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About Phillydog

  • Birthday 03/22/1970

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  1. Awesome! More density downtown, where it belongs. The more we act like our downtowns are sacred places that can't change, the more sprawl we'll have and less access to opportunity for anyone without a car.
  2. Came across information about the land area of US metro areas. In the national narrative, the growth of NC (and SC) are lost to the news people because we are so multi-nodal. Florida and Texas are also multi-nodal and the growth of the cities in Texas especially, deserve national attention. However, Tennessee, Georgia, Washington State, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, among the fast growing states have one dominate and rapidly growing city. The Census definitions don't help outsiders see it either. Raleigh-Durham should be one metro; Atlanta, GA is near nearly 3 times the land area of Charlotte (8200 sq. km). If Charlotte's metro were 22,500 sq km it would include Greenville, Spartanburg, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Hickory and the population would be around 6,100,000 -essentially the same size as Atlanta, Roxwell, Alpharetta, Athens. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 70,612 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 37,725 Albuquerque, NM 24,042 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 24,029 Tucson, AZ 23,794 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 22,498 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 21,616 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 21,480 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 21,388 Bakersfield, CA 21,062 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 20,439 St. Louis, MO-IL 20,366 Salt Lake City, UT 19,901 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 19,779 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 18,941 Kansas City, MO-KS 18,793 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 18,638 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 17,311 Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN 16,320 Tulsa, OK 16,237 Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/431912/top-20-metropolitan-areas-in-the-united-states-by-land-area/
  3. More on the redevelopment of Northgate Mall in response to the Call for Action by the Walltown Neighborhood: What I don't see in any of these discussions is the role the City has to fund the public-facing desires of the community. We cannot build the city we want without the private sector. Alienating them - treating them as an enemy - is NOT going to help get us to want we want. "Affordable" retail, housing; streets that advance accessibility for all, and open spaces that benefit the community and the environment should involve a public investment of money. To realize a better City requires a diversity of people: ethnicity, income, race, sexuality, etc. As much as it appears to pain a lot of community activists, it must include wealthy people to help pay for the services and facilities we want and to support the businesses that will provide opportunities for people. It is right to involve the public in this process, but we are going to fail to negotiate without a fundamental understanding of the trade-offs and unintended consequences of our actions. For example, development is going to happen - the Triangle is exploding. We can either maximize our infill potential to truly expand access to economic and social opportunity or development will continue to eat up our surrounding rural counties. Infill and concentration of development also help us to maximize the investments already made in infrastructure and help us to ween off automobile dependency, and economic segregation, and when done well, help us to preserve our natural environment. NIMBYism is a real threat and in cities like Durham with a politically active and well-educated population, it is indeed a threat to our regional environment, economic mobility, health, and other tangible goals. To this end, we must understand fundamental development economics and urban design principles. If we are indeed interested in building the best city for ourselves and neighbors and future generations, we must approach private developers as our partners, not as adversaries. I am an urbanist – I like cities. Not the cities built since about 1950, although there are some places in cities built after 1950 that aren’t totally horrible since the 1930s and accelerating after World War II to reach a crescendo in the 1990s, American cities ceased being the places they had been for millennia and became something mechanical, impersonal, and uninspiring with architecture and landscapes to boot. Cities were just places of commerce or places to house humanity; they were the reflection of our culture and history. Architecture and public spaces inspired people to advance their lives although historically and tragically, the social, legal, and cultural constraints frequently squashed the ascent of individual advancement. The quality of the built environment