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ertley

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  1. ertley

    Ballantyne

    I've always thought a significant change that should occur in Ballantyne--even if only symbolically--is to take down those not-very-interesting "arches" at the Johnston Road and Commons Parkway intersection and replace them with four buildings--they don't have to be gargantuan in size--abutting the sidewalks, as in a real town or city. If designed well, they could actually be notable and actually do what they hoped those 'arches' would do, create a noteworthy locus for the area, while making Ballantyne actually look like a more organic place and not a corporate-planned and -owned entity.
  2. Random Trivia: Before Independence was created, the street it replaced was Westmoreland (street or avenue). I actually am fine with gradually inching Independence towards being a controlled-access highway. Even if most progressive locales have moratoriums on building new expressways, for a city of its size, the east side is a gargantuan area to not have an expressway or any sort. I think it's now so many degrees removed from its origins as a boulevard that it would be even more disruptive to try and re-create it--and I do think utilizing its margins for the Silver Line is going to be a wonderful thing. What I wish the city would do is dedicate funds to build more bridges to cross Independence, and reunite some of the neighborhoods. I first nominate re-connecting Bascom from Chantilly to at least McClintock; but I also think Veterans' Park could be redesigned and Bascom could continue as its western border and go all the way through to Central--understanding, of course, that equally as important as car travel lanes would be good sidewalks and bike lanes wherever practicable.
  3. I won't quote myself, but I'll reiterate my argument from the other week--when the merits of tunneling and new developments in the field were being discussed--that with Blue Line extensions being considered as likely, and planning for the Silver Line, both of which are likely at least a decade away from being completed or even partially finished, CATS should start making more ambitious plans for other modes, including tunneling, for the mid- and long terms. If measurable progress is somehow achieved in tunneling technology and cost over the next decade or two, it may not be as unfeasible then as it seems now. The established, low density, high priced nature of the Charlotte "wedge" not only means it'll be extraordinarily difficult to weave light rail through that area, and even more so later as property values rise even higher, but it's also the kind of area that tunneling was developed for, and because of, precisely because of its residential nature and cost. The built elevated and surface lines in New York and London through working class and poor neighborhoods, but they had to tunnel through the high rent areas for the exactly the same reasons. I argue for a circular route that starts from Uptown--and could even manifest that tunnel under Trade so many people want to see--with stops at Midtown/Cherry, then Dilworth/East Boulevard (where there are actually empty lot(s) that could be partially allocated now for a future stop), maybe even an intermediate stop at the Park Road/Scott intersection, which needs some kind of focus--then maybe CATS could work with the YMCA to put a stop in front their facility at Townes--then definitely down to Montford, where the Park Road Shopping Center also has plenty of space to be designated for a future stop--then another potential intermediate stop near where Selwyn runs into Park--then over to South Park, then to Strawberry Hill at Providence, then Cotswold, where again the shopping center has plenty of space for a stop--then there's plenty of county land to work with for a stop on Billingsley by Randolph Road Park--then a stop somewhere along Randolph in Elizabeth, east or west of Novant Presbyterian, where it could then go back uptown through the Trade tunnel, to the Gateway Station. It's ambitious, but if Charlotte keeps growing in population and importance, at its current pace, planning for something like this to *follow* both the Blue Line extensions and the Silver Line, sometime in the 2030s or even '40s, isn't totally ridiculous. Charlotte, by that time, may be in the actual top 10 of most populous American cities. And I still don't see a realistic way of putting surface area rail continuously through the "wedge."
  4. I know there are lots more important factors that go into the decision of where to build/lease for a corporate HQ, and apparently BB&T has a reputation for being extraordinarily value-conscious, but I wouldn't want to put my HQ building chockablock with a tower named for my largest competitor. I'd definitely search for an independent plot or block.
  5. I know it's the most basic sort, but I always do consider walking an essential T component, so even without (hoped for longer term) integration within a public transit system, reasonably sized blocks with ample sidewalks and bike lanes--so two components--could be--eh--half the T? My own little metric for a truly great city is whether most of its residents can walk to a grocery, pharmacy, decent restaurant or two... So even just having that area provide a real walking destination for the surrounding 'hoods would be better than the now.
  6. My long-held hope is that Simon has a strategic plan for its holdings, and recognizes the re-development potential of South Park. I want to see the entire site redeveloped as TOD, with some moderately high (as much as surrounding neighborhoods will allow) buildings in a street grid, almost all with ground floor retail, including those facing Fairview and Sharon. I *loved* the original, almost minimalist structure of the mall, but Simon ruined it and made it look like every other mall in this country, so I won't be sad to see it go.
  7. ...and Charlotte shouldn't be making all of its infrastructure plans based on current technology and pricing. There should be long term plans formulated now that don't simply focus on more light and commuter rail. The (relatively) short term plan for the Silver Line makes sense because it's practicable, in terms of most of the real estate and roadways where it's planned, and commuter rail is obviously a next step--let's say, mid term--but I think long term planning should start seriously considering an actual underground subway line. Even if it's going to 50 years in the future, the time to start envisioning where such a thing is now; didn't discussion of light rail in Charlotte start 30 years ago? Time flies, CATS! I think the obvious solution to the challenges Charlotte's (forgive me for stereotyping) pear-shaped , bougie, NIMBY core presents for infrastructure development is tunneling--and it's not like tunneling is some crazy impractical fantasy I've dreamed up. Perhaps a spur to South Park could be built in the next few decades, but I think starting to plan for a tear-shaped line--reminiscent of DC's red line--that travels from uptown and with its vertex at South Park would hopefully eventually address the challenges of getting all of Charlotte relatively good access to mass transit. My fantasy subway line would stop at Dilworth, Montford (which I still think of as just the Park Road Shopping Center), South Park, Strawberry Hill at Providence/Sardis, Cotswold, Novant Presbyterian/East Elizabeth and "Midtown" (a moniker I hate because I think Atlanta has a lock on it). If you start planning for it, you can make sure ensuing development over the next few decades provides for it--i.e. locations for future stations are set aside, etc.
  8. The forecourt on Trade is slightly trapezoidal too--the courthouse isn't exactly parallel to Trade--all due to the fact the original structure of the courthouse, the old post office, faced Mint. The Trade facade is a later expansion, but the entire structure is still oriented to Mint, which doesn't intersect Trade at a precise 90 degree angle.
  9. I took the survey, and chose Option B for Pineville as well--a No Brainer. For Ballantyne, I chose Option B as well, but offered (of course, realizing any comments won't probably matter) a specific site for the station: the middle of the "Brixham Green" office park. Currently there's nothing but a tree'd mini park or plaza there (I hate losing trees, but obvs hundreds of trees are going to be cut anyway). The Brixham Green site would mean no existing buildings would have to be demolished, and there's SO much parking in that zone it provides ample room for a station along with a generous parking deck (or two), since certainly the Ballantyne station will have to have one, which could also compensate for the lost surface parking. Is there a reason, too, why the line is being taken along 485 after leaving Carolina Place instead of down the Lancaster Highway, where the county owns most of the land on the east side of the road? Unless there are engineering or environmental regulations why, it seems to me that routing would relieve a lot of right of way issues, and having the line come down the east side of the Lanc Hwy means you could even plan for an eventual intermediate stop there, before turning it east to go into the heart of Ballantyne. I would just make it immediately parallel (again, unless its not practicable) to Duke's transformer right of way, from Lancaster Highway to Brixham Green. IMHO.
  10. One point, though: If you look at the footprint of the current stadium on Google maps, it would *barely* fit within the Pipe & Foundry property, and that's covering Clarkson and envisioning a complete re-routing or elimination of the street. I'm not an engineer or architect, so I'm not in any way stating it can't be done, but it looks to me, just from a side by side comparison, it'll take a high degree of ingenuity. Maybe rounding the corners of a new stadium and building more vertically is a workable solution...
  11. I actually think 129 West Trade is a really cool building--and not necessarily because it's beautiful--but because it's so unique. I'm all for preserving old buildings solely for history's sake, but the other, equally important, reason for preserving them is because it keeps a city from being generic. A city that doesn't preserve as much of its older building stock as it can ends up looking like every other comparable city. IMO the proportion of buildings built, in any era, that are truly distinctive, is well under half. Compounding that--and I know I'm stating the obvious here--is the tendency in architecture, as in any arena of design, to follow current trends and fashions. Even if the first few buildings of a cycle are noteworthy and interesting, the ensuing similar dozen or more will reduce their distinctiveness. 129 West Trade, love it or hate it, keeps that corner and adjacent blocks of West Trade from being indistinguishable from any other similar-sized city in North America, and for that reason alone I think it should stand as long as it can. As someone pointed out, the Grand Bohemian is being built very much along the lines of its sister structure in Orlando--and the last thing I would want is for Charlotte's downtown to be analogous to Orlando's. I'm super glad that terrible facade of its lower levels is being undone. I don't know if the proposed design is as good as it could be, but it's definitely an improvement.
  12. That new light--I'm almost certain--indicates the city's intention to realign the west end of Hartford to connect directly to Clanton.
  13. ...or how about connecting the SouthPark and River District spurs, for a contiguous east-west line intersecting with the Blue Line--and eliminate the River District spur portion from the Silver Line?
  14. ertley

