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sanka

Charlotte and Atlanta

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sanka    0

I am sure this has been discussed before...but I'm new so I thought I would throw it out there. As a native to Atlanta I am really ready to get out. The sprawl is awful, traffic is awful, the Braves will never be like they were in 1991 :P , but basically its just the cities growth pattern that has really turned me off to the city. It really had an oppertunity to be great and has really blown it. Not to say that it wont be great in the future, but I have a feeling I will be long dead by that time. I kind of feel like Charlotte may be a good city to work and live and watch grow raise kids etc, but I have a few reservations.

To those of you living in Charlotte...

Do you feel the city will become another Atlanta in 30 years? I read through a few threads that there is an anti urban contingency in Charlotte making smart growth difficult.

I read a few snipits of a light rail system proposed...is it located where the density is in Charlotte?

Is there a lot of history in Charlotte? Turn of the century neighborhoods and towncenters and such... Those tend to be more walkable...for that matter are there walkable communities in Charlotte?? (ie Atlanta's Decatur, Buckhead etc)

Atlanta makes me want to :sick: sometimes...I still get excited about the cities new developments (that are getting better) but the few walkable communities in the city or burbs are starting to get expensive.

Thanks! :thumbsup:

oh yeah...i cant believe Charlotte proper has a larger population than Atlanta proper...

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teshadoh    0

Wow - again... ;)

I'm staying out of this one though, not that I am persuaded overwhelmingly on the Atlanta side. But two totally different sized cities that matured in different eras don't make good comparisons, despite the otherwise similarities. My primary reservation is that there remains a lot that is unknown in the future - a cohesive regional policy.

But Charlotte has a great future - but the same as Atlanta. Unfortunately both will continue to sprawl as both will develop great urban cores. Carry on... :)

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Greens!    5

After living in Charotte for several years I came to the conclusion that it is a decent mid-sized city.

The thing that stood out the most was the yard. This is not as common in the newer neighborhoods but we lived in the Charlotte city limits and had more than 1 acre, which is unheard of in Houston unless you drop $800k+

The trees are nice but after a while they lose their effect. Other than that my only issue was the lack of sidewalks but this may not be the case in the redeveloping neighborhoods.

I like how there is still nature there too. We would always have deer walking into our yard in the evening.

Personally i like the big city and Charlotte, in my opinion, can't really compare to the bigger western cities like Houston as far as energy goes. However, of all the places I have lived, It is the most tranquil and laid back place of all, besides Clemson.

As far as smart growth goes, I consider it unnatural.

As far as becoming Atlanta, I doubt it will happen. It has a long way to grow, around 150%. Atlanta is growing much faster than Charlotte as well.

It's a nice place, I hope you like golfing and NASCAR.

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sanka    0

yeah, I know they are two completly different scales, but Charlotte seems like Atlanta just 30 years in the past...Thats why I made the comparison.

Im not trying to start a battle of cities...just looking for opinions.

My problem with Atlanta is its model...very few places are there real street life. Look at the intersection of Piedmont and Peachtree. Two huge arteries with no pedistrians. Really any part of Peachtree has no street life (except during the Peachtree Road Race :lol: ). It cant hold a candle to Michigan Ave in Chicago, anywhere in Boston or San Fran. Its just dissapointing for a city of its stature. 4.5 million people in metro and you have to get in your car to do EVERYTHING. Its quite mindnumbing.

Atlanta = Le Corbusier model of the tower in the park (it makes a great skyline, but when your in it, it sucks). Kill the street. I am hoping Charlotte will be closer to Jane Jacobs ideal.

I tend to look at Charlotte as Atlanta 30 years ago, but with an opportunity to do it right. Climate is similar, culture is similar...seemed like a good comparison.

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RiverwoodCLT    386

I think Charlotte area will near be as big as Atlanta due to the state of NC DOT, and towns around Charlotte MSA will not grow like towns in Atlanta MSA. There is a lot of open space out side Charlotte and Mecklenburg county.

If growth hit NC like Ga. you could have the Triangle-Triad and Charlotte growing together, but I don't see that any time soon.

I don't think most people in Charlotte care that Atanta MSA is bigger

than Charlotte MSA. They care what the quality of live is here.

North Carolina will still have 3 large metro areas of over 1million+.

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Phillydog    39

Both Georgia and North Carolina; Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Atlanta are growing at nearly the same rapid pace. Greater Charlotte is about the same size as Greater Atlanta was in the late 1970's/early 1980's, but the overall comparisons should end there. Compared to the Atlanta area in the late 1970's, Charlotte is has the benefit of growing up in a different era with different demographic trends and "lessons learned". Just as the differences between Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte are striking, I hope that the differences between Atlanta and Charlotte remain and grow. NO ONE wants Charlotte to become what Atlanta is now and IMHO Charlotte in 30 years will be a much different but equally impressive place as Atlanta.

