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Street Level Retail in Downtown Charlotte

Are they developing Great Retail in Downtown Charlotte?   98 members have voted

  1. 1. Are they developing Great Retail in Downtown Charlotte? (Please read the Link first)

    • No - It still misses the mark, too much focus on the building, not people
      80
    • Yes - It great and getting better
      15
    • I don't believe that document
      3

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323 posts in this topic

Crandall Arambula, a national award-winning urban design firm, has developed one-page educational emails as a part of its Revitalizing Cities Series. The latest piece in this series, Retail Street Fundamentals, concerns itself with why some streets do well as people places and why others fall flat on their faces.

So what is happening in Charlotte? Are we building good people places and following the fundamentals of great street retail?

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Certainly NO if you ask me. When someone in Charlotte feels like going shopping, uptown is not where they are going to go. We just dont have any streets filled with retail like NYC or many of the large cities in Europe. 20ft+ wide sidewalks with lots of storefronts, cafe's, outdoor stands, vendors, etc.. Im hopeing that Levine will pull something off or the rebuilding of 2nd Ward will include lots of street retail. But were not there yet.

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Well coming from North Jersey I can say that Charlotte was just great and was where it is supposed to be. I came in on Trade and was amazed by Gateway Village with the street level retail and residences above. Then I made my way down Tryon towards the south and was surprised to see that Charlotte had a Dean & Deluca (thinking that New York and California only had ones). I saw the basic conveniences such as a pharmacy and a grocery store. I noticed many people on the streets and walking to restaurants. I never knew Charlotte had so many restaurants uptown! I parked and started to walk on the streets and saw residents getting exercise by walking up and down the streets. It almost made me feel like I was in New York again except on a smaller scale. Now I can understand how many of you desire more retail instead of more eating establishments and I will agree with you 110%! But from a visitors perspective, Charlotte was where it needed to be. Now don't get me wrong, I would love to see higher end retail down there and it certainly could be improved but somebody needs to get on the ball and start recruiting retailers in Uptown. It's not just going to come on its own as many government officials would like to think.

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I would currently say no, but I am encouraged by the things being SAID to bring street level retail to uptown in the future. However, I am frustrated by the actual slow pace of movement. I fully expected that with all the announced and underway condos, there would at least be some immediately additional retail in the form of bookstores, clothing shops, etc. I am hoping the Quarterside/Ledge development in First Ward will bring some retail as planned, but I would really like to see more along Tryon and College. And darn it Levine, when will your urban village project start?

Also, seems to me South Park continues to pull all the potential retail away from uptown, and that's a shame.

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I am going to keep on beating the herd of dead horses for more ground level retail too! There is too much focus on "entertainment". So much so that most of our city leaders refer to Uptown entirely as " the entertainment district". Well I don't want Six Flags of Uptown instead of a real diverse urban core :angry: Downtowns or in Charlotte's case "Uptowns" or whatever :silly: have a wide range of establishments. Streetlevel cafes, bookstores,etc etc. The Metropolitan in Midtown will have some of these attributes and its interconnected through the greenway but its still not part of Uptown. I know we are a new city and will never have the inherited walkability of a Charleston or Asheville but many other "new south" cities have real downtown areas that are not just a block here and a block there which is all Charlotte has right now. We need to do better.

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I voted yes, because I was anticipating EpiCentre bringing some street level retail. It may not have a street running through it, but it will be conveniently located to mass transit, and provide a core of residents right in the 210 trade building. So I think we're going in the right direction, just need more diverse retail choices at street level. I personally would like to see most of the merchants in the overstreet mall moved to the street level somehow - then convert the old mall area into office space.

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A developer needs to actively persue getting a bookstore Uptown! That adds so much to the city in terms of people on the streets and energy! Instead they persuade one to come to another big-box/mall development on Harris and I-77. :(

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You all have to remember where Charlotte was just 20 years ago. I know it's not happening fast enough for me either but, progress has been made. I have to believe with all the condo development that drive for street level retail will kick in and we'll see some real action.

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I cannot honestly vote in this thread because neither choice really pins the tail on the donkey. While Charlotte is lacking the retail presence as of this very moment, with the street level retail coming with nearly every project under construction and planned uptown, I feel that we will have sufficient retail uptown to have people traveling uptown to shop rather than for dining and "entertainment." That is, if all projects go through as planned. My vote for now: Maybe.

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The question is this:

Are we building good people places and following the fundamentals of great street retail?

Not do we have enough retail downtown.

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You all have to remember where Charlotte was just 20 years ago. I know it's not happening fast enough for me either but, progress has been made. I have to believe with all the condo development that drive for street level retail will kick in and we'll see some real action.

Belk's and Ivey's were still uptown- seems as if for uptown retail Charlotte has gone backwards in the last 20 years. (Everything else, Charlotte's much better today.)

