hauntedheadnc

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hauntedheadnc last won the day on June 6 2015

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  1. Ideas for Creating Culture, Temporary and Permanent, in Charlotte

    Problem is, Seattle is a poor example. Seattle has a very large stock of historic buildings, and also has a long-established history of incorporating the facades of historic buildings into new development. The example that most readily comes to mind is the facade of the 1920's Seattle Natatorium, preserved and seamlessly incorporated into a highrise condo building.
  2. Ideas for Creating Culture, Temporary and Permanent, in Charlotte

    And... here's another suggestion for fostering some Charlotte culture. As places like Wing Haven and the McGill Rose Garden demonstrate, Charlotte is a good place to garden. The city is known for its trees, but big whoop -- every city east of the Mississippi has trees. If you're a good place to garden, do it and do it well until you're mentioned in the same breath as Charleston, Savannah, or anywhere else that people flock to look at the landscaping.
  3. Ideas for Creating Culture, Temporary and Permanent, in Charlotte

    It's not a matter of using a technique that some other city has already used, but rather a matter of producing unique content. As it stands, Charlotte has a serious image problem, because its image is that it is boring. Downtown/Uptown/All Around does not help that situation because most of what could have made central Charlotte interesting was bulldozed and no one is particularly interested in saving even what small scraps remain. I've lurked here for years and I've seen that in you all. The thinking seems to be that because Charlotte was never a city of historic architectural jewels, it's no big loss that its history is gone now, nor is it a loss when yet another historic building -- gem-quality or not -- like that state office building is on the chopping block. That's the larger part of why Charlotte feels placeless and soulless, at least in my opinion as an outsider looking in. To me, in all the times I've been there, Charlotte has always reminded me of a unit in a suburban apartment complex: colorless so as not to clash with anything. Uptown, which is supposed to be the soul of the city, does not help that impression because it's basically a gray and beige maze. Murals would add color and at this point considering how much of the history of Charlotte has been erased, it's your best chance to actually show people that interesting people lived here, worked hard and did interesting things, and lived interesting lives. There is no indication of that now. There are, however, art-by-committee hokey spindles outside the arena that supposedly harken back to a textile industrial past, and there is a plethora of meaningless gewgaws disconnected to anything that might have to do with Charlotte cluttering up all those needless corporate plazas. For an example of the latter, there's one bank plaza whose fountain has statues of children playing in the water. What does that have to do with anything? And especially, what does it have to do with anything when you'd bring down the wrath of God knows how many rent-a-cops if you tried splashing around in that fountain? Art has to mean something, and it has to connect to something in order to make a viewer feel anything. The closest you come now are the artworks that have something to do with Queen Charlotte, those statues at Trade and Tryon, and all those plaques in the sidewalk that depict whatever historic building used to stand where this parking deck is now. Bottom line, you need help because people think you're boring. They think you're boring because you have almost none of your history still standing and your modern architecture is nowhere near daring enough to adequately replace what was lost. To the outside world you appear to be a city of sterile glass boxes. You tore down your soul and it shows. So. You have a choice in attempting to foster a unique Charlotte culture. You could redeem yourself of the sin of historic obliteration by becoming the world's new hotbed of avant-garde experimental architecture... or you can cover your beige and gray walls with color and you can strew your streets with sculptures that aren't as dopey as the arena spindles. Either one will work, but I suspect the latter would be easier and would foster the culture that would help to remedy all the other ills of Uptown, chief among them the fact that the retail scene in Uptown is pathetic. Granted, all of that is my opinion, so your mileage may vary.
  4. Ideas for Creating Culture, Temporary and Permanent, in Charlotte

