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Everything posted by otherstream

  1. Would've been at least the 1940s, because my mom rode the streetcars as a teenager. That's about the time most of them were replaced with buses nationwide too. FYI, because they were electric and used overhead wires, the streetcars here were owned and operated by Duke Power, as they were in many cities, which is why Greensboro had Duke Power buses for years afterward until the city finally agreed to take over the system in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Duke was contractually obligated to continue running the system for years after it had ceased to be profitable for them.
  2. Agreed completely. I was just saying that my distaste for Southpark is largely a subjective thing based on my own tastes and not necessarily a criticism of its physical characteristics. In other words, I didn't want to seem like I was saying that the fact that I don't like malls makes all malls inherently bad.
  3. Agreed. To be honest, I've never felt that the sidewalks were all that especially crowded in Dilworth or Elizabeth or Plaza-Midwood most of the time either. Southpark is what it is: a suburban shopping mall surrounded by a suburban office park. I agree that it's probably a good deal better than most other mall-centered developments and most other suburban commercial developments in general. At least in the Southpark area the stores, restaurants, and offices are close enough that you could walk to them if you were so inclined, even if you didn't see much interesting stuff along the way. My problem with the area stems less from the physical layout and more from the fact that I'm not in its target demographic; I find "upscale" malls exceedingly boring, and I'd argue that there's more "urbanity" in the re-purposed strip centers and thrift stores and ethnic markets along South Boulevard and Central Avenue that there ever will be at Southpark or any other sanitized, overplanned "mixed-use" area or project, no matter how "dense" it may be.
  4. There was also Warnersville, originally an African-American suburb south of Lee Street. It was completely obliterated by urban renewal clearance. There were also communities called Bessemer and Hilltop, although like most of the others, they weren't actually incorporated. I think Hamilton Lakes is the only actual incorporated entity that was merged into Greensboro, which is ironic since it was originally incorporated to avoid annexation. I think I recall reading that the city of Hamilton Lakes went bankrupt or had some other financial issue, but I'm not 100% certain.
  5. I largely agree that a mall's fortunes generally follow the fortunes of the surrounding area, rather than vice versa. Southpark was not directly responsible for any residential boom in the area; very few malls have that effect. But you have to admit that the presence of the mall was largely -- if not almost entirely -- responsible for all the office/business development in the area, which ultimately affected the residential component -- and will do so even more in the coming years. It's just like the effect Tyson's Corner (DC) and Lenox Square (Atlanta) had over their areas. I'd have to say that the description of Southpark as "dark, dead, and dying" in the 1980s may be a bit of an exaggeration, though. Granted, it was a few years older than Eastland and might've looked it, but I remember thinking in 1986, while managing a store across the street, that Eastland was Charlotte's dowdy and doomed mall and that Southpark was the more upscale option. Southpark may have been eclipsed briefly as the "prestige center" in town, but it was never really in such terrible shape. Like the older Friendly Center in Greensboro, which had a similar cycle, it's pretty much the top of the heap now, which wouldn't likely be the case if its past decline had been significant. None of this, mind you should be construed to suggest that I'm particularly fond of Southpark or its environs. I avoid the whole area like the plague; it's amazing how successfully it manages to be both bland and pretentious.
  6. The town of Geensborough (which initially covered an area much smaller than just downtown is today) was both laid out and incorporated in 1808 as a new and more central county seat to replace the old one at Martinsville, a separate town near Guilford Battleground. Of course, there's not a Martinsville anymore; it's all part of Greensboro now. But in 1808, Martinsville was several miles away from the new town. The only reminder of the old county seat is Martinsville Road that currently runs off Battleground Avenue. There may have been some small farms in the area that was incorporated in 1808, but there was definitely not anything resembling a town there. Even Martinsville wasn't much of a town in those days.
  7. Strangest restaurant experience I ever had in Charlotte was back during the PTL years, when I found myself in line behind Jerry Falwell at the Burger King across from Eastland Mall. There's no real story here; he didn't try to hit on me or start preaching or anything, and I didn't tear into him either, despite being much more militant in those days. The image of Jerry and his double cheeseburger has just amused me greatly over the years.
  8. I just happened to drive by the old Super Kmart at Independence and Sardis Road North yesterday and noticed it had sprouted a Steve & Barry's sign, although the building still looks empty.
