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ellifyno

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About ellifyno

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  1. Feels like it could open any day now, but this seems about right. The following was from an NCDOT representative at a recent meeting in Harrisburg: 9. When is I-485 scheduled to be complete? The contractor’s current schedule is indicating June 2015. The remaining work on this project is also weather dependent. The contract completion date is July 21, 2015.
  2. A few quick updates on the 85/485 interchange near the Mecklenburg/Cabarrus line: Work along I-85 appears to be all but finished. The barrier walls that lined the shoulder have been removed, making it clear that the stretch of 85 that passes under 485 will be three lanes in each direction. The interstate becomes four lanes again immediately after the interchange in each direction. Going south on 85, an auxiliary lane has been added from 485 to Mallard Creek Church; the interstate then becomes four lanes again. Going north on 85, an auxiliary lane has been added from 485 to Concord Mills, with an additional lane being added from 485 to Poplar Tent. The interstate then becomes four lanes again at the Poplar Tent exit. Like 85, 485 will drop to three lanes in each direction going through this interchange, picking back up to four lanes on the other side. For the most part, traffic flows better through this area now. I haven't seen delays on 85 South since the additional lanes were opened up. 85 North still backs up at the 485 interchange in the evenings as merging traffic from Mallard Creek Church and traffic exiting onto 485 fight for space. 85 North has never had four lanes through this stretch, so it's not like it "lost" a lane. However, it seems that an additional through lane (with the option to exit from this additional lane) might have helped this merge. Four lanes merge from 485 onto 85 North; if one of those lanes ended before entering 85, there would have been room for an additional northbound lane. This issue may clear up when the rest of the 485 project is done though. An additional exit lane from 85 North to 485 will open, and traffic that currently takes Mallard Creek Church to get to 85/485 from the Prosperity Church and Mallard Creek areas may end up getting onto 485 at the new interchanges instead, reducing the amount of traffic passing through this particular area in the evenings. The far right lane of 85 North is a death trap on weekends, when traffic backs up heading to Concord Mills. On an average Saturday, the backup of this lane extends almost to 485. There is a slight hill after you pass through the 485 interchange, making it difficult to see the brake lights more than a car or two ahead of you. With the extra lanes and better-flowing traffic, drivers now travel through this area at a higher rate of speed than ever before. Unfortunately, too many of them either aren't paying enough attention or simply don't anticipate the backups in this lane. I get as far to the left as I can driving through here, but have already passed several accidents since the new lanes opened in this stretch. The amount of skid marks through here pretty much tells the story. This may improve as some traffic will likely take the Mallard Creek interchange on 485 when it opens, but it's possible that even more traffic will be over toward the right as folks coming from 77 may now be merging from 485 (on the right) rather than being forced onto 85 North (and being in the leftmost travel lanes) several miles earlier. There is still a concrete barrier on the 85 North ramp to Concord Mills that blocks one of the right turn lanes. When this is removed, this may help somewhat. In the meantime, I would suggest staying left through here, especially on the weekends. The ramp from 85 South onto 485 Inner (toward Matthews and Pineville) appears to be in its final configuration now with two lanes accessible for nearly the entire duration of the ramp. This ramp was originally striped for both lanes to continue onto 485 Inner, but this has now been permanently changed to have one lane drop off shortly before reaching 485. I watched the video of the interchange design again, and it's clear that it was built with the intention of having both lanes continue. However, I'm thankful they modified that design. Under the previous pattern, traffic merging from 85 North onto 485 Inner had a very short distance (which passes very quickly at interstate speeds) to merge. With this new pattern, traffic coming from 85 North now has a free-flowing auxiliary lane to the Highway 29 exit a short distance away. Merging onto 485 Inner (the only accessible option, currently) from 85, there are now signs that denote the speed limit as 70 miles per hour. These are new to this stretch, and the only ones I know of in the Charlotte area. Along 485 Outer, the speed limit signs still say 65 miles per hour, and other signs further down 485 Inner still say 65 as well. I'm not sure what area the speed limit of 70 will cover, whether it will be the area around the new interchange or stretch further down toward Mint Hill or Matthews, where most drivers already drive as though the speed limit is 80.
