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About jthomas

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    Greensboro, NC

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  1. This picture illustrates well what I dislike about buildings with parking podiums. In my experience, as a pedestrian you only really perceive the bottom 4-5 floors of a building - standing next to a 30-story building doesn't feel much different than standing next to a 5-story building. In this and other podium buildings, those crucial bottom stories are devoid of human activity. This street elevation is a particularly bad example. The ground floor consists of a giant carhole, a lobby entrance, and a bank branch. But even that poor ground level would be somewhat redeemed if there were 4 floors
  2. This is basically the same vision I have for the core NC intercity system, with regional rail overlaid end to end (Clayton-Burlington, Burlington-Salisbury, Salisbury-Gastonia). You are right that all it would take is a comprehensive vision, and a willingness to channel existing resources in a new direction. I'm a little torn, because on the one hand I want to see this as soon as possible. But on the other hand, to do it right requires system-level integrated thinking and planning, a la Switzerland or Japan, and we are not there yet. Throwing money around haphazardly risks baking in suboptimal
  3. Vertical construction at the Westin site this morning.
  4. ^ If you can't win an argument on substance, use fear-mongering instead...
  5. I think it's fair game for this topic. Changing land use policy is an inherently political process, and the tweet above provides a glimpse into the rhetoric of those opposed to change. I think it would be worthwhile to discuss the merits of the argument of Charlotte's former mayor.
  6. Yes, it may result in more teardowns - that is a sign of market demand for more well-located housing units, and it is a natural part of the evolution of a growing city. I understand the concern about losing affordable units, but the sky-high prices of the new, denser housing is just a signal that there is vast unmet demand. This demand is largely unmet because supply is artificially restricted by zoning. I say this as someone who is heavily involved in historic preservation - there comes a time when the development patterns of the past no longer serve the needs of the present. Charlotte is the
  7. Nice catch! Like you said, renderings mean nothing, and AFAIK there is no proposal or even chatter about bringing service to Winston. The spot where the train is shown in the rendering would actually be a good station location. I've spent way more time than I should thinking about stuff like this, but there's not a great way to get service to Winston without a fair amount of capital investment. I think the best bet in the near-ish term would be to run the proposed Wilmington service through Raleigh to Winston. This would give a one-seat ride along the entire I-40 corridor and could be don
  8. IF, and it's a big if because Amtrak, the Crescent can stay on time with this schedule, this is a big win for NC riders IMO. Especially for me here in Greensboro - 7:29 is a great departure time, and this train is nearly two hours faster to Washington than the Carolinian (which takes 8 hours to plod from Greensboro to DC). This makes the train a very competitive and attractive option for travel to DC. It's also interesting to note just how slow this schedule is. As an example, Charlotte-Greensboro northbound is timetabled at 1h33m for the Piedmonts and 1h39m for the Carolinian. This sched
  9. I have long thought that these vacant lots next to the Carolina Theatre would be ideal for a small movie theater. Maybe IMAX + 4 screens? Not sure what makes sense commercially. It could be designed to share concession/lobby space with the Carolina, which could use it - that lobby gets very crowded at well-attended events, and the restrooms are not adequate.
  10. Update on the construction at the site of the old Mexico restaurant near Battleground and Hill Street, on the edge of downtown: https://www.bizjournals.com/triad/news/2021/06/03/developer-contractor-move-into-new-building.html 4 stories, 50,000 sf of office. That represents a slight scaling back from earlier plans, which called for a mixed-use building with office and 32 apartments. I have to say, the design is pretty underwhelming IMO...
  11. Cost overruns seem to be an epidemic in American infrastructure projects. If you're not familiar with the blog Pedestrian Observations, there are many good articles there about construction costs, particularly for rail and transit projects. Here is a good recent article discussing some of the issues that cause ballooning costs. (Spoiler: putting the private sector in charge of public projects does not result in increased efficiency)
  12. I think you are right, but only partially so. Mass transit will have a tough time serving today's Triangle well, but the point of building it today is to provide a backbone for the region's next 50+ years of growth. Car-based development only scales to a certain point, beyond which it quickly descends into gridlocked chaos. I have stated before that I think the Triangle is close to the point of no return. Your argument has been used before to delay projects that would have been useful today. When I was at NC State 20 years ago, TTA commuter rail was right around the corner. Imagine if that ser
  13. A couple of tidbits in the news the past few days: Biden gives shout-out to Charlotte-Atlanta HSR at Amtrak 50th Gateway Station update from NCDOT
  14. I am not anti-growth - far from it, in fact. I am strongly in favor of GOOD growth. I stated above my ideal model for growth: replication of the existing town fabric, by extending the contiguous street grid, mixing residential, commercial, and institutional uses in a fine-grained, pedestrian-friendly pattern. This is how towns grew into cities prior to WWII. And if Chatham Park builds out to its full size, it will have the population of a small city, but none of the charm. That is why I am critical, and why I regard it as a missed opportunity.
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