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6 minutes ago, I miss RVA said:

I think you're missing the core point of my argument: My point is that height and cohesive street/urban footprint integration ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE CONCEPTS. There is NO reason that RVA can't -- or shouldn't -- strive to have both - height AND better integration and creation of a vibrant, urban streetscape.

Yes - Monroe tower is part of that horrible architecture trend of the past 60 or more years of isolating high rises that certainly became part of a trend in RVA. As you pointed out, so many of these are government buildings - the Monroe building and City Hall are classic RVA examples. The Daley Center in downtown Chicago is an example.

We've had this debate on the forum before and it always seems to come down to folks arguing that it's either one or the other (either height or a vibrant urban streetscape) - when it's not. You yourself said it -- look at Manhattan. You can't get a better example of complete street-level integration and supreme height. Ditto here in Chicago. Philly. Other cities. No reason AT ALL this can't be achieved in RVA. It's not either-or. It's not a zero-sum concept. Nor should it be.

I think we're on the same page  - i am mostly looking backward and was really only responding to the Monroe site and the unfortunate renewal development pattern that was undertaken in very immediate vicinity. In that specific case where we both agree it was not done well - i'm just admitting i'm not sympathetic to the height that came out of that failure and would be ready to start anew at this site. 

Edited by whw53
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24 minutes ago, whw53 said:

@I miss RVA yea i threw in 'reposition' to not sound so narrow minded - tbh i can't see it really  adhering to what i want in this neighborhood in its current form. That being said, I completely agree with you that height and densification of street-level uses are not mutually exclusive though all too often  it seemed to have been over the last period of urban growth in this country. 

I admire height because of what it should represent or foretell of  the immediate environ. For instance that 23 story to be on Broad and what that means for the vibrancy of the Arts District, what the 12 story in Jackson Ward means for the bustle of 2nd St etc. I think in natural development patterns the two are intertwined.  A forest of high rises in an office campus, think Tysons Corner - doesn't represent that. Something's been severed there - it's unnatural- there's no neighborhood where one should be. Therefore because there are unnatural influences in our development patterns - a skyline just doesn't stand on its own for me, i need to see it in context.

A district of high rises indeed the buildings themselves are presented better when the spaces between are chock full of other architectures, legacies of different time periods or just a convolution of different visions.  A scraper rising out of that sort of bustle is much more impressive to me. That's why some of my favorite views of the city have that matrix in the foreground with an uninterrupted urban spread to those higher districts - it shows it as one and the same. So when i stand at 14th and Franklin and see the Monroe building and how the state government sanitized a once vibrant piece of downtown, i can't help but feeling it is a sham. There's a degree of irony i think that the tallest tower in the city was placed at a location that in the short term was attractive partly due to its proximity  to other  points walkable in the city that in the long run actually contributed to the decline and loss of amenities, further sanitization of the grid around it.  it's more complicated than that i know but in summary i want height to open, revitalize the grid - create new districts, places - not be responsible for stamping it out. 

I couldn't have said it better, my friend. :tw_thumbsup:  We are in total agreement on this one. I'm totally anathema to Tyson-style campuses in the city. The disconnect is so visceral that it is jarring. It's the mix if tall and small, large and small, old and new, that weaves together an amazing urban tapestry that we all know from scenes of cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago. RVA, too. At least prior to certain architectural trends that swept into town in the late 60s - and became all to prevalent here over the last five decades. 

This is where Richmond 300 -- and the associated SAPs -- come into play. THIS is where good, tight zoning regs can open the city up to height not seen in RVA while properly integrating that height cohesively into the urban fabric that doesn't allow for cut-off campuses. That forest of highrises can just as easily be dropped into the street grid system and fully integrated. That's how I see the future of Monroe Ward -- a forest of high rise residential and mixed use buildings of various heights, shapes, sizes, styles - take a swath of Manhattan, shrink it to "RVA-size" and fill up Monroe Ward. 

For years, THIS is how I always envisioned Monroe Ward would ultimately look. Something like this - only "RVA-sized."

 

913255-Large-new-york-city-ny-usa-usa-city-city-aerial-view-of-central-park-west-the-upper-west-side.jpg

1.webp

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20 minutes ago, whw53 said:

I think we're on the same page  - i am mostly looking backward and was really only responding to the Monroe site and the unfortunate renewal development pattern that was undertaken in very immediate vicinity. In that specific case where we both agree it was not done well - i'm just admitting i'm not sympathetic to the height that came out of that failure and would be ready to start anew at this site. 