  3. Nearly a year and a half later, it looks like we have an answer. Taking a look at the website for Tricor, the company that ultimately purchased this building, it appears that they will be subdividing into five spaces with the two largest spaces already taken. The largest space (60,419 square feet) appears to be occupied by Fitness Connection, which currently operates a location just up the street on Tryon; presumably that location will move here. The next-largest space (45,945 square feet) will be occupied by Conn's HomePlus, an appliance store that is opening a similarly-sized location at Carolina Pavilion in the coming months. The remaining three spaces are two small shop spaces (7,905 and 8,000 square feet, respectively) and one bigger box (36,256 square feet). I honestly wasn't sure we'd ever see anything move into this space, so it's great to see that there's some movement, and even better to see that it's not just existing retailers vacating their existing spaces to move here. The current Fitness Connection location on Tryon has been a series of 76 different gyms in the 10 years I've been here, so I have confidence that something (likely another gym) will move into that location pretty quickly. In similar news, the former PetSmart near Target is now a Defy Gravity trampoline park. It actually opened a few months back, which was quicker than I expected that space to be filled. I'll admit that I never expected this particular spot to become an indoor trampoline park, but it appears to be busy every time I'm over that way. Again, it's good to see a new business for the area here, and I hope that they continue to do well. Unfortunately, the former World Market space continues its annual tradition of being leased in September and October as a Halloween store, only to be left alone for the remaining 10 months of the year. Maybe 2015 will be its lucky year.
  4. During the last widening of 85, in which additional lanes were added from exit 42 (29/49 Connector) to exit 49 (Concord Mills/Speedway Boulevard), the interstate around the 485 interchange was laid out exactly as it appears past the construction barriers -- three lanes northbound and four lanes southbound. Going north from exit 42, four lanes were present until the 485 interchange. At that point, the fourth lane became an exit only lane for the inner loop of 485. The third lane then dropped off one mile later at exit 49. North of exit 49, the interstate was left with two lanes in each direction. Going southbound, the loop ramp from Speedway Boulevard to 85 added the third lane and the entrance ramp from Concord Mills Boulevard added a fourth lane. Now, however, it appears that the interstate will be four lanes in each direction on either side of the 485 interchange, but will be only three lanes wide while going under 485. Based on the video linked above, the current merge pattern from 485 on to 85 South, and the overhead sign on 85 South that has the third lane from the left being either a through lane or an exit lane, it seems almost certain that the interstate will narrow for this brief stretch. I'm not sure of the reasoning behind this, especially given that 85 South had already been four lanes, but my guess is that the proximity to the Mallard Creek Church interchange (exit 46) made it difficult to drop off or merge the lanes going from 485 to 85 South. They currently have this striped for three lanes merging from 485 -- two from the under-construction inner loop and one from the existing outer loop -- to the existing three lanes on 85. There is no room to widen further, so it seems that when faced with the choice between reducing the number of lanes coming from 485 or the number of through lanes on 85 South, the decision was made to reduce the lanes on 85 South.
  5. These stores have gone up fast. According to PetSmart's website, the grand opening for their new location is on Saturday, May 4. Unfortunately, their relocation means another empty storefront in the Target shopping center, where the space vacated by World Market more than two years ago is still empty. Target and OfficeMax will be the only two major tenants left (a Payless ShoeSource is also there), but it's tough to say if OfficeMax will be there much longer. They're currently in the process of merging with Office Depot, and there's an Office Depot less than two miles away in University Place. In other news, Wal-Mart's real estate site lists their University Place property as "sale pending." That said, they've supposedly had nearly a dozen offers since relocating four years ago, yet the store is still empty, so I won't get my hopes up too much.
  6. A rezoning proposal is out for part of the Belgate development. This is the southern section of the development, which is separated from IKEA by University City Boulevard. Originally proposed as multifamily residential and small retail, this rezoning request proposes building an auto mall consisting of up to five dealerships (site plan).
