for), but SunTrust. When NationsBank (NCNB's successor) bought Bank of America, they immediately saw that Bank of America was too strong a brand to discard. They made the logical choice, and applied the name of the acquired bank to the whole organization. It seems to have worked for them. If I were hired to come up with a name and logo for the combined bank, it would take me mere minutes. Use SunTrust's name, and BB&T's typeface and maroon color, plus a sun: SunTrust☀️ Too simple, you say? Sometimes -- in fact, usually -- simple is best.
  9. Best new name ever! Well, the best since New Coke, anyway. Or Mondolez, or Altria. Or even Edsel. Seriously, how much did they pay their consulting firm for this dumpster fire?
  10. An extension of the Blue Line -- across 485 to Pineville, Carolina Place Mall, Ballantyne, and maybe one more stop to the south, at the 521/Ardrey Kell intersection near the SC line -- becomes almost a necessity if the scale of Ballantyne's buildout is anything like the renderings. But it will need to be a Blue Line on steroids, with platforms at all stops lengthened to accommodate 4 to 6 car trains. The little two-car trains currently used are not much more than toys. A spur from the Tyvola Station to SouthPark, the Arboretum, and Waverly should also be considered.
  11. I'm always skeptical about population stats on cities (incorporated areas), because annexation policies and possibilities vary wildly. Until a few years ago, Charlotte could annex territory without the approval of those being annexed, provided certain density standards were met, and provided Charlotte committed to providing the usual city services. But no more -- involuntary annexation is now over for Charlotte, as it has long been for most of the rest of the country. County population trends, and metro area population trends, provide more realistic information.
  12. A couple of factors regarding traffic congestion which may not have been discussed here (although I admit I haven't read the entire thread, which is about as long as War and Peace): gated neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs. Charlotte has taken steps to almost eliminate cul-de-sacs (permitting them when there's no apparent alternative); as far as I know, gated neighborhoods are still being built. I don't know about unincorporated Mecklenburg County, or the towns within it. But the outlying counties in the Charlotte metro area seem to be sprouting cul-de-sacs and gated communities everyehere. My domicile of Union County, especially the Weddington/Marvin/Waxhaw area, may be ground zero for gated neighborhoods. Is the area crime-prone? Not really. The promary motivating factors for gated communities seem to be 1) elimination of cut-through traffic, and 2) the aura of exclusivity. Rather obviously, preventing cut-through traffic either by means of gates or cul-de-sac mazes transfers traffic to other streets. So the questions are: how big a problem is this, and what (if anything) should be done? Bear in mind that with respect to gated neighborhoods, local governments save money -- construction of the streets, sidewalks, and storm drainage inside the gates is done by the developers, and maintenance later is done by the homeowners' associations. The residents, of course, pay their property taxes, generally at the same rate as those who have government-maintained streets. So the town and/or county are incentivized to permit the gating.
  13. Interesting article from American Banker on the difficulty of finding a good name. The guy that said that Ally Bank was a home run (the choice of name, not necessarily the bank itself) is right. It'll be difficult for BB&T/SunTrust to do as well. Let's see... the new name can't be either BB&T or SunTrust; it probably can't have a geographical reference like Southeastern Bank, because I'm sure they have national, if not international asperations; it needs to be easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and probably be three syllables or less; and it needs to provide at least a clue what the nature of the business is, so with "Bank" or "Trust" in the name. How about this: there's a small bank which operates in rural southern Illinois and Arizona (an odd combination) under the name of TrustBank. BB&T/SunTrust should buy them, and take their name. "Trust" is good; both banks have it in their name. Neither BB&T nor SunTrust currently have branches in either Illinois or Arizona. Instant footprint expansion. I shall await my 7-figure consulting fee for this idea.
  14. As a follow-on to the massive amount of development on Providence at and south of the 485 interchange (and don't get me wrong; I am pro-development, despite the traffic challenges posed), it is striking what happens at the county line. Literally a few hundred feet south of the leading edge of development roaring down Providence, you cross Six Mile Creek, and enter Union County and the town of Weddington (my domicile, as it happens). Weddington, along with nearby Marvin, is a "paper town," incorporated for the sole purpose of preventing annexation of the area by Charlotte (now a moot point, as involuntary annexation is no longer legal). Weddington collects only token property taxes, provides no services, depending on the Union County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement; volunteer fire departments for fire protection; and some Union County water and sewer (but most residents are on well and septic); County and State for road maintenance; and residents pay their own trash haulers. The only thing the Town of Weddington does (Town Hall open MWF, 9-1, the way government ought to be) is collect taxes, enforce such regulations as signage, and codify and enforce zoning regulations. And the last of these is key. Weddington is essentially all large-lot (one acre and more) residential, with only one small retail center which pre-existed the incorporation of the town. So almost no retail, and zero small-lot residential, multi-family, office, hotel, or manufacturing. And that's not likely to change any time soon, if town forums and polls are any indication. So, development comes to a screeching halt at the county line. I wonder how long the situation will last, given the boom just north across the county line, and development-friendly Waxhaw to the south.
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