digital_sandlapper

The Greening of Columbia

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I recently proposed this as a new topic in the general string on Columbia development, so here it is:

Now is such an exciting time to live in the Capital City, but I think we would be wise not to forget about the importance of greenspace. Yes, the greenway will be amazing when done, but I mean dedicating some space in the urban fabric for small parks, plazas, and boulevards.

1) small parks/plazas

The city should take the time NOW, before too late, to plan where more small green urban parks are needed, buy the land, and build them. The Vista is in SERIOUS need of these outdoor gathering spots. The extensive greenway along the river will be wonderful, but big, OPEN grassy areas are utterly lacking within walking distance of one another in Columbia. Sure, we have the State House grounds, but activity there is limited, of course. Finley Park, is impressive--but too vertical and chock-full of ornamental plantings--not much room to throw the ball or have a romantic picnic on the grass under a shade tree. Savannah has its crown jewels, the squares . . as well as Forsyth Park--the model urban park. Charleston has Marion Square, the Battery, Washington Square, and Hampton Park, but needs more small ones in between. Some would say that property is too valuable to be used in this way. I say, even small parks will increase nearby properties' values dramatically. Odd-sized lots too small for buildings would work perfectly. A European-style plaza would be a welcome addition to a monumental building in the Vista or elsewhere. Perhaps USC will include some of these in Innovista?

2) boulevards

Assembly and Elmwood, particularly are BEGGING to be beautiful boulevards! The center should be a median of shade trees, along with shade trees on each side, benches, grass and flower beds. Again, Savannah is a model--just venture down Liberty or Oglethorpe Streets. Of course, Columbia's versions would be even grander, wider, with at least four lanes. The utilities would be buried, walkability would be drastically improved, and traffic slowed. The gateway into the city on Elmwood, with a long vista of the Bull Street development at its terminus would be particulary enhanced. Have you sat at the light at Assembly and Blossom lately? What a harsh, mean, paved-over environment! Now, imagine it as a shady boulevard . . nice, huh? USC would probably benefit from this, as their new campus grows south of Assembly, for safety's sake if nothing else. Street-level crosswalks (NO MORE skywalks, please, USC--bring those students down to earth!) would be very attractie and safe in a boulevard setting, and add to the urban heartbeat. Development would boom even more than it already is along Assembly/Elmwood. Imagine Elmwood not as the jarring barrier of suburban-style sprawl that it is now, but a lush, grand, welcoming bouldevard into the NEW Columbia!

What do you think?

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Excellent ideas, digital sandlapper. I especially like the idea of (a) plaza(s) in Innovista. I can't recall whether any or planned or not.

Concerning the boulevard idea, you and waccamatt think alike. Here is his vision for Assembly. It really makes sense when you think about it. Assembly is the linchpin to the connectivity of DT Columbia, if you ask me. It's too much of a psychological and a physical barrier, disconnecting Main from the Vista.

I'd also suggest that you post some of your ideas on the mayor's blog here. Coble posts there from time to time, so he might read and respond, as well as some of the others who post there.

Edited by krazeeboi

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Excellent ideas, digital sandlapper. I especially like the idea of (a) plaza(s) in Innovista. I can't recall whether any or planned or not.

Concerning the boulevard idea, you and waccamatt think alike. Here is his vision for Assembly. It really makes since when you think about it. Assembly is the linchpin to the connectivity of DT Columbia, if you ask me. It's too much of a psychological and a physical barrier, disconnecting Main from the Vista.

I'd also suggest that you post some of your ideas on the mayor's blog here. Coble posts there from time to time, so he might read and respond, as well as some of the others who post there.

Krazee, we have GOT to stop thinking alike. We posted almost the identical thing at the same time on the clock, 9:22.

^We were literally posting at the same time. :D

Not once, but twice!!! :rofl:

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You guys are really quite funny! :lol:

I'd like to share my two cents, if you don't mind.

When I read the title of this thread, I was tickled to realize that others are focusing on the proper issues first as well. I recall reading something recently about the successful gentrification that Greenville is well-known for creating and capitalizing on. The writer wrote simply that it is essential to continue to enhance the "green" in the city while maintaining the "village" atmosphere. This isn't exactly how it was written, but it conveys the essence of the true meaning. Of course for Greenville, it is easy to compare the city to the "greenvillage" the writer was refering to. I think it is also very applicable to any other city looking to keep the natural beauty of trees and also the vibrancy and coziness of a village atmosphere, such as parts of Columbia. Thought you might enjoy that little tidbit. :thumbsup:

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I think that these issues are important and show that many of our cities are lacking those aspects of urban life. Aside from our oldest cities, like Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, etc., we lack true public gathering places, such as squares. We all love towers, but I truly believe these types of issues are definitely more important.

