RALNATIVE

Poor Development Planning Downtown Raleigh

34 posts in this topic

There was an intense debate on this topic on another board so I thought it would be a good topic for this board as well. This structure currently being built on East Peace Street directly across from Peace College is a church.

 

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A lot of people, including myself question the need and logic for a church at this location. My biggest concern is that this entire block as well as the adjacent block are being built out with apartments and condos, and little to no vital retail in that area. Parking will also be scare. Why the need for another church in the core part of downtown?

 

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against places of worship, but in a city with a relatively small amount of space available for development, wouldn't it make more sense to utilize that space for retail options that are needed and support the larger surrounding community, such as a drug store, convenience store, a small market, etc?

 

I've always contended that if developers are allowed by a city to purchase lots at a cheap price, they will build whatever they can get away with building, even if it is ridiculous. That is why zoning ordinances and a city planning board exist to control this sort of thing, but unfortunately the city is clearly not paying attention to the "true" needs of the developing communities and businesses downtown.

 

Also, as far as I understand, attendance overall at churches has been steadily falling over the last decade. Are stats such as this even taken into consideration when developments are planned and approved?  I have a big fear that poor development planning will eventually hurt long term growth prospects downtown. I think to a certain extent it already has.

 

Does anyone else have similar concerns?

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I walk past this church every single day. I'll start by giving them some support...its an Anglican church and they are good stewards of all that they are involved with...they pumped a lot of money into that old house they made their office, they designed the church building as nice as you could hope for, and generally they see themselves as part of the downtown revival in a residential corner. They probably got a good deal on the land because LNR had given up the their role in the project more or less at that point. Given the economic timing I would say we were lucky to have them show up...one could even argue they kick started the whole project area back to life. So I try to keep the context in mind even though....

....I too was really hoping for some sort of nice mixed use residential/retail building on this block. I am not sure what the City/State relationship is here but somewhere along the line there appeared to be a huge falling out....I think it was the Green Square parking deck...the State gave the City a big ol' middle finger and just started doing whatever it wanted (maybe even passed a law to that effect, don't quite remember the details). I think what we see at BSC today is a complete lack of City involvement and the State and LNR just taking whatever they could get. I think the lack of Elan plans being public is emblemetic of this situation for instance. 

I have some silly hope that McCrory is serious about somehow getting the State gov't complex more integrated into downtown and have a ton of ideas about how it could all shake out (my ideas being all over UP). Seaboard and north Person are both close to maxed our on retail space so some new retail will have to show up somewhere to meet near-future need so I have my future hopes for this area now pinned to the State getting itself in on the action in a more direct and positive way. 

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You highlight some of my major concerns and fears. In Raleigh, it always seems as though the right hand has no clue what the left hand is doing. In order for a growing city to function properly, there has to be public/private partnerships and in this case, city and state departments need to be on the same page. They also need to listen to the desires of the residents (new as well as old).

 

The city must have a clear understanding of where it wants to go long term from a development standpoint, and put the necessary plans in place to get there. Just allowing random developments whenever and wherever is not going to cut it. The city needs agreements in place with the state so that the state must include the city in any plans that it has for state managed land within the city proper.

 

If Raleigh has any hope of continuing to attract major businesses downtown, they've got to step it up. White collar businesses are going to want and need convenience and amenities for their employees. This means feasible transit options, feasible living options, feasible hotel rooms, feasible options for dining, etc.

 

Until Raleigh fixes these problems, the city will continue to experience a lack of interest from large major corporations looking to relocate.

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I walk past this church every single day. I'll start by giving them some support...its an Anglican church and they are good stewards of all that they are involved with...they pumped a lot of money into that old house they made their office, they designed the church building as nice as you could hope for, and generally they see themselves as part of the downtown revival in a residential corner. They probably got a good deal on the land because LNR had given up the their role in the project more or less at that point. Given the economic timing I would say we were lucky to have them show up...one could even argue they kick started the whole project area back to life. So I try to keep the context in mind even though....

 

I have no problem with building an Anglican church...just not in that spot. This is the 4th or 5th example within 1 year of a prime parcel in the central downtown area being vastly underutilized. It seems to be a trend.

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If there was any other retail fronting Peace St between the railroad and Person St...