    Art. Lots of it. And I'm not talking about that annoyingly meaningless corporate plaza stuff whose only message to the viewer is "Look! Here's some art!" Charlotte needs murals. It needs color. It is, and it may well forever remain, a vanilla city, but that's why God invented sprinkles, and as an Ashevillian looking in from the outside, if ever there was a city that needed some colorful sprinkles it's Charlotte. Take some cues from the Asheville Mural Project: http://liveasart.com/?page_id=279 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asheville-Mural-Project-AMP/248930645163201
  5. Biltmore Village developments

    There's no elevations, of course, but the new design seems classier at first glance.
  6. Zona Lofts, Zona Village, Chrysler Building

    I bloody well hope so. Asheville desperately needs moderately-priced, attractive urban housing. One successful project could lead to an avalanche of others.
  7. Haywood Park redevelopment

    Both places need to be redeveloped. The Haywood Park Hotel is too small and consistently lost out on business because of that, and parts of the attached mall are dumpy and moldy. The Kosta's building is an unlovable box, as are those two squat and ugly buildings on the far side of the art deco furniture store building, and that parking lot is an abominable waste of space in the middle of downtown. Westgate Mall is even worse. Fraga's folly was in thinking that he would be allowed to redevelop his property. He forgot that Asheville's credo is "Death before urbanism." Frankly though, I'm surprised that there isn't more celebration at the Haywood Park atrium emptying out. Downtown merchants hate the specter of growth so badly that I'd think the only thing that could possibly please them would be for growth to reverse. I figured people would be calling for every empty store to be torn down and be replaced by a park within hours of the store going out of business and I'm shocked to have not heard even a peep about that. I mean come on -- where's the Asheville I know and love? All growth is bad, and buildings are evil. We need none of it and less of them! Bulldoze downtown now!
  8. Haywood Park redevelopment

    Well, remember that we are talking about Asheville here, and Asheville is a city that is all about making plans. And making plans to make more plans. And making plans to study the plans to make more plans. And studying plans to make more plans to study more planned studies. And so on. Basically, nothing will get done on any front when it comes to growth because Asheville is a city dedicated to the pursuit of studying and planning itself into the ground. They've been talking about what to do about our disintegrating Civic Center for well over fifteen years. I-26's expansion has been in discussion since the 80's. And meanwhile, all growth is bad. To ever hope to understand Asheville, you must understand that one indisputable fact. Repeat after me: All growth is bad. Suburban growth is bad. Urban growth is bad. Mountainside subdivisions are really bad. And revitalization is just another world for gentrification. By the way, there is a plan, developed at great expense as they usually are, designed to guide downtown growth, but it operates under the specious assumption that the city government would ever allow anything to be built downtown in the first place. At the moment the community is in an uproar because this plan is entirely too friendly to developers, plus it is also not friendly enough to developers. If you want to know how Asheville would like to grow, you need only remember the wise words of one local citizen who wrote in with an alternate suggestion for the Haywood Park site. He suggested that rather than build such hideous tall buildings, Fraga instead invest in local craftsmen and artisans who could put together the most finely-crafted, beautiful two story building in the nation. How such a building would be affordable -- because we also hate the rich up here and don't want any more of them moving in and taking over our town -- was not discussed because it never is. How one can build squat buildings and still recoup their investment, considering the cost of downtown land, is an issue never really addressed by the "Village People" who infest Asheville and who believe that instead of living in the urban hub of this part of the state, they instead live in Mars Hill or some bona fide quainty-cutesy village. And thus, we get the short buildings the Village People demand, but naturally they are expensive. 21 Battery Park -- squat, ugly, and expensive. 12 S. Lexington -- squat, ugly, and expensive. The Ravenscroft Project -- squat, ugly, and expensive. And thus, the Village People are shocked and outraged that developers charge high prices for what few units they are allowed to build, and cry gentrification. And so, developers really can't win. You'd think that Asheville, forced by the Sullivan Acts to grab its ankles like no other city in the state, would be doing everything in its power to make developing in the city a more attractive option than developing in the county. The Sullivan Acts force Asheville to subsidize with its water system its own sprawl. You'd think that we'd want developers to fill in our gaps and build over downtown's cracked, weedy parking lots. You'd think we'd want employers to bring in jobs so that Ashevillians could hope for a career that did not involve kissing ungrateful tourists' asses. You'd think we'd want more customers for our businesses and more patrons for our arts and artistic venues. You'd think, but we don't want any of that and we fret and dither and waste time and nothing ever gets done. Our city council and city government in general take uselessness to an entirely new level. I wish that just once they'd put down their fiddles and pick up a fire extinguisher. Mark my words. When the economy gets healthy again, nothing in Asheville will change. We'll fight growth downtown tooth and nail while the county sprawls to hell and gone. All the factories and offices and corporate expansions will still go to Greenville. We'll still get ever more expensive. Ashevillians will still complain about everything. In short, Asheville will still be burning no matter what. The only change we might even hope to see is that the city council, in a bold move, will propose to plan a study to plan more studies about studying planned studied plans about the feasibility of, rather than fiddling while the city burns, chasing butterflies instead.
  9. West Asheville developments

