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Rwarky

Would downtown Winston-Salem be more vibrant without adjacent highways?

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Do you feel that downtown Winston-Salem would have more activity, similar to downtown Greensboro, if it weren't surrounded by highways?

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I don't know that downtown would be all that much more vibrant, but I bet East Winston would be in a little bit better shape. And I think the area around (under?) the Hawthorne Curve near Baptist Hospital would have developed interestingly as well.

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Do you feel that downtown Winston-Salem would have more activity, similar to downtown Greensboro, if it weren't surrounded by highways?

I think having the highways there have defined our downtown, while it does make it easier to "escape" from downtown it has also helped to bring people into downtown. One thing the highways have done is make it easier for 30K people a day to work downtown. I think activity is coming to downtown, slowly but surely. I think both Downtowns will be absolute fun places to be at night in the next 5-10 years.

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I think having the highways there have defined our downtown, while it does make it easier to "escape" from downtown it has also helped to bring people into downtown. One thing the highways have done is make it easier for 30K people a day to work downtown.

There's some validity to the "defining downtown" idea, but urban freeways also have a big tendency to cut off the neighborhoods that surround the downtown area. Not only do they isolate little patches of neighborhoods that happened to be on the "wrong" side of the path, but they completely eliminate the context and "flow" as you move from downtown to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Winston-Salem has avoided this much better than Charlotte has with I-277. That's probably because 421 (I don't acknowlege green interstates) is so compact through the center of town. You could also argue that 52 follows the path of the railroad tracks, so everything to the east would've been pretty much isolated anyway. But it's still a barrier that prevents development from spilling over from downtown to the surrounding area.

All in all, I'd say the positives of the downtown freeways in Winston largely outweigh the negatives, and I wouldn't want to see them ripped out or anything. But they didn't come without some costs to the area.

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In Greensboro's case, it was a blessing not to have freeways downtown. I love the connectivity between surrounding neighborhoods and downtown, especially the college hill district. downtown redevelopment is also spilling over into surrounding neighborhoods. Fisher Park and Aycock to the north, College Hill and Westerwood to the west. Ole Ashboro to the south and the East Market Street corridor ro the east. each neighborhood has its own distinct vibe and downtown Greensboro is the connecting point for all those neighborhoods. those neighborhoods also become an extension of downtown as well.

Of course thats not to say downtown freeways are neccisarily bad because they have contributed to bring jobs to downtown Winston-Salem.

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In Greensboro's case, it was a blessing not to have freeways downtown. I love the connectivity between surrounding neighborhoods and downtown, especially the college hill district. downtown redevelopment is also spilling over into surrounding neighborhoods. Fisher Park and Aycock to the north, College Hill and Westerwood to the west. Ole Ashboro to the south and the East Market Street corridor ro the east. each neighborhood has its own distinct vibe and downtown Greensboro is the connecting point for all those neighborhoods. those neighborhoods also become an extension of downtown as well.

Of course thats not to say downtown freeways are neccisarily bad because they have contributed to bring jobs to downtown Winston-Salem.

I think Greensboro is one of few cities in North Carolina that doesn't have freeways in the downtown area.

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I think Greensboro is one of few cities in North Carolina that doesn't have freeways in the downtown area.

I think Raleigh is the only other city. Durham technically has a freeway. Its not an interstate highway but its that freeway that buts up against Durham Bulls Atheletic Park. There is this major city in another country, I think its in Canada but im not sure. But anyway its a bustling city that has a downtown with development everywhere, a booming nightnilfe, skyscrapers everywhere and there is no freeway nowhere near downtown. It just goes to show, you dont always need a freeway to attract development to downtown.

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I'd contend that the lack of downtown freeway is one of the primary contributors to GSO's pathetic lack of urban density for a city if it's size. While there may not currently be as much in terms of nightlife, one can certainly argue that WS "feels" like the bigger city. That being, it's not just one street. I'm sorry, but Elm Street feels like small town USA to me. In a vibrant & pedestrian friendly urban setting, one should feel like they can walk a couple of blocks in any direction and be able to find something.