and the careful consideration of how we plan for our communities is something that can appeal to both conservatives and liberals -- because at the end of the day, the built environment impacts the goals of both. You can have a healthy return on investment and protect the environment; you can build for the wealthy and address poverty; you can improve fiscal efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint. The built environment's impact on every facet of our lives is utterly profound. You can even do it without extensive, complicated, legislation. In fact, you’re more likely to achieve your communities’ goals when the process is simpler. Is it clear and articulated; have you secured the support of your political decision-makers; have you informed the public about the law of unintended consequences? The built environment’s impact on our personal lives and society is profound but go largely underappreciated. As we watch rural farmlands and forests develop, empty lots in cities go undeveloped, poverty becomes endemic, personal health declines, air, and water resources are compromised, and both physical and economic mobility are destroyed. In one way or another, this is less about public policy than it is about our built environment. Cities built by the public sector aren’t always failures, but the list of public-sector-driven development failures is long, including Adolf Hitler’s visions for Berlin and Warsaw and other places new and old. Next, we have the Communist-inspired version of city building and, closer to home, the urban renewal projects of the 1960s and 1970s. Their aspirations for an ideal future met reality if only in the design of monolithic spaces designed for mechanical giants. Ugh. There are more successful examples of places generally loved by most, Paris, for example. But, ultimately, our favorite places/spaces have been built by the private sector. As much as many will cringe, the economics of developing places is a reality. Ultimately, good places are designed, not legislated. We need to encourage this, not fight it. One of my favorite examples of the private sector building good places is the streetcar neighborhoods of the early 20th century. These places were at once walkable and transit-friendly. Because cars were not yet the dominant form of mobility the nature of movement in the early 20th century was still pedestrian in scale and so were cities. The high-water mark for urban design and placemaking came before the institution of zoning and the modern profession of Planning. With both eyes open, if we aren’t vigilant, developers will follow the “path of least resistance”, meaning, they are most likely to invest in and build where it’s easiest. At the end of the day, developers are looking to maximize their return on investment. But, there is a way for the public sector and citizens to work with private investment to build better cities, towns, and neighborhoods. The first step is understanding how it all works. Development/Density Follows Transportation Never has a city formed when you couldn’t access it. The arguments against light rail and mass transit are inherently flawed and we let the anti-transit forces get away with it. They argue, that “there isn’t enough density” to support fixed transit. Fixed transit means transit with stations that can’t be moved (at least not easily). Fixed transit creates “nodes” around which activity clusters. Nodes of activity have always been the signature of a town or city, at least until the automobile. Civic buildings, workplaces, and schools are nodes but so are intersections of transportation: an intersection of streets, a streetcar stop, or a freeway interchange. Anti-transit types (conveniently?) ignore this fact while witnessing the “development/density follows transportation” rule in action: construction of freeways is responsible for the creation of new nodes of activity, albeit automobile-dependent nodes. The places that developed around the automobile aren’t just inhospitable to pedestrians and other non-car users, they are fundamentally “anti-urban”. What is “Anti-Urban” Understanding “anti-urban” starts with at least one understanding of what being “urban” means. In our context, it means several things: · places where the built environment has eradicated the ability of people from across a broad spectrum to interact with each other · places that have obliterated the interconnectedness of spaces and neighborhoods. · places where they only shared spaces are private and inherently undemocratic. The Environment Sprawl is the primary culprit in our battle, in the United States but now elsewhere, against the degradation of the environment, social and economic advancement, the richness of diversity, and human connection. Affordability There is a direct correlation between the availability of housing (quantity) and the price of housing. Barring any outside involvement, i.e. public sector investment, the price of housing will be associated with quantity. That's a fact of economics. Developers will not build where there is no demand, although, to be honest, developers can overshoot a market's ability to "absorb" inventory: Las Vegas was a good example. Taxes and Service We want/need public services: parks, streets, sidewalks, schools, public safety, training, assistance for people who have fallen on hard times, a built environment that protects the health of the natural environment, clean water, functioning sewers, etc. To pay for this, the public sector needs revenue. This is acquired in the form of taxes and fees. There is a "breaking point" based on housing value, one of the biggest resources for public revenue, where the value of property below $X is a net negative on public resources - in other words, below a certain point the value of property costs more for services than it produces in income for a city. A healthy city is one with a balance of wealthy residents with those who are less fortunate. Poverty and Opportunity A largely under-discussed component of poverty is the built environment. The vast majority of jobs have been and continue to be in places that are far from our poorest neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the sprawling nature of our pattern of development means that access to these opportunities to afforded to those who can afford a private vehicle. Mass transit is unsupportable in an automobile-dependent built environment. An example of how our society once made upward mobility more accessible to the working classes was the proximity of housing to factories. Factory towns were walkable. The rich and poor lived within the same geographic area; the poor could access employment, education, and social and cultural opportunities within a geographic area that was accessible by walking, or later, by streetcars. The bottom line is this: work with the private sector to improve the density of our city to achieve our goals because without the private sector we will not. Don’t eschew the importance of income diversity – we need wealthy residents for a host of reasons not the least of which is to pay for the social, cultural, and economic goals we pursue. Not at the expense of the poor but in concert with them. Don’t pretend that development will occur, especially in a region like the Triangle, and it’s in our purview to determine if it happens within the fabric of our existing infrastructure or outside it on our farmlands and forests. And for god’s sake, remember that development (and opportunity) is tied to our transportation system and specifically, the design of our streets. Streets like Roxboro Road are an affront to our goals to advance economic opportunity and tackle environmental catastrophe. These are my initial thoughts – an outline. On Monday, September 12, 2022 at 11:38:03 AM EDT, Brandon J. Williams <[email protected]> wrote: Dear Walltown neighbors and Durham residents, Last Thursday, I spoke on behalf of the Walltown Community Association at the City Council work session advocating for the integration of affordable housing, affordable retail, community green space, and environmental sustainability in the redevelopment of Northgate Mall (see full comments attached). We asked City Council do two things to advance our resident-led vision for that property: Convene a table where Northwood, Duke–who owns the old Macy’s, City staff, and representatives from our organizing coalition can work to integrate community priorities into the redevelopment; and Commit funding and other resources to support the implementation of that collaborative plan. Today, we are asking all of you to contact the Mayor and other Councilmembers and let them know you support our requests. You can email the entire council at [email protected] or using the individual contact information below. Elaine O’Neal (Mayor): 919-560-4333, ext. 10269; Elaine.O'[email protected] Javiera Caballero: 919-560-4396, ext. 10272; [email protected] DeDreana Freeman: 919-560-4396, ext. 10276; [email protected] Jillian Johnson: 919-560-4396, ext. 10278; [email protected] Mark-Anthony Middleton: 919-560-4396, ext. 10277; [email protected] Monique Holsey-Hyman: 919-560-4396, ext. 10274; [email protected]hamnc.gov Leonardo Williams: 919-560-4396, ext. 10273; [email protected] As you advocate for this critical issue, please explore and share the details of our work and findings in the report, Building a Place for All People: A Community-Centered Vision for the New Northgate Mall. We have engaged well over 600 residents via surveys, focus groups, outdoor presentations, and an April 2021 press conference. Others in the area also see the importance of this redevelopment and have presented ideas that underscore key aspects of our process and designs: Durham Planning Commissioner Nate Baker provides an example of “Inclusive Mall Redevelopment Done Right” Local urban planner, Phil Veasley, share his “Northgate Mall Vision” Thank you for your time and support. On behalf of the Walltown Community Association, -- Brandon J. Williams he/him/his 919.308.3900 www.walltown.net "From beatboxers to beat breakers, like the yellow brick road we go where the beat takes us..."
  4. Love that it's mid century modern. More buildings in downtown Durham is great. There goes my support for the Carolina Theater.
