dubone

Cap over Belk Freeway (277)

276 posts in this topic

As part of the original Charlotte 2010 vision, people were interested in connecting Dilworth/South End with uptown by building a park over the freeway. At first, the plan was to build a large park spanning the whole way from South to McDowell over the Belk Freeway.

http://www.charlotte2010.com/theplan.htm

However, as the shear cost of the foundation was very expensive for the above plan, the plans changed as part of the 2nd Ward Master Plan to be only around the Tryon St corridor, where most people are crossing Belk Freeway.

482543784_af9fd835fc_o.jpg

Those plans then laid dormant with the rest of 2nd Ward Plan through the recession at the beginning of the Bush Administration. However, not only is the rest of the 2nd Ward Plan coming to fruition in the form of Spectrum's Brooklyn Village, but now, there is significant development planned and under construction in the vicinity of the planned cap park. However, it will not be nearly as large as envisioned, as Trump has bought much of the land on the block between Westin and the O, while Ghazi has plans for the block between Belk Freeway and the Uptown Cabaret.

Recently, there was a bit of political flare up in SouthEnd from the fact that the bike/pedestrian path was cut from the CATS plan, connecting South End to the business district uptown, bringing many people to various public meetings to find an alternative. Now there is speculation that Ghazi and maybe Trump could contribute to the cap park's construction, considering it will dramatically increase the value of their projects and the saleability of their luxury condominium. Now, with Portman planning the luxury One Charlotte next to this planned park, it is now possible that his company could be a contributor.

It is now time for a new plan to be drawn up by the city or Mecklenburg Park and Rec to determine the true cost of this park, minus the square area now planned for development by Trump and Ghazi. A cap park will connect uptown to SouthEnd, making it more likely that the land values and project momentum will continue into the fairly empty part of South End. It will dramatically improve the land values (and associated taxes) of the planned projects around it, as well as create a human space that is otherwise just for high speed auto travel.

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A park like that would be roughly 17 acres large without the Ghazi and Trump blocks! It is time to make the cap park happen, by pursuing a public-private strategy. The land is 'free' with an agreement to gain air rights. It is possible that Trump and Ghazi could contribute to the actual structure supporting the park above the freeway because they will already have the cranes, the concrete trucks and the pricing agreements for materials pretty much onsite already. The public can then either contribute by tax-rebates or by an actual bond issue for the park in 2009 or 2010. If costs are still too high, the park can be planned in installments, with only the section between Tryon and College being built by 2010.

We can still make the 2010 goal for this park! With so many other accomplishments from the 2010 plan, it seems absolutely essential that we not give up on this idea. It is so popular, you will find discussion of this idea in many threads on UP. Now it has its own thread.

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In another thread we were talking about how other cities, Boston in particular with the upcoming Harvard expansion, often set requirements for builders to meet. What about making Ghazi, Trump, and Portman contribute money or building the park in between their respective buildings as their contribution to infratstructure?

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In another thread, we were talking about Charlotte being a development whore... :) While I think it would be nice to require their participation somehow, I think that simply putting the idea on the table as one that needs private support to happen, would be highly likely to get support. It could be a fundraising drive, where the developers can feel proud of their participation, and individuals can contribute, too. I think if the county pursued 50% of the total costs from the private sector, it would find a big check from Wachovia and BofA, and possibly Duke. It would also find some money pop up from many of the developers uptown. I think then there would be smallish donations from many businesses in SouthEnd, and many individuals, too. I think that buyers in the luxury towers nearby (remember, cash buyers mean they are shelling out 500k in cash!) would easily shell out 4 or 5 figure donations knowing what it would do for the appreciation of their condos.

Requiring it would put them all off, but making it a fundraiser, where they know their values and marketability would go up very fast, would easily see participation. Then, at the end of a one or two year fundraising campaign, they can put up rest to a bond vote. I really see this as feasible now, whereas a year or two again, this was a pipe-dream.

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In another thread, we were talking about Charlotte being a development whore... :) While I think it would be nice to require their participation somehow, I think that simply putting the idea on the table as one that needs private support to happen, would be highly likely to get support. It could be a fundraising drive, where the developers can feel proud of their participation, and individuals can contribute, too. I think if the county pursued 50% of the total costs from the private sector, it would find a big check from Wachovia and BofA, and possibly Duke. It would also find some money pop up from many of the developers uptown. I think then there would be smallish donations from many businesses in SouthEnd, and many individuals, too. I think that buyers in the luxury towers nearby (remember, cash buyers mean they are shelling out 500k in cash!) would easily shell out 4 or 5 figure donations knowing what it would do for the appreciation of their condos.

