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MetLife Campus in Cary

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Ugh.  Should I even hold my breath that maaaybe they locate their "campus" near one of Cary's 4 proposed LRT stations?  Unfortunately, sounds like more sprawl, more asphalt parking lots, and more car traffic to me.

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The best possible location from my perspective would be to create a nice medium-density mixed-use district near the RailHawks stadium.

 

Easy access to NE Maynard LRT station, I-40, to Cary, and to Raleigh.  And could create an entertainment district for the 1000 new workers, new residents, and gameday crowds.

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News reports say it's a Highwoods-owned tract near Weston Parkway -- which, to be fair, does have a few subdivisions in the vicinity. A satellite view indicates there are only four large undeveloped tracts remaining in Weston. Two are near NC 54 and the other two are just east of Evans Road.

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3 seven-story office buildings, 3 six-level parking garages on 40 acres of wooded land.  Responsible alternative development:  two 25-story towers downtown on 1.7 acres (surface lots at 400 block of S McDowell)

 

Ugh, I really wish they'd reconsider and just build a tower in downtown Raleigh or Durham.  Then slap MetLife on the side of it for some awesome advertising for people to see for miles.  Rather than plowing over even more trees.

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The city really needs to steer new office projects to center city.  Citrix is really a gamechanger in Downtown Raleigh.

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"Steer" is a touchy word. OTB developers and real estate owners are willing to go along with pro-downtown policies up to a point, but there are limits -- and the mayor and council know that.

 

Metlife will employ considerably more than Citrix, and Allscripts (who announced consolidation and expansion in north Raleigh) will add almost as many as Citrix. Governments play a role but ultimately the free market is what it is. 

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By "steer" all the government has to do is stop building roads and providing other amenities of annexation. Our area is blind to the coming bill of deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, water, sewer etc because all of our stuff is new. Those living within efficiently laid infrastructure have and always will subsidize far flung development. These are not new concerns to those on UP. Property tax should be a function of cost of upkeep, not its value. Until then, we will keep seeing this far flung, inefficient development with a deferred cost to be paid by our children. 

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The city and state are not going to quit building roads; it would be prejudicial to property owners of the undeveloped or underdeveloped tracts, and pro-downtown forces don't have anywhere near enough political clout to go to that extreme.

 

Annexation is a different question; cities are usually anxious to annex anything that increases the tax base. Just see how much land Raleigh has annexed near Brier Creek -- even over the line into Durham County. Ironically, many developers would be delighted to keep their newly developed properties out of Raleigh because property taxes are so much lower in the county. It's Raleigh, not the developers, who pushes annexation.

 

Arguments about who subsidizes whom are inconclusive. There are people who assert that the net flow of tax money in Raleigh moves from OTB to ITB and has for the last 30 years. Mayor Meeker used to quote statistics to the contrary, but he knew full well that his statistics were skewed because they attributed the full cost of water treatment and sewage treatment construction to OTB -- when in fact, people ITB drink water and flush toilets too.

Edited by ctl

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Annexation is a different question; cities are usually anxious to annex anything that increases the tax base. Just see how much land Raleigh has annexed near Brier Creek -- even over the line into Durham County. Ironically, many developers would be delighted to keep their newly developed properties out of Raleigh because property taxes are so much lower in the county. It's Raleigh, not the developers, who pushes annexation.

A great deal of the annexation in Raleigh has been and continues to be voluntary - generally, developers choosing to be annexed in order to hook up to Raleigh's water and sewer systems. Relying on septic means you can't develop nearly as densely, and significant portions of a property can become entirely undevelopable depending on soil types. Dense development equals more profit for developers. Therefore, voluntary annexation is extremely common.

 

The general assembly has moved to take away Asheville's ability to use annexation as a condition for sewer and water service, but so far they have not done so for any other cities in the state. All the property, or nearly all of it, up in the Brier Creek area was voluntary annexed in order to enable development.

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It depends. For example, a number of office parks near RTP were developed outside every municipality (even outside the ETJ of every municipality at the time) despite the challenges of water and sewage that you mention. RTP itself developed under those conditions, although no one could argue that RTP is high-density. (Some of the office parks are medium-density.) I believe every office park adjacent to RTP has subsequently been annexed by Durham, Cary, or Morrisville as a tax grab -- and those cities would likewise have annexed RTP itself, if it weren't for the state law that created RTP. 