    Design Awards

    Are there any existing awards given out for best design and architecture in Charlotte? If not, I think it would be an amazing thing to start. Every so often I see a newly realized project here on UP that's so good, I think, "They should be recognized publicly for doing such good work." I also think awards for design achievements in Charlotte would not only reinforce but further encourage better design and planning. Is this feasible? I mean, if nothing else it could be something begun by UP... In that case, there could simply be a Topic created at a certain point each year--Nominations--delineating the criteria for each category. The categories should be well-thought out--for commercial buildings of specific square footage ranges and/or heights, for residential properties, both large and small scale, even (possibly) individual houses., along with awards for best urban planning. I know several UP-ers have actual connections to the design and development community in Charlotte and could really develop credible categories and criteria. There are so many people who are interested in design, in so many different ways, that this could really, eventually, if it took off, help coalesce not only conversation (beyond UP) but meaningful action for better design--through an informed, contributing and participatory community. This shouldn't be something that local developers initiate, though, because we all know it would be corrupted pretty quickly.
  15. My wish would be, when they redevelop Hal Marshall, is to simply preserve Phifer Avenue, and then cut 10th through as planned. The resulting area between Phifer, 10th, Tryon and College would be a nice, self-contained urban park. They could route Phifer in whatever configuration they wanted, based on what was constructed on its SW side.
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