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Everything posted by MarcoPolo

  1. I am relieved that the decision, this time around, fell into the win column for urbanism, and reality. When forces in support of informed observation clash with the pitchfork and torch crowd it is all too often a toss up as to the outcome. For those who champion equity, and mindful outcomes, the cumulative randomness reflected in the score card of the "public process" is disheartening. I put quotes around "public process" because the reality is that it is almost always neither. I know this is your neighborhood TheRealClayton. I'm particularly happy for you Keep up the fight my friend!
  2. I've got to hand it to you SydneyCarton, your over the top enthusiasm does make for entertaining reading
  3. Kermit, yes this is one of the report images. The plans which are coming together for the actual development are, to put it mildly, somewhat more refined I've lost some faith in CATS, as is evident in my previous postings. Suffice it to say, odds are high the planned interface with this important hub will be, to put it mildly....underwhelming. I hope to be proven wrong.
  4. Good find JeanCLT. I was wondering how long it would take for the initial renderings to be discovered / revealed. The project looks even better than the image shown. The track side of the station is handled just as well as the street sides are. This will be transformative to the center city urban fabric. Much as I discussed many pages back. Stay tuned! Also, now that the "train has left the station" so to speak, here are a couple of images I'll throw out for discussion. Lots going on in each. There is some "behind the scenes knowledge" sprinkled amongst the urban design principles and techniques illustrated by the two conceptual plans, emphasis on conceptual. Redeveloped and infill blocks in yellow. New streets in dark grey. New parks in dark green. New civic structures in dark blue. Fuzzy lines are trolleys, solid lines light rail, dashed solid underground. Stations are black rectangles. Amtrak is solid black line. Enjoy The full Monty (brave new worlds discovered) A half Monty (acknowledging what's outside your front door). This could turn into a half-Mont -peekaboo, if the JBF were to be capped/re-purposed.
  5. Most definitely Nick2! Matters of such importance demand broad participation, from both the experienced and inexperienced, professional and novice. Especially true when the topics discussed touch so many people across so many aspects of their daily lives, as for example, city planning and urban design do. The glue that binds large groups together in productive conversation is the transfer of knowledge and lived experience to as many as possible, geeks included . After all, a professional is just another way to describe a geek who took the extra step to learn everything possible about their passion. Knowledge reduces the tendency for "opinion" and misinformation, to derail informed inquiry.
  6. Wow, spirited indeed I don't want to appear to pile on, because that is not my intent. I believe this whole discussion was kicked off by enthusiastic support of Peebles' and his ability to deliver the goods here in Charlotte? Enthusiasm supported by his latest "aspirational" road show in NYC? TheRealClayton stated that Peebles is not a serious developer. Unfortunately for Charlotte, this is a fairly accurate assessment. Anyone in the NYC development scene will quietly acknowledge the same. As regards his NYC project, we can all look back in 8 to 10 years and chat about what did/did not happen, just as we are doing here today, 8 to 10 years later, about his BV project. The BV that finally is built will look very little to what has been window shopped the past 5 years. Fortunately for the City, and us here on UP who want to see good outcomes for Charlotte, the Wake Forest / Atrium project landed right next door so to speak, were it not for the JB Freeway.... another topic of discussion As actual developers circle and bite off chunks, BV will eventually coalesce into a respectable neighborhood once again, and this tragic bit of Charlotte's early urban renewal history will finally see its redemption. These things will occur in-spite of Peebles' sideshow like, antics. That is, as long as the current rendition of LH doesn't land a starring role in the effort! There is much to aspire to here in Charlotte, and much to overcome to succeed. Comparisons to particularly unique aspects of places like NYC are neither relevant, nor constructive to any of the challenges confronting this city. Arguing that the wealth and urban character enjoyed by a particularly unique, global sub-set of people, who locate in a handful of places on this Earth, can be easily transferred beyond that finite eco-system of bankers, builders, attorneys, and lobbyists who flutter about in the wake of their private jet engines, only highlights a lack of knowledge about cities and the global urban landscape. Save words and thought for meaningful discourse and debate, not sideshow opinions. We need to raise the caliber of discussion on UP, on this thread and others. People with influence do occasionally drop in to read the musings of our members. Let's not disappoint them with sophomoric banter. Our advocacy here can lead to more involved community awareness of the importance of developing proper urbanism. We can still get our kicks with occasional skyscraper porn, but real cities are not made of skyscrapers. One could argue that real cities often exist in-spite of them. So let's get to it! Charlotte is in dire need of real urbanism.
  7. TheRealClayton and Miesian Corners took the words right out of my mouth. The entire development, as currently executed (including the building under permit review), is........well......., a steaming pile of S^#%. One can only hope, that over time, as the pile dries, some of the clumps will decompose, fertilizing the ground beneath with the vitality and energy needed to support proper growth. I'll try to remain optimistic about the fate of the final undeveloped pad(s) between Church and Mint. Let's hope the future projects envisioned across Mint and Stonewall Streets have some influence here. While these are several years down the road, I for one would gladly tolerate no more construction at LU until such time as more enlightened minds bring their developments forward. Maybe these will coerce a better outcome for the remainder of LU.