We are indeed. I agree - the entire "urban renewal" concept that emerged in the late '60s and took root in the '70s was a disaster from the get-go, to the point that I would argue, it bears at least some responsibility for the rapid decline of central cities -- particularly in the Northeast and Midwest (and here is a prime example of how RVA has always been more akin to a Northeastern city than a Southern city). Interstate highways, America's obsession with the automobile and the urban renewal push became a perfect storm that helped many a central city simply spiral down a rabbit hole of decline from which they're only recently climbing out.

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44 minutes ago, I miss RVA said:

My point is that height and cohesive street/urban footprint integration ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE CONCEPTS. There is NO reason that RVA can't -- or shouldn't -- strive to have both - height AND better integration and creation of a vibrant, urban streetscape.

Yes - Monroe tower is part of that horrible architecture trend of the past 60 or more years of isolating high rises that certainly became part of a trend in RVA. As you pointed out, so many of these are government buildings - the Monroe building and City Hall are classic RVA examples. The Daley Center in downtown Chicago is an example.

We've had this debate on the forum before and it always seems to come down to folks arguing that it's either one or the other (either height or a vibrant urban streetscape) - when it's not. You yourself said it -- look at Manhattan. You can't get a better example of complete street-level integration and supreme height. Ditto here in Chicago. Philly. Other cities. No reason AT ALL this can't be achieved in RVA. It's not either-or. It's not a zero-sum concept. Nor should it be.

Everything you said here is completely true. You can totally have a vibrant downtown with lots of tall buildings. A great example of this is the Deco/CNB apartments on Broad.

For the record, I think we should allow Decos to be built throughout much of the city. I recognize that is an extreme opinion.

But the Monroe Building is an example of where such a tradeoff does exist, because it is tall while parasitizing the streetscape due to its enormous parking deck. So when you say you "don't support ripping down "pedestal" buildings just to replace them with something "cohesive"", you're saying that if you have to choose, you choose height over streetscape integration. I'm also saying there is no such tension, but if I had to choose, I would choose streetscape integration over height. The Monroe Building epitomizes why I make that choice, and is why I think we should knock the Monroe Building down and start over. In the event it results in a smaller building, I am comfortable with that if it integrates the street better.

Edited by upzoningisgood
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IMO, i feel theres enough space between the building/ parking garage & 14th street to construct some form of retail space while constructing a mixed used building where the second tower was supposed to go. Also If torn down how would you connect shockoe bottom when the train station is in the way, a series of pedestrian bridges orrrr… But if torn down, I do believe the new construction she be equal in height as well as integrating a walkable streetscape  along 14th and Bank St.

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1 hour ago, upzoningisgood said:

Everything you said here is completely true. You can totally have a vibrant downtown with lots of tall buildings. A great example of this is the Deco/CNB apartments on Broad.

For the record, I think we should allow Decos to be built throughout much of the city. I recognize that is an extreme opinion.

But the Monroe Building is an example of where such a tradeoff does exist, because it is tall while parasitizing the streetscape due to its enormous parking deck. So when you say you "don't support ripping down "pedestal" buildings just to replace them with something "cohesive"", you're saying that if you have to choose, you choose height over streetscape integration. I'm also saying there is no such tension, but if I had to choose, I would choose streetscape integration over height. The Monroe Building epitomizes why I make that choice, and is why I think we should knock the Monroe Building down and start over. In the event it results in a smaller building, I am comfortable with that if it integrates the street better.

Decos: oh, now that would be SWEET! I'd be all-in for some gorgeous Decos - the CNB was my favorite RVA building when I was a kid - it's still my favorite building today.

No - I don't support willy-nilly ripping down pedestal buildings just because we don't like how they look. I don't particularly like how the Monroe building looks - but I love its height on the skyline. Tear it down, and put something 600 feet there, and I'm all in. 

So should we be looking (architecturally) to tear down City Hall? That's a classic "pedestal" building. What about the Fed tower along the riverfront, and maybe also try to reconstitute the south-of-Byrd Street grid that predated the construction of the Manchester Bridge?