Interesting retail street PDF file- the one example I'd show of everything wrong, from a retail perspective, is College Street between the EpiCentre site and BofA Plaza, and to a lesser extent other blocks of College Street around there.

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I think that Uptown has small stretches of retail that meet some of the requirements in the article, but overall there is much need for improvement. First of all, the majority of retail is indoors with no access to the street. Also, Uptown is somewhat lacking in variety of shops.

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Charlotte has some of the of the points in the artical. I don't think uptown Charlotte will every get to the level the writer has proposed.

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The question is this:

Are we building good people places and following the fundamentals of great street retail?

Not do we have enough retail downtown.

Making it not-scary to walk around is important. Some things I think would help greatly would be more street narrowing projects, down to 2 lanes with parking on either or one side. Or, creation of traffic nubs to shorten crosswalk distances near the street level retail.

http://www.pps.org/graphics/upo-pages/8Neckdowns_large

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Charlotte has some of the of the points in the artical. I don't think uptown Charlotte will every get to the level the writer has proposed.

I wonder why that is? The things they mention doing are not really that difficult to implement but many of the elements are missing from uptown Charlotte. And the plans for the epicenter retail seem to completely off the mark. If that article is correct, it sounds as if much of the retail in there will eventually die off.

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I suppose the closest thing Charlotte has to diverse streetlevel retail is Gateway Village. Its nicely designed and offers a limited variety of services. Its somewhat disconnected from the rest of Uptown though. Epicentre may offer new options but the building seems like it will be very internalized and the establishments signing leases seem mostly geared towards conventioneers and travelers. There seems to be potential to develop a walkable district between the HOF and the arena aligning to the greenway connecting to The Metropolitan.

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anyone have any pics to share of DT Charlotte .. just to get a feel for what is going on there?

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Belk's and Ivey's were still uptown- seems as if for uptown retail Charlotte has gone backwards in the last 20 years. (Everything else, Charlotte's much better today.)

Interesting retail street PDF file- the one example I'd show of everything wrong, from a retail perspective, is College Street between the EpiCentre site and BofA Plaza, and to a lesser extent other blocks of College Street around there.

Yes, Belks & Iveys was "kinda" here but do you remember 20 years ago, really? I mean do you remember what down town was like. Belks & Iveys had been dead for years & years before they closed their doors.

Tumble weeds danced in the streets, bums galore, trade street meant hookers.

Ok maybe that was 25 years ago but still you get the point.

Plus I don't know if we would want "Department" type retail back down town any way. If you look at sucessful city's our size such as Portland, there are no Major department stores in the mix.

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Portland has large department stores downtown (in fact, they have an overstreet mall called Pioneer Place) There is a Saks and Nordstrom downtown.

I can't think of any vibrant shopping district in an urban setting that doesn't have departments stores....SoHo was until Bloomie's opened up.

Though department stores aren't the best land use from an urban landscape point of view, they really do bring a critical mass of retail that leads to smaller shops.

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Plus I don't know if we would want "Department" type retail back down town any way. If you look at sucessful city's our size such as Portland, there are no Major department stores in the mix.
I think the likelihood of a department store coming back to Uptown is slim, but if one did come, I don't think it would be a bad thing. Portland, by the way, has a Meier & Frank department store downtown.

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Yes, Belks & Iveys was "kinda" here but do you remember 20 years ago, really? I mean do you remember what down town was like. Belks & Iveys had been dead for years & years before they closed their doors.

Tumble weeds danced in the streets, bums galore, trade street meant hookers.

Ok maybe that was 25 years ago but still you get the point.

Plus I don't know if we would want "Department" type retail back down town any way. If you look at sucessful city's our size such as Portland, there are no Major department stores in the mix.

I worked in downtown Charlotte in 1979 when the orginal Belks, Iveys and Sears were all still there. These stores were not dead, but they did suffer from neglect and they were fairly rundown especially when compared to their spiffy news stores at Eastland & Southpark. However they still generated a lot of street life, I think because they were fairly unique places, offered places to eat, and were well connected to the street. The block around what is now the BofA tower and across the street in the old Independence building was lined with stores as described in the link above. Sure there were whores, homeless, and bums but all real American cities have these.

Flash forward 15 years and Belks, Sears, Iveys, and all the Trade St./Tryon St. retail is gone. All of the street level retail at Trade & Tryon has been replaced by BofA monumental buildings. Street life has been virtually eliminated outside of business hours. Even the whores left. I've posted some photos of this period elsewhere on the forum.

I think to get back what we had in 1979, department stores should return and offer something very unique that would give people a reason to go downtown. I've said this before, but downtown needs a signature store like Harrolds in London or Sogo in Yokohama. Something like this would bring a lot of people to shop in the center city instead of going to SP. In the best of all worlds, Southpark would be closed and all of that retail would be moved to downtown.