  7. I saw your post about this in the Off-Topic thread in the Coffee House a few months ago and wondered then if this was true. I grew up in NC and had never heard that turning right on a red arrow was illegal. I set out for Google after seeing your original post and found that in many states, it is indeed illegal. In NC, it seemed to be unclear. A few weeks ago, however, I was in the Triangle and saw a sign that said "right on red arrow after stop." That seemed to indicate to me that it is, in fact, legal to turn right on a red arrow unless signed otherwise. Sure enough, more searching yields this link on the DOT's site: Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn on red, vehicular traffic facing a steady CIRCULAR RED or RED ARROW signal indication may enter the intersection to turn right after stopping. Such vehicular traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.
  8. Heard a rumor that Joseph-Beth will be closing in the not-too-distant future. Supposedly a new tenant is already lined up though - The Container Store.
  9. It's straying a little from the topic of Concord Mills, but I'd argue the store on campus doesn't count since they don't take general public sales. Sure, there are 25,000 or so people that can shop there, but if nearby residents - let alone people from other parts of the city - can't shop there, I don't feel like it would really count. As far as Best Buy goes, I was at the University location a couple of days before they closed to take advantage of some of the deals they had. Upon checking out, they gave me a flier for the new store opening. It also had a coupon for a $5 gift card with a $50 purchase which is valid only from January 30 through February 7. Based upon that, I'd imagine they'll try their best to be open by tomorrow, though I haven't actually seen how the new store's progressing. Of course, if we actually get a decent snowfall or ice event tonight/tomorrow, those plans could go out the window anyway.
  10. Something like Costco is about all that could fill the former Wal-Mart. According to their investor relations page, stores range from 73,000 to 205,000 square feet, with 142,000 being average. Wal-Mart was about 127,000, so it does seem doable. I don't know whether Sam's Club has anything making them the only warehouse club allowed in University Place, but I feel like that would be the biggest hurdle. I had a Costco membership a couple of years ago, but got tired of driving down to Tyvola or out to Independence to go there. If there were one in this area, I would definitely consider getting - and utilizing - a membership. Otherwise, hardware stores and mass merchandisers are about all that would fit. I don't think Home Depot or Lowe's is particular eager to relocate, and while Target was supposedly in talks a couple of years ago to relocate to Mallard Creek Church and Tryon, the Wal-Mart building is the exact size of their average standard store. If they're going to relocate at any point, I imagine they'll want the new store to be a SuperTarget, which average a whopping 174,000 square feet. As for Kmart, this store is just above the size of a Big Kmart and well below the size of a Kmart Super Center, so I'm not sure how they might utilize the space. It's interesting to me that Taco Bell is remaining at University Place even after the KFC/Taco Bell opens, though as you mentioned earlier the University may be able to support both of them. I'm not a huge fan of the JW Clay location, but I guess it's good that something will still be over there. It's a bit depressing to be at that point though, where Taco Bell remaining in University Place is about the best news the place has seen in a while. Bloom and Bottom Dollar are aimed at different markets though. Bloom competes primarily with Harris Teeter whereas Bottom Dollar, from what I've been able to gather, is set up more like Aldi. I feel like many people that shop at Harris Teeter or Bloom would mostly ignore a store called Bottom Dollar, whereas its target customers would be drawn in based on the name alone. The Best Buy spot could potentially work for a grocer, but I feel like that spot is better suited for something that's a bit more of a "destination" rather than something that sells necessities. JW Clay sees a lot of traffic, but a lot of it is headed for a particular store over there. Other nearby stores that sell groceries tend to be along a main road that sees a lot of commuter traffic - Bloom and Wal-Mart on Tryon, Harris Teeter and Target on Highway 49, etc. It's possible Bottom Dollar or Bi-Lo could end up there, but I would think another big-box retailer is more likely. I think the former Winn-Dixie space at Pavilion and 49 would be a good space for something like Bottom Dollar although it could be confusing since there's a Family Dollar two doors down in the same shopping center. (On a somewhat related note, signs are up inside the former Movie Gallery there touting "Discount Furniture" coming soon. I guess it's good to see something going there at least.) I'm not sure whether Sam's Club would close or relocate, and if they relocated where they would relocate to - maybe close to Wal-Mart again? They own that land though, and aren't really in need of expanding, so maybe they'll stick around. Dick's is a little more iffy as they seem to be just leasing the building and their neighbor is moving, likely dragging their traffic down. Again, I don't know if they'd relocate