  8. TheRealClayton is correct. The CAP of I-277 will occur, forever hiding from view (at least for the stretch in discussion) the abysmal design vomited upon the urban fabric of the State's largest city. I mean, really....the section the NC State grades at the NCDOT produced for the JBelk is as rural in design as the hometowns in eastern NC from which they mostly hail. The cap will be an act of redemption for everyone passionate about urbanism and place making. Alas, one fly in the ointment of the metropolitan minded is the portion of the Grandview townhome development along South Blvd that spills down grade at its rear, to hug the JBF a mere 50 ft or so from the exit lanes....and only 10 ft or so above the traffic they carry beyond the chain link fence and grass verge. These would never have been permitted if attentive minds to the constant improvement of the City held more sway here. The opportunity to reach across and heal the open wound stretching from just north of S. Church St, to just south of South Blvd (including an exit there more appropriate to its context), would be less "hairy" were it not for the 13 homeowners who now have a voice in the discussion, and we all know how that may potentially unfold. Unless they can be "bought-out-right" some manner of compromised design will result. And, long after the passion to save the little guy from the onslaught of progress flames out and the townhomes that fanned the flames succumb to the inevitable property value decline suffered from their awkward placement are demolished, the site they held will remain; an intruder reminding everyone of what could have been. Better to just remove JBF in its entirety...from I-77 to Independence, and replace with an urban Boulevard, I say
  9. Great discussion jthomas and Spartan! Both of you are correct, but I feel your main points are shadowboxing around the Silver Line's key shortcoming. Allow me to spur the discussion more by fleshing out a few additional points to help your punches land the heavy blows. I have made my position clear regarding the enormity of the missed opportunities many stretches of the current Silver Line represent to the mobility choices of residents of Charlotte and to the urban formation potential of the future of the City, (see page 194 of this thread). I'm happy jthomas that you reference Chuck Marohn (Strong Towns) in your post. The term "stroads" is Chuck's hat-tip to the work of a group of enlightened engineers, planners and architects who, back in the 1990's, observed the nomenclature amongst the urban/city planning design professions had been corrupted to the point of uselessness. This corruption was most severe (still is) within the transportation planning/engineering professions tasked with designing thoroughfares. It was (and largely still is) impossible to have a productive conversation between transportation planning and urban planning people because no common vocabulary exists to transmit design criteria between the two professions. In this vacuum, the engineering professions are given more weight (since they possess doctrines, steeped in math and such that have taken on religious standing) and therefore only capacity issues take precedence. Before the 1940's a rich dictionary for thoroughfare infrastructure existed. Each thoroughfare was named and the "name" carried what is akin to "meta data", embodying multiple layers of design attributes associated with a thoroughfare's individual character and capacity. When one professional discussed a "Boulevard", an "Avenue", a Parkway, Street, Road, Drive, etc, the specific reference instantly delivered to the conversation all the associated parameters other professionals such as engineers, architects and planners needed to understand context and affect. Not surprising if you think about it. The ability to correctly describe a "thing" with shared vocabulary should be critical to professions that "design". Alas, this amazing lexicon was stillborn, and the various professions tasked with delivering the components of urban form concentrated more on creating individual silos rather than communicating amongst themselves, leaving the fate of towns and cities to a world hellbent on delivering them in abstract and fetishized, statistical bits and pieces (projects), instead of coherent people based places (communities). A recipe for the Frankenstein's monster the suburbs, exurbs, and the countless infill projects of this Country have become, (see my post on 110 East: 23 story Tower by Stile/Shorenstein thread for more on the anti-urban vs urban battle). The corruption of the nomenclature, specifically as regards transportation, has diluted, amongst other things, the meaning of road and street and as a result their proper application. The architects and planners in the 1990's I referenced earlier, re-discovered the proper definition and use of "road". A road is a piece of infrastructure that connects farms to towns, towns to towns, and so on. Places of value to places of value in the words of Chuck. In design and purpose a Road's component parts are more rural in character, ie: low density. The phrase "urban road" does not exist, but "rural road" does. Similarly, those architects and planners of the 1990's rediscovered that there is no such thing as a "rural street". When one assigns a descriptor to street is is almost always "urban-street". A street provides an address for a person and a business in the city and town. People and businesses are wealth creators. A street "geolocates" and connects wealth creators to each other within the urban form. They are value platforms in the words of Chuck. Today such names are quaint, used in old fashioned ways for nostalgic purposes. A Street can be a Road, a Road can be a Street. For that matter a Drive can be both, and so can the Avenue, Boulevard, etc. They can be located in the "sticks" or a downtown. The new world order centers on the engineered "arterial", "collector", and "local". A dendritic, hierarchical system fixated on capacity and level of service much like the Terminator was fixated on killing Sarah Conner. The defining "meta-data" of the dendritic system prioritizes volume and free flow auto movement, and is applied across all thoroughfare types at increasing dosage depending on its place within the hierarchy. The result being that all thoroughfares have some degree of highway engineering in their designs, even the simple neighborhood street at the bottom of the list. The variation in the Civic Realm of our cities, the foundation of the wonderful character and place making visible in all pre WWII development, has been eliminated from most thoroughfare designs and diluted in the few remaining ones. A depressing fact is that in many Zoning Ordinances and Public Works Manuals, when you go to "Street" in the definition chapter the caption will often read, "See Highway". The urbanists on the front lines of saving towns and cities back in the 1990's began again to compile a Lexicon of urbanism to properly define and cross reference all the elemental, component parts of towns and cities, and reintroduce design principles to civic infrastructure such as roads and streets, so that the character of the infrastructure could once again support, rather than diminish, the character sought in the adjacent built form. Paying homage to this effort, Chuck coined the label "stroad" to call out the engineering profession's successful campaign to eliminate people from matters of transportation planning, and to highlight the serious fiscal (and physical) damage caused to towns and cities as a result. Now, back to "stroad" and why this term has relevance to a discussion of the Silver Line. The repercussions of the lack of common nomenclature and silo'd nature of the various professional planning practices extend well beyond municipal fiscal concerns. They profoundly impact the function, performance, and physical delivery of urban investments. Like a butterfly's wings flapping in one location creating rain in another, "stroad" like infrastructure, to take one example, influences the effectiveness of zoning changes aimed at promoting mixed use and walkability on abutting properties. "Stroads" also dilute measures to improve environmental quality, even when regulatory measures are put in place to do just that. The list of consequences, to safety, access, etc......, .some unintended and others deemed unimportant, is lengthy. As we all agree, transit planning has multiple purposes that all revolve around increasing a riders freedom of choice and opportunity shed, ie: access to jobs, housing, culture, and the impetus to generate more of the same where they do not exist in patterns supportable by non-auto means. A city such as Charlotte has very few places where these determinants align sufficiently enough to make transit a home run first at bat. Arguably, the Blue Line between Southend through Uptown to North Davidson is a great example of a first at bat