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55 minutes ago, JeanClt said:

Japan has a limited amount of space and so they treat land for what it’s value is there. They maximize the use of space.

While that is true another important aspect is their concept of entertainment districts. I worked in Nagasaki a lot and it's fairly rural not that far from city center. But all the business want to be in the entertainment district. Cultural or zoning or... I have no idea but the result is super nice. Most of the entertainment district there looks to have been built after the great flood of '82. I imagine it was somewhat of a green field at that point or certainly post the bomb and somehow it just clustered. My favorite bars and restaurants seated maybe 15 making it possible for the small guy to succeed as said. Great transportation via street cars, busses and ubiquitous taxis at any time feeds into it. 

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street view of a station

9 hours ago, JeanClt said:

Japan has a limited amount of space and so they treat land for what it’s value is there. They maximize the use of space.

This is somewhat true in the larger sense -- we will never have a national (or even state) "primate city" on the scale of Tokyo -- but they actually have more space in the vital walksheds around transit stops, simply because their transit is so much more developed and comprehensive. In our case, we shouldn't think "we have so much land!" because we don't. We have a single line of fixed transit and the land around that should be maximally utilized to justify further investment in transit.

To illustrate, this is the radius around Bland St. Station that I'm talking about:

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To choose a more directly comparable area of a Japanese city, here's street view of a station in Sendai (pop. 1m), which features a much higher intensity around the station than Bland with a mixture of large developments, "zakkyo buildings," and lower-intensity municipal uses (e.g. a park and ride lot). The comparable map:

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The "bones" in the Charlotte map aren't bad. The street grid is too coarse, but that will eventually change. The biggest (and more difficult-to-fix) aspect is the granularity of development and property ownership.

 

8 hours ago, elrodvt said:

While that is true another important aspect is their concept of entertainment districts. I worked in Nagasaki a lot and it's fairly rural not that far from city center. But all the business want to be in the entertainment district. Cultural or zoning or... I have no idea but the result is super nice. Most of the entertainment district there looks to have been built after the great flood of '82. I imagine it was somewhat of a green field at that point or certainly post the bomb and somehow it just clustered. My favorite bars and restaurants seated maybe 15 making it possible for the small guy to succeed as said. Great transportation via street cars, busses and ubiquitous taxis at any time feeds into it. 

Clustering of businesses is somewhat cultural in the modern era -- if you look at any Asian city, there are "districts" where you go for any given thing -- but it's also historically universal. Think about NYC's "garment district," for a Western example. Even Montford Dr. could be construed as this kind of organic clustering.

Edited by asthasr
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"Emergent Tokyo" is a fascinating book - I learned a lot from it. I think there are a lot of lessons that can be applied to our cities, even if the end result doesn't look like Tokyo. One thing that stood out to me was how small so many of the building parcels are there. They have minimal regulations on lot size, setbacks, and lot frontage. Many plots of land have been subdivided  over and over again, resulting in an incredibly fine grain of pedestrian-oriented alleys and buildings. It's a stark contrast to how much land is wasted in American cities on pointless setbacks and buffers. I actually think that subdivision could be a great model for densifying our cities. What if, instead of building bigger buildings, we built a bunch of small buildings on the leftover spaces in our cities? New networks of rear lanes and alleys could provide the access for development of underutilized backyards, without the dramatic change to existing streetscapes in the current paradigm of teardowns.

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On 11/9/2022 at 9:43 AM, KJHburg said:

In Atlanta an Arizona developer building a large mixed use infill community with less emphasis on cars (with a centralized parking deck even for SF homes)

https://www.cnu.org/publicsquare/2022/11/03/developer-brings-car-light-design-atlanta

I know that exact location. That's the Murphy Avenue Triangle next to the Beltline in SW Atlanta. The site was under development by Eric Kronberg (https://www.kronbergua.com/), so I'm surprised he spun it off. 

I've worked on several projects nearby such as the original Monday Night Brewing location, which is also next to the MARTA Red & Gold lines (on the elevated viaduct) across Lee Street as well.

I think we have already achieved that type of carless residential density around the LYNX Blue Line. Actually, Atlanta is ironically trying to keep up with Charlotte on that front.