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My problem with Atlanta is its model...very few places are there real street life. Look at the intersection of Piedmont and Peachtree. Two huge arteries with no pedistrians. Really any part of Peachtree has no street life (except during the Peachtree Road Race :lol: ).

Welcome to the south. That's just how we do it here. At least for the time being. Honestly, if you're looking for the kind of vibrancy you'll find in San Francisco or Boston or Chicago, you might consider moving to those places. We're making progress, but it will be a long time before Charlotte or Atlanta reach that kind of downtown activity level.

Is Charlotte headed toward Atlanta's sprawl? IMO, it's pretty close. The amount of development happening Uptown pales in comparision to the major development happening around the outer loop. That development is being spurred by something, right? If I could choose, I'd more than likely pick Atlanta over Charlotte. It's home for me and home is where I need to be right now. But the two cities do share many similarities, both good and bad.

If you want to take a chance on Charlotte, you should. Just don't expect to escape the problems you have with Atlanta.

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sanka    0

Yeah, your probably right...I have noticed most midwest towns are much better off, espessially if gas prices keep going up (another bag of worms). Madison WI, Ann Arbor, Birmingham MI, most Michigan towns for that matter, Chicago, Milwaukee...I really like Madison!

Its too bad the south grew up in the 60's through 90's like it did. Seems like history really saved the midwest and north east.

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atlrvr    1002

I tend to agree with the majority I guess. Charlotte will definetly grow outward like Atlanta has. What we can hope for is that the new sprawl is much better that occurred during the 60's-mid 90's. Atlanta grew into a huge city during this time, Charlotte grew into a mid-sized city, so there is less REALLY bad sprawl here, and the potential going forward is that what does get built will be more sustainable. However, there are lots of places, particularly Union County that are just getting worse and is unlikely to develop in any sort of "smart growth" manner.

I think the city of Charlotte is SLOWLY realizing what is needs to do to correct some problems, but unfortunately, changes are happening at a snail's pace. The planners here have a decent model, but the reality is that a few large developers need to buy-in to an urban model, and realize that it can be profitable. The reason that Atlanta, Charlotte and every other city in the country (and Europe) is sprawling now is because a monkey could make money building single-family communities with cul-de-sacs. It will take more than policy change, it will take the consumers change in preference (urban over suburban) for Charlotte to realize its urban aspirations......whew.

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It will take more than policy change, it will take the consumers change in preference (urban over suburban) for Charlotte to realize its urban aspirations......whew.

That is the crux of the matter... That's one of the mistakes made by Atlanta and Charlotte. Getting people to come downtown for entertainment is not going to make them live there. And what is needed for vibrancy is for people to live downtown. People still do not choose to live downtown for a variety of reasons ranging from perceptions about crime to the idea that you need lots of space to be happy. Rather than draw people with the benefits of living downtown or challenging those perceptions, a city like Atlanta offers entertainment disctricts. Tesadoh wrote something in one of HOF threads that really made me think about this issue. To paraphrase he wrote he didn't like the idea of the HOF because it changed the dynamic of DT Atlanta and made people less likely to live there. He had a really good point because most people don't want to live in an entertainment district. That's the reason Backstreet was closed. People wanted to live in the area, but didn't want to deal with the problems associated with living near a bar. I don't believe ridding cities of entertainment is the answer, but there has to be better zoning. We have to do something besides attracting tourists. Frankly, the tourists won't bother coming if people aren't willing to live there. (Which has been one of Atlanta's biggest problems...) Yes, entertainment and tourism is good, but at some point it becomes too much. The revitalization that has occured in Atlanta is largely due to people moving to those areas on their own. People who moved to Vi-Hi before Starbucks was there. Of course they moved there and the shops and grocery stores followed...

My apologies for such a long winded response. :)

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cinco    0

i think charlotte's biggest, current assett is being overlooked in this discussion... that is, i think charlotte has begun to focus on it's inner city and uptown area like never before. to me, this is charlotte choosing a different path than that of atlanta. other than that charlotte seems to have gone down a similar path. IMO, this path that charlotte seems to have chosen is the better choice in the long run. i agree with sanka's worries and concerns about atlanta, and i have many of the same concerns for charlotte... i do think and hope charlotte will continue it's current trend of growth with the focus on uptown and 1st ring neighborhoods. now, as for atlanta... while beautiful, i have always felt the city to be disjointed and empty in places i would not expect. if atlanta turns the corner and starts to fill in the vacant gaps in it's inner city (CBD's)... she would truly become magnificent.

