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dubone

Uptown Charlotte Streetscape Standards

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http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/Transp...tation+Plan.htm

There is a public meeting on May 6 to discuss the draft of the streetscape plan for uptown Charlotte.

These rules will setup the streetscape standards for various streets.

Signature Pedestrian Streets and Linear Park Streets - Tryon, Trade, and part of Brevard Street, E 9th, E 3rd, Mint

- 22' set back (9.5' amenity zone, 10' walk through zone, 4' activity zone)

Primary Pedestrian Streets

- 16' setback (5.5' amenity zone, 8' walk through zone, 2' activity zone)

Secondary Pedestrian Streets

- 14' setback (5.5 amenity zone, 8' walk through zone, optional activity zone)

Special Treatment Streets - Parts of 5th, MLK, Stonewall, and others

- 7' minimum desired setback, but variable based on conditions (major new buildings or historic buildings)

The plan calls for what types of amenities, including the types of utilities, lights, furnishings, signage is required in each type of street. It is important to note that all of these pedestrian streets will PROHIBIT overhead utility lines, which is a very popular subject among UP posters. Benches, bicycle racks, trash containers, are required in all pedestrian zones except for special treatment blocks.

Signature streets call for granite curbs and banding and concrete pavers on the walkways. (Personally, I'd rather them switch that standard to clay brick for streets other than Tryon, as I think the Tryon pavers look a bit dated and odd, whereass clay brick like they use in 4th ward is much more timeless and attractive.) They do allow for standard concrete sidewalks and curbs on non-signature streets.

The street trees will be planned by block to vary from the standard willow oak typically used, to include Willow Oak, Red Maple, Shumard Red Oak, Zelkova (in the elm family), Allee Elm (resistant to Dutch Elms disease), Laurel Oak, Bald Cypress, Sawtooth Oak, Tulip Poplar, Hackberry, Sycamore, Black Gum, and Hop Hornbeam as street trees throughout downtown. (That is in addition to the creepy Gingkos along MLK in 2nd Ward :) ). As there has been a great deal of criticism about the overuse of the same species for street trees, this variation should considerably help in avoiding some disease or pest that devastates the streetscape of the entire downtown.

In addition to minimum requirements, these rules do add allowances and encouragements for many amenities, arts, and activities in the pedestrian zones that from a quick review appear to be well placed.

It would be nicer if they set materials standards for all of these pedestrian zones to a higher quality. Pedestrian streets in Europe were entirely granite, but here, they are accepting standard poured concrete on all but a select few of streets, where they plan precast concrete blocks, which are not nearly as attractive as clay brick or stone. Considering the amount of granite being removed from the bedrock by all the construction projects downtown, it would be nice if the city setup an operation to convert that to pavers for reuse downtown.

Overall, these standards appear to be well intentioned, and really bring the success of the Tryon streetscape down Trade and Brevard, and help elevate the standards for most other streets downtown.

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Sounds great.....typically I usually agree that the city should use the highest quality materials, but I'm ok in this case. While I like the aesthetics of clay bricks, they are much slippier when wet. I believe granite is too, though it tends to retain heat better, which makes it dry quicker.

I think the specific recommendation that I'm most excited by is the deletion on onstreet parking along 5th between Church and College, and the widening of the sidewalks there.....this is essentially given the number of establishments along 5th, and the new residential towers (Vue and Avenue) that are putting a lot more feet on the sidewalks.

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Anyone remember the time frame for the 1st floor walls to be knocked down along Fifth Street?

Those sidewalks are currently very narrow. I'm looking forward to more of a "sidewalk cafe" look at the Ivey condos.

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Sounds great.....typically I usually agree that the city should use the highest quality materials, but I'm ok in this case. While I like the aesthetics of clay bricks, they are much slippier when wet. ....

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That is very interesting info. I didn't know they had previously tried clay bricks. I wonder what the case was. I do know there are varying qualities of clay brick, with some being more susceptible to breakage than others. I also wonder whether there was a difference between concrete foundation versus sand or something. It is my understanding that Tryon has a concrete sidewalk foundation, so I'm not sure why they'd break except in areas where the foundation was not flat.

The concrete does have some negative factors. The dye fades over time, as it has, giving it a more pinkish look that is not as attractive.

As for being slippery, it seems that is a factor of how rough the surface is, versus the material used.

I'm certainly not arguing they change it back to clay brick for Tryon, but I would prefer better materials than concrete for newly streetscaped streets. Perhaps there is a level of pedestrian activity that is acceptable for use of one versus another. Granite, however, is successfully used in many cities in the world, and it seems considering the city is built on a bedrock of granite, that it would be the greenest, longest lasting, most attractive, and most upscale products.

I'll grant, though, that anything, including concrete tiles are more aesthetic than poured concrete, so for the purpose of creating a more inviting pedestrian environment, I'd say they are on the right track with this plan. And of course, poured concrete is better than a dirt pathway through the grass, which is the 'sidewalk' for most of the city's streets.

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Gag me, they're specing the same stupid street furniture that every city and their mothers use now. Would it really kill them to use street lamps, trash cans and benches that have some kind of variety? You know, something a little more unexpected?

Also, an "Activity Zone"? I'm not sure I get that - what kind of activity could be squeezed onto 2-4' of sidewalk? Some kind of idyllic produce or flower stands I suppose. To do anything else would basically require a building setback on the ground level.

Edit: from the standards - "Pedestrian or Sidewalk Active Use Zone: In cases where the width is adequate, a zone adjacent to the building setback line can accommodate a variety of sidewalk related uses. The most common use of this zone is for outdoor dining associated with the street frontage of restaurants."