third base hit. Its more suburban extensions out to UNCC and Pineville are solid, second base hits, and will make their way to home plate as walkable, more dense development fills in along it in the years to come. It is fair to say that at least half the stations along the entirety of the Line generally increase a rider's freedom of choice, and opportunity shed, or have the potential to do so in the future, (relative to Charlotte's overall suburban layout). Jobs are now within walking distance, and where not, development opportunities offer the prospect for new ones. Housing and entertainment options have similarly associated relationships to the route. The Blue Line has, and will continue to shape development while responding to existing development. It is important to state, that all this is relative to Charlotte's mostly anti-urban form. As cool as the Blue Line has made South End and North Davidson, it will be decades before the urbanism along the entire line coalesces into a complete pedestrian based ecosystem, and that is ok because the train has left the station so to speak! The line is arguably a success, a success that rests with the fact that the underlying routing does not dilute its own strength. There are no embedded glitches associated with its location to derail (pardon another pun) the long term, multiple purpose, mission of serving and creating the environments to generate more community fabric of a non-auto based economy and lifestyle. How so, you may ask, and what glitches do you speak of? Observe the Line's routing and keep these questions in mind. Does the Blue Line run in the median of, or along side of I-77? Does it meander over to I-85 on the way to UNCC with similar routing relationships? Significant stretches of the Sliver Line are proposed to hug infrastructure entirely auto serving in design. Independence Blvd/Expressway, Brookshire Freeway, and to a lessor extent some stretches of Wilkinson Blvd, are not compatible with walking urbanism. This is not a slam against them, they have different purposes within the larger metropolitan area. Proposing that a light rail line will somehow transform these inter-metropolitan, auto reliant transportation corridors into walkable neighborhoods with bespoke redevelopments that help to stitch together a walkable city alternative is negligent thinking. Now, if we want to discuss commuter rail, that's another matter . Light rail has a different purpose. Light rail is a piece of infrastructure usually no more than 10 to 12 miles in length, with stations at regular and frequent intervals, almost exclusively accessed at the scale of a pedestrian shed, (a 10 minute, radial walk from edge to station). Some may also support park-n-ride lots, and when they do these are typically small facilities, strategically located to increase connectivity and ridership with other transit services at important street junctions. A few of you will no doubt raise the example of Denver's system, a worthy topic of discussion, but it does not have relevance to Charlotte's situation as currently proposed. So, what happens when pedestrian oriented transportation infrastructure is placed adjacent to, or within non pedestrian oriented infrastructure? You get a glitch in the matrix. If a street-road mash up is a "stroad", what's the equivalent for highway and rail? Maybe "hi-ail" (hell pronounced with a southern twang.... I know... lame attempt at humor ). Developments built along portions so aligned will be predominantly auto based. They are also one-sided, due to the added shortcoming of being disconnected from adjoining networks by the highway itself, (remember my mention of 10 min, radial walk?). Such severing is compounded when highways are above grade due to the deadening affect caused by traffic elevated from the ground plain, which extends farther from the highway itself than if trenched, for example. One need only look at the "walkability" and urban character of all the latest crop of redevelopment projects along Stonewall St. on the sides that face I-277. Now, imagine a light rail line running along that strip nestled between the highway and the parking garages/service facades of these blocks. Now, add to that the image portions of I-277 elevated (as are portions of the Brookshire). I will even play devil's advocate and go along with the argument that if light rail had already been present the developments along Stonewall would have "pedestrianized" the I-277 facades. I'd respond by asking how many places can you point to where people drive, or take transit to conduct business, visit and congregate along the shoulders of an expressway that laughably, in the State's largest City, was designed with a rural cross section (thank you NCDOT, NCState grads!)? Additionally, if these blocks were required to generate walkability on the non-interstate facing facades, where would the necessary service and garage entrances go? Developers would rightly place most along the least desirable facade, the highway facade. A shame spiral of dysfunction. I contend that the glitches in the matrix present along stretches of the Silver Line's proposed alignment will greatly impact its success. If the Sliver Line is to achieve its purpose of encouraging developments scaled, oriented, and accessible to pedestrians, then routing it alongside, or within a highway, runs counter to its primary purpose. Further, if the goal of the transit system is to establish an alternative to auto dependency, then any design that increases rider delays dilutes the goal, such as making patrons walk three to four blocks to connect to the Blue Line and vice versa (Spartan, I respectfully disagree with your comment about walking the 4 blocks not being a deal killer). When one is discussing billions of dollars in costs, such shortcomings are unforgivable. Imagine the same flawed design approaches to a major highway proposal. Such a hypothetical would be unthinkable. It would generate doubts in the competence and/or true intent of the expenditure itself. This has become the case with Charlotte's light rail system. One of the top two most important endeavors the City will undertake in its history and it is having to be defended, at every turn as the fatal flaws begin a steady pile on. Settling for the expedient planning compromises to avoid conflict and cost are sure signs the courage and will to make the right choices are not being supported by proper community and political outreach. The momentum is being lost and I fear the fate of the system's future is no longer a given. Better to regroup, bite the bullet, in order to regain the hearts and minds advantage to insure long term success. In the meantime, there are other ways to spend a few billion dollars that would be impactful to the citizens of Charlotte. Apologies for the lengthy post yet again.
  10. The fact that this building is being called out by so many of you is reassuring. Debating obvious shortcomings in architecture and planning, and discussing better urban outcomes are what promote the development of cities over the building of projects, and it's fair to say for the moment, this building leans more into the "project" than "city" category. While it cannot be labeled a "flagrant violator" of urbane etiquette, it does illustrate the historical antagonisms contemporary architecture and planning have with people oriented, contextual, urbanism; antagonisms that over decades have established a default, anti-urban approach to the scale, feel and aesthetics of buildings and civic improvements around the world. The unintended consequences these professions have imposed on cities for nearly 70 years are thick with contradictions. The irony is that both continue to deploy the same principles and techniques toward improving peoples lives in the face of abundant evidence of failure. Good intentions gone bad surely, but by this point arguably criminal. And, these anti urban practices permeate beyond planning and architecture. They are the default settings for the associated specialist professions of transportation, landscape, real estate financing,/marketing/ appraising, civil engineering, and even municipal governance. So intertwined have all these specialities become that determining the main culprit(s) of the crime from merely their accomplices is almost impossible. We're fortunate today that the damage they are causing is recognizable and the outcomes no longer blindly labeled "progress", as witnessed by many of your comments here on UP. This recognition is the culmination of the good work of many over the last 40 years who have been battling against the relentless, anti-city campaigns launched by the specialist professions starting as far back as the 1940's. And, the resources to wage the many battles needed in defense of cities and towns have been growing exponentially over the last decade in particular. It is an exciting time to witness and participate in the urban renaissance taking hold in many