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Gentlemen:

I hate to burst your bubbles; but I do have some exceptions to this particular day dream.

I like the addition of lots of small urban parks. A good example of this is on Main Street next to the old Tapps building. They finally removed the tacky wooden privacy fence and made a small urban park. Another is in the South side of Senate street between Marion and Bull. We need lots of spots like those.

We must be very careful, however, about narrowing down feeder streets and slowing down the traffic too much. A small median, planted with trees and perennials, shade trees at the curb, and lots of places to sit is great, however, if traffic is impeded we may not have any pedestrians to enjoy the boulevards of which you speak. If the city is too inconvenient for the commuter and visitor we won't get any! We don't want to mimic the 'burbs; we want to compete with them. We want to maintain the urban flavor and make it very convenient and livable.

The pedestrian bridges are debatable. There are attractive over passes (College Street pedestrians only over pass Pickens Street) and then there are tacky ones (the old CCI foot bridge over the Clapman Freeway). Cities like Baltimore have an entire system of overhead walkways in their downtown. It is well used and quite successful and does not detract from the city or its bustle. Cities like Philadelphia, and Montreal have an underground system not unlike Baltimore's elevated. That too is very successful and does not diminish the street traffic. What we need is balance! Separating pedestrians from motor traffic at critical points is a good thing, not bad.

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I think that these issues are important and show that many of our cities are lacking those aspects of urban life. Aside from our oldest cities, like Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, etc., we lack true public gathering places, such as squares. We all love towers, but I truly believe these types of issues are definitely more important.

That is why I love the Piazza Bergamo so much. :thumbsup:

Public plazas with art/sculpture, fountains, and landscaping are making a resounding comeback in downtown Greenville, so I would think it easy to expect the same for Columbia.

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That is why I love the Piazza Bergamo so much. :thumbsup:

Public plazas with sculptures, fountains, and landscaping are making a resounding comeback in downtown Greenville, so I would think it easy to expect the same for Columbia.

I agree; I think the plaza in front of the Columbia Art Museum and the plaza next to the Capitol Center qualify. The Meridian Building also has a little plaza with a fountain. I love fountains and would like to see even more. The current fountain in Five Points is a great gathering site and the 2nd Five Points fountain should be the same.

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The Palmettos in Columbia help to make it cool and if every road was lined with them like the palm trees in Beverly Hills it would be so awesome.

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I agree; I think the plaza in front of the Columbia Art Museum and the plaza next to the Capitol Center qualify. The Meridian Building also has a little plaza with a fountain. I love fountains and would like to see even more. The current fountain in Five Points is a great gathering site and the 2nd Five Points fountain should be the same.

I saw Tom Prioreshi (sp) on channel 2 in a city council meeting saying a large public art project with a water feature is going up in Boyd Plaza (museum of art) plaza this year. I hope it does.

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Excellent ideas, digital sandlapper. I especially like the idea of (a) plaza(s) in Innovista. I can't recall whether any or planned or not.

Concerning the boulevard idea, you and waccamatt think alike. Here is his vision for Assembly. It really makes sense when you think about it. Assembly is the linchpin to the connectivity of DT Columbia, if you ask me. It's too much of a psychological and a physical barrier, disconnecting Main from the Vista.

I'd also suggest that you post some of your ideas on the mayor's blog here. Coble posts there from time to time, so he might read and respond, as well as some of the others who post there.

Hey, thanks krazee! I will try that, and thanks for the tip from you and Waccamatt about his earlier vision--I'm going to check it out now . . .

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Hey yalll don't forget about the 3 rivers greenway. There is so much that could be done with that project! I'd love to see it developed with more palmettos blended with shade trees kinda like southern cal.

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Digy, I'm glad you brought that subject up; I posted this plan for Assembly Street a while back.

A grand boulevard for Columbia

Hey, Waccamat, we do really think alike, although you did it first! I just read your earlier string concerning your vision of Assembly Street as a grand boulevard for Columbia. I enjoyed your subsequent dialogue--great minds really DO think alike, huh? :thumbsup: I really should peruse all the past strings before adding new, though. Gosh--I've got a lot of reading to do! :wacko:

I have a few additions to make to this current string, which I'll do in a general reply (next). Just wanted to compliment you on your excellent ideas for Assembly!