GSO has four significant office towers (one vacant for the past decade), which are all clustered on the same street. Resultingly, one entire side of Greene St is nothing but parking deck. On the other side of Elm, is the abysmal use of space that is the News & Record building & its resulting surface lot & warehouse. Aside from Elm & the recently narrowed sections of Greene, there

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I think the freeways have its pros and cons. However, where the freeways intersect it dampering WSSU's growth. The school is situated on the corner where US 52 and Business 40 meets. The school did exist before the invention of the Interstate system. WSSU and East Winston does feel isolated from the rest of area. Also being so close to US 52 and Business 40 is actually dangerous for WSSU. The freeway traffics often get off onto MLK and Stadium Drive and funnel that unneeded traffic onto MLK by WSSU. If the exit ramps from US 52 wasn't there, WSSU could have used those spaces to expand westward rather than south.

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I'd contend that the lack of downtown freeway is one of the primary contributors to GSO's pathetic lack of urban density for a city if it's size. While there may not currently be as much in terms of nightlife, one can certainly argue that WS "feels" like the bigger city. That being, it's not just one street. I'm sorry, but Elm Street feels like small town USA to me. In a vibrant & pedestrian friendly urban setting, one should feel like they can walk a couple of blocks in any direction and be able to find something.

GSO has four significant office towers (one vacant for the past decade), which are all clustered on the same street. Resultingly, one entire side of Greene St is nothing but parking deck. On the other side of Elm, is the abysmal use of space that is the News & Record building & its resulting surface lot & warehouse. Aside from Elm & the recently narrowed sections of Greene, there

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I'd contend that the lack of downtown freeway is one of the primary contributors to GSO's pathetic lack of urban density for a city if it's size. While there may not currently be as much in terms of nightlife, one can certainly argue that WS "feels" like the bigger city. That being, it's not just one street. I'm sorry, but Elm Street feels like small town USA to me. In a vibrant & pedestrian friendly urban setting, one should feel like they can walk a couple of blocks in any direction and be able to find something.

GSO has four significant office towers (one vacant for the past decade), which are all clustered on the same street. Resultingly, one entire side of Greene St is nothing but parking deck. On the other side of Elm, is the abysmal use of space that is the News & Record building & its resulting surface lot & warehouse. Aside from Elm & the recently narrowed sections of Greene, there

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I'd contend that the lack of downtown freeway is one of the primary contributors to GSO's pathetic lack of urban density for a city if it's size. While there may not currently be as much in terms of nightlife, one can certainly argue that WS "feels" like the bigger city. That being, it's not just one street. I'm sorry, but Elm Street feels like small town USA to me. In a vibrant & pedestrian friendly urban setting, one should feel like they can walk a couple of blocks in any direction and be able to find something.

GSO has four significant office towers (one vacant for the past decade), which are all clustered on the same street. Resultingly, one entire side of Greene St is nothing but parking deck. On the other side of Elm, is the abysmal use of space that is the News & Record building & its resulting surface lot & warehouse. Aside from Elm & the recently narrowed sections of Greene, there

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This is cool, because all my life I through Greensboro was a more urban city than Winston. For one reason their Intersates are big and as you ride thur the city on I-40 Shopping malls and hotels all line up against the interstate, as in winston you don't see that much. But what make Winston more urban can some till me I would like to know?

This is cool, because all my life I through Greensboro was a more urban city than Winston. For one reason their Intersates are big and as you ride thur the city on I-40 Shopping malls and hotels are line up against the interstate, as in winston you don't see that much. But what makes Winston more urban can some till me I would like to know?

I agree........urban is a general word that describes alot of things. Tall building are part of that but there is much more to urban than having alot of skyscrapers. When you travel on the interstates in Winston-Salem, you mainly see trees with exception to downtown and the Hanes Mall area. Along much of the interstates, Winston looks more rural. some would say that lack of sprawl along the interstates is a good thing others would say that it isnt because that means there are more shopping and eating options. Most people dont look down on seeing alot of retail along the interstates. Believe it or not, citizens are actually happen when these stores open up. Winston will begin to see more of that once the beltway is built.