The Fed building didn't create the urban-less island upon which it sits. The height and placement of the Manchester Bridge -- which was situated slightly west of the old Ninth Street Bridge -- and was significantly higher than the old bridge - is what cut off that part of the riverfront. Maybe lets put some townhouses there and reconnect everything to Byrd Street. Of course, the Downtown Expressway further cut everything off there - so it makes about as much sense trying to re-urbanize that stretch of riverfront (hemmed in by the Manchester Bridge, the Downtown Expressway and the slope of topography toward the canal) as it does trying to reconstitute an "urban" footprint at 14th and Franklin.

I was v-driving on Google Maps a few minutes ago - and the Monroe building parcel is TOTALLY hemmed in by an artificially wide N. 14th Street (with severe the retaining walls on the west side of the street abutting the Capital Square complex, it  basically sits in an artificial "trench"), and the southbound offramp and a lengthy portion of southbound travel lanes of I-95. Across Franklin is a huge parking garage.

So as much as I'd like to buy your argument that the Monroe tower and parking behemoth (which I agree is ugly as sin) basically parasites the streetscape, exactly WHAT would we put there?  The topography there is an absolute mess with the sharpish incline south to north toward Broad - and the IMMEDIATE proximity of I-95 to the east and the sharp elevation toward Capital Square complete with retaining wall on the west side of 14th Street. No wonder the state decided to stick something as architecturally dreadful as the Monroe building/parking complex there. It's basically a "no-man's land" created in no small part, by I-95 and the way 14th Street had to have been "shifted" to accommodate the path of the highway.

I've been looking at old downtown RVA maps -- there was once a "Ballard Street" that ran along where the Monroe Building sits today. I'd like to imagine what the streetscape once looked like there -- because what's there now is SO cut off from almost everything else nearby, that whatever might be built in place of the Monroe building would likely be just as much of an urban "island" as the Monroe building currently is, only it would have prettier architecture and probably end up about 300 feet shorter. I have a VERY hard time seeing much street-level activity along that stretch of 14th street - because there is virtually nothing with which any new structure could reasonably integrate. Rolling I-95 through there REALLLLLLLLY did a number on that swath of downtown, and it's an absolute shame.

Maybe it's just me - but I think trying to replace the Monroe Building (without ALSO taking on the costs of "fixing" all of the problems immediately around that stretch of N. 14th street, which would require ownership of more than just that one parcel) is basically trying to create something out of nothing - and short of losing 449 feet of high rise off the skyline, I just don't see it changing much when taken on its own. There's just TOO much else wrong with that part of downtown for one single development - particularly something small scale -- to make THAT much of a difference.

 

Edited by I miss RVA
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22 minutes ago, blopp1234 said:

Just brainstorming ideas for the site that would be 10 times better than the Monroe tower. Our friends down in Charlotte have a development right along a highway that was recently completed, below I’ll paste a pic of it. The topography can be worked with, just ask cities like San Francisco or Seattle, or even costar as their new HQ site is on a relatively steep slope.  As much as I’d love to rip out I-95 and restore the street grid, it’s politically infeasible so the best we can do is try to use this site to provide activity to 14th, bank and broad and hope that some of that activity will cross over I-95. 
I completely disagree that height is the most important thing in a cities downtown. It’s density and street presence of buildings. While density may result in height, height doesn’t always result in density. While Detroit has a much taller skyline with 500ft plus towers, no one will argue that Detroit has a more vibrant downtown than a city like Amsterdam, Charleston or Savannah, which don’t have anything in their downtowns over 30 stories. Point being, sacrificing an entire block for the sake of a poorly designed building on top of a parking garage that has no street interaction, just because it is tall, is foolish. As much as I love tall buildings, I’ll take a 12 story building with great density and street level activity over the current Monroe tower any day of the week because in reality, all the Monroe tower really does is look cool for people driving by on I-95.

 

here is the pic of the Charlotte development I was talking about earlier in my comment: image.thumb.jpeg.ef2aa2c33841f06972fcb2032ad3bc72.jpeg

 

My best hope is we get something like you mentioned with height.  But that is unlikely to happen and I'm happy with more activity and a small building than a large building that looks good but is empty after 5pm on work days. Great example as to why mixed use is so nice: office, apartments/condos, and street level retail or restaurants. It works well for everyone.