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that is, i think charlotte has begun to focus on it's inner city and uptown area like never before. to me, this is charlotte choosing a different path than that of atlanta.

But that isn't true. It's a myth that downtown was ignored for decades by Atlanta city government. The problem I see with Charlotte is city government cannot identify what happened in Atlanta or any other city to even begin to avoid making the same mistakes. If you want a city center where people visit yet never live there, then yes, Atlanta and Charlotte are right on track. Atlanta has been on that track for decades. I love Atlanta. I like Charlotte very much. But I'm kind of tired of believing everything is okay in the south and we're doing the right things to build our cities. If you look at it in less of an aesthetic sense, there are depper issues and concerns that aren't being addressed. JMHO...

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monsoon    0

Indeed and well put Girly, err CBV. Lets remember the majority of money being spent in downtown falls into just 3 categories. Building Hotel Rooms, Building Sports Venues, Building Condos that only one demographic can afford, ie. the very well off. The middle class need not apply.

If there were interest here in building a real city, there would be a lot more being done to spend money on items that would support the much wider community, the 95% who will never go downtown other than to attend the odd sporting event or convention. Even the one thing that might do this, the 3rd Ward Park is now being subverted to build another sports venue that will create acres of dead space in the city.

People get dazzled by the magnitude of the projects going into downtown Charlotte these days but miss the point that most people don't want to live or can't afford to live in this place. And along with that we get a lot of really bad development in this city because all of the decent resources are being poured into the center city and little goes else where and the council is not focused on fixing problems in these places. Hence there are wide swaths of Charlotte now in various form of decay and ruination. There are at least a dozen threads here on the decline and crime in parts of Charlotte. The middle class, gives up on all of it and moves further out.

Yes we are following Atlanta's example exactly.

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voyager12    1

The key to a vibrant downtown is a wide mix of socioeconomic groups. Its true that Charlotte and Atlanta are constructing urban cores that are only going to be affordable to the very affluent and its a shame. There may be a few much vaunted "mixed income" developments around the edges but the vibrant core where most people want to live and play will be overwhelmingly homogeneous. Its not a rare problem, very few cities have been successful in maintaining a social mix because it just gets so expensive. The best I know of was Portland, Oregon where I spent a great deal of time but property values eventually made affordable housing downtown and the urban growth boundary moot.

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CtownMikey    1

I am sure this has been discussed before...but I'm new so I thought I would throw it out there. As a native to Atlanta I am really ready to get out. The sprawl is awful, traffic is awful, the Braves will never be like they were in 1991 :P , but basically its just the cities growth pattern that has really turned me off to the city. It really had an oppertunity to be great and has really blown it. Not to say that it wont be great in the future, but I have a feeling I will be long dead by that time. I kind of feel like Charlotte may be a good city to work and live and watch grow raise kids etc, but I have a few reservations.

To those of you living in Charlotte...

Do you feel the city will become another Atlanta in 30 years? I read through a few threads that there is an anti urban contingency in Charlotte making smart growth difficult.

I read a few snipits of a light rail system proposed...is it located where the density is in Charlotte?

Is there a lot of history in Charlotte? Turn of the century neighborhoods and towncenters and such... Those tend to be more walkable...for that matter are there walkable communities in Charlotte?? (ie Atlanta's Decatur, Buckhead etc)

Atlanta makes me want to :sick: sometimes...I still get excited about the cities new developments (that are getting better) but the few walkable communities in the city or burbs are starting to get expensive.

Thanks! :thumbsup:

oh yeah...i cant believe Charlotte proper has a larger population than Atlanta proper...

I've heard of the sprawl and everything, but Atlanta has DOZENS, maybe close to 100? proposals, approved, and under construction office tower, condo towers, hotels, mixed use.. and it is all in the immediate Atlanta area (Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and Perimeter zone) Once a good chunk of these are complete, wont it be much more "city like" as in denser? and not so sprawled out?

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atlrvr    1002

If this was a majority of their growth (or Charlotte's) then I'd agree that the problem is close to resolution, but as long as the Urbanized Area population density continue to decline, then we are all still headed in the wrong direction.

I don't agree that Uptown needs to be affordable to everyone. It's just one neighborhood in the city. For comparison, Foxcroft (off of Providence) has a population of 5,000 people, with not a single housing unit under $500,000. Why are people not demanding that this neighborhood be affordable as well. The fact is, it's become fashionable to live Uptown, and the prices will reflect that......no one was complaining in the 1970's when you could have bought a house in 4th Ward for $100, but no one wanted one either.....now that the area is more appealing, people complain that prices have adjusted to market demand.....off that rant.