At first I thought it was a good idea for the walmarts and Targets to build urban centers downtown like they are now doing in the big cities but the more I think of it, its a bad idea simply becasue they would put the smaller downtown shops out of business.

here is an example of good urban planning. This is the Brandt Building that is planned for Bellemeade Village near Greensboro's ballpark. it has street level retail on the ground floor with condos above the retail. We are seeing more and more of this in downtown Greensboro.

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The Porter Building in Bellemeade Village will also have retail on the ground floor.

bvillage.jpg

codos in historic buildings

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411 West Washington Street

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Smothers Place lofts

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Arbor House

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Center Pointe

centerpointe2.jpg

These kind of lowrise developments definatly helps Greensboro's downtown density and they will visually help support taller future highrise developments.

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This is cool, because all my life I through Greensboro was a more urban city than Winston. For one reason their Intersates are big and as you ride thur the city on I-40 Shopping malls and hotels all line up against the interstate, as in winston you don't see that much. But what make Winston more urban can some till me I would like to know?

This is cool, because all my life I through Greensboro was a more urban city than Winston. For one reason their Intersates are big and as you ride thur the city on I-40 Shopping malls and hotels are line up against the interstate, as in winston you don't see that much. But what makes Winston more urban can some till me I would like to know?

To me what you are describing is suburban and greensboro is mostly suburban sprawl. One person recently said to me that Greensboro seems like a suburb of somewhere and you never truly know what its a suburb of.

I would define urban as being the general area within the center city and suburban as being the area around the center city.

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The only reason Winston seems bigger is becasue it has a few more office towers than Greensboro and thats due to Wachovia and BB&T. if Greensboro had bank headquarterss, Greensboro would have just as many buildings

I dont think rwarky meant this thread to take this directions. why turn this into a my city vs your city conversation? what you stated does nothing to prove as to why Greensboro has a small skyline and Winston-salem has a tall skyline. keep in mind that even without the bank towers, Winston-Salem will still have a skyline(One West 4th and BB&T are spec buildings). Will Greensboro even have a skyline without Jefferson-Pilot, Wachovia and First Union?

with that said, i dont think the 2 highways have any effect on the vibrancy of downtown. however, i do believe 52 has hurt progress in East Winston. until last week, there hasnt been any major proposals for this side of the city. Greater downtown south of Bus 40 still thrives and is getting better connected with the core. the recent announcements of Salem Place townhomes, 248 South Main and the Summit prove that.

"Thats really what makes dt Winston seem like a bigger city." aside from the banks, there are 7 OTHER towers. RJR's old tobacco factories greatly add to the urbanity. a good amount of historic architecture has been preserved also, especially on the northside.

"Bellemeade Village is under way..." has bellemeade broken ground yet?

"there is more downtown development going on in Greensboro than any other Triad city." lol...u sure about that?

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this thread has offically been hijacked.

we are all aware of whats proposed for downtown Greensboro. those developments are nothing extraordinary compared to every other downtown in America. Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Durham, Cary, Asheville and Fayetteville all have the joy of experiencing similar projects. condos with ground floor retail are very commonplace these days.

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The only reason Winston seems bigger is becasue it has a few more office towers than Greensboro and thats due to Wachovia and BB&T. if Greensboro had bank headquarterss, Greensboro would have just as many buildings

I dont think rwarky meant this thread to take this directions. why turn this into a my city vs your city conversation? what you stated does nothing to prove your as to why Greensboro has a small skyline and Winston-salem has a tall skyline. keep in mind that even with out the bank towers Winston will Still have a skyline(One West 4th and BB&T are spec buildings). Will Greensboro even have a skyline without Jefferson-Pilot, Wachovia and First Union?

with that said, i dont think the 2 highways have any effect on the vibrancy of downtown. however, i do believe 52 has hurt progress in East Winston. until last week, there hasnt been any major proposals for this side of the city. Greater downtown south of Bus 40 still thrives and is getting better connected with the core. the recent announcements of Salem Place townhomes, 248 South Main and the Summit prove that.

