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Vitamin_N

The Green Streets of Charlotte?

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Couldn't find a suitable topic to stick this in, so I'm starting a new one:

http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200607/charlotte.asp

Not a whole lot new here, but it's interesting to see that the Sierra Club writer seems pretty impressed with Charlotte. A sample:

"If you do it right, it's a better investment. It's a conservative value," says McCrory, who jokes that he was the only Republican at an environmental summit for mayors last summer. "When I recruit companies to come to Charlotte, one of the first things I show them is our land-use and transportation plan. If our environment is ruined, our economy will follow very quickly."

Ask anyone in Charlotte who's responsible for the revitalization of "uptown," the city's core, and they'll mention Hugh McColl, the former CEO of Bank of America. Since retiring from that position, McColl, 71, has run a small investment-banking firm. When I meet him at his office, he extends a hand, his smile a little more appraising than warm. "After I got out of the Marine Corps, I won some money in poker and took a two-month tour of Europe," he says. "Their cities didn't have our suburban mishmash. Their cities had borders. I liked that."

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The Uptown Charlotte pics here on urbanplanet are truly a riot of green. Planting those trees Uptown back in the 70s and 80s has REALLY paid off.

Am I the only one that sees McColl as a true visionary, almost mythological? Where would Charlotte be today had this man not had his vision of Charlotte?

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The printed version of this magazine may hold a surprise for the UrbanPlanet reader I am told.

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I also appreciate Charlotte's green blanket. The city definitely stands out in this regard. As much as I intensely dislike our Mayor politically I agree with him that Charlotte benefits from focusing on eco-friendly planning. I don't understand the idol worship of Hugh McColl. That is probably because I am a relative newcomer but it seems to be a Charlottean trait to put people up on pedestals ( McColl, McCrory,etc etc, must be the top down corporate culture of the city) and not acknowledge that it takes larger groups of people working together to create change.Hugh McColl seems to take credit for everything positive in Charlotte's history. I find him arrogant.

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Visionaries sometimes don't have such great interpersonal skills:)

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NOTE: Does anyone happen to know who was the driving force to start Uptown's impressive green blanket back in the 70s and 80s?

I remember when it was in the news, that developments were required to plant a certain number of trees, as a part of the development process.

When I see Uptown pics showing people strolling down Tryon, it looks more like they're walking in a lush park.

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Couldn't find a suitable topic to stick this in, so I'm starting a new one:

http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200607/charlotte.asp

Not a whole lot new here, but it's interesting to see that the Sierra Club writer seems pretty impressed with Charlotte. A sample:

"Their cities didn't have our suburban mishmash. Their cities had borders. I liked that."

I'm afraid that isn't true. It is a typical environmentalist lie. ALL cities in wealthy, prosperous countries are suburbanizing and growing outside the core. In nearly all western European cities, most growth in urban areas has been outside the central city. The 60 square miles of Paris rest in the middle of over 1,000 square miles of suburban growth, about the same amount as Washington DC.

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^ I too am a big fan of mcrory. i feel he's done a lot for this city that will really come forth in the future.

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I'm afraid that isn't true. It is a typical environmentalist lie. ALL cities in wealthy, prosperous countries are suburbanizing and growing outside the core. In nearly all western European cities, most growth in urban areas has been outside the central city. The 60 square miles of Paris rest in the middle of over 1,000 square miles of suburban growth, about the same amount as Washington DC.

I guess what McColl means is that because European cities are older and were mature before the advent of the automobile, they are much more well-defined, whereas many of the cities in the limelight today in America are largely suburban in nature with cores that are not as well-established.

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The Sierra Club Insider, an email newsletter I receive, writes, "Cities across the country once competed to see who could build the tallest high rises. Now they're scrapping over who's the greenest. The mayors of Austin, TX, Chicago, and Los Angeles have each declared their city will be the most environmentally friendly. San Francisco and Columbus, OH, both claim to be working on the nation's largest green building. Even Charlotte, SC, a fast-growing, pro-business, new South city, has gotten into the mix, with pedestrian-friendly development, a city fleet of hybrid cars, and an ambitious plan to clean up and refurbish old industrial sites."

Should we chalk that error up as another "typical environmentalist lie?" Good grief. I don't know which is more ignorant.

As a follow-up to McColl's comment - driving across the European countryside several times over the last five years, I have often remarked at how many towns had stayed within their borders for hundreds of years. The big cities like Paris, Frankfurt, etc are the exception.

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NOTE: Does anyone happen to know who was the driving force to start Uptown's impressive green blanket back in the 70s and 80s?

This happened in 1984 and the goal was to turn Tryon into a transit center.