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Office Parks are tough to use as examples because well....they are just offices and do not have a full 24/7 society occupying them. They DO however congest roads and either the State or a municipality will need to widen those roads...in NC, counties do not so there is at least one big county subsidy right there. 

In any case, the only way OTB would be sending money ITB is if either ALL spending was done ITB or if the property values OTB were higher, which for decades they were so for some time there might have been money flowing ITB. But if you looked at the cost to provide services, the cost, and cost only absolutely has to be cheaper in denser areas if age of the infrastructure is the same, and things like crime rate is evenly distributed etc. Once the suburbs start to deteriorate (and they are), the cost to keep them running will be enormous. We are already seeing this with things like the massive crabtree creek sewer interceptor project. 

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It's true, most structures and most civil infrastructure (roads, mass transit, water/sewer, etc) in the U.S. deteriorate after 50-60 years; that's the consequence of the design, materials, and construction methods we use, the weather we have, etc. I see it happening now in suburban Dekalb County, Georgia which was built out in the 1950s and 1960s -- just like you point out. But I also see it in the rural stretches of I-85 and I-95, built in the same timeframe. In the 1970s I saw it happen to the 1900-1920 housing stock inside the City of Atlanta, which has spent a fortune on its decrepit water and sewer lines. The mass transit system in Chicago is in a helluva mess these days because of dilapidated infrastructure. Buildings in the Bronx and Brooklyn did not prove to be immune to age simply by virtue of being high-density.

 

Old stuff crumbles whether it's in the suburbs, the city center, or the cornfields. Here's an interesting article about the looming problem ITB even if there is no further population growth ITB. http://raleighpublicrecord.org/news/city-council/2012/02/02/task-force-water-rates-dont-cover-costs/

 

As for roads, TTA rail (if it had gone forward) would have been on the same order of magnitude as road spending over an equivalent period. It's easy to live in downtown where very little money has had to be spent -- yet -- and say that downtown is economically more advantageous than the suburbs. That's not necessarily true if we get the same volume of population increase ITB as the city and state have had to accommodate OTB.

Edited by ctl

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The cost per mile times miles divided by number of people using it gives a simple price per person. A road of say 1,000,000 a mile serving 1000 people over 10 miles is 10,000 per person. That same road over over 5 miles is now $5,000 per person. This simple math ignores things like the shorter road is more intensely used (or maybe not if people living densely choose to bike or walk) but the basic concept leaves little room to argue differently. 

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Infrastructure cost per capita is a good metric. The devil is in the details. Suppose Raleigh had 400,000 people ITB. Do you have any idea of how much money would have had to be spent on infrastructure over 25 years to support that kind of density? To begin with, at least half of the water and sewage pipes ITB would have to have been upsized. It would not have come out any cheaper than sprawl, and it could well have proved to be more expensive. Ultimately, I-540 would still have been built because an impassible I-440 could not meet the needs of commercial trucks and private cars that are merely transiting Wake County as they pass from one side of the state to another.

 

One could say the same if Atlanta inside I-285 had to accommodate 5 million people or Washington DC inside I-495 had to accommodate 4 million... astronomically expensive. Just see how Beijing and São Paulo are struggling with infrastructure costs, even given their lesser concerns for safety and environmental impacts of construction. Manhattan, Paris, London (where I spend about one-third of my time), Moscow, etc managed to get most of their infrastructure built 100+ years ago when it was cheap.

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 To begin with, at least half of the water and sewage pipes ITB would have to have been upsized. It would not have come out any cheaper than sprawl, and it could well have proved to be more expensive. 

 This is what I do for a living and while yes the pipes get bigger, it most certainly does not result in a higher cost to serve the same population closer in vs. spread out. For gravity lines,  most of the cost of installation is in the digging.  For pressure mains the life cycle cost is in operating the pumps  and for long distances there is additional cost to overcome head loss over those distances. I have yet to ever see a verifiable set of numbers that says sprawl is cheaper to  support than denser populations. There probably is a point of diminishing returns depending on what piece of infrastructure is in question, and my gut says that is somewhere in the "mid" density range. 

