ricky_davis_fan_21

Op-Ed for Charlotte Observer

11 posts in this topic


I know you'll do the crowd here good by your letter. It's a fantastic idea!  I'm far from an expert and I'm humbled by what you guys discuss on this board so please excuse if I'm out of line (feel free to delete post Mr. Moderator).  While spending almost two full days while on vacation last week wandering the streets of Portland, and keeping Charlotte in the back of my mind, I had a couple of thoughts: 1)  Increase food trucking 2) have safe an visible bathrooms. There's a public bathroom beside one of their parks in Pearl District that allows you to see feet inside. In otherwords, you don't have to worry too much about being mugged by walking into a closed space. (not that it's necessarily a problem here).  So many street level retailers...  And, of course, side-walk dinning and beer drinking.

FWIW, I did find plenty of dead space in downtown Portland as well. It's not all wonderland.

So, anyway, I'm still buzzing about Portland. I've been there plenty of times and love it. I just wish their light rail/trolley took you out to the Hawthorne Section....as our trolley will eventually to PM.

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Great idea!

 I do think Charlotte is gestating a Southern form of urbanism, its never going to look like old industrial cities, but that doesn't mean a ped friendly urban form is impossible

I think that's a great point. Our Southern Urbanism style is built around the bare "bones" of what old buildings/street networks were left behind, rather than having continued on the shoulders of an already fully-formed urban "organism" (like the legacy cities of the 1800s). In some ways it has its disadvantages (not many truly dense neighborhoods before the car, less old architecture, no rail infrastructure before the car), but in other ways it is a strength (simply having the SPACE to retrofit excellent ped/bike facilities, and light rail being more pleasant than the traditional heavy-rail subways/metros ;) ). And the old architecture here will be predominantly industrial warehouses/storefronts ranging from late 1800s, through late 20th century, which lends these neighborhoods, and all the future urban neighborhoods, their own feel you won't get everywhere.

Edited by SgtCampsalot

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One thing that amazes me is that Raleigh is getting many unremarkable apartment buildings like we are, but it seems like all of theirs have retail in the bottom. Not just a spot or two, but along the entire expanse of the building, at least on the side that faces the main thoroughfare. Why are developers investing the money for ground floor retail in Raleigh, but not in Charlotte? I'm assuming we are mostly seeing the same development companies. Is it all just zoning requirements?

They also have street parking everywhere. To me, Raleigh feels a lot more livable than Charlotte.

Edited by Niner National

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One thing that amazes me is that Raleigh is getting many unremarkable apartment buildings like we are, but it seems like all of theirs have retail in the bottom. Not just a spot or two, but along the entire expanse of the building, at least on the side that faces the main thoroughfare. Why are developers investing the money for ground floor retail in Raleigh, but not in Charlotte? I'm assuming we are mostly seeing the same development companies. Is it all just zoning requirements?

They also have street parking everywhere. To me, Raleigh feels a lot more livable than Charlotte.

I think a lot of it is how Charlotte was developed. Charlotte was developed in such a way that it made land prices SKYROCKET so taking a risk and putting in some retail isn't as desirable for developers. Not to mention the city doesn't hardly require it. 

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One thing you could touch on is the city's poor planning of how streets are planned developed. Rather than the city pre-planning where streets should be and having the developers follow that plan, they let the developers do whatever they want.

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The City is already in the process of re-writing the Zoning Code with a goal of 2018 for it to be complete. I think everyone is already in agreement that the current Zoning is not working. Your Op-Ed is well timed since we are right in the middle of the re-write to make the zoning code better for urban spaces in Charlotte.

Good starting point for finding out more about the re-write: http://plancharlotte.org/story/charlotte-zoning-ordiance-form-based-udo

Also the City Council was updated on the status of the re-write at tonight's Council Meeting. They have selected a consultant team lead by Camiros and will include Parker Poe, Gantt Huberman Architects, and Wray Ward.

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I might go light on comparisons with Brooklyn. I know you are a Charlotte native, but readers are gonna tune out if they feel like its a  'how we do it up North' piece. 

Totally agree here. We get it on UP, but the O readers are going to tune out completely if you compare it to Brooklyn too much without giving more of an explanation of your history, relationship, and love of Charlotte (which we all know you have) than 500 words would probably allow.  I think comparisons to cities like Greenville or Asheville could do more for garnering local support on the O of how to create an urban experience with retail, dining, shopping, and just a generally active urban downtown area. When those people see "Brooklyn," it's the damn Yankees trying to take over the south. But if it's Asheville, they think, "yes, that is quite a nice mountain town with a wonderful downtown experience." One that downtown Charlotte can't compare to, though I still lover our downtown and the skyline is killer even if the street-level activity isn't there. Not saying to not mention Brooklyn at all, but if that is you main point of the op-ed, then I would expect a lot of "get out of here, Yankees" comments on the website. Nothing you can do about it - just the way it is with the O's website.

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One thing you could touch on is the city's poor planning of how streets are planned developed. Rather than the city pre-planning where streets should be and having the developers follow that plan, they let the developers do whatever they want.

This is one of the major things that frustrates me about how this city does things. Our tax dollars are spent on land use studies/recommendations, master plans, zoning districts, yada, yada only to have all that work disregarded at the slightest hint that a developer wants to build another crap product. Why spend the time (and your citizens' money) just to ignore the results. The adult in me just sees this as more political incompetency but the kid in me sees this as another pocket being lined with green thread.

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One apt comparison city for Charlotte would be Denver. They've already had politicos and planners from Denver deliver presentations on their form-based zoning conversion.

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