One focus that Charlotte should work on is providing high-quality intown schools. This will help encourage the middle-class and families to live near downtown. For many people, its not necessarily the small size of units that dissuades them, but the prospect of sending their kids to a heavily minority school (or non-white majority as the case may be).

Also, the city needs to think grander in terms of transit. Ideally, we would have at least 5 streetcar lines, with the parcels along those lines zoned to an increased density. The rise in supply of TOD will help to partially reduce urban housing costs.

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voyager12    1

I don't want to get sidetracked into a social issues debate....I tend to fly off the handle :w00t: ! Educationally and socially everyone benefits when there is a mix of housing classes in a downtown. Minorities are able to access quality education and the affluent are not insulated from society at large. Piedmont Courts redevelopment is a positive, that is at least near Uptown. Centers of cities were not historically meant to be the preserve of the rich only and any efforts to fight against this trend should be encouraged.

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cinco    0

Indeed and well put Girly, err CBV. Lets remember the majority of money being spent in downtown falls into just 3 categories. Building Hotel Rooms, Building Sports Venues, Building Condos that only one demographic can afford, ie. the very well off. The middle class need not apply.

If there were interest here in building a real city, there would be a lot more being done to spend money on items that would support the much wider community, the 95% who will never go downtown other than to attend the odd sporting event or convention. Even the one thing that might do this, the 3rd Ward Park is now being subverted to build another sports venue that will create acres of dead space in the city.

People get dazzled by the magnitude of the projects going into downtown Charlotte these days but miss the point that most people don't want to live or can't afford to live in this place. And along with that we get a lot of really bad development in this city because all of the decent resources are being poured into the center city and little goes else where and the council is not focused on fixing problems in these places. Hence there are wide swaths of Charlotte now in various form of decay and ruination. There are at least a dozen threads here on the decline and crime in parts of Charlotte. The middle class, gives up on all of it and moves further out.

Yes we are following Atlanta's example exactly.

of course i feel the same way about some of the issues you point out. i am totally opposed to building a city's stature based off of sports... it ultimately is short sighted. i too, get frustrated @ an uptown increasingly pushing out middle to lower classes. i, for one would love to locate my family uptown... it just isn't financially do-able.

where i feel i differ... is i don't think all of these issues have to be all negative. for instance, without completely pimping out the city to sports, the city can certainly benefit in many ways from them. yes, i do think that we sometimes cross that line in charlotte, but all the same the economic and noteriorty +'s we have gained from them is undeniable.

i agree the city often focuses on the wrong things... i live and own a house on the east side of town, if anyone feels the slight from the city - it's there. but, as the city continues to push out certain classes they (we) set up shop elsewhere... this is way most cities work, right? i may not want it to be that way, but thats how it is.

while i disagree that we're on the exact same path as @ atlanta, i do think its fair to note that atlanta has been a perfect template for what a city should and should not do.

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monsoon    0

. It's just one neighborhood in the city. For comparison, Foxcroft (off of Providence) has a population of 5,000 people, with not a single housing unit under $500,000. Why are people not demanding that this neighborhood be affordable as well.

Foxcroft is a suburban cul de sac neighborhood of the type that people here often speak out against. Single use and pretty boring. That is why nobody is complaining about it as you know what you are getting there. And of course Atlanta has a bunch of these too.

The questions is, is downtown Charlotte anything beyond a glorified office park, with some expensive evening entertainment thrown in, (Basketball, football, highend restaurants, booze gardens, etc) and condos for the rich. Shut out the middle class from the city, which is what all of the development is doing right now, and you end up with the classic conditions for sprawl. As I said earlier, the CCP, the Chamber, the Business leaders and most anyone else in the city are completely ignoring development in most of the city and much of the city is dying as a result. For example there is literally $billions being spent inside the inner loop, yet just a few miles away, Eastland mall is dying a quick and painful death and when it does, its going to take a lot with it.

Its because of this that places such as Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson are thriving.

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monsoon    0

Also, the city needs to think grander in terms of transit. Ideally, we would have at least 5 streetcar lines, with the parcels along those lines zoned to an increased density. The rise in supply of TOD will help to partially reduce urban housing costs.

I agree with this, but I would go further to say that routing every single transit line through downtown Charlotte is a mistake. They need to do a study to find out where people want to go and also to look at where land is left to develop and redevelop and run transit into these areas. If you look at the transit system of any decent sized city, the entire system does not converge down to a single point as the current plans do in Charlotte.