"Thats really what makes dt Winston seem like a bigger city." aside from the banks, there are 7 OTHER towers. RJR's old tobacco factories greatly add to the urbanity. a good amount of historic architecture has been preserved also, especially on the northside.

"Bellemeade Village is under way..." has bellemeade broken ground yet?

"there is more downtown development going on in Greensboro than any other Triad city." lol...u sure about that?

I dont think it is a my city versus my city thread. I was responding to what was said about Greensboro's density and trying to expalin that there is more to being urban than tall buildings. it was stated above that Greensboro had "pathetic urban density". just trying to defend my city.

Actually some infrastructure work is beinng done now in preparartion for Bellemeade Village Construction.

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I dont think it is a my city versus my city thread. I was responding to what was said about Greensboro's density and trying to expalin that there is more to being urban than tall buildings. it was stated above that Greensboro had "pathetic urban density". just trying to defend my city.

Agreed. I grew up in Greensboro, and spent a total 25 years there. After 4 years in Charlotte and 13 years in San Francisco, my husband and I opted to resettle in Winston this year. Because it seemed more "urban" than Charlotte or Greensboro? Maybe. To us. But "urban" is a very subjective term, especially among those of us who pay attention to that sort of thing.

Winston definitely feels more dense than Greensboro. That's not such a subjective thing; it's something that developed over the past century, because for most of that time Winston WAS a bigger city than Greensboro. Winston had most of its early growth druing a period when cities HAD to be smaller and more compact, and it still shows. It doesn't really mean one is "better" or more "urban" than the other. It just means that Winston was bigger earlier.

Just as there's more to "urban" than tall buildings, there's also more to it than density. To me, urban is about texture and variety more than anything else, and I think both cities have it in similar amounts, although it's a little "cuter" in Greensboro and a little more "gritty" in Winston. I prefer the latter; your mileage may vary.

Back to the original topic, though, Greensboro's inner-ring suburbs are definitely more integrated with downtown than Winston's, and I think that's absolutely due to the lack of downtown freeways. In Greensboro, there are fewer psychological (and physical) barriers between UNCG or A&T and the downtown nightlife or between Fisher Park and the downtown resturants. Plus, Greensboro didn't lose quite as many of the cool low-rise streetcar commercial strips as Winston did, and this is (again) due to the freeways.

I say again that the freeways were a mixed bag for Winston.

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Agreed. I grew up in Greensboro, and spent a total 25 years there. After 4 years in Charlotte and 13 years in San Francisco, my husband and I opted to resettle in Winston this year. Because it seemed more "urban" than Charlotte or Greensboro? Maybe. To us. But "urban" is a very subjective term, especially among those of us who pay attention to that sort of thing.

Winston definitely feels more dense than Greensboro. That's not such a subjective thing; it's something that developed over the past century, because for most of that time Winston WAS a bigger city than Greensboro. Winston had most of its early growth druing a period when cities HAD to be smaller and more compact, and it still shows. It doesn't really mean one is "better" or more "urban" than the other. It just means that Winston was bigger earlier.

Just as there's more to "urban" than tall buildings, there's also more to it than density. To me, urban is about texture and variety more than anything else, and I think both cities have it in similar amounts, although it's a little "cuter" in Greensboro and a little more "gritty" in Winston. I prefer the latter; your mileage may vary.

Back to the original topic, though, Greensboro's inner-ring suburbs are definitely more integrated with downtown than Winston's, and I think that's absolutely due to the lack of downtown freeways. In Greensboro, there are fewer psychological (and physical) barriers between UNCG or A&T and the downtown nightlife or between Fisher Park and the downtown resturants. Plus, Greensboro didn't lose quite as many of the cool low-rise streetcar commercial strips as Winston did, and this is (again) due to the freeways.

I say again that the freeways were a mixed bag for Winston.