If the townhomes at Peace & Person had included ground floor retail as originally planned...

If Peace College had a more pedestrian oriented presence on Peace St...

If Seaboard Station was better oriented to Peace St...

Then, retail at this site would make sense to me.  I think we are better off keeping the retail in this area in clusters for better success.  North Person area should be its own district, and then mixed-use centered at the Light Rail Station at Peace St.

 

From living in urban areas in other cities, I've come to appreciate that ground floor retail does not need to be everywhere.  I just can't imagine what retail would be successful at this site.  I agree 100% that more retail is needed downtown, but there are just so many other sites that would set up for more success.

 

A thriving urban area has all sorts of uses - not just bottle shops, coffee shops, and burger joints.  Churches, schools, fire stations, etc might all be low-activity comparatively, but these are needed to have a diverse urban area.  Not to mention the church also gives some diversity to the architecture in this area.  Enough already with the cookie-cutter apartment buildings and townhomes!

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I think the main issue is that there were already 13 churches in downtown. Did we really need a 14th? This church had a city of over 140 square miles to pick a site in, and they chose downtown, a 1 square mile area that already had 13 churches. Then there is the parking issue. Yeah, they are going to use the small AIA lot. How is that lot even remotely big enough to fit an entire congregation of church goers? They should have stayed at St. David's School near North Hills. 

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Exactly Euphorius! Why move from an area with ample parking to an area with limited parking and greater competition? Doesn't seem to make sense to me but maybe there are reasons that we aren't aware of.

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Well, when asking why do we need 14 churches downtown I'd just as well ask why we need 14 churches on the planet? Because they all sell a slightly different product. They all also think the best place to market themselves is a growing downtown. I'm certainly not trying to badmouth religion, but a growing congregation is the goal and you can't grow without making the best pitch possible. 

 

I think the real failure of the City was letting Peace Street be a steaming hot mass of failure in all of its lovely ways (it is both the worst pedestrian and vehicular environment in downtown). Had they prepped the Street itself for the type of growth we all would rather see, then we'd stand a better chance of seeing it. Exhibit A, Fayetteville St. 

Edited by Jones_

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I do think this building will look better than some of its surroundings, like the AIA building. That's a positive. 

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We can't change what happened in the past, but we can learn from mistakes and improve going forward. I just wish that the city of Raleigh would take note of some of the development flaws from the past and not continue to allow poorly planned projects to see the light of day.

Edited by RALNATIVE

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For anyone interested in attending a public meeting to discuss zoning issues in Raleigh, here's some info I received from my HOA:

 

Everyone is urged to attend the upcoming Central Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) meeting to be held on Monday, Jan. 5th, 7 p.m. at the John P. Greene Community Center, 401 Martin Luther King Blvd., 27601.  Additional information can be found at   http://www.raleighnc.gov/home/content/CommServices/Articles/CAC/CentralCAC.html. This will be one of our community's best opportunities to express any concerns related to the proposed rezoning of the property across the street from The Dawson.  The CAC is the one citizens organization with the most influence over City Council decisions related to zoning issues.  

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People are blaming NIMBYs for a lack of development but how much have NIMBYs actually hindered? One building on Hillsborough street, so far as I can tell. And based on the way it looks now, I can't say I'm sad that we got less of it. It's not particularly inspiring.

 

If the CAC succeeds in reducing the height of the project for the Reynolds Tower site then we clearly have a NIMBY problem, but I'm cautiously optimistic they won't achieve anything.

 

In the meantime, as far as revenue goes... I've said before that I support a municipal income tax as opposed to higher property taxes. I think this would go a long way toward shifting the supply/demand curve to favor downtown more. Though I'm not sure how politically feasible that is.

Edited by Spatula

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People are blaming NIMBYs for a lack of development but how much have NIMBYs actually hindered? One building on Hillsborough street, so far as I can tell. And based on the way it looks now, I can't say I'm sad that we got less of it. It's not particularly inspiring.

Which building are you referring to? The Meredith Heights apartments (between Montgomery and Furches) goes before council tomorrow and is actually pretty likely to be approved.

NIMBYs may have gotten some concessions here and there, but in all I have the impression that most people in central Raleigh are actually not NIMBYs and are willing to go along with sensible developments and make constructive suggestings for improvements. The NIMBYs that there are, are not especially powerful.