places across the United States. Charlotte has made immense strides at self observation and realization in the past decade. The ground floor of this building is proof. Imagine the same project just 15 years ago. The garage would most likely have been squarely at grade, blank walls, a landscaped perimeter buffer of prickly, squat, ornamental bushes, and the ubiquitous 1980's Las Colinas office lobby entry fronted by some kind of green "lawn" and/or fountain; or worse yet built as a stand alone structure, set to one side, vandalizing the civic realm selected in order to service the eventual duo of buildings on the property, (anyone immediately envision Alley Center, or Legacy Union in their minds eye? I hope!). Much needs to be done to continue encouraging such realizations in more people, and extend these beyond just cosmetic applications of the principles of good urbanism in only bits and pieces The implications for doing so are far reaching and net positive for society as a whole and more importantly to the environment that sustains us all. I've noticed posts from members here that make mention of a few of the latest town and city "crusaders". Standing on the shoulders of the early revolutionaries, they have leveraged the power of today's social media and publication tools to take on the campaign with renewed vigor. They are fantastic portals for anyone with a passion for place making at all scales, from hamlet to metropolis. Once in, you will quickly discover how rich the discipline and study of urban planning/ design really is. Just a few citations to help start your journeys: Suburban Nation and Walkable City by Jeff Speck serve as wonderful primers for those interested in learning how the US became "suburban", the consequences that have ensued, and the steps needed to remedy them specifically from the point of view of the pedestrian. Mike Lydon has propelled a guerrilla movement for addressing anti-urban design with his book Tactical Urbanism. Chuck Marohn has consolidated a media platform to blast out the message of Strong Towns. His latest book Confessions of a Recovering Transportation Engineer is excellent reading for those interested in how just one of the specialists professions I listed above has inadvertently decimated urban fabric in the States (and by our influence, globally as well). He also hosts a Podcast called Strong Towns where he interviews those actively engaged in reversing the destructive acts their respective professions have inflicted upon cities. A personal favorite of mine is Joe Minicozzi. Joe explored the particularly nerdy profession of Real Estate Appraising and discovered how it subtly, yet maliciously influences urban development similar to how unseen dark matter in the universe exerts energy and influences the behavior of celestial bodies. Google him. A few organizations that reach deep into the discourse are Bloomberg City Labs, The Congress for New Urbanism, and The Brookings Institute. These will expose you to scores of people working on specific components of "place-making", but always with an eye to how their component fits back into the whole. Chris Leinberger, Ellen Dunham-Jones, Doug Farr, Janette Sadik-Khan, are just a few. The list is too long to type here, and I'm certain many of you know of them already. These practitioners are akin to "gateway drugs", but with positive benefits. Once you absorb their discourse you will be inexorably drawn to the foundational work and teachings of those who came before, the pioneers of the war campaign to save towns and cities; the likes of Jane Jacobs, Leon Krier, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Christopher Alexander, Jan Gehl, Kevin Lynch, Donald Appleyard, Ian McHarg, William Whyte, etc. They will in turn lead you to the wisdom of the ancients, Camillo Sitte, John Nolen, Raymond Unwin, Daniel Burnham, Werner Hegemamm, Elbert Peets, and Fredrick Law Olmsted. Back to the Stiles/Shorenstein building; two "fixes" can be considered involving zoning and transportation policy. An easy zoning fix for podium parking beyond requiring activation of the ground floor, is to also require all of a garage's fronting facade(s) be similarly "activated". By this I mean that a liner structure between the garage and the front plain of the building be mandated. Typically 35' in depth, including access hallway, (the equivalent of 4 parking stalls in the perpendicular orientation of each row of parking in a deck plate), liner buildings may be residential, office, or retail. In multi-story situations more the former two, unless you're in Asia! A reduction in garage floor space, yes, however, once you are building podium parking of more than 5 floors additional floors are not a substantial cost hit, so adding a couple of floors to compensate is not a deal killer. Masking the parking internal to the building, and for larger sites, internal to the block by burying the garage central to the property, activates all the elevations interacting with the public realm. The spaces above the pedestrian become populated with windows, with real people behind them, and lights that go on and off as day turns to night...etc...etc. This is common practice in enlightened cities, of which I include Charlotte. Just take a look at The Square at Southend. The garage there, although not a podium, is a fine example of a masked parking structure. The park side elevation (a primary frontage) is completely hidden by residential from the ground floor to the top floor. Southend's TOD ordinance should include language mandating such masking for all parking structures fronting the Blue Line, and if on a corner, the corner side elevation too. And, because such space is smaller and attracts people and uses that are by self selection, urbane in their sensibilities, the parking ratio need to be lowered or removed, as these would be users of transit, biking, or walking. Another garage design consideration, especially for cities such as Charlotte still un-weaned from the car teat, is to incentivize the building of decks with ramps in a tray configuration rather than a spiral "accordion" one. This allows future retrofitting when car storage is no longer pressing due to more robust transit options. The interior ramps can easily be gutted, leaving the perimeters and adjoining floors intact. Such designs make for excellent rehab into residential, hotel, unique offices, even "final mile" facilities for goods distribution by the likes of Amazon, for example. On the transportation policy front, (private sector side of the ledger), one needs to focus interventions that level the playing field that has for 70 years been severely "un-leveled" by auto oriented subsidies. To transition Charlotte from the crooked toothed, pimpled, and socially awkward teen into the self confident, adult, the building's Owners could provide subsidies for employees to use the Blue Line by helping cover the cost of parking at park and ride lots further out, and/or yearly CAT's transit passes. A baby step change in commuting behavior, yes, but one that leads to new habits, lessening the burden on the receiving destination to cater to the majority, even when the opportunity to respond to a small yet growing minority is literally at the doorstep. Major employers have done so for their facilities along MARTA in Atlanta, a City identical to Charlotte in every way except size. I had some free time this morning and just wanted to share a few thoughts. It may be overkill as regards this particular thread, but the topic seemed inviting, so I went for it.
  11. RealClayton is spot on. The impact on the City, of Atrium/Wake's School of Medicine, is hard to over exaggerate. Several months ago, on page 2 of the Atrium/Wake thread, I talked about what this investment means for Charlotte. It truly is a "game changer of historic proportions", on par with the Airport and the Blue Line. Morehead, Dilworth/East Blvd, and Brooklyn Village are ground zero of what will be an extreme makeover in the decades to come. For all practical purposes this investment serves as the anchor Brooklyn Village needed to validate its purpose, and would officially be so, were it not for the dreaded JBelk barrier, (a topic for discussion on another thread). I can validate RealClayton's comment about the quiet momentum now building for this long anticipated re-development project as a result of Atrium's decision. I can also share the fact that "other eyes" have set their gaze on the immediate area too. Setting aside the JBelk scar in the Queen's urban fabric, the visible manifestations of the Atrium District will excite most here on UP, satisfying both the "tall buildings" crowd, as well as the "urban fabric/density" crowd. The fallout of this beautiful explosion will ignite the potential for a health/biomedical/pharma industry complex in Charlotte if City Leaders and Developers play their cards correctly. The benefits will spread across the City for generations. Stay tuned!