or simply say "Come visit us at Northlake or Afton Ridge." I really hope that the groups in charge of the land and buildings in and around University Place take a look at this and realize that the dominoes already appear to be falling. It'd be a shame to see even more vacancies, but it'll also be a shame if more big-box stores move in and the cycle just keeps repeating. As soon as developments like Belgate and University Pointe - where the Wal-Mart Supercenter is - are done attracting retailers, another development will open somewhere nearby and start taking them again. Older (and that's a relative term in UC, where "older" is simply 15 years old) developments like University Place are going to start to hurt hard if they don't change something. I'm amazed that the Commons at Chancellor Park, where Home Depot is located, continues to attract new tenants though.
  11. Dragging this thread back from the dead after reading the Concord Mills thread over in the Coffee House, where it was mentioned that the new Best Buy at Concord Mills appears to be replacing the University Place location. When this store closes (scheduled for two weeks from today), it will join Wal-Mart as a vacant big box along this short stretch of JW Clay Boulevard. The Max & Erma's right in front of the Wal-Mart recently closed as well. Taco Bell likely won't be open much longer since a KFC/Taco Bell is being built by the new Wal-Mart on North Tryon. Soon, only Dick's, Sam's Club, and a handful of smaller shops (Visionworks, Radio Shack, Mattress Firm, and a Lifeway Christian Store are all I can remember) will remain on that side of the road, with Visionworks being the only tenant before the second traffic light. This is likely to be an important time for the University Place development, and could be for the University area in general. These buildings (the big boxes in particular) could sit empty for a while, possibly leading to further vacancies. Alternatively, it could be taken as a sign that the model used for this part of the development may not be sustainable over the long-term, possibly leading to some sort of redevelopment. However, the former Wal-Mart building and the land it sits on are owned by Wal-Mart Realty, and are currently on the market for about $8 million. That's down from the $9.25 million they were asking not long ago, but is still a lot for someone to pay if they're going to tear down the building in hopes of putting in something better and more sustainable, especially when you consider that the University area is still not tapped out on developable land.
  12. Sort of. I remember seeing the University's hopes for this area in the UNC Charlotte Master Plan thread, so I was pretty hopeful when I noticed the clearing over the past couple of weeks. However, an approved rezoning petition from last year dashed my hopes. That area is slated to become another apartment complex.
  13. The realignment is supposed to happen regardless. According to the CDOT website, the latest estimate for construction to begin is late summer of this year, with work scheduled to wrap up in 2012. No idea how well any part of that schedule will hold up. I do agree that URP could use a bit of help with its name. It hasn't been a research center since I moved here in 2003, so that part of the name makes little to no sense. But I don't feel like it would be a bad thing to include the word "University" in the name, especially since University City Partners is wanting people to associate it with the University area. As for it being a park, it's kind of tough to classify the whole thing as one business park when it spans both sides of Harris and is about 2000 acres. However, it does have some appearances of an actual park, especially the stretch where the greenway crosses it. When I used to live at Harris and Mallard Creek, I loved seeing deer along the side of the road (so long as they stayed off the actual road). But yeah, I see your point. I also agree about the lack of a city feel, which I know has been discussed at length before. That's pretty much why this thread exists - to discuss projects that may help to bring that feel. Unfortunately, what is proposed often falls short of doing anything to truly help the area. And even more unfortunately, what is actually built often falls short of what was even proposed. As I mentioned in the "Will the University area ever be cleaned up?" thread a couple years back, there's no good way to get anywhere around here without driving on Harris, Tryon, University City Boulevard, Mallard Creek, or Mallard Creek Church. There was a proposal for a development dubbed 49er Village a few years back that was to include retail, office, and residential near the intersection of Mallard Creek Church and 49. Unfortunately, all that's been built was a much less impressive version of it named University Village, which is just an apartment complex. There's so much potential around the area, but it seems like every time anyone expresses any interest in building anything, the response is simply, "Yippee! We'd love to have you!" If more could be done to actually go toward the master plan presented by UCP a year or two ago, that'd be fantastic. Small steps like sidewalks along Harris are great, but when there are rezoning petitions approved to put more parking closer to UC's grand intersection of Harris and Tryon, it gets harder and harder to believe anything of any real substance will be ever be achieved.
