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monsoon

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Everything posted by monsoon

  1. ^No argument on that at all. It's all true. But the TIF idea is a dead idea. It was suggested by CATS but that doesn't mean that it would work. In fact it's good reason to believe it would be a financial disaster. This is coming from an organization that has consistently come up with business plans for construction that would have put a private business, out of business. Nobody has ever produced any numbers indicating that TIF financing would, especially in these days of declining real estate values and halted development, make any sense at at all. It's a gamble on the future value of real estate and everyone should understand that risk now. The town councils rightfully make the point this train plan was conceived without any kind of involvement from them. Maybe in hindsight, the Mayors of the towns should have been forced to have their respective councils vote on any decision made by these Mayors while acting on the MTC, but this didn't happen. The failure of the MTC concept, is that it did not have political buy in from the elected town councils who control the budgets of these towns. It worked until these councils were asked to sign up to cover bills for CATS because the plans that were originally put forth, turned out to be totally unrealistic. This might have worked better if the CLT Mayor had at least tried to be an ambassador to these councils over the years, but instead he has instead been seen as a hotheaded ass. The representatives of CATS have consistently failed to demonstrate any understanding of this. It's the reason they couldn't get buy in from Mooresville or Iredell county and it's the reason they don't have support from the various town councils being asked to fund them now. No elected organization is going to hand money over to CATS when it 1. Can't give them a total price tag and 2. they have no political control over CATS, and 3. has CATS track record on costs. If this money gets misspent, they have to answer to their taxpayers without having any political cover to force changes at CATS. Now the average person reading this might be tempted to read this and say "fine.... let them choke in traffic, we will use the money to build trains in Charlotte." The danger of this of course, and not appreciated, is the 2030 Plan was sold to the state and federal government as a regional plan, a plan with universal support from the entire Mecklenburg delegation. If the towns pull out and instead start lobbying for transit projects in competition with Charlotte, the game is completely changed.
  2. Why should they be willing to do this? Both times the citizens of those towns voted for the transit tax, it was because they were told it would be enough to build a train to the north. The TIF scheme is dead. You can't even provide a cost case for it even though it was asked for. However I am willing to play ball with you on this. Let's get CATS to come to the North and plainly state that unless the towns commit themselves to TIF gambles, no train will be built there. I would love for them to that so we can see how that turns out. The fact that they haven't, and won't, means one of three things. 1. They are simply clueless. 2. The are afraid of the political consequences. If they said this, they know there would be hell to pay as the towns have the right to pull out of the MTC. 3. They don't believe TIF funding will work. Your choice.
  3. Apparently CATS met, at the request of the Lake Norman Transportation Commission (new organization formed by the North towns & Mooresville) to discuss the plans for the North CR train line. John Murth presented for CATS. I think, and this conclusion is drawn from what was presented in the local paper, that two not unsuspected pieces of information came from this meeting. The first is that commissioners of the northern towns are coming to the conclusion that CATS really has no intention of building the North Line. CATS is focused on just one thing, the NE extension. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant as this is what is now entering the thinking of the towns given CATS continued inability to give the towns any information on the status of the North line. IMO, it should be obvious this is the hallmark of not getting something done. Furthermore as noted by Jim Brensman from Cornelius, if the towns don't watch out, they will try to put it behind the streetcar line as well. (in regards to Charlotte playing politics with this). The other conclusion is this. From the numbers that CATS presented, I don't think they have a viable plan for funding the NE extension either. I've written about this before. They are dramatically short of what I think will be needed for the funding and they are pinning their hopes of Congress changing the way it funds these things. There was a suggestion the 4 towns take their collective power in Washington (apparently they all have lobbiests) to help CATS with Congress because they said the transportation bill is being re-funding. There was an amusing comment made to involve Mel Watt and Sue Myrick. I am not sure why the town councils would want to involve themselves with CATS woes at this level. I am predicting the day is going to come when they question the need to stay in the MTC and handing over their share of the transit tax to Charlotte. Maybe a better plan would be for the towns to team up with the CK Rider (the independent transit agency in Cabarrus) and pool resources to run transit within the towns and to run express buses to Charlotte. Simply remove themselves from the issues plaguing CATS.
  4. I might be missing something but that would actually be the tax payers. If enough rucus is raised about closing all those roads between Sugar Creek and downtown, it simply won't happen.
  5. I don't think this changes anything I said in my two posts on this matter. The first point was was to address the statements that railroads have authority to close road crossings. They don't. You have confirmed that part. The second was my opinion about Craighead being closed. I said that there would be a huge protest and I stand by that argument. The point I made about the NCDOT is they own the road and would have a part to play in this, but not the only part. You are offering up your opinion they will agree with the railroad plan. It still isn't clear to me they will close it if there are any public hearings about it and a crowd shows up against it. Not that I agree with it, but the plan to spend $4B to build the HSR to Charlotte is already being derided in the local televised press so there are no guarantees there will be any support for it.