  12. Hushpuppy321, your question is the perfect segue into further discussions on the proper role of transit, and to do it justice requires more writing and reading than many can tolerate on a forum such as this. I can summarize a few main points and direct you to a wonderful transit planning resource online, colleague of mine, who brilliantly lays out the rationale for equitable, functional, transit planning. I gather some on this site may already be well versed in these techniques and principles, and I hope you will add to the chat. Knowing fundamentals permits critical thinking. Merely writing about an alternative alignment without explaining the rationale only leads to "yes buts", and "that's your opinion", and "you don't know all the issues", etc. etc... The four goals of any transit system should be: Freedom, Access to Opportunity, Usefulness, and Enduring Ridership Potential. If you step back and think on these you'll come to the same conclusion most do.... these are all basically self-reinforcing attributes. The question to be asked from the start is "where can I be in "x" minutes, which translates into what is the "opportunity shed" offered to a rider by the system? How does it increase their quality of life and standard of living, ie: how many possible jobs can be accessed, critical needs serviced, cultural and learning assets reached, etc. It's all about understanding the extent to which the system expands, or restricts " the boundaries of one's life". Boundaries are simple geometry, a geometry of the possible, (geometry plays a fundamental role in city planning at the human scale, a guide-line for many important decisions). This proposition should inform every other decision, as opposed to trying to predict what people will do through social science calculations, or what a government thinks it can afford, through cost studies and engineering analysis. When the focus is on the equitable distribution of freedom, in this case mobility freedom, then the system envisioned will always be useful and attractive to riders. The latter aspect is critical because the largest cost by far associated with transit (of any kind) is ongoing operations and maintenance. If saving cost through compromise and/or value engineering is the driver of purpose from the beginning, a two fold failure is almost certain; 1- a system that is not useful for residents, and 2- a system that costs too much to operate and maintain for the City. Assuming the above are handled correctly, the next task is to avoid a system that creates its own delays. The Kryptonite of any transit system is "delay". I'm not referring to the red herring of "congestion", the boogie man transportation engineers throw about as the ultimate villain to be eradicated from existence, (congestion is actually a good thing...a sign of success and prosperity, and a topic I can talk about all day). By "delay" I'm referring to needless complications in the pursuit of "freedom". Here is where transportation planning and land planning have talked past each other historically and have only recently, in a few fortunate places, begun to talk to each other. To expand a commuter's "opportunity shed" one can enlarge the area physically accessible (move the boundary outward), or add more useful opportunities accessible within the existing boundary. The former is transportation planning, the latter is land planning. Since the original question of "where can I be in "x" minutes" will vary depending on "what I'm trying to get to" it is important that these two disciplines cooperate fully. Not doing so causes transit riders delays, resulting from inefficient stops, longer distances, and needless modal transfers. Here's where the really interesting and elegant "complexities" of layering a robust system of light rail, heavy rail, BRT, trolley's, and on demand come into play. And, as I have done in the past, I'm using the words complex and complicated in specific ways. A complex solution elegantly resolves the realities of a difficult real world issue, or task. A complicated solution does not, and is therefore not a solution to begin with. I know this is a round-a-bout response to your question Hushpuppy321, but if the Silver Line is viewed through the lenses above you can begin to see why the current alignment in some places, is falls short. Rail transit, light and heavy, provide high rider output with maximum efficiencies regarding space and energy needs (geometry again), and minimum emissions and noise externalities. One light rail train carries 200 to 300 people. A well planned system running trains at 5 to 10 minute intervals can easily deliver 10,000 people per hour through a station without delays, (as well as each station along its route, which gets into the topic of predictability and development, also fascinating, and a topic I can talk about for days). Freeways are the exact opposite. They are land, energy, pollution and noise maximizers, and like cancer in the body, destroy community tissue. They are also delay prone, as rush hour traffic demonstrates, and are almost always through systems, which is to say their integrations with surrounding community are restricted. Independence Blvd/Freeway and Brookshire Freeway's current ADT's hover at about 10,000 trips (read people) per hour, the equivalent of one light rail line. In Charlotte, neither pass through centers of employment, they pass by them. By shadowing their trajectories does the Silver Line increase job opportunities, or avoid delays to a transit rider's "opportunity shed"? Will it permit easy and complimentary transit support in the form of BRT, or regular buses to further make a rider's opportunity shed a richer experience, or increase its footprint beyond the immediate corridor? The answer to both questions is no. If you envision each light rail corridor with the capacity of an Independence Blvd in terms of "people moving", minus the grossly exaggerated space needs, pollution generation, and traffic delays that come with, you become aware of the potential of the Sliver Line, and indeed all the other light rail lines too. The most bang for you buck is not found along an existing system that serves different goals, but instead introducing new capacity along an underutilized system that aligns with the goals aspired to. Stepping back to look at the southeast corridor along which the Silver Line will run and deploying the thought points above, where can one find elements of walkability (existing and potential), job concentrations, complimentary transit connections (existing and potential), that would inform a better alignment? I'll offer a hint. Just as the Blue Line does not hug I-77, but rather runs through neighborhoods, and along existing rail lines and surface streets, so to should the Silver Line. And, happy coincidence, a similar urban geography to that of the Blue Line, is also present near to where the Silver Line is currently proposed. In fact, it does manage to find this better alignment at times (notably around Matthews, which I talked about back on pages 189/190). I'll rudely answer my own question. Monroe Rd. Monroe Rd is to Independence, as South Blvd is to I-77. It even has a nearby rail line that meanders back and forth within its route corridor as did the original Blue Line corridor. Monroe Rd passes through centers of employment, through neighborhoods, through towns. As it approaches Uptown Charlotte it becomes E. 7th St with access to other street routes that open up Elizabeth and Midtown (you know all the things there), on the way into downtown, underground ideally along Trade St., (and yes, I did write back a few pages that the JBelk removal replacement with light rail/blvd was my favorite, but only from the point of killing two birds with one stone so to speak. Trade is the more optimum alignment). The synergy with the Gold Line at grade above would be explosive, as that system expands along Central out to the Eastland area eventually. The opportunities, assets accessed, and importance of Uptown are obvious and need no rehashing here. Is it easy? No. Is is inexpensive? No? To play devil's advocate for a moment, neither is building an urban freeway, or even crazier, widening an existing urban freeway, both of which routinely get a "smell test" pass when it comes to funding. As an aside, on the way out to Gaston County, don't focus so much on the Airport. Yes, it would be nice to have a station closer to the Terminal, but in the future, Terminal Check in functions will move out to mini "terminal" offices, at select, transit stations/hubs, where luggage and check in services are preformed, freeing up air passengers to travel on trains and buses minus their luggage. The airport terminals of the future will become security clearing houses and shopping/business centers adjacent to airplane concourses. Crazy you say? The check-in aspect is already possible in some Asian countries. For, example, you can check into your flight and drop off your luggage at the train station in downtown Kuala Lumpur, and hop on the train that takes you out to the airport. Effortless. Works both when arriving and departing. Imagine being able to check into your flight at Gateway Station, Southpark, UNCC, or a handful of other transit hub locations around the City, at a small, less crowded "office" check in counter. Then hop on a train, or BRT and not see your luggage again until you arrive at your destination...hopefully in a City with similar services? In such a scenario, needing to transfer from the train to an airport people mover is no big ask, as long as the distance covered isn't too great from the "delay" perspective . It's game changing! Don't even get me started on how this will completely reshape the relationship of airport to City and the amazing development/services opportunities that will come about! I've already written way too much, apologies in advance. If you want to learn more, I would point you to an extraordinarily talented and well known transit planner, Jarrett Walker, with Jarrett Walker + Associates. Google him. His projects, videos, and writings, represent benchmark thought, much of it the basis for my rant above. He and others are who I've learned from in my practice over the years. I hope this has been helpful. Look forward to the discussions to come!