Requiring it would put them all off, but making it a fundraiser, where they know their values and marketability would go up very fast, would easily see participation. Then, at the end of a one or two year fundraising campaign, they can put up rest to a bond vote. I really see this as feasible now, whereas a year or two again, this was a pipe-dream.

I konw you are high on this idea Dubone but I don't agree with some of your points. First, I don't think this park does that much to appreciate these condos that already cost 1.5 to 10 million dollars. And if these already expensive condos appreciate from this park then so would all the other condos. We are growing fast but we are not New York City nor will a large number of people pay NYC prices to live uptown. Yes, there maybe some new people moving here with the new banks, but that doesn't mean they will want to buy milllion dollar condos.

I also don't think the cash buyers are going to be handing out checks to have a park built near a condo they just paid over a million dollars for. Lastly, in regards to Trump feeling proud to have helped make a park like this...he is proud of money and that is about it...oh yeah- and Ivanka.

I agree that a park here would be cool...but I don't think the money is going to come like you think it will.

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I have to wonder how this would appear to the rest of the city. There is already a lot of grumbling about how center city gets everything. People will be asking why all this money spent to build a park over 277 can't be used to improve Freedom Blvd or Eastland Mall.

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Maybe if they could make it into a tax deductible donation there would be more interest, especially from the corporations who would benefit both from the taxes and the publicity.

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I have to wonder how this would appear to the rest of the city. There is already a lot of grumbling about how center city gets everything. People will be asking why all this money spent to build a park over 277 can't be used to improve Freedom Blvd or Eastland Mall.

That is a true statement in general, but not by example since Eastland is going to be redeveloped. And I would think when the trolley goes down the west corridor sometime in the next century, there will hopefully be new development along Freedom Dr. It's already slowly creeping down Wilkinson Blvd. There is a couple of new developments getting ready to start and then you have the fabulous new Wal-Mart plaza, which has a Starbucks by the way.

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Even though these points are valid, and would certainly complicate the pursuit of this park, I think there is still plenty of reason to pursue it. I'm assuming it will cost under $30m, and so if the true cost of doing it is much higher, then maybe it does get too complicated to work. But I feel like it would be reasonable to expect the private sector to raise $15m, and reasonable to have a bond issue 3 years from now for $15m. The rest is just speculation on my part on what could motivate some people to contribute to the fundraising.

The anti-uptown crowd will always be opposed to every project uptown, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Uptown will have a significanty dense population in ten to fifteen years, and we need to plan major amenities uptown every few years to be able to have the right support for that population at that time. The difference between uptown and Freedom Blvd is that this is an economic engine that can generate the money to do all of this. Uptown is still a major generator of taxes, compared to what is spent there. That does and should make a lot of difference.

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I've been thinking alot about this lately too. I think it's an excellent idea, and I would love for it to come to fruition. Right now it is unfriendly for pedestrians to walk from SouthEnd to Uptown - this would change that.

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Considering how wide this expanse is, the complicated nature of the highways and traffic there, and the logistics involved in in creating such a park, I can see it costing 1/2 Billion dollars. The NCDOT a couple of years ago straightend out a part of Gilead Rd. in Huntersville, and in the process did a cut and cover for a small tunnel for pedestrians for the greenway being built. There were no traffic issues as this road replaced the old section. It's a two lane road with no gutters, side walks or anything, and at best is 150 ft and it still cost a couple of million dollars.

1/2 Billion dollars for another park for the center city? It isn't going to happen..

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Absolutely if it is that much, or even as much as $50m, it would not only not have any politicians support, but it would not even have my support. I guess it would be nice to get the real costs. Some reasons why I don't think it will cost as much as 1/2B are that there are 3 jersey-barrier medians across this span, allowing for spans only 1/4 the width of the freeway (30 feet over the exit lanes, 60 feet over each direction of travel lanes). I also speculated above that some costs can be reduced significantly if they can use the same cranes as those building the buildings nearby.

All in all, I am not an engineer, and this may be too expensive to consider. But if EVER it were feasible, it would be a few years from now, when so much is happening directly adjacent.

To be honest, I'd even be for scrapping the park and just selling or giving the air rights. If Trump is having trouble buying the building on the corner, why not just have him extend his project over the grassy slope next to the freeway, or the exit lanes, or even to the center median. But I think that a park would actually have fewer structural requirements than even a travel bridge, and could then be in the realm of affordability. Does anyone else have feedback on the potential cost based on similar projects in the country?

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1/2 Billion dollars for another park for the center city? It isn't going to happen..

A couple million for 150 ft is slightly different than half a billion.

They could pursue the area between college and tryon first.

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They could pursue the area between college and tryon first.