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I worked in downtown Charlotte in 1979 when the orginal Belks, Iveys and Sears were all still there. These stores were not dead, but they did suffer from neglect and they were fairly rundown especially when compared to their spiffy news stores at Eastland & Southpark. However they still generated a lot of street life, I think because they were fairly unique places, offered places to eat, and were well connected to the street. The block around what is now the BofA tower and across the street in the old Independence building was lined with stores as described in the link above. Sure there were whores, homeless, and bums but all real American cities have these.

Flash forward 15 years and Belks, Sears, Iveys, and all the Trade St./Tryon St. retail is gone. All of the street level retail at Trade & Tryon has been replaced by BofA monumental buildings. Street life has been virtually eliminated outside of business hours. Even the whores left. I've posted some photos of this period elsewhere on the forum.

I think to get back what we had in 1979, department stores should return and offer something very unique that would give people a reason to go downtown. I've said this before, but downtown needs a signature store like Harrolds in London or Sogo in Yokohama. Something like this would bring a lot of people to shop in the center city instead of going to SP. In the best of all worlds, Southpark would be closed and all of that retail would be moved to downtown.

While I live in SP, I have to agree 100% with everything you have stated metro. All major cities that I have been to (ie Chicago) have massive retail in their Downtown. In fact many new transplants that I have worked with have often told me that they see Charlotte's condo boom as no "big deal" for Uptown, until retail moves in. I have to agree. I understand that rooftops have to be built in order to attract this kind of retail, but if I were a planner, investor, and developer (all rolled into one), I would do whatever it takes to bring a Macy's or other MAJOR retailer to Uptown.

It would be the catalyst to get people back into Uptown to shop and have a great time. It is the social aspect of shopping that creates a synergy that only retail can bring. The Bobcats can't do it, light rail can't do it, shiny skyskrapers can't do it, and even a few nice restraunts and clubs CAN'T do it. A COMPLETE VIBRANT CITY MUST HAVE RETAIL!

Unfortunately, many cities in the 50's, 60's and even in the 70's had awesome retail in their center cities until the move to suburbia left many piling in the car to move away from the Center. Thus the "Big Bang" of an outwardly spreading sprawl destroyed the core. The relentless drive away from a city's core began and, as in dominos, this trend landed most with a decaying center city left for vagrants and eventually left many cities in ruins.

Since the late 90's the trend is SLOWLY reversing, but still has many decades to go. I think Charlotte is ahead of the curve compared to most cities our size, but we are no where near where this beautiful, growing city should be. I still predict that with the developments slowly marching down South Blvd (ie Lowes), and the Midtown and Elizabeth Developments we will see retail again emerge in and around the center city. The emergence of major retail is a must, and I see its eventual comback in Uptown Charlotte perhaps around 2010 if current trends continue.

A2

(not to be confused with A1 the steaksauce)

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I agree with the above posts. I am so glad to have the stores at the Midtown Square site and in South End coming to near Uptown, but I don't see a large department store coming uptown anytime soon, with SouthPark so dominant and Northlake so close by (from my garage uptown to Belk's at Northlake takes 12 minutes), other than at most something like a small Saks coming. So the only thing I see coming uptown in the short term would be mall-type retailers, but the place those types of stores would go should be Founders Hall-- but I see no sign that they are coming there.

Why aren't the landlords of Founders Hall and the Overstreet Mall around FH getting mall-type stores in them, apart from that tiny Belk's, Wolf Camera and Joseph A. Bank? Do all of those gift shops do that well? Do we need yet another florist?

I just think that part of attracting A-grade mall-type tenants is aggressive marketing to them; I see no sign that is being done. If the powers that be uptown can lure a Ritz-Carlton with a combination of a good financial deal and good marketing, then surely they can also lure a Banana Republic or the like.

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I see coming uptown in the short term would be mall-type retailers, but the place those types of stores would go should be Founders Hall-- but I see no sign that they are coming there.

Why aren't the landlords of Founders Hall and the Overstreet Mall around FH getting mall-type stores in them, apart from that tiny Belk's, Wolf Camera and Joseph A. Bank?

Actually, I think the opposite. I think Founders and overstreet does more to hurt those stores as people don't venture into those places often and tend to forget that they are even there (or never find out they're there). Founders Hall did at one time have an Express and a Julie's, I'm not sure about the Julies but the Express closed. Also, The number one want on seemingly many people's retail wish lists is an Uptown bookstore. That's something else that can be found in Founders Hall (albeit on the scale of a Walden Books) but when most people complain about the lack of a bookstore Uptown and you tell them that one is in FH their response is usually, "Well I never go in there".

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Founders Hall was a really bad design and would be considered a failure in my book for what it does for the street when you consider that it created a big dead area of walls as this building faces the street. I'm not too sure what can be done to fix it without tearing the building down, but combine this with the radisson complex across trade street, and you have the most important intersection in the city consisting mostly of blank walls. (and the prequesite water features that are always added to dress them up). Unfortunately the Epicenter retail reproduces these same mistakes and while it's easy to draw people in renderings, the reality is that they often don't show up.

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