  13. CATS does not have the staff time nor the development chops to assess actual build-out scenarios. It's not their purpose. These are illustrative renderings. Back several pages ago (189/190), I wrote about the substantial shortcomings of the current Silver line routing, and the impossible assignment CATS has been given to plan/build a transit line as cheaply and with the least political and public fallout possible, while still justifying its need by actually providing "service" meaningful to riders and business. The current meandering route avoids many "win" scenarios, thus encouraging thinking minds to begin questioning its purpose; Dr Delmelle's research paper a prime example. While she does state her support for transit projects and funding, she inserts a powerful (and accurate) observation regarding access, jobs, and income. Insightful studies such as her's echo in the ears of the uninformed anti-transit opposition who misinterpret the findings (knowingly and unknowingly) and cherry pick points to use in their arguments. A subtle, but poignant example of what happens when process (build it cheaply and with no controversy), overrides purpose (provide high volume alternatives to access jobs and housing). The ever growing and now noticeable gap between what the Silver Line alignment looks like vs what it should look like has created room for doubt. Both the gap and the doubts will continue to grow. This is a significant problem because at the end of the day, the answer is "all the above", ie: transit in the form of heavy rail, light rail, trolleys, BRT's, on-demand, etc. Charlotte's urban pattern is analogous to a teenager with very crooked teeth and an overbite, and the non-auto oriented transportation alternatives are braces on those teeth. Re-aligning teeth and bite into their proper places, takes time, is painful, and not necessarily an attractive look while happening, but in the end so worth it! These necessary interventions are what will enable Charlotte's urbanism to shed its inefficient, inequitable, and wasteful baby fat, to become a lean, fit and energetic young adult.
  14. Joenc, a tolerant Uncle Sam is always helpful, but not needed. The development of tech/science infrastructure between WW2 and the 60's that you point out, represents a different and separate stage of "the life cycle" so to speak. Reaping the fruits of these initial investments and discoveries is a different cycle, requiring new actors. In fact, I would argue Fed involvement actually diminishes prospects for success. They are the wrong tool for the task at hand. I've been involved with planning / designing too many "silver bullet" innovation hubs, cities, corridors, clusters......name them what you will, especially overseas for governments and government owned entities that believe only grandiose policy gestures and massive cash infusions will reshape their urban / rural economic paradigms. They rarely succeed. Good-ole local and regional fortitude/vision are the tools for success. After all that's what built the Research Triangle Park. I was the brainchild of the 3 Universities, who convinced the State Gov't it was a great idea back in the early 60's. It gained momentum only after local citizen champions and banks jumped on the band wagon. The rest is history.
  15. With ninja like moves, and good fortune, it is becoming more certain every day that Charlotte has successfully secured a foothold onto the future landscape of the finance industry. Over the last 40 years The Queen staked out a kingdom on the existing field of play, nurturing and hosting some of the behemoths of the banking world, and parlaying her presence into growth and development for the City. The spinoffs have changed Charlotte completely and even sparked the energy that eventually placed the City in such a position of prominence on this Forum we all enjoy But the banking landscape that supported all this success is changing and changing fast. Tremors are constant, the precursors of earthquakes to come powerful enough to alter the course of the behemoths themselves. I have colleagues at many such behemoths, and the guidance they share concerning where the industry may be in 20 years is eye opening. Suffice it to say, for us skyscraper and urban development enthusiasts, such a future is one we will want a city with Charlotte's economic profile to avoid. With one foot firmly planted on the increasingly stable earth of the new finance industry, the Queen seems well on her way to avoid such a future. KJ is right to be excited. These announcements confirm that banks and institutions, aligned more closely with the Fintech Revolution and its mindset, already recognize the Queen's flag staked alongside her foot on the new field of play. The ecosystems of complimentary and support businesses this revolution will be bringing with are immense. They too will look to Charlotte as the banking structures and norms of the past are supplanted by new opportunities. The Queen is building a new Kingdom and it's one with plenty of fertile land in all directions to expand onto. For us UP people that means many years to come enjoying announcements of growth and development and skyscrapers. All that's left is for the Queen to successfully take that last step off the old shaky earth into the future while keeping her balance. But, as I've stated before, if Charlotte really wants join the big leagues and secure its destiny for generations to come, the City needs to significantly expand its education presence. Finance is a lubricant greasing the wheels of commerce and society. Education builds the wheels. The growth of UNCC, Queens, CPCC, Davidson, Johnson and Smith, and Wake Forest should be of paramount importance to everyone on this Forum. Imagine if these institutions had the cache nationally and internationally the trio of Duke, Chapel Hill, NC State have? It is easy to see how these three Universities impact the Triangle. There would be no Triangle without them! Raleigh would be a small southern State Capitol, Durham and Chapel Hill, sleepy communities..... and there would be no Research Park. Charlotte would have been the undisputed urban center between Washington and Atlanta. Cities with solid and recognized institutions of higher learning outrun and outlast those that do not. I am more excited long term about UNCC's growth, and Wake Forests medical school than any Fintech relocation. Raising the visibility and quality of all the local Colleges and Universities in Charlotte and marketing them together as a high quality pool of talent is the single most important endeavor the City can undertake for its future.
