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dubone

Fast Food "Restaurants" are hurting Charlotte's urban progress

How do you feel about these fast food buildings?   48 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you feel about these fast food buildings?

    • I hate them
      14
    • I'm disappointed about them
      22
    • I'm okay with them.
      12
  2. 2. Do you plan to go there?

    • Yum, of course.
      7
    • Yum, but I'll try to avoid them.
      21
    • Hell no!
      16
    • Where is Midlizacherry?
      4

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18 posts in this topic

This has been discussed on a number of threads, including the Elizabeth Ave, the Midtown thread, and Southend threads, but I think it deserves an overall thread to discuss this tragedy of zoning. The city needs to do something major about the rules for these 'restaurants' (maybe 'rushaurants') to end this problem. South Blvd around Southend, and Independence Blvd around Midlizacherry have both in the last few years built up ALL of the fast food brands with absolutely NO elevation of design toward urban principles, yet these areas have gotten significant public expenditures to help create walkable urban neighborhoods.

- McDonalds built a tacky suburban building at South and Poindexter, in a transit area.

- Chickfila is now building a standard suburban building at South and Marsh, in a transit area.

- Arbys built a standard suburban style building at King's and Independence, in a densifying area.

- Wendy's built a standard suburban building at Independence and Little Sugar Creek greenway (although they did use quality materials, unlike all the others)

- Bojangles built a standard suburban building at 3rd and Independence, in a densifying area.

- Burger King is building a standard suburban building at 4th and Hawthorne.

In ALL cases, there are dense urban condo projects going in within a 10th of a mile, and, in most cases, directly across the street. In half the cases, there were parking deck structures built nearby that could have accommodated the fast food places with drive through and higher visibility, yet kept the front door at the sidewalk.

The city planning department should be absolutely ashamed of themselves, as this proves their lack of planning for rules that support what the overall goals of the city have been. While the city has spent easily billions of dollars to urbanize these corridors, planning has left our rules complete exposed to the bottom-feeding fast food chains that wish to do the absolute minimum allowable. The lack of strong rules has left the developers (who appear to be trying to do the right thing) completely without negotiating power, as they are basically asking the fast food owners to voluntarily spend higher sums for their capital budget than necessary.

Meanwhile, for whatever reason, SouthPark has gotten a fairly high quality building for McDonalds, and (while it appears low quality) a fairly urban looking Bojangles.

As part of this discussion, we should not ignore the fact that Quiznos and Subway have both been extremely good corporate citizens (really, their franchise holders). Quiznos has been located in the ground floor of the Courthouse parking deck on 4th, and in street retail on Cedar street in Gateway. Subway has located on the street/ground floor of 626 Graham, in what seems to be a fairly high risk location. They have not (from what I have seen) built standalone drive-thru [sic] focused stores in the central core like their greasy competitors have.

I hope that all of you urbanists boycott these fast food restaurants with me, and a few others I know. Not only for their horrible buildings, and unhealthy food, but because they charged me a dollar for tap water when I was out taking photos on a hot day for UP :).

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I agree and nice topic. One of the fastest and easiest things the city could do that would affect how these places are built would be to prohibit drive-thru s in these areas where they want to encourage new-urbanist principles. I generally don't eat at any national fast food chain for various reasons so you can put me down for your boycott.

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The good news is that, in the long run, these stores will end up under the wrecking ball. As the city grows and spreads its central core across 277, the property taxes will be prohibitive for this kind of venture.

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I don't enjoy Quiznos sandwiches because of their soggy signature but in the Dilworth/Southend district they have also been urban friendly. They are located streetside in the Carrabas building at South&Park and they recently opened in Latta Pavillion. If only some of the larger chains were as pedestrian accessible...

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I agree with the general notion that the city shouldn't have allowed the fast food joints to be built in suburban style.

I have been to Quizno's once, and that was enough. Jersey Mike's has that place beat hands down!

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Almost all of these recent fast food buildings in the 1st ring neighborhoods were done under old zoning from decades ago. The Planning Department has not worked fast enough, especially in the 1st ring, to correct the zoning to more urban designations. Who is to blame? Well the Planning Department works at the Direction of the City Manager who works at the direction of the City Council that is elected by us. If you let your City Council member know that this is a priority then the chances of actually getting true urban development in the 1st ring will increase.

That being said there are some additional fast food restarants that got it right:

Bojangles at both their CPCC Elizabeth Ave and Ivey's Condos location.

Burger King at the Transit Center on Trade St

Pita Pitt in the Hearst Tower

Hearst Tower and The Green locations of Fuel Pizza

The Green and future Arena locations of Matt's Chicago Dog

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^^^Yeah, that fuel pizza at College and 6th is a great space. I love in the warmer months when they open up the bays, its like indoor sidewalk seating.

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So yea, lets flood our city counsil members with e-mails complaining about these poorly designed fast food places.

