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raleightransplant

The Triangle: East vs. West

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This week's Independent has an excellent article that goes in depth on the culture clash of Wake, Johnston, Franklin counties vs. the Durham, Orange, Chatham side of things. The article mentions how the area was at one time not unified, then began thinking regionally, but again may be on two different (and often colliding) paths. I do have optimism that the region is growing to the point where we'll all get on the same page with some issues such as transit and water but I thought it was interesting. I don't see Wake ever sharing the same land use patterns as the Western Triangle.

I'm curious to hear what others think. Are you Raleigh-centric but enjoy Durham/Chapel Hill? The other way around? Do you see this as one region, and simply go where your interests are--wherever they are? Do you see the area splitting further apart? Do you acknowledge that it's one region but choose to never visit the other parts of the Triangle? Do you think "The Triangle" is only a name that shows we're a region---nothing more? If you do favor one part of the Triangle and don't like to visit the other cities, is it due to congestion/lack of transportation alternatives?

Personally, I view the region as a whole. Each city has a personality that fits a different mood. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses. Combined, it makes for an interesting and dynamic place. I have no problem patronizing a restaurant or garden or park in any part of the Triangle. I think many newcomers might feel that way, since to them--this is one region. On the other hand, traffic can make it much easier to settle in to one area and try to do most everything (work, bars, hangouts) in that specific area.

Here's the article:

http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A194737

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I'm not sure I agree with all of that article....although some of the discussion of the political realities & turf wars, and lack of cooperation as a region, are spot-on.

Personally, I've always thought that Inside-the-Beltline Raleigh definitely has far more in common with Durham/ChapelHill/Carrboro than it does with the rest of suburban Wake County. (The makeup of our current council this cycle is somewhat reflecting that, too.)

I live ITB and certainly spend more time in Dur/Ch than I do in Cary/Apex, for example. I feel more at home in the former than I do the latter.

So yeah, I consider myself a Triangle Resident...to some degree.

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Triangle resident for sure here.

I always saw a huge split within Wake County. Many years ago 1010 road was considered the Mason-Dixon line of Wake County. I always saw the east/west split as pretty in-your-face...my office is pretty clearly split politically along those who live geographically in one area or the other. of the County. Its really much more complicated than that though as ITB is alot of old-money dems, north Raleigh and Cary is mostly new money reps, and the rural areas are weird Jessecrats of yore....(vote dem locally but rep nationally)

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Personally I now live in Raleigh but have lived in Cary, Durham, and Hillsborough. I'm now living in the Gorman St/Tryon area of Raleigh and unfortunately I personally rarely make it out to Durham, much less Orange County but really only b/c of distance....when I say Durham I'm speaking more of downtown area Durham, not the areas bordering Wake County/RTP...Isn't Brier Creek technically on the border with Durham? Wow I miss Chapel Hill, used to be my hangout when I lived in Hillsborough in the mid-late '90's

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I tend to think of it as "The Triangle," though I'm in Carrboro, and I'm not so often in Raleigh. I have a few friends downtown, so I do get there occasionally. The distance is an issue, but I would very much like to see better transportation options, and I think the article delved into the difficulties of that issue quite well. Each city has a different overall vibe, but I don't know if it's as much of an issue as it's being made out to be. That big geographic dead spot - RTP/RDU - is a problem, and I don't know how to unify a region around that.

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I'm right there with Rob. To me ITB Raleigh is a different animal than the rest of Wake or even Raleigh, and I guess that's why I live here. I to feel a certain kinship with the downtowns of Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro, I guess because these are the most developed urban centers of the region, areas where one can actually find a nice mix of jobs, housing, and shopping within walking distance in a (mostly) historic context. I do think that Wake's size, suburban growth, and politics have strained the relationship with the "west side" partners (see STAC), but I don't think it's as bad as the article points out.

Sure, if you interview the chambers of commerce, and other booster groups what sort of answer do you expect? Ironically, there was no mention of the divide (such as it may be) between Chapel Hill and Durham. Does the Durham Chamber say they need Chapel Hill? Talk to some old-guard Chapel Hill residents, and I bet they say they don't want any part of Durham and it's crime problems. Point being, each community is different, and you can always find a story where one may not be prevalent.

Clearly, from the outside looking in and whether we like it or not, most businesses and new residents see the area as a whole. Bruce Katz is correct about transit being a key element to our future economic prosperity. I would absolutely love to be able to take transit to 9th St, or Carr Mill, Duke East, or UNC. If we can connect the cities in the region via transit, then certainly that will go along way towards uniting the region.