Saying that 540 getting built anyway doesn't lend any support to Met Life locating in a single use office park,  and  if anything these  single use developments necessitate the traversing of the County to a degree that wouldn't be needed  otherwise and hence they drive things like 540. There simply are no forgone reasons for the continued buildout of single use low density developments beyond short sighted initial implementation costs being low. 

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If Raleigh had 400k ITB, wouldn't the tax $$$ from all that dense development support the infrastructure cost? 400k living in urban/quasi urban multi story buildings is going to bring in much more $ than the amount that would be brought in by 400k living OTB in sprawled out single family home subdivisions and suburban style apartment complexes. 

Edited by Euphorius

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Euphorius' point depends upon an assumption that the value of real estate per capita would rise a lot as a consequence of higher density. I'm sure that it would, but it raises the related question of how many people could afford to live in Raleigh ITB if it were sufficiently dense to accommodate 400K people.

 

Jones133 is right that the cost is in the digging. For several reasons, replacing 100 linear feet of pipe ITB (especially in downtown) is more expensive than replacing 100 linear feet of pipe OTB. And I don't disagree that we have biased the outcome of development by not imposing sufficiently high impact fees on developers OTB -- so long as we are fair and impose cost-based impact fees ITB. In any event, as long as this question is not taken up by the Wake County Commission (who are, of course, not disposed to even consider it), any unilateral action by the City of Raleigh on impact fees will have no impact on what happens in Apex, Wake Forest, Zebulon etc. The City's ability to control sprawl is very limited. 

Edited by ctl

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Municipalities adjust tax rates to arrive at the needed budget and the assessed values just are what they are so no, that is not how densification solves the infrastructure equation. 

 

I suppose what I am advocating ctl, is that Raleigh create a "see how nice it is inside this here magic line" vs outside the line where county and State together cannot match the livability a City can provide. The City too often pays for State road maintenance. Two often jumps to annex areas just so someone else doesn't grab them (Wakefield e.g.).Call it an urban growth boundary I suppose....but in this indirect way, while not stopping sprawl, they would be removing themselves from the subsidizing of it. 

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Raleigh is large enough to be all things to all people, or close. What you find livable, I might not, and vice versa. What an indigent person in southeast Raleigh finds livable is something else entirely. But I see no reason not to cover the waterfront by providing choice and then let the market decide which properties will be in high demand and which will not be. And I do agree that the city's growth has been so rapid that we are setting ourselves up for a big infrastructure repair bill one day, regardless of whether it's high density or not.

 

Meanwhile, rapid growth continues in the vicinity of Brier Creek, and Rolesville is likely to be the next big real estate explosion.  

 

The City and NCDOT have a complex relationship. It's hard to say who gets the better of the deal. NCDOT pays for most of the maintenance of Creedmoor Road, for example, because the City conveniently managed to keep much of Creedmoor Road itself north of Crabtree out of the city limits. (The City does have to mow the planted medians that the City insisted upon.) The City will pay hardly anything when NCDOT finally rebuilds US 1/I-440 between Hillsborough and Jones Franklin, including the hideous interchange at Western.

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The City and NCDOT have a complex relationship. It's hard to say who gets the better of the deal. NCDOT pays for most of the maintenance of Creedmoor Road, for example, because the City conveniently managed to keep much of Creedmoor Road itself north of Crabtree out of the city limits. (The City does have to mow the planted medians that the City insisted upon.) The City will pay hardly anything when NCDOT finally rebuilds US 1/I-440 between Hillsborough and Jones Franklin, including the hideous interchange at Western.

 

Isn't the NCDOT also responsible for major roads like Wade Avenue, Hillsborough Street, and Glenwood Avenue?

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NCDOT did or does maintain Glenwood as far south as Wade.Technically I believe Glenwood is still signed as NC 50 and US 70, although that has gone back and forth over the years. 

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Creedmoor Road is NC 50.  At Crabtree, the NC 50 route follows onto Glenwood, so from there until Wade Ave, Glenwood is the NC 50 and the US 70 routes.  At Wade Ave, the routes shift over to Capital Blvd and follow through downtown.

 

Save to say we've officially veered off-course in this thread?  Might be worth closing the thread since MetLife has opted for the non-urban route?

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