They completely tore out Tryon and rebuilt it to what you see today. This included the wide brick sidewalks, the controversial bus shelters, and they used brick pavers to mark the intersection crossings. This is when all the trees were planted. They later had to come back and replace the brick pavers on the road with concrete as the brick disintegrated. It was quite a project and a friend that came here for a visit asked if they were building a subway downtown upon seeing the project.

The idea was to make Tryon a transit mall and all of the buses used to change passengers right on Tryon. Once completed, the business leaders did not like the look of hordes of Black people standing on the sidewalks waiting for buses, so Hugh McColl built the currrent transportatoin facility and gave it to the city free of charge. When the buses moved down there, it made the streets a lot more white looking. This was never the stated reason for building that transit center of course, but everyone around at the time recongized it for what it was.

Ironically, the reconstruction of Tryon into a transit center also made it a great pedestrian place. Though it would take more another decade before the street life returned to the street. I have some photos posted here of Tryon in 1992 or so and the place is practically deserted. However the trees were happy there and continued to grow. Those large hardwoods are now in their 3rd decade and are producing a nice canopy for the downtown area.

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Yes I remember when Tryon was redeveloped in 1984. Wasn't there an issue about the original paving bricks right from the start?

Buses letting passengers out on Tryon sounds like risky business.....perhaps the transportation center will eventually be seen as a good idea.

Aren't there more streets Uptown that are going to be refurbished like Tryon?

Hopefully everyone will realize soon that we in the West must plant and nurture as many trees as we can. We must try to counteract all the deforestation in the Amazon.......

Uptown is the perfect place to drive this point home. Trees are our source of oxygen after all:)

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The Sierra Club Insider, an email newsletter I receive, writes, "Cities across the country once competed to see who could build the tallest high rises. Now they're scrapping over who's the greenest. The mayors of Austin, TX, Chicago, and Los Angeles have each declared their city will be the most environmentally friendly. San Francisco and Columbus, OH, both claim to be working on the nation's largest green building. Even Charlotte, SC, a fast-growing, pro-business, new South city, has gotten into the mix, with pedestrian-friendly development, a city fleet of hybrid cars, and an ambitious plan to clean up and refurbish old industrial sites."

LOL, it's funny because I don't ever recall any other city in the Carolinas being assigned to the wrong state in a publication or a newspaper, at least not as much as Charlotte. The closest I've heard was a radio announcer saying "Spartanburg, North Carolina." I just chalk it up to the fact that people don't really know basic geography and the city practically straddles the border.

Charlotte needs a ~30 acre signature park inside the loop; that's one of Charlotte's downfalls. Even cities smaller than Charlotte, such as Columbia and Greenville, have awesome, celebrated center city parks.

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This is my argument against putting up huge sports venues in the center city. They create huge dead spaces in cities that sit empty most of the time. If the Bobcats Arena, BofA Stadium, and the proposed Knights stadium where well designed urban parks, the effects on downtown Charlotte would be dramatic. Right now it is fairly people unfriendly place in regards to public spaces.

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To go back to an earlier comment...Hugh McColl was indeed a visionary. It amazes me how quickly people are starting to forget what all he did for Charlotte's center city. He, in fact, would state a vision he had for downtown, and then he'd go about putting his bank's weight behind it. It was sort of like calling your shot.

As far as it taking many different people to make things happen. From what I've observed in Charlotte over the past 18 years: if you want to make sure something doesn't happen, just get a lot of people involved. If you want something to happen, let the few (McColl, Crutchfield, Lee, etc.) get behind it. It's merely a leftist idea that it takes a village for progress to occur. Often, the ones who feel this way, also feel disenfranchised in general and this attitude is really their call to be included. To further illustrate this point, read the thread about Center City Partners being homophobic.

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To go back to an earlier comment...Hugh McColl was indeed a visionary. It amazes me how quickly people are starting to forget what all he did for Charlotte's center city. He, in fact, would state a vision he had for downtown, and then he'd go about putting his bank's weight behind it. It was sort of like calling your shot.

As far as it taking many different people to make things happen. From what I've observed in Charlotte over the past 18 years: if you want to make sure something doesn't happen, just get a lot of people involved. If you want something to happen, let the few (McColl, Crutchfield, Lee, etc.) get behind it. It's merely a leftist idea that it takes a village for progress to occur. Often, the ones who feel this way, also feel disenfranchised in general and this attitude is really their call to be included. To further illustrate this point, read the thread about Center City Partners being homophobic.

it might suprise you that mccoll is a man of many "leftist" ideas. while i think your right in acknowledging his attributes... i don't get your point that was cloaked in political jib-jab. are you saying progress and development only occur @ the hands of a few?

i hope the chosen few (who are usually appointed or elected by the "leftist" concept of majority rule) see what amazing impact the greenery of charlotte's streets have on people. i think those of us that live here... often take it for granted, but it often is a main topic of interest for those visiting. hopefully we will continue to promote our parks, greenways, and other green projects - as i believe, this has far more vitality towards being world class than some of the other aspirations. it has been brought up in this forum alot - that charlotte has a litter problem. i have been noticing that more and i agree. we will need to put extra focus on this issue soon. b/c making this list by the sierra club is one i would like for charlotte to continue to make.