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I consider myself a Raleigh resident first and a triangle resident second. I have absolutely no reason to travel outside of Raleigh, unless I have a meeting to go to at my employer's district office in Morrisville, go to a Bulls game or go to some stores nearby just inside the Wake Forest city limits.

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The best context for this argument would be New York City. Each of the boroughs has its own personality regionally with subcultures within. Raleigh would be say Manhattan, while Durham is Brooklyn. Cary would be Greenwich, CT while Chapel Hill would be Mount Vernon or something.

In other words, all of the cities/boroughs are considered part of NYC but they have own personalities, development patterns, etc. that are all linked together by strong transit system. The key to the Triangle is changing RTP/RDU into its Metro Center.

I'm finding more and more that I end up meeting my friends somewhere around Briar Creek. Why??? Because its a central meeting point for everybody with an abundance of restaurant options. The Triangle's next Million People need to be located in the Metro Center and its surrounding areas as well as the other employment centers and transit stops. This would require Urban Growth Boundaries throughout the Triangle as well as regional water and transit planning. It would also require leadership and support from smart growth advocates to drown out the NIMBYs.

Overall, there is a tremendous amount of cross-pollination in the Triangle. Many people work in RTP, hang out in Glenwood South, shop at Southpointe, watch Carolina-Duke on Franklin St., attend a show at Koka Booth theater, etc. That is what makes the sum greater than individual parts.

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Does anyone have any idea/experience on how area's such as Dallas/Ft Worth, Minneapolis/St Paul, etc. are handling there planning? Growth? Taxes? Transportation? Etc...compared to the Triangle? They appear,(outwardly), to have it all together!

I ask because out of all the trips the city of Raleigh and Chambers of commerce have taken to observe other areas, do they ask these questions? Or do we, (on Urban Planet), have other information? It does make me wonder if the Triangle can ever truly be a united region of cites or simply a region of cities with no real desire to be a part of the whole? :dontknow:

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Does anyone have any idea/experience on how area's such as Dallas/Ft Worth, Minneapolis/St Paul, etc. are handling there planning? Growth? Taxes? Transportation? Etc...compared to the Triangle? They appear,(outwardly), to have it all together!

I ask because out of all the trips the city of Raleigh and Chambers of commerce have taken to observe other areas, do they ask these questions? Or do we, (on Urban Planet), have other information? It does make me wonder if the Triangle can ever truly be a united region of cites or simply a region of cities with no real desire to be a part of the whole? :dontknow:

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NPR's the State of Things takes a look at regionalism in a show that aired today. The guests are Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Mitch Silver, Raleigh's Planning Director.

Listen here.

triangle_region_aerial.jpg

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I live in Raleigh and like to think I am a "Triangle" resident. My house is in/near DT Raleigh and I work in RTP near the 40/Durham Freeway interchange. I went to high school at NCSSM and explored as much of that part of the city (Northgate, Brightleaf, 9th Street, Duke Campus, Hillsborough Road, South Square mall) as much as I could while there.

Lately, I get around during lunch once in a while, and we take a trip "out of town" once a month or so for a meal at Elmo's (Carborro or 9th Street), a visit to Southpoint or University Mall, my wife's acupuncturist in Durham, etc. We did it more often when her friends lived in south Durham (Parkwood) but since they've moved, there has been less to pull us westward.

I think the "long dark road" from Durham to Raleigh, due to RTP, RDU airport, and Umstead Park, is the big donut hole that may never fill in. It can be less dark if you take a slower path. On US 70, the Durham side has some buildings (the Miami intersection, Kemp's Seafood, etc.), Brier Creek, and then a near-constant sprawl the rest of the way to Raleigh from Lynn Road. If Mr. Krupa took Wade Avenue instead of 40/440 to get to his convention center, he would see a lot more light/activity as well. And there are a lot of people from Durham who go to CC events like this week's car show, which will hopefully come back downtown after a few years at the fair grounds!

A *rail* transit link between the two downtowns will foster thinking of the area as a region and not a collection of towns. With rail, urban residents wouldn't have to pick either/or to live, work, or play. Everyone could enjoy Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium/CC/outdoor venue, museums, etc., the RBC Center/fairgrounds, and Durham's DBAP/Performing arts center.