  14. The Charlotte Business Journal had an article on Friday about University City Partners' efforts to create a brand for the area. I don't know if it was in a print edition or just online, but this link from another forum seems to provide access to the whole article. They've hired Clear Blue, who, according to UCP's website "has provided branding services for other communities, including Ballantyne Village ("The Hot Red Center")." Personally though, I've never heard of Ballantyne Village referred to that way. The article starts off saying, "For many, University City is where North Tryon Street meets W.T. Harris Boulevard. And that's about it." Sadly, I think that's fairly true. There's a thread in the Coffee House to discuss the perception of Charlotte from other parts of the state, country, and world, but I think it's also interesting to know how people in the Charlotte area view other parts of the city. For the University area, the things I feel like a lot of people associate it most with traffic and crime. The school itself is probably somewhere in the top five things people associate it with. One fairly prominent feature of the area, which even includes the word "University" in it to help you identify its approximate location, is the University Research Park. University City Partners brought in a panel from the Urban Land Institute for feedback and recommendations in relation to URP. Among their recommendations was rebranding - and renaming - the park. Their suggested name? The Park. I'll admit that "University Research Park" could sound like it exists to serve as a research facility for a university. However, I'm not sure how completely removing the word "university" helps to create a cohesive brand for the University area. I also don't know that "The Park" is a great name. Not only is it completely generic, but there's the troubled condo project in Uptown by the same name (not something I'd necessarily want to associate with) and there's The Specialty Shops on the Park next to the Marriott (formerly The Park) near SouthPark. The panel also recommended adding things like a high-end hotel, a four-star restaurant, and executive housing. Oh, and a heliport to make URP more attractive to executives and the companies they run. I do appreciate their efforts to more clearly define the area, and I hope that it helps more than their street sign attempt from a couple years ago. Part of the University area's problem is that no one really seems to know what the University area encompasses. Heck, I'm not even really sure, and I live a little over five minutes from the school. This problem is perpetuated by media outlets, which often refer to anything from Tryon and Sugar Creek up to (and including) Concord and Harrisburg and all the way out to Northlake as being part of the University area. Charlotte.com's local news section at one time grouped "University and West Charlotte" together. It's hard to form an opinion of an area you can't even identify.
  15. Funny you should ask. I happened to be going through University City Partners' website about 15 minutes ago, when I came upon this link, which is a quiz regarding the area's history. One of the questions references the Alexander house located across Mallard Creek Church. It mentions that the slave cemetery sits on the property where Thornberry is located. Sure enough, I did some digging and found this link from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. If you scroll down to stop #15 and read the directions just above it, it confirms the cemetery is located on the Thornberry property. Polaris shows that Thornberry bought the land from Spanos Corporation. A search on the register of deeds site shows that they bought it from Lydia Alexander McNeary in 1998. That deed shows the same tax parcel number as the website you had linked to. A further search of their pre-1995 records shows a transaction in 1990 between Lydia Alexander McNeary and Crescent Land & Timber (again with the same tax parcel number), which as Windsurfer stated is the property owner listed on the site. It's worth noting, however, the site also states "This report was written on June 5, 1989."
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