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After reading Waccamat's earlier string on Assembly, I want to comment on it in this string. His vision is what I was also envisioning, and the subsequent dialogue between you all when it was posted (last July) was good reading!

One thing I want to say is I agree with Spartan about switching to large shade trees rather than simple palmettos. The boulevard is GRAND, and needs GRAND trees. Plus, the area needs some serious shade--especially between Senate and Blossom Streets, and the northern end. Palmettos could be used at the median's terminuses near intersections with the flower beds, to wonderful effect.

It is true that, while the palmetto is not native this far inland, it does grow pretty well here IF MAINTAINED properly. That's a big if, and the street crews would have to stay on the watering regime, which is true of all plantings. Of course, an irrigation system should be put in. A long avenue of palmettos in the middle or along the sides . . well, that's just not a grand boulevard IMO. It would be terribly monotonous and has been done to death in places like Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head (where indigenous), and Orangeburg, etc. (not indigenous, but very nice). The palmettos are especially useful where the space is tight, such as King Street in Charleston, in a downtown street, etc. But a boulevard doesn't have, nor should it have, that restriction. It's LARGE!, so let's go LARGE! We need more wide shade trees to stroll underneath in Columbia. :wub:

I enjoyed the history concerning Senate Street, and it is a gorgeous street. Assembly should have a tree-lined median JUST AS BIG, and would still have plenty of space for traffic lanes and parking, as Waccamat pointed out earlier. But no parking in the middle, as Waccamat also said. Too dangerous. One posting was concerned that traffic not be slowed down or impeded in any way or drivers would avoid Assembly. I disagree, for MORE drivers would take that route if made more aesthetically pleasing. They would just drive slower and more carefully if so. That is what they SHOULD do in the first place. Assembly now is a frightening Autobahn for pedestrians. This MUST change, as the area will become more pedestrian with Innovista, and the linking of Main Street and the Vista (which must happen for Main Street to thrive, IMHO).

I want to comment on my idea of plazas and green space, but will do that later in another reply. (I've said enough here already, right? :wacko: )

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...We must be very careful, however, about narrowing down feeder streets and slowing down the traffic too much. A small median, planted with trees and perennials, shade trees at the curb, and lots of places to sit is great, however, if traffic is impeded we may not have any pedestrians to enjoy the boulevards of which you speak. If the city is too inconvenient for the commuter and visitor we won't get any! We don't want to mimic the 'burbs; we want to compete with them. We want to maintain the urban flavor and make it very convenient and livable.

The pedestrian bridges are debatable. There are attractive over passes (College Street pedestrians only over pass Pickens Street) and then there are tacky ones (the old CCI foot bridge over the Clapman Freeway). Cities like Baltimore have an entire system of overhead walkways in their downtown. It is well used and quite successful and does not detract from the city or its bustle. Cities like Philadelphia, and Montreal have an underground system not unlike Baltimore's elevated. That too is very successful and does not diminish the street traffic. What we need is balance! Separating pedestrians from motor traffic at critical points is a good thing, not bad.

Doug L, you made some great points. Sometimes, I feel like many of us get so caught up in envisioning these grand tree-lined boulevards that we forget what those streets really are. I'm all for developing urban-like centers, but Elmwood is NOT the place to slow-down traffic and make it more pedestrian friendly. The street has sidewalks but are not utilized, and there aren't that many businesses that warrant more people to stay there. And Elmwood is not your central DT street. It is a feeder street, taking in traffic from major employment centers like Palmetto Richland from Bull Street on one end, and on the other end, it takes traffic from the only gateway interstate I-126.

Assembly Street is also a feeder street, albeit more central to the DT core. Some very nice pedestrian walkovers go over this street, at points where they are needed. They also don't take away from pedestrian traffic...the Strom Thurmond Wellness Center is the usual destination for the students, and other street-level businesses for them to frequent are away from the walkovers.

Many of these plans for Elmwood and Assembly will make traffic worse heading into and out of the city. This will not stimulate more growth. Commuters will want to move away from more headaches. People will end up being driven further away into the suburbs for their work and home. I do think parts of tha plan could be done: palmetto trees need to be planted, overhead utilities need to be buried, and better lighting needs to be installed. SC is the Palmetto State. Let's look like it in the capital city! ;)

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I can somewhat understand the points made about Elmwood. It's not that long to begin with, and isn't as central to downtown as Assembly is. However, being that it serves as the gateway to downtown from I-126 AND the future Bull Street campus, the least the city could do is give it a good ol' Columbia tried-and-true streetscaping.