As for making RTP the metro's center, Durham has done everything they can to keep that from happening. The article mentions:

- Durham's killing of Goodnight's early 90s plans for a sports/hotel/convention center complex near RTP to protect "their" Bulls.

- Durham's Convention and Visitor's Bureau refusal to back the CIAA tournament, despite member school NC Central, because it is a "Raleigh" tournament. The CIAA moved to Charlotte, and isn't coming back. The MEAC, a conference NC Central will soon join, again received no Durham support and will leave after this season.

- Durham's stance against a sales tax for regional transit. Wake gets a lot of grief for its conservative leadership on the issue, but Durham's progressives didn't help either.

- The Capitol Area MPO has voted twice to merge with Durham/Chapel Hill/Carborro's MPO, but the west side said no both times.

- Durham's insistance that Raleigh needs Durham but Durham doesn't need Raleigh.

And Orange County has not figured out that their urban growth boundary is not in a vaccumn -- unchecked sprawl continues on its borders in Chatam, Alamance, and Durham counties.

The article and the companion sidebar seem to want to drive a sledgehammer into the RTP/RDU/Umstead wedge and split the Triangle in two. Every political mention of the west side is "progressive" while every mention of Wake/eastern politics is conservative. Onlu Orange County commisioner mentions the recent elections to the west, yet fails to mention four term Mayor Charles Meeker by name, so as not to disrupt the us vs. them "story".

And it paints all the road widening as an "east side only" issue, mentioning 540, US 1 to Wake Forest (umm, the US 1 widening in Cary was more signficant), and NC 55 to Apex. The extension of Durham Freeway from 9th Street to I-85, the I-85 widening, the NC 55 widening in south Durham, and the I-40 widening (yes even in Orange County) are not mentioned to support the "we're working on mass transit only" fable. Maybe the Independent will finally refer to itself as "Durham/Orange County's arts weekly" once the performing arts center opens.

Capitol Blvd. has no former Wal-Marts -- the first one opened in Wake Forest a couple of years ago, and Target and K-Mart are still open. As "bad" as Capitol is, there are no *empty* big boxes. And most of the reuses are of grocery stores, except for the former Home Quarters (now Tiger Direct) and the old store that is now the Raleigh Flea Market mall.

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As for making RTP the metro's center, Durham has done everything they can to keep that from happening. The article mentions:

- Durham's killing of Goodnight's early 90s plans for a sports/hotel/convention center complex near RTP to protect "their" Bulls.

- Durham's Convention and Visitor's Bureau refusal to back the CIAA tournament, despite member school NC Central, because it is a "Raleigh" tournament. The CIAA moved to Charlotte, and isn't coming back. The MEAC, a conference NC Central will soon join, again received no Durham support and will leave after this season.

- Durham's stance against a sales tax for regional transit. Wake gets a lot of grief for its conservative leadership on the issue, but Durham's progressives didn't help either.

- The Capitol Area MPO has voted twice to merge with Durham/Chapel Hill/Carborro's MPO, but the west side said no both times.

- Durham's insistance that Raleigh needs Durham but Durham doesn't need Raleigh.

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Good point about the CIAA. That was a very nice event that Raleigh lost out on due to lack of regional cooperation. Charlotte had it together, and that will never return...sad. Also agree on the Indy being very pro-Durham, which I don't like at all. It seems impossible for some people to enjoy where they live without bashing another city. They definitely tend to over generalize and don't take Durham to task when it's needed--on the other hand they'll just kill Raleigh (the Kings deal in Raleigh sticks in my mind). Somehow, Durham to the Independent is this wonderful, real, organic and gritty city while Raleigh is full of a bunch of chain loving hicks. Not at all fair or accurate.

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*If* we had Durham to Raleigh trains in the 80s, it would have made sense to have the Bull's ballpark in downtown Durham! Parking wouldn't be an issue, and it could help build a case for possibly a major league team move/expansion by 2020.

In the 90s, there were two issues with the Bulls -- 1) Durham was getting national attention via the movie Bull Durham and a renewed interest in the affordable, "pure" minor leagues and 2) the Bulls owners didn't want competion from a Raleigh market team, so they "explored" moving to RTP. #2 is why the *Carolina* Mudcats (I don't know who the Zebulon Mudcats are) play in Five County Stadium, the closest to the Durham Bulls and Raleigh allowed by Minor League Baseball.