I absolutely agree....this would be the easiest section (and cheapest) to build and all the new projects would benefit. It would also help witht he narrow College St. sidewalk.

Paying for this using a synthetic-TIF would be the only logical way that it could happen.

Uptownliving posted this blurb yesterday on the South End thread, and I would think this is a good opportunity to get the idea out there to the city.

The South End Pedestrian Connections Study is an effort by city staff to evaluate connections across the I-277 corridor between Uptown and South End to determine which improvements would be most appropriate. In addition, connections to the South Corridor Light Rail Transit trail are being studied.

The public is invited to share comments and feedback about the South End Pedestrian Connections Study at an open house:

Tuesday, May 15

5

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If you want to get a ballpark estimate... the going rate for a typical highway bridge structure is about $100-110/sf. Let's account for inflation... say $125/sf. Then let's account for a stronger structure to allow for the extra heavy loads created by the dirt piled on top... say $135/sf for the structure.

Then, I did a rough calc of the area req'd of the support structure... 1500 ft long by 350 ft wide = 525,000sf or 12 acres.

That gives 525,000 x $135k/sf = ~$71M for the structure. Then throw in the park elements... maybe another ~$10-15M (I'm guessing here) for the design and construction... and a factor for contingencies and you could do it for $90 to 100M by my calculations.

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^Fair enough. So you have $100M just to put the concrete there and dump some dirt on it. I assume there would be a lot of costs involved with adding the streets that will go over it and integrating it with the existing streets, to build the park, and the endless high priced government labor involved in the endeavor that would encompass local, state and even federal government. And given the way estimates have been low balled in this town, i.e light rail going from $265M to $500M. I can see this project hitting the 1/2 Billion ball park.

They just are not going to do this.

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So the section between College and Tryon appears to be about 80,000 sq. ft.....with a "deck" cost of $11M. I estimated $30M in the Ghazi thread for a completed park, so it looks like I am pretty much in line, even assuming a 100% bump in the cost of the "deck".....in that scenario, that section of the cap was able to be completely financed using a s-TIF.

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^Fair enough. So you have $100M just to put the concrete there and dump some dirt on it. I assume there would be a lot of costs involved with adding the streets that will go over it and integrating it with the existing streets, to build the park, and the endless high priced government labor involved in the endeavor that would encompass local, state and even federal government. And given the way estimates have been low balled in this town, i.e light rail going from $265M to $500M. I can see this project hitting the 1/2 Billion ball park.

They just are not going to do this.

Everyone else is legitimately trying to come up with realistic estimates here whereas you are needlessly inflating the price to agree with your point of view. By your inflatory estimates it would cost at most $200 million (if you assume the same price increase as the LRT and we use Cheif Jo Jo's estimates). No to mention the LRT is far more complicated with many more parts so it is extremely unlikely the projected cost would double on the freeway cap. There is no way it would cost half a billion dollars.

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I found an old drawing of this idea from a proposal that is maybe somewhere around 10 years old. It was supposed to be Charlotte with the cap in 2010. It's interesting to note they wanted a baseball park in South End rather than right in the center city where there is instead a park surrounded by condo towers.

The idea never got serious attention because of the cost.

DTDEV.jpg

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Both the Tryon and College Street bridges across 277 are close to 500ft in length. The area between the College and Tryon Street bridges is roughly square...so 500x500= 250,000 sq ft x $125 sq ft = $31.3M to build the cap and then another $10M or so to landscape it. There will not be any roads on this cap. Pedestrians only. So the $30-$40M range is doable.

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... So the $30-$40M range is doable.

No way. LOL We just had an estimate done for this by our moderator from the NCDOT.

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No way. LOL We just had an estimate done for this by our moderator from the NCDOT.

CheifJoJo's estimate of the bridge length is off by a factor of 3. That accounts for the difference in our estimates. I think the bridges are close to 500 ft in length and he estimates 1500ft.

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I measure (on Google Earth) about 1300 feet from Church to the Blue line, by about 300-350 feet to cover the width of the highway. I think ChiefJoJo is pretty close.

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No way. LOL We just had an estimate done for this by our moderator from the NCDOT.

I think uptownliving was talking about a smaller park, just between College and Tryon, whereas the mod was talking about the full park.

Here is a crappy sketch I did with paint.

smallpark.jpg

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I measure (on Google Earth) about 1300 feet from Church to the Blue line, by about 300-350 feet to cover the width of the highway. I think ChiefJoJo is pretty close.

I beleive we are talking about different sections. The part I was talking about is between Church and Tryon...not Church and the Blue Line. The same section that atlrvr was talking about as a "phase 1"

Edited by uptownliving

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you mean between college & tryon. Church to tryon is the observer block.

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