  5. A disaster for the city and neighborhoods around it. I hold the far-left neighborhood vocalists and a racist City Council responsible for this project missing all of its potential. Not everyone in the community shares the opinions of the Community Association and we aren't being heard. We all want more affordable housing and to stop sprawl eating away at our rural open space and farmlands but, there's a thing called the law of unintended consequences. I have been a city planner for over 30 years but my master's degree is in landscape architecture. I have fought to end sprawl and soul-less places for my entire career. What I see happening in Durham is bewildering and it starts with a fundamental misunderstanding of cause and effect. What are community expectations? We want to stop sprawl, we want more affordability housing, we want less automobile dependence, we want better access to opportunity, we want safer neighborhoods, and we want to protect the environment. The way to achieve these things is to encourage more, not less, development in areas of Durham that are already developed. The cost to develop in Durham coupled with the cost of construction is driving development away from the core (where it should be) and out into less-regulated areas where open space and farmland make development less expensive. This hurts the City, and our goals, by siphoning tax revenue away from where it's most needed and can do the most to help people. Instead of a project adding to the City's revenues and helping to pay for more of the services and infrastructure we need, lots sit vacant or underutilized. We bemoan the loss of trees in the center of our city at the expense of forests outside of it. Instead of a transit-supportive city, we are perpetuating automobile dependence, which by the way, for low-income residents is an additional burden of approximately $9000 a year. Instead of working with developers in a spirit of building commonality, we treat them like the enemy. Instead of partnering with the developers to subsidize affordability housing, we demand they shoulder the burden of our demands solely on their shoulders. When they walk away from a project because our demands become too onerous, we are left for years and decades with empty lots and dilapidated buildings effectively cutting off our noses to spite our faces. The only issue I see getting much attention from the Association is the redevelopment of Northgate Mall. What are we doing to make Roxboro Road more bike, pedestrian, and comfortable for transit users? Why are we OK with the City not working with NCDOT to make improvements to the street to make it more useful for all? You want "affordable retail" and a grocery store? Roxboro Road is filled with empty buildings that are basically inaccessible and contribute little to the City or residents. Instead of fighting a developer, what are you doing to make Roxboro Road a place for small businesses to succeed and accessible to people who don't or can't drive a car? You want more affordable housing? Make it easier for developers to build and get the City to subsidize the construction. Because an empty Mall producing no jobs or revenue is so much better than a mixed-use development with more housing? The Walltown Community Association (and the City of Durham's political elite) fail to appreciate the damage they are doing to the goals we share - and we can thank them for more sprawl, less accessibility, more automobile dependence, and less revenue to fund the programs we need to help people in need. If you've made it this far, you should be checking out some articles on the subject of cause and effect and the law of unintended consequences in many professional urban design, city planning, and architecture journals. Here are a few from The Atlantic Monthly: New market-rate development helps relieve pressure on local housing prices. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/08/rent-inflation-housing-demand-prices/671179/ Why Your House Was So Expensive: Material-cost inflation, anti-building rules, NIMBY attitudes, and barriers to innovation have created a housing-affordability crisis. https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2022/07/building-house-expensive-market-inflation-nimby/670596/ Community Input Is Bad, Actually Angry neighborhood associations have the power to halt the construction of vital infrastructure. It doesn’t have to be this way. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/04/local-government-community-input-housing-public-transportation/629625/ ----- Signed, M. Cyr IN RESPONSE TO THE EMAIL SENT OUT TO FIGHT THIS PROJECT.... f 2019, they would own the entire property save for the old Macy’s, which was purchased, and still owned, by Duke University Health System. In August 2021, Northwood submitted a site plan for the redevelopment of the property focused on a mix of residential, retail, and office space. While Phase One of the initial plan did not meet community expectations, Northwood said they would be open to negotiating around community benefits in Phase Two when they planned to request a zoning change to increase the height limits on the property. What’s at Stake Now? Now Northwood is back with a new plan, one centered on scientific labs doing research and development and office space. There is no inclusion of affordable housing in this new plan. In fact, there is no inclusion of housing at all. Yet, while they are no longer seeking a height increase (at least not at this moment), they still need to rezone the property. So this Thursday, Northwood is hosting a virtual community meeting as a requirement of their rezoning application. Per the letter that went out to property owners within 600 feet of the mall: “The developer is proposing a rezoning to Commercial General with a development plan (CG(D)) to allow for life