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dubone

Urban Power Substations

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There are at least four Duke Power substations around downtown Charlotte that are in locations that are now being revitalized.

One is at King's and Elizabeth, on Little Sugar Creek Greenway next to CPCC. See aerial here. It is a little nicer than most, as it has a wall around it, but it is stil visible from the interstate nearby.

Another is Graham and 2nd in Third Ward, between BofA Stadium, the future Gateway Station, and the future Third Ward Park. See aerial here. It is in the heart of planned residential development around the new county park.

A third is next to the new Royal Court condo tower in Dilworth. See aerial here. It also has a wall to shield it from view for most, but now that there are a few residential towers nearby, it will be clearly visible.

A fourth is already partially built around by the Park Ave office building an condos in South End. See aerial here. It is next to the large lot by the original Trolley Barn that Crescent is a planning a mixed-use project on. It is also next to the Rensellaer LRT station.

My main question is, what can be done with these? Can projects be built on top of them? For example, is there any way that CPCC could build an academic building on top of the power station on Little Sugar Creek? Are there any approaches that other cities use to make them more aesthetic or hidden, so that they blend better into dense urban surroundings? Are there any risks to building residential units so near to them?

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Ever seen the substation at Powerhouse Square in Raleigh? Aerial here. This is in the heart Glenwood South, right next to popular spots like Southend Brewery, Ri Ra, and 42nd Street Oyster Bar.

Someone came up with a really creative solution that works so well I'm surprised it hasn't been copied more often.

Rather than trying to hide the substation, they celebrate it - and it really adds to the atmosphere, particularly at night. How, you ask? They built a pretty fence of rod iron and brick around it, pulled out all of the weeds, covered the ground with cleanly scrubbed white gravel, and put in lights to illuminate it with an electric bluish-purple color. Rather than being an eyesore, it becomes an interesting (almost artistic) conversation piece. It buzzes at 60 cycles like you would expect from a substation, and it has lots of "EXTREMELY HIGH VOLTAGE" warning signs. It's a neat, functional landmark that is one of my favorite features in the neighborhood.

During the day, it's not as cool, but at least the fence is nice, the weeds are gone, and the gravel is clean so it isn't ugly.

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I think it was somewhere in San Jose or Palo Alto where I saw a pretty neat dress-up for a substation. The fence and wall surrounding the complex was decorated with large lightbulb figurines and lightning bolts. At night it was really lit up.

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Ever seen the substation at Powerhouse Square in Raleigh? Aerial here. This is in the heart Glenwood South, right next to popular spots like Southend Brewery, Ri Ra, and 42nd Street Oyster Bar.

Someone came up with a really creative solution that works so well I'm surprised it hasn't been copied more often.

Rather than trying to hide the substation, they celebrate it - and it really adds to the atmosphere, particularly at night. How, you ask? They built a pretty fence of rod iron and brick around it, pulled out all of the weeds, covered the ground with cleanly scrubbed white gravel, and put in lights to illuminate it with an electric bluish-purple color. Rather than being an eyesore, it becomes an interesting (almost artistic) conversation piece. It buzzes at 60 cycles like you would expect from a substation, and it has lots of "EXTREMELY HIGH VOLTAGE" warning signs. It's a neat, functional landmark that is one of my favorite features in the neighborhood.

During the day, it's not as cool, but at least the fence is nice, the weeds are gone, and the gravel is clean so it isn't ugly.

You beat me to the punch, O. Progress Energy did a great job with the Glenwood substation. Those electric blue uplights on the transformers at night are pretty sharp. In fact, I always thought it would have been a perfect way to incorporate the substation next to Bank of America Staduim uptown, as the colors would match that of the Panthers. Since we all know what they are and they aren't going away, why not celebrate them? Maybe the one on the Greenway could be multi-colored. Only trouble is that here in Charlotte, Duke Energy doesn't like to spend a dime on anything (except pay our Mayor a six-digit salary for a job that no one is really sure of).

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I don't think they can build anything near these stations. Aside from the electrocution danger the electronic fields generated by them are not good for man nor beast or your Xbox360. There are voltages present where if you get close enough, an arc of electricity can send you to your next life.

I think it is a good idea just to celebrate them as a necessary part of urban living. Decorating them is a good idea.

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