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dubone

Brevard Street Projects and Pedestrian Corridor

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The city is spending $10-20 million dollars to create a pedestrian streetscape environment that is comparable to Tryon in quality. The desire is to convert the current high speed one-way corridor with 3-5 lanes into a low speed bi-directional corridor that is primarily designed for pedestrian connectivity in the new Second Ward. The anchors for this new signature street/stroll district will be the Light Rail stations, the Westin, the Convention Center, the Nascar Hall of Fame, Charlotte Transit Center, and the Bobcats Arena. Over the course of the year, these activity generators pull in millions of visitors to the city.

The city has been having public meetings to get input on this. Primarily, the designs so far include curving the streets slightly to provide enough room for wider sidewalks and streetscape in front of existing development. Primarily, the extra room is needed in front of the old Brooklyn storefronts and Grace Church at 3rd and Brevard. The curves also create a larger surface area facing the street on the empty blocks east of CTC, west of Grace Church, and east of BellSouth.

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The plans have centered around getting as much street retail as possible along the entire length of the street between Stonewall and Trade. The massing calls for less of canyon effect along Brevard, with more of midrise heights facing the street, with the taller building heights farther away from Brevard. Center City Partners has been working to recruit retail to this district. There is already the Epicenter going in, but the idea is to win retail space and retailers to this area to support the growing critical mass created by the arena, the hall of fame, the convention center, and mass transit. Even though the arena, the convention center and the hall of fame may not be pulling in people at the same time, they come together to create enough people to support retail in between on the whole. Having additional development on the dead surface parking lots on Brevard with new office and residential development will help to fill in the gaps to create an area with more continuous activity that is away from the main activity center of Tryon.

Brevard will become a pedestrian oriented corridor that is not critical to the automobile traffic. Caldwell will become bidirectional and be more of a thoroughfare or "workhorse" street. As a result, Brevard will be easily shut down for pedestrian events, like Speed Street, and various festivals like that. Some people have even suggested that the corridor be made a general market on certain days. Extra wide sidewalks will make enough room for stand/kiosk retail during times with peak numbers of visitors.

Here are some renderings of the concepts for this area.

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Here are some additional details on this district and the plans:

http://brevard.charmeck.org

http://www.charmeck.org/NR/rdonlyres/en2yv...+1%5b1%5d.3.pdf

This section was part of the old Brooklyn neighborhood. We are lucky to at least have three or four old Brooklyn buildings on Brevard left. But here are some pictures of this area from the 1950s.

http://www.cmstory.org/aaa2/places/area_purple.htm

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This looks excellent!

It rids that area of some terrible parking lots, adds a bunch of retail, and if implemented properly will bring the area from a deadzone to a lively place. Further improvements to the area by the ugly hotels would be nice too.

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I LOVE THIS PROJECT. I just left this comment and also questions for CIty staff via the website mentioned above:

=======================

GENERAL FEEDBACK

I think this project is truly fantastic! I have only lived in Charlotte for a little under 2 years, but one of my main gripes is that downtown is too compact, with basically only 1 streed (Tryon).

I have visited both Louisville and Easton, and I must say that Louisville is nicer, since it is downtown. It is a bit on the small side, so I hope the Charlotte project will expand not only along Brevard, but also south towards I277.

If Charlotte really wants to be considered 'a destination' for tourists, then it MUST HAVE PROJECTS LIKE THIS ONE.

=======================

QUESTIONS FOR CITY STAFF

1. What is the 'real' time-line for this project?

2. Will is really happen, or are the City Council only 'blowing smoke'?

3. Are there any ideas for the type of retail to be invited to tender for space in the project? Downtown really needs the following:

a. Bookstore (B&N, Borders)

b. Department Store

c. More sitting places to 'watch the world go by'.

=======================

I wonder if I will get a call :)

-k

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Interesting concept, I would have never thought to curve the streets to add retail/sidewalk space. It works though. Just wish they could do something about the Brevard side of the Convention Center. Maybe add some storefronts and enhance the CC entrance on the side.

Overall, this would be a great improvement! :)

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Looks great! I really hope this works out.

Some of my concerns:

1. It would be nice to have a bit more density. Maybe more 6-15 story buildings rather than just 2-6 story buildings.

2. We need at least one department store uptown to make it a shopping destination.

3. We need a grocery store in this part of uptown. This makes life easier for the residents.

Looking good to me other than that!