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Charlotte to me is the epitome of the "good ole boy" Southern town. In many cases you have to know the right person in the right neighborhood to get anything done. I have not lived in Charlotte very long but Hugh McColl seems to be venerated a great deal. If he helped ensure Charlotte's tree canopy then good for him. From an environmental and Sierra Club standpoint large groups of people are integral to make changes. Its not simply a leftist idea. I really don't think CC Partners is homophobic or any of the "powers that be" aside from the Mayor and Bill James. They just ignore gays because we are a hot potato. Its a shame because encouragement and even someday GASP sponsorship from the boosters of Uptown for Pride Charlotte etc would go a long way in establishing Charlotte's gay community as part of the city's normal fabric. Not something to gawk at like we are exotic creatures in a zoo or dissaprove of :blush:

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Hmmm...I agree with some of this, but not all. I think Charlotte's trees and green canopy are great assets. I wish Charlotte were also more walkable. I think we have people in power who push new projects that do promote walking and street activity. I also think we still have too many people in power (and consumers should probably qualify in this category) who push for projects that need people in cars to make them work. Without including the Charlotte "Pride" issue, I do think Bill James is homophobic. Although, to some extent I think he pushes that agenda because it panders to his constituents. I personally think he's an embarrassment to Charlotte and the Rep. Party (but I'd respect anyone's right to support him). I actually don't get where you are talking about the Mayor. Just because he doesn't embrace it and publically welcome homosexual groups, I don't really see that as making him homophobic. I think he's just politically savvy enough not to take on that issue...esp. if he happens to not personally agree with homosexual behavior. I also don't think if he (or anyone) doesn't approve of homosexual behavior, that makes them homophobic. A phobia is an irrational fear. That term is too often used to describe those who simply don't approve. It's an attempt to discredit their views by labeling them as something negative.

As for Hugh McColl, it makes no difference to me whether he's a leftist or a conservative. He, and others like him, still had the will and means to get certain things done for Charlotte. Had more people been included, then those other voices would have muddied the waters (sorry for the almost mixed metaphors) and progress would have slowed greatly. It's exactly why any gov't project takes a lifetime to come to fruition...too many voices are involved. I guess that's hard to do anything about since the point of gov't is to represent the people (all the people). That is EXACTLY why I'm such a fan of a private group taking the reigns and making things happen. If it doesn't suit the likes of the many, so be it!

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It would be nice if pedestrian friendly and green projects could be encouraged throughout the metro area. Charlotte is becoming more eco progressive but we are going to end up having a green island surrounded by irresponsible sprawl. The suburbs and surrounding counties are going in the opposite direction. As far as the Mayor attitude goes we are going to have to agree to disagree :lol: He has made disparaging comments about the gay community in the media. I respect people's rights to disagree if they show respect in return. The Mayor does not on this issue.

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Maybe I've just never heard McCrory say any of those things. If he has...that's too bad. He always seems like a nice guy and I would have thought more intelligent.

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Moving back to all things green as opposed to gay :lol: I picked up the June edition of Blue Ridge Outdoors at Berrybrook Farm today. It was their Green issue and they had a list of the greenest cities in the South. NC did well. Asheville and Carrboro made the list. I don't think one can consider Carrboro a city though :P While not on the main list, Charlotte got an honorable mention as a city that is getting greener :thumbsup:

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The printed version of this magazine may hold a surprise for the UrbanPlanet reader I am told.

Neo has confirmed (as he has a copy of the magazine) that one of my Southend photos that was posted here on UrbanPlanet has made it into the printed version of the Sierra Club Magazine article on Charlotte. The photo was from the Trolley Spurs Transit Oriented Development thread, which they were particularly interested in when doing research for this article. We spoke on and off throughout March and April and they decided to use the Phat Burrito photo for the South End segment of their article.

It's just another sign that a lot of people in the media are taking notice of our discussions here at UrbanPlanet.org.

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HAHA yea.....i learned about the media interest a little bit TOO WELL lol.....

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HAHA yea.....i learned about the media interest a little bit TOO WELL lol.....

You really ought to go in there with your camera phone and get us another update. :D

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