It would be interesting if there was one complex with the Bulls, a soccer stadium (hosting outdoor concerts, ACC/NCAA tournaments, maybe MLS?) and a concentrated convention center/hotel/restaurants/Terry Sandford's peforming arts learning center/shopping zone (Southpoint moved a few miles east), as opposed to the current scattershot. That might make revitializning downtown Durham dificult, so it never had a chance.

If city and university officials listened to Jimmy V, NC State's basketball arena/convention center would have been downtown (with easyish access to 40/440 and mass traisit) and not in West Raleigh.

Add the (NC A&T) Aggie/(NCCU) Eagle Classic football game, formerly played at Carter-Finely as another regional sports event lost to it being a "Raleigh" event unsupported by Durham. Yet it was OK for Durham to lure Shaw University to play football games at their County Stadium.

But we can only play with the cards we've been dealt. Hopefully high gas prices and the cost of exurban sprawl will finally be tabulated and regionalisim will take over via a "bluer" east and a slightly more pro-growth (southpoint, American Tobacco, Greenfire, Medowmount, East 54) west. The RDU/Umstead "donut hole" will just be scenery passing by on the train.

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I couldn't get on board with RTP/RDU being the metro center. Who wants to build a new city from scratch when we've already got two urban cores, plus Chapel Hill/Carrboro? Connect them with transit, for sure, but I think we need to move away from the idea of making RTP the region's hub. Connect the real cities with transit and perhaps companies in RTP will begin to migrate to downtown Raleigh and downtown Durham.

Anyone else catch WUNC's The State of Things yesterday? Very relevant to this discussion. Here's a link: Rethinking Regionalism

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^ Yes, and I linked it above too. Bruce Katz does a good job of laying out the issues from a global economic competitiveness point of view down to the metro level. If you are really interested in hearing more from Mr Katz, click here for my post in the UP urban discussion. Also--although I haven't been able to view it yet--you can view his presentation (scroll down) at the Urban Design Center in January.

I think we are much better off not having a big regional downtown, as Goodman proposed in the 90s. I think we are better collectively as a region of complementary parts, sort of like members of a family (Harvey Schmidt's analogy, I think) who each have separate lives and identities, but are brought together by a common shared vision. Would we be better off with only one major performing arts center and not two? multiple arenas? Maybe not, but I don't look at those as being so bad, and for example, it would be hard to imagine a Bulls stadium way out near Brier Creek somewhere, instead of next to American Tobacco where it meshes well with the historic urban fabric. It we can build out the transit corridors to connect the region, it will further strengthen the 'sum of the parts'.

The biggest challenge we face as a region is dealing with challenges of growth and how to coordinate and cooperate on these policy issues: land use, water, transportation, air quality, schools, etc. Anything short of a regional governing body would probably be inadequate to face the challenges of our region. It always seems to be high atop planning best-of lists, but a good model would be Portland's Metro, which is an elected regional governing body. It does not supercede the role of municipal goverment, but complements and oversees issues of regional importance.

We could combine the two MPOs to form a single transportation planning entity and have the state give them some overarching land use authority as well... ie, approve large-scale land use decisions like Southpoint, Brier Creek, Wakefield, etc. Let them oversee the land use and transit planning in the transit corridors such that the overall vision is achieved, instead of the go-it-alone approach (replace the TTA board). There's lots of ways to structure it, but without regional governence changes, the problems of today will only be magnified down the road.

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One million new residents in the next 20 years IS a new city...would you want them in Rural South Wake, Knightdale, Franklin County, etc. or right in the heart of the Triangle near the LARGEST job center in the area (and in close proximity to every city in the Triangle)? We can't keep ignoring the fact that most traffic (and most of lives) revolves around work. The Metro Center would also push up a potential RTP stop.

I also said that the cultural/governmental functions should remain in the historical downtowns. The Metro Center would really be more Urban Lite...Disney-ized Urban...like the Perimeter Area in Atlanta. That's the only way to get people to transfer from the suburban mindset...it would have to be TRENDY (yet hopefully lasting).

There are a ton of hotels in the area. Retail in climbing...IMHO I think the next phase of the Triangle's growth will be just as underestimated as our previous growth spurts. So one million is my conservative number. That would put us at 2.5M in 2025 and near the Top 20 in the nation. Our revitalized downtowns will be bursting at the seams with strong inner city neighborhoods pushing back just as hard. Hopefully the Metro Center and the train stations will be able to absorb all of the growth. These are my predictions...I just pray I live to see the day. :)

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I agree with ChiefJo. You just don't create a city center from whole cloth and think it will be authentic and the type of dense, social hub we hope for. The Triangle already has attractive city centers that can be buttressed and promoted. They should not have to compete with some sterile, synthetic city center that has no historic or cultural roots.