In fact the most progressive systems, even in cities smaller than Charlotte, (mainly in europe) use a principle of triangles to built rail lines. i.e. every transit line makes at least two connections to two other lines.

BTW since this is a thread about Atlanta, one will note they made the same mistake with Marta and even though it is a heavy rail transit system, (only 1 of 2 in the south) it has been remarkably ineffective in guiding that cities growth in a positive manner. For that you have to go to DC, which is the same age as the Atlanta system and there you will see the principle of triangles in use.

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teshadoh    0

Sorry - I'm breaking my promise, but only because this has so far turned into the best city comparison analysis I've yet to read. I am in particular interested in the view that densifying the urban core, or redeveloping it lessens the pressures of sprawl. I'm not sure that is the case, though it at least provides an option - I'm sad to say sprawl is an inevitable market force.

Regarding the topic of making comparisons, the best possible way to examine that is not to review 'what is wrong' - no offense cinco, but simply observing negative points about Atlanta won't get you anywhere. The big question is 'why did it go wrong', as Atlanta is an obvious example of a city with a low central population density, significant suburban / exurban sprawl, congested transporation infrastructure, segregation, lack of identity, etc...

Some of the answers why these short comings exist in Atlanta may yield real suggestions on allieviating an existing situation or safe proofing that it doesn't occur, but on the other hand learning why it happened may prove that it was impossible not to occur. In that case it is best to plan for sprawl, plan for congestion, plan for any failing to not neccessarily block the occurance, but to make it more sustainable.

Sprawl is going to happen, and in Atlanta as it is in Charlotte is inevitable - but rather than finding ways to 'block' it or ignore it (by suggesting that reurbanization is a fix) it would be better to concentrate how to make suburban development patterns more pedestrian friendly, encourage mixed use & more likely to support public transit. Otherwise Charlotte will go down the path as Atlanta, because if you fail to acknowledge why sprawl occured, you're not going to solve anything (I-485 anyone?).

There is just one more thing I wanted to discuss, but I'll leave it at this b/c as you know - I do tend to rant... ;)

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cinco    0

For example there is literally $billions being spent inside the inner loop, yet just a few miles away, Eastland mall is dying a quick and painful death and when it does, its going to take a lot with it.

thank god for the struggling artists that reside in cities. b/c they are the ones that fill that void whenever a once nice part of town bellies up. they move in and revive culture there... then all the fat cats notice and want to get in on the action. they price out all the artist and thus begins the migration again. this is my point about certian things not being all negative under the surface. i would love for the city to show a little love to the eastside, and i'll obviously vote for the people i think will help that effort, but if they don't pony up... there is always the creative type ready for the oppurtunity.

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cinco    0

Sorry - I'm breaking my promise, but only because this has so far turned into the best city comparison analysis I've yet to read. I am in particular interested in the view that densifying the urban core, or redeveloping it lessens the pressures of sprawl. I'm not sure that is the case, though it at least provides an option - I'm sad to say sprawl is an inevitable market force.

Regarding the topic of making comparisons, the best possible way to examine that is not to review 'what is wrong' - no offense cinco, but simply observing negative points about Atlanta won't get you anywhere. The big question is 'why did it go wrong', as Atlanta is an obvious example of a city with a low central population density, significant suburban / exurban sprawl, congested transporation infrastructure, segregation, lack of identity, etc...

Some of the answers why these short comings exist in Atlanta may yield real suggestions on allieviating an existing situation or safe proofing that it doesn't occur, but on the other hand learning why it happened may prove that it was impossible not to occur. In that case it is best to plan for sprawl, plan for congestion, plan for any failing to not neccessarily block the occurance, but to make it more sustainable.

Sprawl is going to happen, and in Atlanta as it is in Charlotte is inevitable - but rather than finding ways to 'block' it or ignore it (by suggesting that reurbanization is a fix) it would be better to concentrate how to make suburban development patterns more pedestrian friendly, encourage mixed use & more likely to support public transit. Otherwise Charlotte will go down the path as Atlanta, because if you fail to acknowledge why sprawl occured, you're not going to solve anything (I-485 anyone?).

There is just one more thing I wanted to discuss, but I'll leave it at this b/c as you know - I do tend to rant... ;)

one thing i'd love to see is tighter building requirements. if charlotte wants to avoid going down certain paths and even forge it's own path i would suggest looking into ways to promote "green" building. and we've given the developers of sprawl communities blank checks... they should be held to a higher standard. even if that drives the prices up and slows the building boom down, doesn't it seem better in the long run for a more proud and sustainable community.

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Newnan    1

If Charlotte is going down Atlanta's road in terms of growth and INternational Renown, then that's not so bad, is it?

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