  9. They probably believe the old theatre closed specifically because it was only three screens rather than due to its location. And they may well have been right. It's almost impossible to make money on a small operation like that these days; that's why one- to four-screen cinemas are closing all over the country, even in higher income neighborhoods. I think a newer, larger theatre complex at Eastland might be a gold mine if it can adequately address the perceived security issues.
  10. Respectfully, I have to point out that many of the exact same arguments were made about the so-called "slum clearance" and "urban renewal" projects of the 1960s, namely that old development patterns were not sufficiently "modern" nor "efficient" and that bulldozing them en masse was necessary to create a living, growing city. The few inner-city areas that managed to survive this school of thought and make it to the present in their "inefficient" state are now some of the most desirable places to live and do business in most American cities. I don't think we're going to be any more successful now that we're calling it "densification" rather than "urban renewal". There's more to urbanity than just simple density. Seventh Street right now is one of the most urban places in all of Charlotte, mainly because of its variety, which I'd argue is considerably more important to an "urban feel" than density is. We shouldn't place the whole neighborhood in a stasis chamber, obviously, but the idea that bulldozing whole areas in the name of "density" will make these areas more "vital" and "urban" is ludicrous. Most of these massive, overplanned projects are absolutely lethal to neighborhood variety. They're not "infill" at all; that term suggests that something was inserted into the streetscape, not that something replaced it entirely. I'd hate to see Seventh Street looking like South Boulevard or the "new and improved" Elizabeth Avenue: giant walls of "density" with all the charm of a suburban office park. That's what happens when you rebuild a neighborhood over a period of just a couple of years. There's no texture at all, just a big wall of boring spaces that were all built last week and will look like crap in twenty years.
  11. Agreed. They're great stores. They're just somehwat different from what a lot of people here seem to be expecting.
  12. I haven't been in any of the new Trader Joe's stores that are opening outside California, but back there, Whole Foods and TJ's are two entirely different species, even though they attract some of the same demographic. TJ's stores tend to be relatively small and to focus on pre-packaged items, unusual frozen goods, and wine. Their roots are in imports rather than organics. They have a small selection of produce and fresh meat too, but it's nothing at all like Whole Foods. TJ"s is also focused on low prices, which is most decidedly not a concern of Whole Foods. TJ's in California also tends to locate in older, less pricey and trendy centers, often in spaces vacated by other grocers. I've seen one or two in upscale centers, but their average loaction was quite unremarkable. Again, though, they may be changing their MO as the expand eastward.
  13. Sorry about that. I'm still catching up on all my back reading after the big move...
  14. There are some very, ummm, groovy photos of Ivey's Southpark way back when posted at "Malls of America" right now, in case anyone is interested: http://mallsofamerica.blogspot.com/2006/06...rk-mall_27.html
  15. I'm betting not even that, because of the new Mega Food Bazaar (I think that's the name) opening soon a block south of Eastland in the old Syms location. It looks like it may be a pretty nice store, with a fair amount of investment behind it. I think the HT may sit vacant for quite a while, or maybe be subdivided into something like a Dollar Tree and something else.
  16. Actually, Eckerd is where the old Winn-Dixie was. I caan't remember what's in the old K&W now; it's just to the north of Hecht's, right across the "street". The vacant lot between Woolwroth's and the K&W in the photo is now Hecht's.
  17. Paul Rose actually was considerably bigger than the old Belk store. Belk was maybe 25K-30K square feet at most, and was originally one floor with a mezzanine. They completed the second floor in the early 1970s. The Thalhimer's was actually an Ellis Stone for its first few years, as was the downtown GSO store. The shopping center branches were pretty much the size of a Limited and carried nothing but womens' clothing and accessories. There was a similar one at Summit Shopping Center too. When Thalhimer's moved to the current location about 1970, it also only had one level; the second floor was added 5-10 years later, and then it was expanded again several years later to the current size. Friendly Center was part of that first wave of shoping centers where the department stores were never really designed to compete with the downtown stores. They were more the convenience store equivalent of a department store. Ivey's used to have several locations like that in Charlotte too; the tiny one at Cotswold even lasted until the Dillard's buyout, I think.
  18. Reload the photo. I've added Friendly Avenue and Green Valley Road. For orientation purposes, Belk is now where the Colonial store was and Harper's is where Thalhimer's was.