Trust, I get calls from them in Atlanta all the time about how Charlotte was able to get what we have along the LYNX Blue Line. They envy us on this front. 

Edited by kayman
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12 hours ago, kayman said:

I know that exact location. That's the Murphy Avenue Triangle next to the Beltline in SW Atlanta. The site was under development by Eric Kronberg (https://www.kronbergua.com/), so I'm surprised he spun it off. 

I've worked on several projects nearby such as the original Monday Night Brewing location, which is also next to the MARTA Red & Gold lines (on the elevated viaduct) across Lee Street as well.

I think we have already achieved that type of carless residential density around the LYNX Blue Line. Actually, Atlanta is ironically trying to keep up with Charlotte on that front.

Trust, I get calls from them in Atlanta all the time about how Charlotte was able to get what we have along the LYNX Blue Line. They envy us on this front. 

If Atlanta’s MARTA emulated Charlotte TOD (“LoSo” through NoDa) it’d be a crazy game changer.

MARTA has an exponentially better potential than the Blue Line if not the best in the country. I’d say NY, DC have the best systems followed by Chicago and then Atlanta. Atlanta needs to follow WMATA’s footsteps on TOD. Miami Metro also seems it could have better TOD. 

Nearly all of MARTA stations give me Charlotte Lynx Tyvola Station vibes. I’m not sure if land ownership is the hold up, what the deal is but man. From an outside perspective, Atlanta could be so much better to me if there stations were, well. Developed…

Charlotte definitely got the TOD right for the most part - if not one of the best Light Rail TOD’s in the country. Particularly, SouthEnd has the bones to grow into an actual urban core rather than developments directly around light rail given its grid. 

I’m definitely rooting for Atlanta to take a page from Charlotte because they have an amazing asset. 

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4 hours ago, AirNostrumMAD said:

If Atlanta’s MARTA emulated Charlotte TOD (“LoSo” through NoDa) it’d be a crazy game changer.

MARTA has an exponentially better potential than the Blue Line if not the best in the country. I’d say NY, DC have the best systems followed by Chicago and then Atlanta. Atlanta needs to follow WMATA’s footsteps on TOD. Miami Metro also seems it could have better TOD. 

Nearly all of MARTA stations give me Charlotte Lynx Tyvola Station vibes. I’m not sure if land ownership is the hold up, what the deal is but man. From an outside perspective, Atlanta could be so much better to me if there stations were, well. Developed…

Charlotte definitely got the TOD right for the most part - if not one of the best Light Rail TOD’s in the country. Particularly, SouthEnd has the bones to grow into an actual urban core rather than developments directly around light rail given its grid. 

I’m definitely rooting for Atlanta to take a page from Charlotte because they have an amazing asset. 

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Better than Boston?

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Unsure where to put this, but this seems like the most relevant thread...

Today, after almost 20 years of planning, construction, and endless upon endless delays, the final leg of the Silver Line opened in Fairfax/Loudoun Counties in Virginia. 

I have a love/hate relationship with Metro, but today wasn't about that…although some man on the train said something like "I don't know why we are celebrating, you wouldn't celebrate a student for turning in a paper late" (like fair, though). I literally cleared out my afternoon to ride the new line, which opened for customers today at around 12:45PM. I also wanted to time the service from my house to IAD. 

I caught the S9 Limited bus from my house at 1:49PM, and was through the faregate at McPherson Sq at 2:01PM. I got on the train at 2:09PM. There was some type of issue affecting our 40+ year old railcar leaving DC…we pulled roughly 20 feet out of the station and just sat there for about 4 minutes or so. Some sections of the line we really booked it (64 mph according to my iPhone) but other parts we seemed to be going so herky-jerky and slow…especially the physical track around IAD. I'm not sure if it was just cautious operators unfamiliar with the territory, but all of that is something that could be remedied with ATO. I arrived at IAD and passed through the faregate at 3:01PM exactly, so all in all the trip took me 1h12m.

 

 

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Metro is famous for it's long escalators, which typically only exist at underground stations. I am told Dulles has the longest escalator at an elevated station. The station is odd architecturally speaking because the mezzanine level is technically underground, while the physical platforms are elevated. 