Edited by ancientcarpenter
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1 hour ago, ancientcarpenter said:

 

My best hope is we get something like you mentioned with height.  But that is unlikely to happen and I'm happy with more activity and a small building than a large building that looks good but is empty after 5pm on work days. Great example as to why mixed use is so nice: office, apartments/condos, and street level retail or restaurants. It works well for everyone.

Fully agreed. I don't see why height needs to be so readily sacrificed. Why can't we have both? 

@blopp1234-- that's a sweet looking development and I'd love to see that downtown (or anywhere in the central city, tbh). Now you mention this developing being right along the highway? How close? Southbound I-95 - and the southbound offramp (by extension since the highway curves slightly to the east heading toward the James River Bridge) DIRECTLY ABUT the Monroe Tower parking deck - with no more than a couple of feet clearance between the highway retaining wall and the physical structure of the parking deck - with the skyscraper towering directly overhead. Literally it's the "back side" of the complex that's built directly up against the highway.

Is that the case in this Charlotte development?

Edited by I miss RVA
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11 hours ago, I miss RVA said:

So as much as I'd like to buy your argument that the Monroe tower and parking behemoth (which I agree is ugly as sin) basically parasites the streetscape, exactly WHAT would we put there? 

I can almost guarantee that if the State kept the site and demolished the Monroe tower then it would be replaced with a large parking deck, which matches the uses along that bend of I-95.  With the design of 14th Street preventing street-level development on the Western side, the existing parking deck on the Southern side, and I-95 blocking the remaining sides, this lot has little hope for creation of a cohesive urban footprint.

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2 minutes ago, Icetera said:

I can almost guarantee that if the State kept the site and demolished the Monroe tower then it would be replaced with a large parking deck, which matches the uses along that bend of I-95.  With the design of 14 Street preventing street-level development on the Western side, the existing parking deck on the Southern side, and I-95 blocking the remaining sides, this lot has little hope for creation of a cohesive urban footprint.

Exactly! Thank you!!

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1 hour ago, Icetera said:

I can almost guarantee that if the State kept the site and demolished the Monroe tower then it would be replaced with a large parking deck, which matches the uses along that bend of I-95.  With the design of 14th Street preventing street-level development on the Western side, the existing parking deck on the Southern side, and I-95 blocking the remaining sides, this lot has little hope for creation of a cohesive urban footprint.

Doesn’t that cut both ways, though? Who’s going to want to buy the thing and pay the cost of gutting it and repurposing it when the location sucks? What if the choice is parking deck or “vacant and in a state of disrepair “?

Keep in mind I don’t know how any of this actually works and have yet to meet anyone who actually likes the building, although that doesn’t by any stretch means there’s no one willing to pay who thinks it has potential, especially if the state as is motivated a seller as it seems.

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1 hour ago, DowntownCoruscant said:

Doesn’t that cut both ways, though? Who’s going to want to buy the thing and pay the cost of gutting it and repurposing it when the location sucks? What if the choice is parking deck or “vacant and in a state of disrepair “?

Keep in mind I don’t know how any of this actually works and have yet to meet anyone who actually likes the building, although that doesn’t by any stretch means there’s no one willing to pay who thinks it has potential, especially if the state as is motivated a seller as it seems.

The sucky location doesn't mean a developer couldn't gut/repurpose the building and make money off of it as a residential tower. Given the building's height, the views alone would be a HUGE selling point for folks living there. That the site itself lacks sufficient surroundings for a cohesive urban footprint on 14th street doesn't mean diminish the potential to convert the building to residences, based on unique characteristics (namely height and views) that could work.

Case in point: there is a 70-story luxury condo building -- Lake Point Tower --  right on the Lakefront here in Chicago - this building sits completely on the WRONG side of Lakeshore Drive - it basically has the expressway (Lakeshore Drive) on one side (inland side) and Lake Michigan on the other -and no real urban footprint at all. Navy Pier is nearby and there are access streets that run underneath the elevated portion of the Drive to get into the "meat" of downtown, which is all on the inland side of the roadway.  It's the only skyscraper in the city that sits EAST of Lakeshore Drive. Yet it's a mega high-dollar property. Why? Views.

It's a unique looking high rise that offers a bunch of different views, either of the city, the lake or both. So I can imagine the views from the Monroe building being similar - if you have a unit that's west-facing, you get the city, with the river off to the left. South-facing nets the river and city. East-facing - you get Church Hill, the Bottom, Main Street Station and the river winding its way off to the right. North-facing you get the city -- downtown to the left, Shockoe valley and Union Hill to the right. The higher up the better. Now, I understand completely that the tower's concave corners are ALL thick concrete. THAT is a shame because of how the inward curves -- were they windows -- at each corner -- would offer even more possibilities for views.

