JacksonH

Savona Mill, Lakewood Trolley, Greenway

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Charlotte is oft criticized (including in this forum and by me) for its destruction of its history, and also its lack of uniqueness.  San Antonio has its beautiful Riverwalk (15 miles long total, including a 2.4 mile loop downtown full of shops, restaurants, bars and Spanish colonial architecture); San Diego has the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Old Town, etc.); Seattle has Pike's Market, and the Space Needle; San Francisco has Fisherman's Wharf, North Beach, Chinatown, Lombard Street, etc.); Los Angeles has Hollywood, the Hollywood Bowl, the Roosevelt Hotel, Santa Monica, Olvera St.); New York has Greenwich Village, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, etc., etc., etc.); Chicago has Grant Park, Lincoln Park; Austin has 6th Street; New Orleans has the French Quarter and the Garden District.  I could go on and on.  But Charlotte always comes up short.  There's no historic district or monument to take people to, just theme parks, tall buildings and shopping malls -- the kinds of things you find in any major city -- but nothing uniquely Charlotte.  But then I recently read about the old Savona Mill in old west Charlotte being converted into a space for retail, cafes and, importantly, artisans to be seen doing their craft (wonderful!).  On top of this, plans for a century-old trolley to run from Uptown (across from the Draught restaurant and bar by BOA Stadium) out to Savona Mill along actual old trolley tracks which, unlike most trolley tracks, run alongside a creek rather than on a road.  Additionally, that trolley route was also to be restored into a greenway, making it possible to have the option of strolling or jogging from Uptown to the historic Savona Mill, or taking a ride on an historic trolley.  THIS is an idea to be really excited about.  THIS is something visitors to Charlotte could do that they could only do in Charlotte; an actual sightseeing experience.  When company comes to town, THIS is what you would want to take them to do for an afternoon: trolley and/or stroll to and from Savona Mill to see the artisans at work and do some souvenir shopping and enjoy a meal.  What a wonderful, wonderful concept!  Now to my question:  I'm only just now learning about the Savona Mill and Lakewood Trolley restoration, but I'm finding out that this was announced about three years ago.  Does anybody know the status of these projects?  I don't see much written about them.  I think it would be a huge blow if none of this comes to fruition.

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I too hope they make it work. Unfortuantely when I last checked (about three months ago) there has been virtually zero progress refurbishing the two trollies and there has been no visible progress on the mill since the announcement.

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17 minutes ago, kermit said:

I too hope they make it work. Unfortuantely when I last checked (about three months ago) there has been virtually zero progress refurbishing the two trollies and there has been no visible progress on the mill since the announcement.

Not too surprising, always seemed like an awfully large leap for a company that specializes in refurbing buildings between 8-25k sq feet.

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It's been awhile (~1 year) since the developer has engaged the neighborhood and it appears it's still pending rezoning from it's filing in 2016. http://charlottenc.gov/planning/Rezoning/RezoningPetitions/2016Petitions/Pages/2016-112.aspx 

Aside from Blue Blaze, the only other movement is that they now have a community/teaching garden where kids from the local school can come and learn about gardening, sustainability, etc. This is all outside the actual mill structure but on the property.

 

 

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58 minutes ago, kermit said:

I too hope they make it work. Unfortuantely when I last checked (about three months ago) there has been virtually zero progress refurbishing the two trollies and there has been no visible progress on the mill since the announcement.

 

Not too surprising, always seemed like an awfully large leap for a company that specializes in refurbing buildings between 8-25k sq feet.

:tw_cold_sweat:

Edited by JacksonH

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24 minutes ago, DCtransplant said:

It's been awhile (~1 year) since the developer has engaged the neighborhood and it appears it's still pending rezoning from it's filing in 2016. http://charlottenc.gov/planning/Rezoning/RezoningPetitions/2016Petitions/Pages/2016-112.aspx 

Aside from Blue Blaze, the only other movement is that they now have a community/teaching garden where kids from the local school can come and learn about gardening, sustainability, etc. This is all outside the actual mill structure but on the property.