  19. Friendly Center in about 1966: The block to the left (where Thalhimer's, which later became Hecht's, was originally located) is the only original 1957 store block still standing. The Colonial/Belk/Woolwoth's block facing it, also original, was demolished in the early 1990s to build the new Belk store. The K&W and Paul Rose blocks date from the early 1960s and are still there, although they've been significantly altered and expanded. The Winn-Dixie site is about where Eckerd is now, at the end of the new block of stores which features Barnes & Noble. This was also slightly before the construction of the Terrace Theatre. Photo is from the 1967 Greensboro City Directory. I added the captions.
  20. I can't agree 100% that they haven't downgraded at Eastland, though. The physical condition of the store is OK, but every time I've been there since moving back to Charlotte in June, there hasn't been any merchandise in there. It's really sparse; you could turn cartwheels in the men's department. They seem to have just about enough stuff in there to fill up maybe 60-70% of the available square footage, but it's spread out over the whole store, giving each item plenty of, ummm, breathing room. In this particular case, the store might actually look better if they'd partition off some of the space.
  21. But you have to consider how much of the problem stems from that particular piece of real estate vs. how much of it stems from the (lack of) management of the complex that happens to be sitting on that land right now. Is the corner of Central and Sharon-Amity doomed until the end of time for all new -- and potentially better-managed -- uses just because it's currently home to a dysfunctional mall? I hope not. That's a pretty big parcel to write off. That said, though, you're right that investors would probably be very leery right now, but a radically-different concpet for the parcel could work, I think...
  22. Quite possibly so, but I fear that investment won't be coming anytime soon. Eastland has been in the classic mall death cycle for fifteen years: demographics change >> patronage drops >> stores close or don't update >> patronage drops even more because of crummy stores >> rinse >> repeat. I think there's a lot of potential for the site, with the right management. I don't think there's any real hope for the building as it stands now nor for its continued existance as a "traditional" regional mall with department stores, etc. Its sheer size and layout keep it from being very adaptable for less-intensive retail use. A big, empty (or underutilized) enclosed mall is not a pleasant place; it's amazing how claustrophobic all that space can feel. What I could see there (ironically, given my earlier post) is a more entertainment-based facility with a theater and restaurants surrounding it and some stores on the periphery, although I'm not sure exactly what mix of stores. I actually sort of like Eastland too, and I find Southpark a whole lot "scarier" than Eastland in many ways, but I'm not your average mall shopper either...
  23. Pretty much right on the money. I managed a store across the street from Eastland from 1986-1989, and I sort of watched the momentum shift toward Southpark during that time. I think the balance tipped right around 1986-1987, when Belk did a major remodeling and expansion at Southpark, making it the flagship store for the chain. Ivey's followed suit with its first big renovation since the mall opened. Both did some work on their Eastland stores a year or so later, but it was nothing compared to what was done at Southpark. I'd transferred into the branch near Eastland from one in a dying mall in Greensboro (Carolina Circle), so I sort of recognized the signs early on. My store, which was placed to feed off Eastland's traffic, closed in 1990. The mall's decline is playing out pretty much as expected, although it's taking a bit longer than I thought it would...
  24. A lot of people would suggest that the very teenage social aspect you mention was part of the reason for the downfall of Eastland and other similar centers. It seems that many of the 1970s malls that were built with facilities like internal skating rinks, arcades, and theaters to encourage loitering teenagers (Carolina Circle in Greensboro, Landover near Washington DC, and Fashion Island near San Francisco come to mind, among others) are the ones that ultimately developed problems. Other malls in these same areas which didn't cater so much to kids ended up doing OK over the long haul. Obviously, changing demographics and neglect are major factors as well, but the fact remains that lots of teenagers hanging around (no matter what ethnicity or style of dress) tends to put off adult shoppers with money. It's why many malls in California stopped staying open on Saturday nights; there were nothing but kids there anyway, and they weren't spending any money. The new generation of entertainment-based centers with a detached theatre surrounded by restaurants, works a lot better, because the "hanging out" area is somewhat segregated from the "selling stuff" area. For better or worse, a mall's main purpose is to sell goods and services, not to be a social environment for kids or anyone else. Although some limited level of social amenities may lead to increased sales, overdoing it can backfire.
  25. The Dillards website still doesn't list the Eastland store anymore. Was there ever anything official on that?
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