  6. I've explained why above. What about it did you not understand?
  7. At least she was honest about it. Unfortunately this has been the attitude of the Democrats in this city since I moved here. They are happy to come to Gay and Lesbian events, but only to stump for votes. Once they get elected, with our help, they won't do a damn thing for the community. My first experience with this was with Harvey Gantt who probably holds the record in the state for Gay event attendance and who never did anything for them. It's not all their fault however. Gays and Lesbians, aside from being invisible, don't hold their elected officials responsible for the stands they take. How many G&L people, including some who post here, have continued to support Pat McCrory despite his very vocal support of policies and political positions that are as anti-Gay as they come?
  8. ^I disagree with the concept of the big dig. It's a huge expenditure that does nothing to address the issue of car dependency in cities. It's the same kind of idea as continuing to build endless numbers of parking decks in downtown because of the belief that nobody will go there if you make car travel inconvenient. For some reason Charlotteans, at least the ones who advocate this stuff, fail to see the the contradiction where the stated goal is to make Charlotte in a different direction from a city that is mostly 100% dependent upon the automobile. The reality is they say the words, but they don't really believe in it. Sure they will take federal and state money for transit projects, but it does nothing to change this fact. The failure of Lynx is a good example. The tearing down of I-277 should not be done with the idea the road will be replaced elsewhere. The best the city can ever do at this point is to close one side of it and direct all traffic to the other side. If this idea were to become serious then from a practical standpoint it would have to be the Brookshire freeway that is removed. This is why you will never see this plan enacted here, because if it doesn't directly benefit the downtown and areas around South End, Dilworth, etc, it will never see the light of day.
  9. In the context of what we are discussing, that is not correct. What can happen to that land depends upon the conditions under which the railroad in question first acquired the ROW. Many times these agreements date back close to a century. A railroad cant retroactively close a RR crossing in which they have agreed to and is used by traffic such as the one on Craighead. This is a busy road and my guess a NCDOT owned road so I don't see them agreeing to this. CATS certainly has no authority to order it. This road is used a lot by people living on the West side of Tryon to get to shopping on The Plaza and cutting it off will affect that.
  10. Closing Craighead is a non-starter. The local neighborhoods and businesses would never go for it.
  11. I had assumed you might be making some point beyond stating the obvious. Sorry for asking.
  12. I am not sure of your point. Charlotte got tens of millions from other buckets in the stimulus plan for transit that other parts of NC didn't get.
  13. From what I understand this portion is not a major cost element of this project. According to the pitches that I have seen, the primary cost elements of the North line are the track improvements and the grade crossings by roads. Most of the track along the 30 mile length has to be pulled up and replaced along with new sleepers. There also has to be considerable widening in places to allow for two way traffic. In addition there are other safety issues with 70 mph trains passing where there are a lot of pedestrians. The crossing near Davidson University is one such example and which will cost a considerable amount to correct. This other issue is with the ~100 - 150 or so grade crossings. I don't remember the exact number but they did say it had one of the highest percentages they have ever seen for a CR project. Many of these are private roads and closing them means condemnation proceedings and payouts. Many of the closings will require alternative roads to be built. Others will have to be upgraded to FTA standards for silent running. It's these two elements that is driving most of the cost. A quick drive through Derita and up Hwy 115 will demonstrate these issues exactly. The portion of Gateway station devoted to the North CR line is essentially nothing more than a platform. Funding for the North CR project does not include the costs for the rest of the station plan that was presented a couple of years ago. It is my opinion that most of that plan won't be built because it was conceived at a time when the locals thought they could build an office building and rent the space. Real estate and demand for it has gone bust so this plan no longer works. In any case, if the HSR were to build out this station, it would have $0 effect on the North CR project. Who pays for the other stations is also under debate. Given these considerations, the HSR project won't do anything to assist the North line funding scenarios.
  14. ^I might be wrong, but I think you have this confused. The HSR will travel in the NE corridor, not that of the North line. The North line is basically using a little used track that heads to Mooresville which is owned by NS. I agree that $113M would be significant for the North line but the HSR isn't going this way.. It's a bit confusing as the HSR line does make a turn around 12th St in downtown and then terminates at Gateway station where the North line also will terminate. Beyond just these few blocks however, the two lines share no common ROW. From beyond downtown the HSR folllows the NE ROW until it breaks off at Eastway drive and heads up N. Tryon. Unlike the North line, $113M is but a drop in the bucket however for the NE line. My guess is that once it is all said and done, the price tag will be close to $2B. If these figures hold I simply don't see the feds coughing up $1B for the project. It's even less likely the NCDOT will lay out a $1/2B and without signficant new local taxes, CATS is hopelessly out of it's league in having this kind of funding available.
  15. This is unfortunate. These projects are highly dependant upon local politics of 6 municipal governments, Mecklenburg county and the whims of a transit organization that only reports to one of them. None of them have demonstrated any interest in making decisions about the building of the North and NE line based on the needs of the HSR project. IMO, where it stands now is the North line won't be built and I don't believe that CATS can get federal funding to proceed on the NE line based on the astronomical costs that are coming in for it. They state officials for the HSR project should move forward with a plan that doesn't assume these CLT projects will move forward.