The good thing about Assembly is that it could narrowed and beautified without significantly hindering the flow of traffic because the thing is so friggin' WIDE. I, for one, believe it's only a matter of time until the city sets its eyes on Assembly. With the current development of the Vista and with Innovista, it's got to happen sooner or later. As I have stated, Assembly will be the linchpin in ensuring the connectivity of downtown.

CorgiMatt, good news about the public art in the square fronting the art museum. What I'm really hoping for Columbia is that the city can get on a list like this. It would be great if somehow the city could have an actual city-center square, but the opportunity for that has long gone. In a way, the statehouse grounds serves as a plaza of sorts, but as was stated before, a square or plaza in the Vista would be awesome.

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I find it surprising that you feel that a band of green with impressive shade trees would somehow create headaches. :blink: Quite the contrary. I don't envision either street losing traffic lanes, just adding an attractive green median and "tree lawns" along both sides. If space is needed to accomodate the greenspace, then just widen the footprint a bit. I doubt, as Crazeeboi said, that Elmwood and Assembly will need it though due to their WIDEness.

Cities should accomodate pedestrians first, then automobiles, especially in an ever-increasingly pedestrian downtown Columbia. The University wants it, the residents of all the new residential developments downtown will want it, the increasing numbers of shoppers, party-goers, and tourists will want it. It's a no-brainer. Arteries are for the 'burbs. Those who commute to or through downtown need to chill out and slow down--because downtown is also where people live, shop, and play. Would they want a freeway through a cul-de-sacced gated development just because its a shortcut? I don't think so.

So sorry if I don't feel that that's asking too much of the commuters/drivers. Besides, they will still be stuck in the same traffic as before, but just thankful that the city provided the increase in shade and streams of beautiful and/or interesting passers-by. Hey, some of us are still single, you know! :D

Edited by digital_sandlapper

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I can somewhat understand the points made about Elmwood. It's not that long to begin with, and isn't as central to downtown as Assembly is. However, being that it serves as the gateway to downtown from I-126 AND the future Bull Street campus, the least the city could do is give it a good ol' Columbia tried-and-true streetscaping.

The good thing about Assembly is that it could narrowed and beautified without significantly hindering the flow of traffic because the thing is so friggin' WIDE. I, for one, believe it's only a matter of time until the city sets its eyes on Assembly. With the current development of the Vista and with Innovista, it's got to happen sooner or later. As I have stated, Assembly will be the linchpin in ensuring the connectivity of downtown.

CorgiMatt, good news about the public art in the square fronting the art museum. What I'm really hoping for Columbia is that the city can get on a list like this. It would be great if somehow the city could have an actual city-center square, but the opportunity for that has long gone. In a way, the statehouse grounds serves as a plaza of sorts, but as was stated before, a square or plaza in the Vista would be awesome.

Finlay Park would have been the last stronghold for something like that but the streets surrounding it are so wide plus the fact that the post office cuts it off from site. I still think Columbia's best bet for that will be in the Greenway. There is still so much that could be done in that area. Could really make it a classic one of a kind experience.

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Hey, Waccamat, we do really think alike, although you did it first! I just read your earlier string concerning your vision of Assembly Street as a grand boulevard for Columbia. I enjoyed your subsequent dialogue--great minds really DO think alike, huh? :thumbsup: I really should peruse all the past strings before adding new, though. Gosh--I've got a lot of reading to do! :wacko:

I have a few additions to make to this current string, which I'll do in a general reply (next). Just wanted to compliment you on your excellent ideas for Assembly!

Thanks Digy, if I were a graphic artist I'd work something out, but I didn't inherit an artistic gene, unfortunately.

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Finlay Park would have been the last stronghold for something like that but the streets surrounding it are so wide plus the fact that the post office cuts it off from site. I still think Columbia's best bet for that will be in the Greenway. There is still so much that could be done in that area. Could really make it a classic one of a kind experience.

Finlay is a crowning achievement in and of itself. But I agree with you about the Greenway--if Columbia can get its side up and running AND have it loop through downtown and a few in-town neighborhoods, that would be great.

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