I love that Tate Street college strip. its almost like a mini downtown for UNCG. It reminds me of the college strip at UVA Charlottesville.

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this thread has offically been hijacked.

we are all aware of whats proposed for downtown Greensboro. those developments are nothing extraordinary compared to every other downtown in America. Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Durham, Cary, Asheville and Fayetteville all have the joy of experiencing similar projects. condos with ground floor retail are very commonplace these days.

I think this thread went this way due to Greensboro being presented as a comparison city in the opening post. While current trends are the main focus, I think we need to look deeper into past developments to really respond well to this topic.

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well i hope i didnt offend anyone. crowe1856 made a valid point about the urbanity of GSO compared to W-S. i dont know if i would have used "pathetic" to describe GSO's skyline, but IMO it was very valid and almost factual. you have to give credit and praise where its due. if this topic was about infrastructure, shopping, entertainment, or nightlife...thats all GSO hands down.

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As I said earlier, one needs to look at development over time in Winston-Salem to understand the highways being there. Salem was a commercial center long before Winston was even though about. After Winston was founded and industry started to take hold, factories were located central to the present day downtown area. Winston-Salem was the state's largest city at this time and when time came for the highways to be planned commerce and manufacturing were major draws to the downtown area (besides the factories, you had Sears, Belks, Mother & Daughter, K&W, Theaters, Car dealerships, well pretty much almost everything was downtown). Part of the plan was to make it easier for people to get downtown. Even the Parkway system (University, Silas Creek, Peter's Creek, and Corporation) were to make this easier.

Many other cities in NC/SE developed faster after the car culture had taken more of a hold and more developement was going on in the fringes of the cities(factories, hospitals, schools, shopping centers) and people were starting to shy away from going downtown as often in favor of car friendlier parts of the cities. The fact the downtown W-S was such a strongly developed integral piece of the city and had easy access provided by the highways probably helped stop a lot of earlier sprawl.

Vibrancy can be measured differently and on different levels. In many ways I think W-S's downtown is extremely vibrant for a city it's size. We have very few office buildings dowtown completely empty and we support upwards of 30k people working in the downtown area daily, so the economic impact of downtown can't be denied. As more residential starts to fill in, I'd say we'll see the restaurant, retail, and night life vibrancy shine much brighter.

:D

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Hey, a quick apology to the originator of this thread. I went off on a slight tangent in my original post, which apparently became the hot issue of discussion. Also, sorry if I offended anyone by my use of the term

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Hey, a quick apology to the originator of this thread. I went off on a slight tangent in my original post, which apparently became the hot issue of discussion. Also, sorry if I offended anyone by my use of the term “pathetic” in reference to GSO’s density. I tend to be blunt, and just get irked when I keep hearing how suddenly GSO is some “mini Atlanta” just because Elm is a pain to drive when the bars close. No, I don’t define “urbanity” simply by number of office towers, and readily acknowledge that much has sprung up in GSO in the 2 years I’ve been here. However, a healthy downtown needs more than nightclubs. After all, a bartender’s tips can only pay for so many $200K condos.

Suburban George3 makes some excellent points which I was unaware of as a recent transplant, in regards to Salem & commerce that was in place prior to the car culture. While there may have been a dense central business district to begin with, its development was certainly not hampered by the addition of major roadways. While they do create a physical barrier, they can bring people downtown at 8pm just like they do at 8am.

o thats ok. I think what was meant by mini-Atlanta was the vibrant downtown nightlife and not density. But it is true alot of buildings such as the old tobbaco buildings and even the midrise buildings in PTRP help give downtown W-S its density. Bottom line, I dont think downtown Winston would be more vibrant without freeways. Because of the nature of business and companies in DT Winston. I think the center-city would be worse off. But I guess it just depends on what is meant by vibrant. That could mean nightlife, office or retail activity.

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Do you feel that downtown Winston-Salem would have more activity, similar to downtown Greensboro, if it weren't surrounded by highways?

Actually I'd never go anywhere near W-S downtown if not FOR the highways that run through it.

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