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I assume that is sarcasm :) , but I think the fast food places are only just part of the point. The fact is that these structures are symptoms of the larger problem of outdated zoning codes that no longer fit the overall goals of the city. Fast food places happen to have the economics to be there, so they pop up, yet they are also price sensitive businesses, so they go for the absolute minimum. Therefore, they prove what the true minimum is, and in this case, it is clear that the city is not requiring much of them.

I'd like to flood the city council with emails to correct all of the suburban and industrial zoning, those zones that are not compatible with the mixed-use, dense residential, transit-oriented future that we all have planned. The city NEEDS that type of development to occur in the inner ring from now on to support the density that is needed to keep the tax system supported.

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I think this highlights the bigger issue in that Charlotte needs a comprehensive plan to guide future development throughout the city and not just a few neighborhoods near downtown. The city already knows pretty much what it's final city boundaries will be so it ought to be planning how these places should be developed in a more sustainable fashion. Unfortunately this means the city has to have the backbone to say No to property owners and so far they have not demonstrated they are able to do so. So instead we get everything from suburban fast food stores, huge new strip malls on greenfield space such as that Ikea/Super Walmart development, and continued endless cheap starter home developments being built.

They in fact did develop this plan a few years back and like the ones before it, it seems to have been largely forgotten.

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unfortunately the fast food developers seek out the weak points in the zoning districts in a search and destroy mentality. They are specifically going out and looking for sites with outdated zoning that doesnt fit. there could have been a band aid put on these areas with some sort of overlay district as a means of stopping this until the zoning is updated.

its not just the fast food guys, either. the drugstores are just as bad. they generally prefer an asphalt moat around the property so you can drive in circles.

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Part of the problem is that place like Cherliztown and South End aren't dense enough to support walk-ins alone, yet still have sizeable population and employment centers in relative proximity (1 mile radius) that make them attractive to these retailers. A Chic-Fil-A with no drive-thru could not sustain on South Blvd. Not that its an entirely bad thing.

From a real estate perspective, most fast-food restaurants typically have a 10-year ground lease, with 10-year options of renewal. Escalating real estate prices won't likely affect them, as the person paying the ad valorem tax on the land is the land-owner, and not the restaurant (unless the lease specifies otherwise). I agree, that eventually the problem will take care of itself, but I think it will be longer than most of us are happy with.

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I got sick from eating at the Burger King yesterday. :sick: Even as I ate that burger I was thinking "Did they really cook this? It doesn't seem that hot".

The Chick-Fil-A is coming along quickly. They have the sheathing and wrap up. You have to give fast places their due, they have modular construction down to stopwatch timing.

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Can we sign you up for the boycott, then? :)

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I have heard that Blue Sky is now planning to build a standard suburban-model fast food restaurant on the site of Mantis Family Restaurant! It was bad enough for BK on 4th, Wendys on (now) Charlottetowne, and Chicfila farther down on South. However, a traditional fast food place within the boundaries of SouthEnd, abutting the transit line, in an area SURROUNDED by parcels that Greenhawk is currently assembling for a massive TOD development is a major setback.

We have a case where an area is shifting rapidly away from South Blvd's traditional auto-centric commercial character to a strong transit oriented infill zone with urban design characteristics, especially within the SouthEnd district. The fact that a theoretically good developer like BlueSky is caving to low standards is a disappointment.

Even if you accept that within current zoning and parcel size, that the only likely tenant is a fast food place, at least put it up against the street with parking and drive-through functions in the back. At least make it two-story so that it can reasonably have a future alternate use. Or just sell the parcel to Greenhawk, as they seem to be buying up property in that area at a rapid pace.

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So then we all agree it's not the fast food chains' problem? The city is responsible for allowing these restaurant designs. Right next door to the WTC site in Manhattan is a Burger King and a Wendy's. In fact, Manhattan is loaded with fast food chains (all urban in nature, obviously). They aren't the problem. The problem is the suburban design Charlotte allows. When I visited Biltmore a few weeks ago I saw a McDonalds near Biltmore Village that looked nothing like a McDonalds. I believe there was also an Arby's there. Although still generally suburban in design, at least they complimented the neighborhood's historic look. Charlotte needs to grow a pair and enforce better designs, as a few of you have already said.

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Charlotte's local government is congenitally deferential and almost subservient to developer and business interests. They talk about smart growth and "plans" and then always cave in. Older more historic or tourist cities also have character to preserve and a vested interest in building attractive restaurants even if they are fast food. They are just adding to the ugly here.

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I have heard that Blue Sky is now planning to build a standard suburban-model fast food restaurant on the site of Mantis Family Restaurant! It was bad enough for BK on 4th, Wendys on (now) Charlottetowne, and Chicfila farther down on South. However, a traditional fast food place within the boundaries of SouthEnd, abutting the transit line, in an area SURROUNDED by parcels that Greenhawk is currently assembling for a massive TOD development is a major setback.

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