 

 

Good grief, 2016???  That seems like a long time to consider a rezoning petition.  I would think the city would want to make a priority out of this.  That area of town needs help more than others that seem to have no problem getting permits.  And for something this unique that will be good for the Center City at large, that fills in some gaps for things the city is missing from a tourism perspective, I don't understand why they would not be all over getting this project moving.

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Just now, JacksonH said:

Good grief, 2016???  That seems like a long time to consider a rezoning petition.  I would think the city would want to make a priority out of this.  That area of town needs help more than others that seem to have no problem getting permits.  And for something this unique that will be good for the Center City at large, that fills in some gaps for things the city is missing from a tourism perspective, I don't understand why they would not be all over getting this project moving.

Because Charlotte

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They have started cleaning up the area behind the mill and from the presentation a year or so ago the developer said the smaller buildings surrounding the mill will be the first to be occupied/renovated. It seems there has been progress but very slow on the property. The mill was the last thing to be renovated. I think the mill is 10years out from today.   Blue blaze does seem to be doing well so that’s good for the area

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4 hours ago, QClifer said:

They have started cleaning up the area behind the mill and from the presentation a year or so ago the developer said the smaller buildings surrounding the mill will be the first to be occupied/renovated. It seems there has been progress but very slow on the property. The mill was the last thing to be renovated. I think the mill is 10years out from today.   Blue blaze does seem to be doing well so that’s good for the area

10 year, yikes!  I guess these developers are not in a huge hurry to get a return on their investment.

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9 hours ago, sakami said:

Per Dan Morrill Streetcar 85 will start running as the Lakewood Trolley in July. 

69AA04C7-E753-46F2-A13E-651FFE24DBC6.png

This is awesome!  I am VERY surprised that this can begin operating so quickly when it takes forever to test new tracks on the Blue Line.  Old and unused tracks can get up in running in a month?  Surprised but pleased.

http://www.lakewoodtrolley.org/

image.png.09381aff368516547987ceca533f074f.png

Edited by JBS

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The maintenance for that car 85 with regular use would be tremendous. And where will it be stored? The last time it ran in my memory was in 2008 with a special run to Dixie's tavern north of 7th street for a fundraiser. The controller, the part at the front and back of the car with electric brushes and contacts to determine speed, had been updated from the Charlotte Trolley operation version. Who operates it? Who trains the operator/motorman? What is the backup in case of mechanical or electrical failure while on the line? I ran that car from 2002 to 2004 but I did not love the car. Imagine driving a 1928 BlueBird bus. Every day with passengers and a schedule.

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1 hour ago, kermit said:

^ its all about the speed of the vehicle.  This track is considered to be Class 1 (the worst) by the FTA,  meaning that passenger speeds cannot exceed 15mph. The combination of slow speeds and a lack of connection to the larger rail system means there are very few rules or restrictions governing its use.   For example, class 1 track does not require crossing gates at roads (summit, grandin and walnut). Upping speeds to 30mph (class 2 track) would be an entirely different ballgame.

I feel like the city at some point should upgrade this short corridor and connect it to the rest of the Gold Line. Not an expert but such a project shouldn’t be too expensive, right?

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On 6/13/2018 at 12:24 PM, Third Strike said:

I feel like the city at some point should upgrade this short corridor and connect it to the rest of the Gold Line. Not an expert but such a project shouldn’t be too expensive, right?

I agree completely. It would be a relatively cheap proposition since nearly all of the ROW is in place and owned by the state. The only trick would be the underpass under the NS tracks by the stadium (its still there but is heavily used for Panthers' peds) and getting up the hill from there to Graham street -- I think these issues can be solved without much effort but a Cedar street to Gateway routing would also solve the problem.  I have long thought the Savona Mill / Berryhill area is ripe for Southend-like development (and there are now plenty of $400,000+ houses in Seviersville to fuel investment).

Such a Goldline spur would also pair nicely with a sister spur down Kings drive to CMC and East blvd.