The only significant development in central Raleigh I can think of that was actually nixed by NIMBYs is "Coker Towers" way back in 2001, which was in a completely different era. I could be forgetting something though.

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Which building are you referring to? The Meredith Heights apartments (between Montgomery and Furches) goes before council tomorrow and is actually pretty likely to be approved.

NIMBYs may have gotten some concessions here and there, but in all I have the impression that most people in central Raleigh are actually not NIMBYs and are willing to go along with sensible developments and make constructive suggestings for improvements. The NIMBYs that there are, are not especially powerful.

The only significant development in central Raleigh I can think of that was actually nixed by NIMBYs is "Coker Towers" way back in 2001, which was in a completely different era. I could be forgetting something though.

 

I suspect that the proposed highrise public safety center several years ago that Meeker championed was also nixed by NIMBYs (via the city council). I believe that the primary concern was over the high price tag and need to consolidate critical services in a single building.

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I suspect that the proposed highrise public safety center several years ago that Meeker championed was also nixed by NIMBYs (via the city council). I believe that the primary concern was over the high price tag and need to consolidate critical services in a single building.

 

That's not NIMBYism.  That's conservatives not wanting to spend a dime to save a quarter.

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That's not NIMBYism.  That's conservatives not wanting to spend a dime to save a quarter.

 

In that case let's call them SOOMPs (stay out of my pockets).

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In that case let's call them SOOMPs (stay out of my pockets).

STOMPS has a nice metaphorical thing since they stomp ideas out of existence. 

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This article doesn't explain what "reduced" sprawl" is exactly, but here it is nonetheless. I'm going to guess they mean there was an increase in density while adding people, and de-annexing far flung areas wasn't the approach taken  :hi:

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The Planning Commission has scheduled a public meeting on the rezoning request for the Hillsborough St sites next to the Flying Saucer. The meeting will be at the Municipal Bldg. Room 201 on Tuesday, Feb. 24th at 9:00am.

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The Planning Commission has scheduled a public meeting on the rezoning request for the Hillsborough St sites next to the Flying Saucer. The meeting will be at the Municipal Bldg. Room 201 on Tuesday, Feb. 24th at 9:00am.

Did you see...the law firm on that block, which owns the Saucer building, is going to be seeking that same rezoning as well. Think I read it in the N&O. Goodbye another Hillsborough St mansion. Goodbye successful business (Saucer). Just so the lawyer boys can cash in. Paraphrasing their words from the article. Apparently they were quietly looking to sell too back when the Reynolds were aiming to building there. 

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Did you see...the law firm on that block, which owns the Saucer building, is going to be seeking that same rezoning as well. Think I read it in the N&O. Goodbye another Hillsborough St mansion. Goodbye successful business (Saucer). Just so the lawyer boys can cash in. Paraphrasing their words from the article. Apparently they were quietly looking to sell too back when the Reynolds were aiming to building there. 

 

I'm trying to get more info on the parties that have expressed an interest to the city in buying those sites.

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I have no problem with building an Anglican church...just not in that spot. This is the 4th or 5th example within 1 year of a prime parcel in the central downtown area being vastly underutilized. It seems to be a trend.

 

After having initially bashed the building of this church at this location, I'm now starting to come around to the idea of having this church in the hood. I think that it will add an interesting dynamic to the rapidly developing Peace Street corridor.

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There was an article about this in the N&O today. It says the church split from the Episcopal church in 2004 because they accepted a gay bishop in New Hampshire. Funny they decided to build their new church in downtown, the gayest neighborhood in the entire city. I didn't support this church before, and I support them even less now. http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/03/01/4592247_downtown-raleigh-sees-first-church.html?rh=1

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There was an article about this in the N&O today. It says the church split from the Episcopal church in 2004 because they accepted a gay bishop in New Hampshire. Funny they decided to build their new church in downtown, the gayest neighborhood in the entire city. I didn't support this church before, and I support them even less now. http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/03/01/4592247_downtown-raleigh-sees-first-church.html?rh=1

 

My changing views of the church has nothing to do with the article, as I didn't even read it. I was driving past the church yesterday when heading to Seaboard and began to see how the church could add a new and interesting dimension to that block. The appearance, if nothing else, will add some character.

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