Bad wayfinding really irks my nerves, and this station really irritated me. There are absolutely no signs on the platform showing which way DC is. DCA station has platform signs saying "XXX Line Train to YYY via Downtown Washington, DC". Tourists (especially American tourists) are horrible at reading transit maps and I can just foresee the confusion to come. 

The walk from the station to the terminal isn't ideal, but it wasn't too bad. I walk really fast and have long legs and did it in about 3 minutes, but WaPo and other agencies said it was around a 5-6 minute walk. 

I was able to get some Metro swag (hand sanitizer and a Silver Line luggage tag) along with a pennant flag, which has been a Metro tradition since the system opened. 

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I've never been to a transit line grand opening, and it was actually really fun. The pictures don't show the crowds, but the station at Dulles was PACKED with well-wishers and folks out just checking out what their tax dollar were used for.  

With this project complete, I believe that there are only two heavy rail lines actively under construction in the US…the LA Purple Line project and the Honolulu RT project. Quite sad imo.

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29 minutes ago, tarhoosier said:

Saw photos online of a few international arriving visitors with luggage transiting to Metro at Dulles. It had been open 45 minutes or so at that point. Question was if these arrivals knew that they were among the very first to use the new line. 

The date wasn't nailed down until recently. More likely they were going to use the Silver Line Shuttle Bus thing to Whiele-Reston and had a nice surprise that Metro was open.

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I have heard of agri-hoods new neighborhoods with farm land inside the community and one is coming to Davidson.  This is something unique an agri-apartment complex with areas to grow food in a rental apartment community in Austin.

https://www.connectcre.com/stories/outdoor-living-rental-units-going-up-in-austin/

This is a great idea for this area too on areas that may have flood plain nearby or just to preserve some open space.  

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Once NC's largest city Wilmington and their downtown is a mix of new high rises and historical high rises and lots of smaller buildings saved.  The more I visit the more I love this city.  And yes it was 75 partly sunny today while it was foggy and cold in Charlotte in the low 50s.  Downtown Wilmington this morning and lots for Charlotte to learn about saving history or what is left here.  Still love they have a Waffle House downtown.    Downtown Wilmington is a great mix of older high rises like the Murchinson Bldg renovated by a Charlotte firm but built in 1914 and new high rise condos and apartments at River Place.  North end of the Wilmington boardwalk along the river looks like Southend with new apartment complexes but on the river or around their new park.   The streetscape downtown is wonderful.   (and that is a new tapas place going in next the Waffle House) 

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Not really anything to be “learned” per se, but WMATA announced earlier this week they plan to reintroduce both ATO and ADO on Metro next year, starting with the Red Line in late Spring, before resuming the features on other lines by Fall/early Winter 2023. 

What is most interesting about the announcement from a transit/mobility perspective is that Metro also announced that they hope to move to fully-driverless/automated operation complete with platform screen doors. Granted I’ll believe it when I see it but I don’t think any currently operating transit system in the US has made that bold of an announcement. 

Edited by LKN704
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I've been pretty vocal about my disdain for Austin on this forum, but after visiting the city roughly 10 times within the past four years, I can say it really has grown on me. I don't think I could ever live there for a number of reasons (way too hot in the summer, Texas politics, car dependency) but after a visit this weekend, I can now happily say that I genuinely do enjoy my visits to the city and look forward to returning. Here are some things that really stuck out to me: 

  • The area is geographically beautiful. This is going to be an extremely unpopular opinion here, but frankly, I think the East Coast is just plain ugly from a nature perspective. To me there are some nice areas (the Adirondacks, the Maine Coast, the Cape & Islands, the Keys) but everything else is just plain and sad. I often think I was born on the wrong coast…I love the dry/rocky/chaparral covered mountains of the west, the deserts/canyons, etc. The Austin area and the surrounding Hill Country is incredibly beautiful to me, and makes for a really nice transition between the Southeast and the Southwest. I love the native plants and trees to the area, and I love how there are cacti growing randomly throughout the region. Love the great hiking and endless water/swimming hole activities nearby. The wine country in the Hill Country is quite nice. 