  16. Large scale projects impacting municipalities at the level transit system do should never be designated the sole purview of any one organization/agency.....silo thinking that dilutes messaging and responsibility. A major shortcoming of this Transit Planning process. The interconnections between all forms of rail, and auto, cycling, and walking, for example, are densely tethered, and these threads reach out to weave the City's social, environmental, and economic spheres into a tightly dependent tapestry. Impossible to pull on one thread without tugging an many others. A robust, joint effort is sorely needed. History shows the most fruitful outcomes result from such endeavors. Cross-agency cooperation can provide stronger counter arguments when the opposition, you rightly point out dubone, inevitably occurs, ( in addition to opening access to broader pots of federal monies). And, remember, "growth" is not the only checklist item to address when properly planning light rail transit systems. Access to jobs and relevancy to the user base also carry weight. Development can, and usually is, a byproduct to anticipate for financing purposes on the private and public ledgers. The Silver Line's true development potential in terms of cost vs new development and revenue is much stronger along the corridors beyond Uptown, on the way to Belmont and Stallings. Here too, the current alignments are hit and miss, falling generally short of the true potential possible. But don't get me started. I have an overseas flight to hop on. I've enjoyed the discussion and everyone's responses. Carry on and keep thinking/questioning
  17. Appreciate the thoughts/feedback Orulz To be clear I am suggesting completely removing the JBF. It does not need to exist in its present form to provide the function it serves. Doing so would properly zip together Southend, Dilworth/Kenilworth, CPCC/Midtown and the two Hospitals (new medical school included) with Center City Charlotte. Consider that this unencumbered footprint would be equivalent in area to Manhattan south of Central Park to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall. And no...i'm not suggesting Manhattan densities will sprout in Charlotte. I'm pointing out the amount of walkable urbanism., ie: neighborhoods, parks, employment districts, entertainment and shopping streets, which could be realized in the decades to come as these most central and densest parts of Charlotte leverage off each other, and their growing transit anchored access to the region. Addressing the park capped idea, a cap is the most costly part of development. Handing over the real estate created above and/or adjacent to non-taxable revenue generating purposes, when there are multiple opportunities to create park space on less expensive properties, would not be practical here. This is the reason examples of "Park" capped freeways most always span very, very short distances..... Seattle (excluding topo induced tunneling), Dallas etc. The proposal here is to zip up a long, self-inflicted scar across the Queen's face with high intensity, human habitat oriented, plastic surgery. It is the only reason I tend to lean more in favor of this option than the Trade St. option. But, believe me, I would be over the moon if either were even a topic of discussion at this point
  18. The rendering above perfectly depicts the reality to come. A picture can speak a thousand words, and in the case of the above, none are inspiring. Pay close attention to this segment of the corridor’s context, as you contemplate the following: if a checklist for successful light rail were attached the “achieved” column would show almost no items marked. I’ll skip ahead here to the argument made be some that development opportunities along this proposed routing are enough to overcome other shortcomings. Yes, development incentivization is one of many items on any successful light rail checklist, however, not all development is created equal. Bear with me here. The Brookshire/277 expressway (as are all expressways) is equivalent to a zipper, unzipped. It separates urban (read walking) fabric, depressing land values directly adjacent, promoting auto-centric support development/infrastructure, and increasing noise and pollution to properties along it. Light rail lines (above and below grade), well designed streets and boulevards, pedestrian engaged ground floor buildings, and civic spaces are equivalent to zippers being zipped. They unite urban fabric, generate higher land values in direct adjacency, reduce noise and air pollution, and foster people centric development/infrastructure. Pardon my need for another skip ahead…. The 50-year build-out of the interstate/highway system that passes through Charlotte consists of 1-85 (not going anywhere), I-77, (not going anywhere), and Highway 74, (not going anywhere and being redeveloped into an expressway from sea to mountains). Three links branch between these and I will list them in order of least necessary to most necessary: 1- John Belk Freeway, 2- Brookshire north of I-77 and 3- the Brookshire south of I-77 Two of the three are pertinent to the Silver Line and it has hugged, with reckless abandon number 3, the most critical to the expressway system. The Brookshire already functions as a through-put artery as its AADT figures show. The other two do not. They are glorified “arms” reaching toward employment nodes in and around downtown. Such expressways are excellent candidates for removal/repurposing since their absence in no way impede access/traffic flows, either locally, or regionally. These are the “freeways without futures” you may have read about, built as a justification to improve traffic, but in reality deployed for more nefarious reasons, where existing traffic demand is absorbed (often eliminated) by surrounding networks when taken off line, or redesigned. Hold this thought. Back to the Silver Line’s current embrace of the Brookshire. Topography dictates that in some distant future a portion of its southern section could be capped to re-zip the Belmont and Villa Heights neighborhoods with First Ward and downtown (aspirational hope of mine), but the bulk of the Brookshire in the rendering will remain and most likely “improved” to take on the traffic volumes it will be asked to handle. There is no zipping here, and except for the aforementioned example, very little pedestrian/neighborhood redevelopment potential as was the case for South End when the Blue line was built. The two places are diametrically opposed examples of context and outcomes. Examples of what the Brookshire will eventually look like abound throughout the US, none of which are successful, pedestrian oriented, light rail corridors. What would a routing with a “win” in mind look like? A win would be a concerted effort to work out phasing, funding, partnerships, grants, tax abatement policies, and bond drives to look at either: 1- putting the light rail above and below grade along Trade St (yes indeed, a complex and expensive decision requiring trade offs along other segments of the line), but with enormously positive checklist results, or, my favorite 2- replacing the John Belk with a Boulevard from just beyond the current interchange with the Brookshire, to just before the interchange with I-77 and the Silver Line routed along it, at grade along its southern leg and below along the northern leg. The topography works exceptionally well for both, allowing for “underground” segments to be built at current grades and covered by boulevard decking. The acreage of new land for development that would spontaneously appear would run in the tens of millions of dollars. Critically, the junction of the Blue and Silver lines would be grade separated, Blue at grade, and Silver below, functioning just like the robust transit systems do in larger cities….yes, with escalators, elevators, and steps. Architecturally, given grade differences, Stonewall Station/Convention Center, and the South end side of a new boulevard, the results could truly be “world class”. It should be obvious to all on this forum how either of these re-alignments would do a superior job stitching together every major employment, entertainment, and transportation node in the central city region to the Charlotte metropolitan region. The latter would create an inspiring opportunity to establish a Gateway Station – Stadium anchored entertainment and business corridor, akin to the current relationship found between the World Financial Center, the Oculus/Path Station, and Fulton St Station in lower Manhattan. Such alignments spur transformative development opportunities. Such alignments encourage neighborhood building. Such alignments connect people and jobs. Such alignments improve air quality and noise reduction. Such alignments require thought and cooperation, not expediency and conflict avoidance.
  19. The goals and objectives for any successful transit plan must be nuanced as they seek to achieve balanced outcomes within a field of play that is not, (especially in the US, and specifically for development profiles such as Charlotte's). I've tried to remain complimentary of the efforts put forth in routing the silver line through the Queen City's heart, and out to Belmont and Stallings, but as more plans and images are released the harder it becomes. I want to preface my statements by acknowledging the complexities at hand, so as not to sound Quixotic in my disappointment and critique. Importantly, this is not a slam to those working hard to navigate the many interests involved……the staff at CAT’s are talented, but I fear politics and expectations have hijacked the tools of proper planning leaving a whack-a-mole approach to address matters of inclusion and avoid matters of conflict. The current plan is shaping up to be an "epic" missed opportunity. The selected corridor clearly expresses the assumptions and perceived challenges it seeks to avoid, and in this single minded pursuit of what is easiest the entire endeavor has become complicated, (very different meaning to the word "complex"), endangering both its short and long-term success. It complicates transit network efficiencies. It complicates transit rider use and relevancy. It complicates efforts to strengthen the existing fabric of neighborhoods and shape their future growth. It teases access to the Metropolis’ vital parts while bypassing most of them. It is too comfortable with its relationship to the City’s highway and expressway infrastructure. A billion dollars should deliver more than a solid one seat ride to Gateway Station, a new NFL Stadium and CLT's people mover while riding alongside Independence Expressway and its western namesake Wilkinson Blvd. The biggest winner could end up being downtown Matthews if they choose the correct alignment there, and this does make me happy. That community has struggled the most while still succeeding to maintain a viable heart since the early days when Charlotte's first wave of suburban growth inundated the town. Additional places could win too, (wouldn't it be grand to include the bulk of downtown Charlotte, ie: Midtown, Southend etc on this list!) with slight re-alignments based on a shift in thinking and greater tolerance for some controversy. The silver line is too important to fall back on the City’s penchant for “expediency”. Creative solutions exist and there are people not adverse to complexity if the results leverage great outcomes. Oddly enough it could be a shift in the politics at the federal level that may enable new and compelling ideas locally. My two cents.
