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orulz

Downtown Morrisville?

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I just moved to Morrisville. I had no choice because I don't have a car (and don't want one either), and my job is way out here where the buses don't run. I'm in the heart of some of the worst sprawl in the triangle. I'm caught wondering why so many people want to live in treeless, homogenous, snout-garage, vinyl-sided, starter-home subdivisions? Not exactly what I would aspire to.

But evidently, now the town wants to be more than just sprawl. I stumbled upon this page titled "Downtown Redevelopment" on the Town of Morrisville's own website. It seems they want to expand the existing street grid (centered around the intersection of Morrisville-Carpenter Rd and Chapel Hill Rd) and encourage denser, mixed-use development.

Right now, there are a number of historic homes in the area. The town wants to move some of them, creating an "Old Morrisville" historic district on the south side of Morrisville Carpenter Road and making room for new, denser development on the north side.

The town also wants TTA to build a rail station in their new downtown, right where the fire station is now. I think this explains why Morrisville refused to let TTA build a station on Morrisville Parkway. They would rather have it built here to give their downtown plans a shot in the arm. The expectation is that this station will happen as a part of the second phase of the rail system.

One thing I notice is that the plan calls for plenty of parking, but no huge lots to dominate the landscape. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but if they want to play the transit-oriented development card, then parking will have to take a back seat to walkability.

I think this is an interesting idea. We'll just have to see where it goes from here.

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Their vision looks promising, but I'm skeptical that dense housing will work in Morrisville. Driving down 54 through Morrisville has a very rural (as opposed to suburban) feel despite the sprawl on infill subdivisions, office parks, and industrial sites. However, i do believe they can create a walkable community by expanding the grid and smart zoning.

I've worked in Perimeter Park for over 3 years, and commercials services are starting to meet the influx of new residents, especially with all the new eats off Airport Blvd, and a new Harris Teeter underway at Morrisville Carpenter/Davis Dr (I believe).

I think some denser projects could work on the land where the existing Factory Shops on Airport Blvd (near I-40). They should consider tearing it down, and build something similar to North Hills (minus the swank). It's a much better welcome to RDU than the Hooters down the street.

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My uncle used to live near dt Morrisville in the Treybrooke apartments (i think that's what it was called) but anyway it was half a mile outside the center of town but the town truly did have a small town feel to it.. but this was in the mid 90s I'm sure it's gotten a bit more sprawly around it so I think it will good to see they incorporate mixed upse and bring back that town center feel to it!

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Yeah Triangle Factory Shops ain't doing too well. Something needs to be done w/ it...it's beautiful inside but dying....

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I've noticed that the amenities in Morrisville are beginning to catch up with the widening of Davis Drive. Seems like a likely area for some low-level density actually considering it's extreme proximity to RTP. I think there's a mixed-use going in behind Starbucks at Davis and Morrisville Carpenter. Has anyone heard if town leaders are still thinking of implementing a town center there? Being a close-in suburb of Raleigh, but being close to Durham and RTP--this looks like it could be a great opportunity if the town wants it.

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Morrisville has a sizeable light industrial and commercial base, due to its location. Until fairly recently, that was just about all. But recently, as sprawl has continued outwards from Raleigh and inwards towards RTP, another side of Morrisville has emerged - the residential side. Morrisville seems to be striving for all it's worth to make its residential side look exactly like the low-priced, starter home version of Cary.

In my opinon, there are 2 kinds of density, good density and bad density. The bad kind of density follows the same-old segregated uses mindset, only with more intensive uses. Bad density creates pockets of moderate or extreme density within these segregated use zoning districts, so (for example) rather than 10 people per acre having to drive 2 miles to buy a loaf of bread, 50 people per acre have to drive 2 miles to buy a loaf of bread instead. To this date, this is the only kind of dense development that Morrisville has seen.

The good kind of density brings residences close enough to everyday retail, services, and jobs so that they can walk there rather than drive. Some "mixed use" developments (Southpoint and Brier Creek come to mind) are actually segregated use developments dressed up to look pretty. Others like Meadowmont and North Hills are a step in the right direction. If you have a pretty reasonable retail mix like North Hills, it would seem a reasonable assumption that NH residents would do 75% (or more!) of their shopping on-site. Perhaps 50% of the folks who live on-site might even go shopping at the HT or Target without their cars. This is good progress. Meadowmont at least incorporates a grocery store, so they probably capture 50% of shopping trips right there (though many residences at Meadowmont are not truly within walking distance of the grocer.)

However, this alone does not go all the way. It's great for residents of North Hills and Meadowmont, but neither the Target at North Hills, nor the Harris Teeter at Meadowmont, could possibly survive based solely on visitors from within their respective developments. Probably, somewhere between 1 and 5% of the traffic at the NH stores comes from NH residents. Neither could any of the mixed-use developments claim that anywhere near 100% of the workers there live on site, nor that 100% of the residents work on site. I would make a wild guess that in reality those numbers are again between 1% and 5%. 95 - 99% of the patrons at the shops come from somewhere else, and 95-99% of the people who work at these developments come from somewhere else. We've captured that 1-5%, which is progress, but quite frankly, it's not a big step. The density required to capture even 1-5% of trips internally would mean that there are so many residents and so many destinations that, on the whole, vehicular traffic will be greater than had the same location been a lower density, segregated-use development. That 1-5% of internally captured trips, plus an overall increase in total traffic, is all we'll get with dense, suburban mixed use developments - without bringing transit into the picture.