 

  • The restaurant/bar/coffee shop scene is great…like genuinely great. I also appreciate that every single restaurant seems to have its own vibe. I feel like this contrasts in Charlotte where every single restaurant that opens has that "gentrified neighborhood starter pack" vibe of crazy chandeliers/lights, exposed bricks, cherry wood flooring, etc. Most Charlotte restaurants to me (especially in the South End) seems to be too dark on the inside, even with a ton of lighting.  Most places in Austin seemed to have a lighter mid-century modern, minimal, or wabi sabi vibe, which I dig. Sunday night we went to Bufalina in East Austin, which was amazing. We ate at a communal table (which I like), and they were playing Blondie/Kate Bush/ABBA hits over the speakers which were periodically interrupted by various snippets of clips from "Twin Peaks"…it was all really fun. 

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  • There always seem to be a lot of free events going on. There was this design shop called "FSG" (Feels So Good) that had a market on Sunday…complete with a free (and unlimited!) bar that had Tito's, various tequilas, and local canned cocktails. I managed to get two FSG t-shirts and a vintage chorecoat all for less than $75, which I thought was a pretty good deal. 

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  • Outside of the events and nature activities in the area, it feels like there really aren't a lot of formal, structured activities to do…think things to do on a rainy day. Charlotte suffers from the same thing in that regard. Granted I am spoiled because I live in DC and there are countless museums/monuments, but Austin really only has a few museums and they aren’t very good. One day we walked around the library downtown (which was very nice tbh) because there wasn't anything else to do and we wanted to get out of the house. 

 

  • I couldn't stand all of the bachelorette/30th birthday parties etc. that were there. I have the same annoyance with Charleston and Savannah. Everywhere we went there was a loud, disorderly group of people causing chaos. 

 

  • The current transit system is incredibly odd. On the one hand, it seems to be a system of last resort. On the other hand, the buses seem to run more frequent than buses in Charlotte, and I believe Austin has a higher level of bus ridership than Charlotte. My friends say they "sometimes" (don't know how often that is) take the MetoRapid enhanced bus-service, which seems to operate at 10-minute headways during the weekdays. 

 

  • It takes forever to get everywhere, and traffic seems bad at all hours of the day. I remember writing this on a previous post/rant about Austin, but everything seems like it's a 30-minute drive away. We drove 30 minutes to Bufalina, then 20 minutes in traffic to this bar, and then another 30 minutes home. 

 

  • Like the above point, I mentioned this in a previous post about Austin, but Austin seems a lot older/run down than Charlotte. We were driving through an area that looked run down to me (think East Charlotte by the Asian Corner mall) complete with pawn shops and junk yards, only for my friends to say things like "this is one of the most expensive areas in Austin" or "this is a really desirable area"…sure enough, tucked off side roads in one run-down area would be a strip of really nice bars and restaurants. Weird. 
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Just up in Winston Salem today.  Historical buildings there get new lives all the time wish the QC could learn this.

For example the old Pepper Building converted to a Hotel Indigo.  (too bad this could have not happened to the old Barringer Hotel in uptown) Notice the brick hotel is almost a spitting image of what Inlivian destroyed in Charlotte just shorter.  

and the old old Wachovia headquarters building is being converted to apartments by a Philadelphia developer.  and this same developer redid the old RJ Reynolds building the model for the Empire State Building into a Kimpton Hotel and apartments above.

Plus they were involved in the 18 story Nissen building that was converted to apartments with rooftop pool. 

https://www.pmcpropertygroup.com/properties/residences-rj-reynolds-building

https://www.pmcpropertygroup.com/properties/nissen-building-apartments

https://www.pmcpropertygroup.com/corporate/news/historic-wachovia-building-sold-owner-former-reynolds-headquarters-0

https://www.cityofws.org/DocumentCenter/View/3922/136---Pepper---Building-PDF

Winston Salem values it history.  No wonder President George Washington enjoyed his stay in Salem (and yes that tavern is still standing too) on his 1791 tour.

Even historical gas stations are saved here!

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-last-shell-oil-clamshell-station-2-winston-salem-north-carolina

I love walking around downtown Winston it has character, lots of local restaurants and shops but is a modern city.   If you have not been ever or lately plan a visit and see what historical reuse it all about.  (attention Charlotte developers) 

Even an old courthouse is now reused as apartments.  I appreciate a city that appreciates its history!  

 

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