The state certainly isn't going to get into the residential real estate business and make this happen. But a private developer might. And I would think a developer might opt to repurpose the existing tower into something that the views alone would be THE marketing tool - rather than spend the money to buy it... spend the money to tear it down ... and spend the money to build something from scratch.

Obviously every developer is different - so there's not definitive answer as to what a developer might do. The state of the streetscape along that stretch of 14th Street really doesn't lend itself to trying to "create" a vibrant, new streetscape. Too many problems and obstacles there. I agree with Ice - if the state keeps the property but demos the building, all we'll likely get is another nice big parking garage - after all we can't have too many of THOSE now, can we! (rolling eyes so hard I now have a headache).

I may be wrong, but something tells me the state isn't likely to sell -- they'll want the property. If they keep the property, I'm afraid the building goes hasta la bye-bye. But hey!! There will likely be another fine state facility in which to park your car if you happen to travel downtown to attend a session of the General Assembly!

Lakepoint tower.jpg

Edited by I miss RVA
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I dont even want this tower now. Just ax the entire project together let them go elsewhere. If a company can’t build a tower above 500 feet let them go elsewhere. I’m sick of this Sick disgusting joke. I don’t want this thing now. I don’t want another company coming downtown until they can promise me they can build above 500 feet without the elevation bs. If your going to build don’t give us the elevation bs. This city is hot garbage I’m done I don’t want another tower in this city until they can prove to build above 500 feet. With the Monroe building coming down we will look like Asheville nc. This city is absolute dogwater. This cit Is like the Detroit lions of the nfl. You get excited just to get let down your entire life. I’m done if I had the power I would kill every tower in Richmond until you can build above 500 feet. Now we have to have this ugly midget tower like all of our other midget towers take up prime real estate. I’m done no more I don’t want to hear or see another tower in this city until you can prove to me to build 500 feet plus. This town is sick twisted and disgusting that I want to vomit over this news. Im livid I’m tired of false hope In this town. Let’s just make downtown a huge suburban office park there’s no point in having a downtown unless you can build 500 feet plus. Once again like always this city is hot dogwater. 

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16 minutes ago, Downtowner said:

I dont even want this tower now. Just ax the entire project together let them go elsewhere. If a company can’t build a tower above 500 feet let them go elsewhere. I’m sick of this Sick disgusting joke. I don’t want this thing now. I don’t want another company coming downtown until they can promise me they can build above 500 feet without the elevation bs. If your going to build don’t give us the elevation bs. This city is hot garbage I’m done I don’t want another tower in this city until they can prove to build above 500 feet. With the Monroe building coming down we will look like Asheville nc. This city is absolute dogwater. This cit Is like the Detroit lions of the nfl. You get excited just to get let down your entire life. I’m done if I had the power I would kill every tower in Richmond until you can build above 500 feet. Now we have to have this ugly midget tower like all of our other midget towers take up prime real estate. I’m done no more I don’t want to hear or see another tower in this city until you can prove to me to build 500 feet plus. This town is sick twisted and disgusting that I want to vomit over this news. Im livid I’m tired of false hope In this town. Let’s just make downtown a huge suburban office park there’s no point in having a downtown unless you can build 500 feet plus. Once again like always this city is hot dogwater. 

I feel your pain, brother. This is honestly a shot to the solar plexus - and a double shot at that -- first we learn that Rivers Edge II has been pulled off the table. And now this. I feel sick to the stomach myself, on the back of these two events.

Still - I really like the tower - it's a gorgeous design and the campus is a perfect fit for that part of the riverfront and it will look amazing on the skyline. But I do feel like "510 feet high" vs "510 feet tall"- is little more than a consolation prize. Kinda like going to some cool kid's birthday party when we were little - and the stupid b'day party games that the parents will have the kids play. And one of the kids (usually the kid whose birthday it is) wins the REALLLLY cool prize - whatever it is... and you came in second and got... a nice, new helium-filled balloon on a string.

Ugh...  this -- coupled with Rivers Edge II being pulled -- feels like that old football penalty - piling on.

Edited by I miss RVA
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