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I don't think we need to or have to think of infilling towards the regional/geographic center as some sort of city or flagship locale. Lots of medium density, mixed use buildings and sites, well connected by both roads and transit to itself and to the real city centers, will serve the region well. It really is too bad that no planning organization exists that can see through a master plan for all portions, RTP, Durham County, Wake County.

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I think building any kind of city in RTP-land is not going to work. That idea of Goodman with the Bulls was just a bad idea--period. People can read right through it and it's just not going to work. The idea's not completely off though--I agree with Jones that medium density in that area is something that should be worked on. There is definitely land that can be better utilized near RTP, but Raleigh and Durham will continue to grow and get stronger. Medium density in the middle of the region and transit to all points of the Triangle would work perfectly. In line with what bullcity is saying---development of some kind in the middle certainly beats the alternative of stretching people in to the hinterlands and Virginia.

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I agree with bullcity, though it isn't just rural South Wake, Knightdale and Franklin County that are extending/distorting the area's borders. Are people new to the area better served by moving into the new developments in Wendell, Apex further down US 1, Fuquay/Varina, and Johnston county (east) and the 40/85 split mall in Alamance County, Pittsboro/Chatam county, and north Durham county (west), than a potential metro *center* in SE Durham/Morrisville?

The downtowns in Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh won't be able to accomodate all the urban growth over the next couple of decades, so creating a new urban center that adds activity to the middle of the first rail corridor makes too much sense. Plus it has the potential to capture folks that for whatever won't consider the existing urban areas. People who *want* to live in/near places like Southern Village, Meadowmount/East 54, SouthPoint, Brier Creek, Cameron Village, North Hills, Soleil Center, etc.

By making RTP "off limits", it is more difficult to cross the east/west divide. The low prioritization of the NW Cary to Triangle Metro Center rail link is proof of this. A second connection via the US 70 to I-85 corrdior could help, but Durham has a ways to go to fill that gap. A third connection via NC 98 from Durham to Wake Forest is growing some, but is limited by the Falls Lake watershed.

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Thanks NCWeb...You grasped the point that I was trying to make. I really think we are going to get the rail done this time. People are starting to pressure on Luebke (and probably the County Commiss. too) to reevaluate his mindset. Hopefully the same happens on the Wake side of things. There will be plenty moaning and gnashing of teeth through the whole process especially with segment-based approach that will probably go forward.

I would like to see some kind of merger between TTA and TJCOG with the new entity having expanded authority over water, transit and roads planning and administration. How do you guys think a Regional organization should be structured?

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Let me be clear. I am not at all against redeveloping parts of RTP, Brier Creek, or Triangle Metro Center (Davis Park) as moderate density regional nodes, especially linking to stops on the transit system. Actually, I think a TMC-like TOD is exactly what RTP needs to incorporate in their land use plan for the northern RTP rail stop.

What I don't want to see is what Goodman proposed, and the Indy article seemed to hint at... that the area should have or still could pursue a regional downtown with a group of facilities that would be used for arts, sports, along with a significant mixes of development in the plan. An urban focal point in RTP? On the transit line? YES. A new regional downtown? NO.

Renderings of the TMC (the rest of "Davis Park" is on the right off the page):

2641617470098570895S600x600Q85.jpg

2525905860098570895S600x600Q85.jpg

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The time for RTP to be *the* focal point/downtown passed with the rejection of the Goodmon plan in the 90s. Once the DBAP, RBC Center, Wake Med (formerly SAS) soccer park, the new Raleigh Convention Center, and the Durham Performing Arts center were approved, there was/is no need to put a facility of that type into RTP.

However, the timing is perfect for TMC to be *a* focal point on the first/main rail line, with midrise offices, residences, hotels, etc. Though something needs to happen soonish or developments like the one in Morrisville at NC 54 and Cary Parkway will be the "standard" and TOD won't have a chance. Luckily 54/55 doesn't seem to be reinventing itself any time soon, and the Miami/Page/54 area is built out, so there isn't as much pressure from the west. Though the buildings near the TTA tranfser point in front of the Raddison are starting to look pretty good.

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