    The last time I had occasion to drive by the construction site, I did so at night earlier this month. A bulldozer with its headlights on was trundling back and forth across the dirt while some guys in hardhats conferred close to the road. Make of that what you will.
  10. Biltmore Square Mall

    Garfield's Restaurant and Sbarro's have both closed. One of the managers of Sbarro was quoted in the paper as saying that Biltmore Square feels like a cemetery and I couldn't agree more. The place is hanging on by its fingertips. I really won't be surprised to see it close down altogether. And won't that be special? God only knows how much land was destroyed for that entire smear of sprawl and now it's "Whoops, sorry about that folks... We should have added to the destruction a few miles down the road? Apologies for this big ol' pile of feces, old chum."
  11. Aloft Hotel?

    Well, not to name names, but one developer was up to the challenge and did offer a spectacular project that included numerous concessions to Asheville's art, history, character, and soul, but his project was turned down because it was "too big." Which is to say, it was too urban, and the city council was upset with this developer because he refused to play along with their delusion that Asheville is just the quaintest lil ol' thing to mince down the pike since Lake Wobegon. Thus, they did not approve the project. However, place before them a godawful eyesore like this hotel and if it's short and can perpetuate the illusion that Asheville is far too small and quaint to justify a skyscraper's construction, they'll rubberstamp it so fast your head will spin. I think it's partly that, and partly the fact that new construction downtown must meet strict requirements for mediocrity and gentrification before the city council will approve it. This building far exceeds the requirement for mediocre architecture. It's right up there with the Indigo Hotel, 12 S. Lexington, and 21 Battery Park Avenue. I'm sure that they were really just kidding about that workforce housing they wanted to add to this project -- because they're always just kidding about that kind of thing -- so what we're doing here is providing another staging area for uppity tourists looking for second homes. So, we're helping the gentrification along quite nicely as well. Add all that up and how could the city council possibly refuse?
  12. Aloft Hotel?

    I love the way the city council will approve any short building, not matter how hideous, before it would dare approve a well-designed tall building.
  13. Zona Lofts, Zona Village, Chrysler Building

    There are still ads for the Zona Lofts project in the paper, I've noticed. Do on-hold projects still advertise?
  14. Zona Lofts, Zona Village, Chrysler Building

    Nothing's changed as of yesterday. The fence is up, there's a big hole in the ground, and there was heavy equipment parked at the back of the lot.
  15. Haywood Park redevelopment

    I can't say as I'm surprised at this, although I'd rather it had been simply the economy that killed it, rather than nostalgia for a past that never existed here in the first place. As for building on the parking lot or rebuilding the Kostas building, don't bet on it. With the idiocy that Fraga had to put up with about this project, I imagine he's learned his lesson that Asheville does not want growth. That parking lot on Page will be there to greet our great-grandchildren, just like that weedy, cracked lot around the Battery Park Apartments.