Downtowns are a bit of a special case, since the existing density is already very high and there is already a very wide walkable area. You could potentially capture significantly more than 1-5% of trips internally in a downtown-like area. You could also try to turn a suburban area into a genuine downtown like Virginia Beach's Town Center, and achieve the same thing from scratch, though this is very difficult. Downtowns would have such a high concentration of jobs and services that a trip to downtown traditionally involves parking once and walking from there - which means fewer total vehicle trips, which means downtowns can avoid becoming terminally congested. Even so, you're still probably never going to get higher than 15% internal capture of trips (residents that work & shop WITHIN downtown) so in the end, without transit, even downtowns wind up being extremely dependent on the automobile, and wind up wasting a lot of materials and space on parking.

I'm talking theoretically here - in truth, North Hills (or any shopping mall for that matter) probably has more "multiple destination, park once" trips than downtown Raleigh does right now, but downtown Raleigh has potential far greater than NH.

Transit is the wildcard. It allows folks to move between these mixed-use centers and downtowns, without having to lug along 4,000 pounds of steel, and without needing the 325 square feet of dead space to store the car when you get there (this does not even mention the extra space taken up by vehicular circulation) Transit at North Hills would mean that Target at NH needs less parking to get by, which leaves more room on site for residents, who in turn can provide an even greater percentage of the patronage at any given store. It also gives residents access to the jobs and shops at other nodes of density, which have all become denser due to the decreased need of parking. More efficient use of limited materials and resources; everybody wins.

So what does all this have to do with Morrisville? They have a few of options.

1. Business as usual. All segregated uses. No internally captured trips anywhere. All trips made by car. Greater density means greater congestion.

2. Build small, new-urban, mixed-use developments, such as the one behind the Starbucks, and try to capture 1% and perhaps up to 5% of all trips internally. Still put 95-99% of all trips on the road, and end up with overall even greater congestion due to the increased traffic from the higher density.

3. Try to come up with a genuine downtown district, achieving density sufficient to allow "multiple destination, park once" trips for people who don't live within the downtown, and even capture 15% of trips internally.

4. Combine numbers 2 and 3 with transit. You'll still get a great deal of automobile traffic, particularly at first, but as the amenities served by transit increase and the transit network grows, the absolute necessity and dependence on automobiles drops. Perhaps if Morrisville had a stop along the TTA rail line, or if the TTA bus transfer center relocated to Morrisville, this could be done.

Anyway. Wonder if any of you actually read all of that?

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That's reasonably thoughtful, but reads as though it was written by someone who never had to depend on public transportation to get home from the grocery store. In the rain. With a child in tow. While there can certainly be some improvements in the local transit system, neglecting to realize that people primarily use cars because they're infinitely more versatile than public transportation is a fundamental and fatal flaw in your reasoning. Don't believe me? Hop on a bus at 5:30 on a weekday and ask some of the folks that are actually depending on transit to get them home from work. They're not riding because it's more convenient or because they're enlightened.

A parking space is 162 sf. Rarely larger, but frequently smaller.

Much of the shape of current developments stems from the demands of prospective tenants. If you don't like the number of parking spaces in front of Target (or whoever), complain to Target. They're the ones that insisted on having x number of spaces directly in front of their door.

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Orulz, I particularly like your discussion of how mixed use by itself itsn't some how the answer to all of our problems, as some would have us believe... "Mixed use projects alleviate traffic concerns because cars are parked for longer periods of the day as people walk between their destinations." It's a step in the right direction, but certainly has limits without a viable transit component.

That's reasonably thoughtful, but reads as though it was written by someone who never had to depend on public transportation to get home from the grocery store. In the rain. With a child in tow. While there can certainly be some improvements in the local transit system, neglecting to realize that people primarily use cars because they're infinitely more versatile than public transportation is a fundamental and fatal flaw in your reasoning. Don't believe me? Hop on a bus at 5:30 on a weekday and ask some of the folks that are actually depending on transit to get them home from work. They're not riding because it's more convenient or because they're enlightened.

A parking space is 162 sf. Rarely larger, but frequently smaller.

Much of the shape of current developments stems from the demands of prospective tenants. If you don't like the number of parking spaces in front of Target (or whoever), complain to Target. They're the ones that insisted on having x number of spaces directly in front of their door.

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That's reasonably thoughtful, but reads as though it was written by someone who never had to depend on public transportation to get home from the grocery store. In the rain. With a child in tow. While there can certainly be some improvements in the local transit system, neglecting to realize that people primarily use cars because they're infinitely more versatile than public transportation is a fundamental and fatal flaw in your reasoning. Don't believe me? Hop on a bus at 5:30 on a weekday and ask some of the folks that are actually depending on transit to get them home from work. They're not riding because it's more convenient or because they're enlightened.

A parking space is 162 sf. Rarely larger, but frequently smaller.

Much of the shape of current developments stems from the demands of prospective tenants. If you don't like the number of parking spaces in front of Target (or whoever), complain to Target. They're the ones that insisted on having x number of spaces directly in front of their door.

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A parking space is 162 sf. Rarely larger, but frequently smaller.

Much of the shape of current developments stems from the demands of prospective tenants. If you don't like the number of parking spaces in front of Target (or whoever), complain to Target. They're the ones that insisted on having x number of spaces directly in front of their door.

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^ Wow, all the discussion about the Town Center, land use and transportation, and not a word about the STAC-proposed rapid transit line that will run through the town. Can't see the forest from the trees.

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