  16. If matching funds are a requirement, then it sounds as if California has absolutely no chance.
  17. It's an interesting question. I don't know if there are any established mechanisms for handing out that money.
  18. ^Eastern NC has always, in general, been more progressive than Western, NC. I would put the divide roughly through the Cape Fear river basin.
  19. ^If it got deleted, then it was because it broke our rule on link posts. If you feel that you have to post a news link, then you are required to explain why it is relevant here. I have not deleted anything from here in a while, but these endless posts from news rags that go, "oh so and so has "promised" some jobs", followed by "oh that's wonderful", rinse repeat, means this is a pretty worthless topic. UrbanPlanet was not meant to be a news clipping site. If this sort of thing is your cup of tea, it's easy enough to setup news.google.com to automatically send you links to the same sort of thing. Just looking that this post, you have a link to the NY Times. There is absolutely no explaination on why you posted it here, why it is important to us, and what you want to discuss about it. Many times the links, especially at the NYT, will go unavailable unless you are a subscriber. The best discussions on this site, by far, have no links in them to elsewhere. If someone on the staff deletes one of these, it is unreasonable to expect a nice PM informing you as to the reason why. It takes a lot more time. Everyone that registers here is required to read and understand our rules.
  20. ^Indeed. Guess who will end up paying for it. I became critical of this project when Ghazi made huge changes to the design over what was originally presented to the public and proposed to the city. Remember not only did the city give him that money for the infrastructure changes, he got significant discounts on that land too. The appearance of a 50 story tower dazzled everyone to the point they were like a deer staring into headlights. Never mind that it was an unworkable plan. People want something so bad in downtown they are willing to accept anything it seems. However it's my opinion this entire project has turned out to be a big stain over what could have been done there. Every time the city gets involved in a "partnership" with a developer, the end result is a mess. Epicenter seems to be little more than a tacky looking strip mall catering to mediocre chains and places to get drunk. It's City Fare phase II. I blame the city for a lot of this. IMO, they should have used the money to demo the old civic center and then subdivided the land so it could have been sold off as smaller projects. The end result would have been much nicer, less monolithic looking, and not subject to issues with just one developer.
  21. WCNC interviewed a sub-contractor who did work at the Epicenter. He said that he had not been paid for the work they did and hence this was hurting his business. The reason it was in the news is this sub-contractor asked the City of Charlotte to perform an audit of Ghazi considering they game him over $1/2 million for infrastructure improvements and there is $1.5 million more. The city's official response, and not surprising, is this isn't their concern. In any case Ghazi was also interviewed by WCNC who said these guys were not getting paid because his contractor was not paying them. However the TV station contacted this contractor who said that it was Ghazi who wasn't paying. Ghazi said there might be an opportunity to "work something out". What?.... Either he owes the money or not. I am not sure why there are such issues with payments unless this is another case of bad business planning (i.e. 210 Trade, the Park, etc) on what this place cost vs what they are collecting in rent. It would seem to me however, they are are going to have a really tough time finding contractors to work with them. On a related note, Ghazi's fancy strip mall in Huntersville isn't doing so well. Some of it still hasn't rented and he has already had some businesses pull out. The biggest was just this past week when Just Fresh closed which was renting one of the big end units.
  22. A couple of comments on this. Agreed on the ground level patios. They don't work in a urban environment and apt. buildings should not be designed with residential units on the ground floor. A possible exception to this would be a two story unit with street access and balconies and living space on the 2nd floor. However even this should be avoided because it is detrimental to the street. The ground floors of buildings in an urban area should be devoted to non-residential uses. There isn't a transition from Southend to Downtown. It's a discontinuity caused by I-277. One side is urban, the other side is a mixture of suburbia interspersed with big monolithic complexes such as the one above. The problem is there are competing interests on what should happen here. South Blvd is considered a thoroughfare, there is mass transit, there are a significant number of single family homes with yards, there are various inconsistent attempts at TOD, and finally reuse. It is not urban. So this causes a dilemma. Do you try to use urban standards in this suburban setting or are you only look urban but stick to suburban design goals because it maximizes profits and potential customers. Depending on how you answer that question you either have a project that fits the bill or doesn't. Another way to say this, is that a building that should work downtown, isn't going to work well in Southend. Different standards should be applied. This won't change until these developments give up designing for the automobile and they somehow reduce SB to a local street. I don't see this happening anytime soon.
  23. This project's purpose is to solve transit issues. The excuse that it drives development is not selling up north with just cause. It doesn't.
  24. ^You didn't answer my question. You gave your opinion of the real estate market in that you feel the bottom is reached. However this is what I expected because any realistic look at what a TIF means in regards to this project is going to yield the folly of that option. A TIF is nothing more than a gamble on the future value of real estate using tax money for the stakes. Basically CATS wants to shift the financial risk of building that line onto the taxpayers of the northern towns, which would be absolutely foolish for these town councils to do given CATS horrible track record for cost overruns, bad projections, and mis-managing projects. They have no political control over what CATS does.
  25. Can you justify this by some numbers? TIF financing is highly dependent upon a very healthy real estate market. If the market starts to collapse, as it is now, then it's the local taxpayers that are left with paying the bill.
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