science use in addition to office, retail, and amenity space.” Action You Can Take Now The Walltown Community Association is calling on people around the city to attend Thursday’s meeting and tell Northwood Investors that if they want to change the zoning at Northgate Mall, they need to fully integrate the priorities of Durham residents. Since December 2018, Walltown has led an effort to design a community-centered vision for the redevelopment of Northgate Mall (the details of our work and findings can be explored in the report, Building a Place for All People: A Community-Centered Vision for the New Northgate Mall). We have engaged well over 600 residents via surveys, focus groups, outdoor presentations, and an April 2021 press conference. In hearing from Northgate’s most proximate neighbors, and from those around the city, it is clear that an equitable redevelopment of the mall property must create connection to the community. Connection is created by an inviting and welcoming space (affordable living, shopping, and entertainment; open and accessible physical environment) for all Durham residents. Our priorities for the redevelopment include: Affordable Housing: We want 30% of the housing units on the property to be priced for people at or below the Walltown median income ($37,222 annually). Affordable Retail: We want a grocery store that pays living wages and retail set-asides for non-chain local businesses, especially BIPOC-owned. Accessible Community-centered Design: We want a community greenspace that connects the property with Walltown park by opening up along Guess Road. We want a dedicated community space, such as a Durham County library branch containing a Walltown history hub. Environmental Sustainability: We want enhanced stormwater reduction infrastructure to significantly reduce runoff and excessive flooding in and around Ellerbe Creek. Remember that the zoning of the property is where we as residents have power. We are not going to concede that power simply because the “market” is providing a lucrative alternative to what we envision as the most just and equitable future for our community. We must make it clear to Northwood and the Durham City Council that it is a political non-starter to not expand housing supply for lower income residents when the proposed development will exacerbate the already intense financial pressure on renters and homeowners in adjacent neighborhoods, especially Walltown. Any development that threatens to displace, must balance out the act with housing to replace. Instructions for Attending Northwood’s Virtual Community Meeting The meeting will be held on August 25th at 6:00PM - 7:00PM Eastern Time. To attend the meeting by PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or Android device, Go to https://mcadamsco.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_b61zxcl-SsqmyyzluR_dtg to register for the meeting. Registration is necessary as we are required by the City of Durham to have a record of attendance. Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to access the meeting. To attend the meeting by phone, dial one of the following numbers: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 309 205 3325 or 888 788 0099 (Toll Free) Enter Webinar ID: 88676286887 For attendance purposes as required by the City of Durham, individuals participating via telephone will be unmuted and asked to identify themselves including their name and address. You are encouraged to join the meeting via your computer or smartphone so that you will have access to Zoom Webinar’s interactive features including Raise Hand and Chat. Per the letter: “If you have questions or cannot attend the meeting but would like further information, please feel free to call me at 919-287-0824 or contact me by e-mail at [email protected] Patrick Byker with Morningstar Law Group is the Land Use Attorney representing the project and may also be reached by phone at 919-590-0384 or email at [email protected]” On behalf of the Walltown Community Association, -- Brandon J. Williams he/him/his 919.308.3900 www.walltown.net "From beatboxers to beat breakers, like the yellow brick road we go where the beat takes us..."
  6. Austin, Texas isn't much bigger than RDU but has been able to accommodate LH, KL, BA, VX, AM. I can see a KLM, Condor or Lufthansa, Aeromexico and Aer Lingus doing well at RDU.
  7. The Icelandair service is so successful it's been extended to January. That's great. I was anxious for this to succeed but suspected it could be a indication that RDU, with so many students, seniors, well-educated people, could easily support more foreign carriers. I hope the success of this service will attract more international carriers/service. https://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2022/08/18/icelandair-extends-nonstop-service-rdu-iceland.html?utm_source=st&utm_medium=en&utm_campaign=ae&utm_content=RA&j=28774779&senddate=2022-08-18
  8. The Carolinas are kicking it. Besting every state but Florida. No sign of Georgia in the list or Tennessee. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/11/americans-earning-200000-dollars-or-more-flocking-to-these-states.html
  9. The media seems pretty intent on beating up AA.
  10. https://liveandletsfly.com/american-airlines-bankruptcy/?fbclid=IwAR3KT-lQle888vo69BoVcz-y0GCVrAxOphDDskf6_gLjlhou6fFCiSANhXU&fs=e&s=cl How alarming is the health of AA? What is the scenario for CLT if AA fails? Would UA or DL take advantage of the location for a hub?
  11. Being in three divisions give you access to three different possibilities of money. You don't want to be in one. Try learning about Prioritization and the role of regional transportation planning organizations.
  12. What's the delay with groundbreaking? Durham's bureaucracy? Waiting on tenant(s)?
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