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^^^They never mentioned a department store in the public meetings, as I think they wanted this geared more toward smaller continuous retail. They did talk about a large anchor bookstore like B&N though.

Another great aspect of this is Stonewall st. After the NHOF was announced they wanted to open up land where the 277 clover leaf interchanges are and convert those to ramps parallel to 277. Thus opening up a huge parcel of land on Stonewall opposite Brevard. They have already hinted at a project being planned next to the Westin. Then you will have parcels to either side of Caldwell, the 2nd ward redevelopment, the Chetrit/Blake hotel site, and onto the Greenway and Midtown. So possibly continuous development along Stonewall from the Wachovia site to Midtown and connected to Brevard.

If anyone is interested I have pics of the entire length of Brevard St. here. I dont want to saturate this thread with pics.

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Thanks for sharing the pictures, Mo. I think they at least have a decent start, with the major anchors or activity centers, office towers, transit, a residential tower if The Park goes up, and some old storefronts for some gravitas.

I didn't like the curved streets at first, as it seemed very suburban, but it does work to open up more retail between the street and existing buildings, as well as making a more interesting concave shape for development on the blocks that are currently underutilized.

Note that this is a thread to discuss the planning of this district, and the projects that come up for this district (that don't have their own threads already). This isn't really a single group coming in to build up this whole plan, however, it seems very realistic that the elements are in place to get private development to occur in the next few years. The city is DEFINITELY spending the $20 million to rework the street and add streetscape elements ala Tryon. Infrastructure and set plans often build up developer interest enough to get things moving if the numbers work, and it seems unlikely the numbers wouldn't work.

Note that the following elements are already built:

- One Wachovia

- BellSouth office tower

- Hilton Hotel

- Convention Center

- Arena

- Transit Center

- Old storefronts at Trade & Brevard and at 3rd & Brevard

- Westin Hotel

- Charlotte Plaza office tower

These elements are under construction and/or announced

- The Park Condominiums

- Nascar Hall of Fame

- Nascar office tower

- Light Rail

- Epicenter

- Two Ten Trade

- Retail and parking deck at 4th and Brevard next to Grace Church

- Arena Pencil residential/hotel tower

- Trade Street Streetcar

The following sites are rumored for a project:

- Stonewall & Brevard next to the Weston

The following sites are underutilized, but have no announced projects:

- The southeast corner of the Charlotte Plaza block

- The railroad-owned block between BellSouth and CTC

- The United Way / AME Zion offices block across

- The YWCA day care block across from the arena

That is a lot of land, but there is a lot of momentum building in this area, and 4 blocks aren't too much to be absorbed privately into a growing district. The key will be getting the institutional owners to participate (NC Railroad, YWCA, United Way, and AME Zion).

Also, you guys said the biggest obstacle to this district growing. The terrible design of the convention center along Brevard will really hurt that section. Luckily, the city will be trying to improve the interconnectedness of the NHOF and the convention center, so they might spend a nominal amount to punch out the walls and do something with that section. At minimum, they could liven it up with art.

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Right now a lot of busses use Brevard to leave the transit center. (As well as for some passenger offloading.) I suspect CATS would need to send the busses down other streets... a strolling/shopping area will struggle is there are a lot of loud, fume spewing busses all the time.

The limited circulation around the transit center may necessitate continuing to use Brevard for some offloading, though. The center is over capacity already.

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Good point. The transit center is over capacity right now, but the plans are to build Gateway Station to take over a lot of the bus traffic. There will still be busses, but the plans would definitely to reduce the impact to Brevard as part of this new district. I think they also might have a way to use the new alley on the west side of the light rail tracks under Two Ten Trade.

Even with busses, it can still survive as a pedestrian corridor, just like Tryon and Trade do. But I hope the planners figure out something to do there.

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I am glad the City found the extra money. City Council reduced the $20 M budget allocation for Brevard and Caldwell Street improvements to $10 M, and that is not even enough to redo Caldwell Street to a two-way street that serves as the I-277 interchange's main access point.

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I believe they switched it to spend $10mil this year and $10 mil next year in the final city budget, rather than the full $20mil budgetted this year. I also think that some of the costs for Caldwell will be covered by the Nascar Hall of Fame budget, with the proceeds of the land sale from reworking the 277/South/Caldwell interchange.

It'll be interesting to see how far north the current budget sources cover for converting Caldwell to a bidirectional thoroughfare. My guess is that only extends to south of Trade so far.