  20. Big things are afoot SentioVenia. The future is looking "healthy" (pardon the medical pun) for the block of land framed by E. Morehead, S. McDowell (both sides), Berkeley Ave , and I-277. And, keep an eye on this block's relationship to Pearl St Park and its connection to the City's growing green infrastructure system. The video "fly-through", aside from being locationally informative, unfolds as it does with purpose. There are three development efforts substantially underway now that will be transformational to the Queen City's urban fabric and economic profile for decades to come. This is one of them. Very exciting!
  21. Like wearing a bathing suite to a dinner party. Charlotte has many "contextual" issues, with its urbanism (as do many other cities....). The ubiquitous "grass strip" in urban settings is one. Urban core type development (mixed use/mid rise and up) requires context appropriate streetscapes. Trees in street grates either flush with sidewalk, or in slightly raised planters (tree with flowers combo looks nice), with wide sidewalks from curb to building. Better for pedestrians getting out of cars, much better for tree health (in urban settings), easier to maintain and keep looking sharp. That pathetic strip of grass (a botched Brazilian) , with the equally disappointing provision of 3 insignificant saplings is a sad detail. As with many such "strips" it will be pissed on by dogs and trampled under foot. Relegated to a continual state of brown turf and patches of dirt sprinkled with cigarette butts and pocket debris. All too common in South End. Of course, we can look forward to the sporadic application of straw and seed from time to time.
  22. The comments/opinions expressed on this thread reveal the "double edged sword" of a globalized urban development system. Most of us on this site love the excitement, variety, life, and opportunity urbanism generates...and of course we, more than most, particularly fetish the built form that houses it all. Yet, at the same time, we may also feel disappointed by what is delivered around us. The ups and downs can be heart felt at times. Cities that grew large pre-war, and those that have not grown much since, have more of the fabric The Real Clayton describes. The streets and buildings of this fabric inherently have more "value" because they were built, occupied, and maintained locally/regionally when they were built in the past. Nearly impossible to replicate in today's supply chain, financing, and insurance driven world whose participants are silo'd and scattered across the globe. Globalization has commodified the entirety of the process and it is the process, more than consumer preferences, that determines what succeeds. It is the same phenomena that makes a completely synthesized, factory delivered, smartly marketed, and colorfully bagged assembly of chemicals, which the fast food/snack industry delivers globally and with perceived variety, less expensive than growing and delivering local fruits and vegetables within a 100 miles of your home. Given a choice most would select local fruits and vegetables as the mainstay of their daily needs, but economics and convenience skew demand toward the cheaper, globalized system as the default. This default setting is hard to switch once the underlying infrastructure has been put in place. Same for city building. Older, large cities have more interesting unique places, but, they are not immune to globalized urban development either. Iconic places such as NYC, London, Paris, all have large swaths of " industry delivered could-be-anywhere" developments. If I dropped you, like the Google Earth Guy, on a sidewalk/street in Canary Wharf, Hudson Yards, Le Defense, and you didn't take cues from the language/accent spoken, you'd be hard pressed to define the "uniqueness" between one or the other. Still exciting places, fun to visit now and again, and to experience visually within the urban fabric in measured doses. Charlotte's urban fabric is so small by comparison and the age of most of its development is from the awkwardly anti-urban, post war era. The arrival of globalized product has no counter balance here. It arrives pre-packaged, a bit sterile and locally "nameless" so to speak. They land on the City a bit like parachuted supply packages from planes flying high overhead during WWII. Buildings on parking podiums poking into the City's skyline like children in high heels at an adult gathering. Contemporary townhomes and chain restaurants/businesses easily making their presence known along the City's generally low density and wooded public realms. Exhilerating, yes indeed. New people, new businesses, employment, prosperity, but definitely neither local, or value based (referring to the buildings, not the businesses, and people in them). The current system delivers urban development in a pre-packaged, bulk way, simultaneously exciting in act, but disappointing in outcome. Replacing it to get back to regional and local approaches is a herculean task. For now, one can only intercede here and there, in moments of action. It takes a special alignment of people, purpose and resources to enable what many on here lament as lost. There are communities that force such alignments and intervene on occasion to deliver special places. Charlotte is not yet there. Otherwise discussions and outcomes concerning Hall House and the Polk Building would have had very different tones and results, (fingers still crossed on Hall House).
  23. KJHburg, you are right to lament this act of urban, self mutilation. I stated some months ago that: "What is proposed is an expedient solution resulting from a failed process, populated by close minded participants, lacking vision, communication skills, and design and technical expertise". The insidious result of a gathering of the Unthinking, permissible only in an environment that struggles to value imagination. And this is what deepens the "sadness" for me. This failure once again exposes Charlotte's "weak link", its imagination deficit. Imagination, in this context, used to describe the deliberate and mindful embrace of creative solutions to complex matters. Hall House, a building with historic and material value, is lost, because the repercussions of this blatant lack of imagination in Charlotte are still near zero......... I say "near zero" because there are a few of us here, on Urbanplanet, who care.
  24. To clarify, had there been no pandemic, a group of projects that were "making their way" toward announcements this time last year would have broken ground, or been under construction today. These were "paused", (one shelved indefinitely, although I've heard some encouraging chatter of late). Had they not, KJHburg's panorama of SouthEnd from yesterday would have been dotted with cranes. Ongoing construction activity in SouthEnd this past year involves projects that broke ground pre-pandemic, including Portman's project. Only one, Vantage's second building, kicked off during the pandemic year. The "pause" is about to end as these projects are now gearing up to resume. A few short years from now, if KJHburg takes another photo, there will be buildings of the "taller variety" visible in his shot.
  25. Indeed. The 2020 pause button (for SouthEnd) will soon be released.
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