Edited by kermit
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8 hours ago, kermit said:

I agree completely. It would be a relatively cheap proposition since nearly all of the ROW is in place and owned by the state. The only trick would be the underpass under the NS tracks by the stadium (its still there but is heavily used for Panthers' peds) and getting up the hill from there to Graham street -- I think these issues can be solved without much effort but a Cedar street routing would also solve the problem.  I have long thought the Savona Mill area is ripe for Southend-like development (and there are now plenty of $400,000+ houses in Seviersville to fuel the development).

Such a Goldline spur would also pair nicely with a sister spur down Kings drive to CMC and East blvd.

Plus you could branch the Gold line cars off to Freedom Drive via a ROW parallel to Stewart Creek then take the line along Freedom drive to I-85.  Use the center lanes on Freedom drive to give the Gold Line cars a dedicated ROW, and open up the Freedom Drive corridor to redevelopment...something for which it is no doubt ripe.

Lakewood Trolley would use heritage trolleys such as Car 85 along with the cars currently being used on the Gold line and terminate at Gateway.  The Freedom drive Gold line branch would use the Siemens streetcars and continue on Trade Street in the ROW currently being constructed then branch off towards CMC at some TBD street.  See attached image:

Streetcar_Trolley_idea.png

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^ The route is quite similar to the Sugarhouse streetcar in Salt Lake. That was a two mile, mostly single track, existing dedicated row streetcar. It cost a bit over $50 million to build out (incluidng three (?) modern vehicles). The Savona to Cedar street route would be slightly cheaper due to fewer grade crossings, but some cash would need to be spent to connect it to the existing streetcar route at either Cedar or Graham — not sure what that stretch of street-running would cost.  This would honestly be a perfect TIF project.   TLDR, in terms of money this could happen very quickly, if GL phase 2 ridership is decent then federal funding should be possible but would slow the project.

Per cltbwimob’s suggestion, the current end point at State street is kinda weak. Extending it over to Freedom drive (and using the existing city-owned lot at the old freedom mall as a park and ride) would certainly be a more sensible terminus. But the stretch from State to 85 would probably more than double (triple?) costs a phased approach would delay the expenditure.

Edited by kermit

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20 hours ago, cltbwimob said:

Plus you could branch the Gold line cars off to Freedom Drive via a ROW parallel to Stewart Creek then take the line along Freedom drive to I-85.  Use the center lanes on Freedom drive to give the Gold Line cars a dedicated ROW, and open up the Freedom Drive corridor to redevelopment...something for which it is no doubt ripe.

Lakewood Trolley would use heritage trolleys such as Car 85 along with the cars currently being used on the Gold line and terminate at Gateway.  The Freedom drive Gold line branch would use the Siemens streetcars and continue on Trade Street in the ROW currently being constructed then branch off towards CMC at some TBD street.  See attached image:

Streetcar_Trolley_idea.png

Btw, cltbwimob’s sketch map of streetcar spurs shares more than a little resemblance to Boston’s green line (although much shorter)

 

97A22EC7-6699-4599-A196-90F7E12A7D61.jpeg

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I love it.

At the end of the day, any expansion would need to be the cheapest, most "obvious" option. 

Since streetcar expansion is essentially dead, the most likely could ONLY be this trolley connecting down [Cedar St], and becoming its own "line" running from Elizabeth all the way down. 

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5 hours ago, SgtCampsalot said:

Since streetcar expansion is essentially dead...

I dunno, I like to hope that they city might make some tiny, incremental expansions after Phase 2 as they happen to find neighborhood improvement funds, developer interest, conduct big streetscape projects or decide to use TIF financing. I could imagine a developer at Barnhardt coughing up a half mill plus ROW as part of the $5 million (?) necessary to extend to Plaza and Central. I could see the city bundling a short extension from French st to Washington Heights / Northwest School of the Arts with streetscape work ($3 mill (?) if the bridge over the Brookshire is good). The Savona Mill tracks would also fit into this category of expansion — although a new branch would likely trigger the  need for additional vehicles. If they coordinate projects well streetcar extension could be done on the cheap since the big expenses (vehicles, maintenance facility and foundational electric) will all be paid for in Phase 2.

(This is just more dreaming and I am only FMAing the numbers)

Edited by kermit

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