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They are very pretty pictures but I think we are all wise enough not to bank on it.... :rofl:

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Two interesting notes from Dubone's first diagram. It shows a future expansion of the convention center across Stonewall, and it shows new retail being added to the ground floor of the Bellsouth building.

All in all a fine plan, but I agree, the convention center kills the ability to connect Stonewall all the way to Trade with an interesting streetscape.

Also, while I understand wanting some 2-3 story buildings at the streetfront, then stepping back to midrises, I think this under-utilizes a few key properties, specifically the NCRR block and the YWCA block. There needs to be enough office space to generate enough foot traffic at 1pm on a Monday, otherwise all those retailers are going to have a hard time. I don't think the majority of works on Tryon are going to venture down to Brevard on a regular basis.

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Good eye. I just assumed that said private development. I can't believe they plan to do yet another convention center expansion, especially on that site. That site is supposed to be floated for private development.

As far as the retail, they basically create a site for new retail buildings in front of Bell South by curving the street. I like that idea.

As for the rest, I completely agree with you. I think the renderings show buildings on the United Way, the YWCA, and the NCRR blocks that are too small. They also don't seem to plan to keep the 80+ year old store fronts at Trade and Brevard! That doesn't seem good at all. I say keep the old, and build taller on the empty land.

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All of this, along with hopeful 2nd Ward redevelopment from a landswap will make this part of downtown a really great place with lots of activity. Really glad to see this happening -- combine it with the Epicenter retail and restaurants, there might actually be plenty to do on a boring weekend day!

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I don't think the majority of works on Tryon are going to venture down to Brevard on a regular basis.

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Well.....it's not so much that I think the distance will deter them (though it will), it's that I can't see many people walking down Trade past the bus terminal to get lunch on Brevard, or be engaged enough to walk past the boring convention center or down 3rd under the train bridge and past the pedestrian unfriendly Hilton or Charlotte Plaza. As it is today, the LRT line acts as a psycological boundary......we'll see though.

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Brevard is only 2 blocks from the Wachovia campus. If enough decent restaurants and retailers locate in the area for the tourist traffic, there will be people from the corporate offices walking there. Two blocks is not that far, especially if they really make it a destination. But it is too far to walk if it ends up being like Ms. Szeto envisions, a long row of blank walls.

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I know I'm beating on the same point, but...

Bus #12 got moved to a Brevard street bay recently. So now, I get to watch those busses stack up and load and offload while I wait. Commonly they are two lanes deep, and often there are six or seven just by the transit center.

I really can't see this being a viable ped corridor with so much bus traffic. Nor can I see it continuing to function as a bus corridor if they put the curves on Brevard.

Is this really the best street to try this? I know we've said some bus traffic will be moved to relieve pressure, but I bet'cha CATS will want to use those bays again.

8th street through the Levine plains would work a lot better... if he'd just do something.

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Well, don't forget MZT that the CTC is currently over capacity. I believe the LRT will remove some of those busses, but Gateway Station will redirect even more.

Also, if Brevard is upfit to be more like Tryon in streetscape, they could end up taking many of the routes that load and unload directly next to CTC and distribute it down Brevard by a couple blocks like they do on Tryon.

I think the bus center is still a challenge for Brevard, but I think there are many things in play that means it will not steadily get worse, but rather improve incrementally as other infrastructure comes online.

All that said, I am not so sure this pedestrian corridor is at all on the radar. The city hasn't even held itself to the standards for the HOF. Unlike what I believed all throughout the design charettes, there are also no funds for the streetscape work, as those funds are purely for painting yellow lines and for turning traffic signals 180 degrees. How all that costs $20m, I'm not sure, but it does.

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Touching on the transit center point that was made...after LYNX Blue Line is up and running Route 12 will end up terminating at East/West Blvd. Station and also no more Route 24 Windsong Trails. So that's 2 routes taken away from Brevard already in November of this year and on top of that Routes 2 and 26 may move back inside. So its very much possible that the buses will not run too much on Brevard as early as this year.

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A demo permit for 115 S. Brevard has been applied for. I'm not positive what is there now, but I think this is the building that was Kings & Queens nightclub, and I think a beauty salon. It's an ugly stacked concrete block building so it's not big loss. I believe Walker Wells owns this parcel. He's a big land banker that doesn't get the bad rep. Levine does, mostly because his land isn't contiguous. No clue what the plans are....my guess is he's prepping it for a sale, or maybe just for Bobcats parking.

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