I'm still not entirely sure I get it. I'm all for engagement of the street scape, this just seems like a heavy-handed approach.

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They don't want to get into having a certain setback, but then having tables and kiosks block the way for pedestrians. (They reference ADA compliance, too, so they might have some rules they need to follow there too).

I completely agree about the street furniture (especially the plan for stupid deluxe acorn lamps). But really there are probably contracts in place for those. I prefer those metal ones to those pebble lined cubic ones that are the de-facto bus stop 'seating' in much of the city.

Frankly, I'd prefer they switch to a trash container that has 4 equal compartments (glass, plastic, paper, and trash), as that is more in keeping with 21st century standards.

It seems that these are simply the generalized standards. It does note that lamp and other furniture styles can be varied if there is a plan in place for standardizing them on that street. I know for the Brevard Signature Street public meetings, they did talk about possibly using more modern styles or something.

Here would be an excellent place to show images of styles you think would be worthy for the city to consider and then we or you could bring them up at the public meetings.

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You make a good point. They should establish standards that encourages people to recycle their trash, especially plastic bottles. When I was in Tokyo these were all over the place and people had gotten used to depositing their cans and bottles into the appropriate recycling container. Charlotte should take the same tack. In fact I would go as far to suggest there should be city wide ordinance that requires recycling containers.

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What should be implemented are the trash cans that have one side for trash, the other side for plastic, cans, and other recycable items. That way when someone goes to throw out a drink can, it wouldn't take any additional effort to have it recycled. I think the majority of people would recycle if it didn't take much add'l effort (and I do say this shamefully).

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What should be implemented are the trash cans that have one side for trash, the other side for plastic, cans, and other recycable items. That way when someone goes to throw out a drink can, it wouldn't take any additional effort to have it recycled. I think the majority of people would recycle if it didn't take much add'l effort (and I do say this shamefully).

A little side note about public recycling. You would be amazed at just how much trash folks put into bins that explicitely say that they're dedicated recycling bins and not trash bins. My wife is obtaining her master's in Library Science and I tagged along with her this past weekend when her class went on a tour of Imaginon. Even in that facility I noticed that the recycling bins were ~50% trash. I'm not sure that we can expect people to not litter the recycling bins with trash. It is unfortunate but this has been the case in every public facility that I've been in here in the US that offered both options (trash bins and recycling bins).

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^Indeed, and that is mostly caused by the fact that most recycling containers look like trash cans. In Japan they solved that problem by making the places to recycle cans and bottle very unique looking and difficult to deposit general trash in.

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I can't remember which festival it was, maybe the Taste of Charlotte or Charlotte Shout or one of those things. They just had the plastic bag trash cans with one side for recycleables and the other for trash. Either the recycleable side was completely empty and other side full of a lot of recycleables mixed with trash or both sides were all mixed trash. It was terrible. I think in part there is a political element in the US that actively try not to recycle. It is seen as something that leftists do or something. There is just no culture of scarcity, so of course the assumption is that mining more aluminum of petrochemicals for plastic is much easier than just melting down the stuff we already mined.

Given that there is a real littering problem downtown, having the trashcans there is very important. But it would be nice if there was an infrastructure there for people who normally want to recycle, or would if it were right there. I think that sorting mechanisms are advanced enough these days that it might not matter if there were some trash mixed in it.

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Differentiation by height, color, and container opening:

recy-cal_1996_14567038.gif

Please note, I'm not advocating the design... just the principles.

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^I don't see that working very well. In order to encourage people to recycle, recycling needs to be moved out of the same context as trash collection. That means something completely different and not associated with trash cans. For example and back to my Japan experience, there are machines there that sell canned coffee. Some are hot coffee some are cold and are probably about 6oz in size. Almost without exception these locations had a place to take back the empty cans they sold. These would be a small opening built into the vending machine. We need more ideas like that.

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That still promotes a culture of disposable goods, when the first step should be to Reduce. At home, the very act of separating recyclables has caused me to realize just how much stuff i was throwing away to begin with. Since then I've found myself taking much greater care of what I was generating in the first place.

Applied to the coffee machine - though I whole-heartedly support companies taking responsibility for their packaging - I would rather see that appear soda fountain style where you can fill up your own reusable mug.

In any case, we can only do better, and this should certainly be addressed May 6.

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lets pull this back on topic...

It would be nicer if they set materials standards for all of these pedestrian zones to a higher quality. Pedestrian streets in Europe were entirely granite, but here, they are accepting standard poured concrete on all but a select few of streets, where they plan precast concrete blocks, which are not nearly as attractive as clay brick or stone. Considering the amount of granite being removed from the bedrock by all the construction projects downtown, it would be nice if the city setup an operation to convert that to pavers for reuse downtown.

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The system up at UNCC works wonders- I don't get it how certain demoraphics recycle and others won't, all within a 20 mile radius. My personal opinion is that I think it's an educational issue. If people get in the habbit and see other people doing it, maybe their mentality could change. Possibly some ads, awareness, and enforcement could help in the efforts. It reminds me of the "going green" mentality that has just begun changing in many peoples minds just starting in the last few years. Everyone takes it to a different length, but certainly there has been many polls taken that indicate a majority population is looking to make some sort of change (such as driving less or changing their vehicle/means of transportation, gaining energy efficient appliances or remodeling a home with efficient windows / cork and bamboo flooring, etc, just to give a few examples). I believe that doing some good could change one's mentality and we wouldn't have this problem, however I would like to see differing color AND sizes for recycling vs. trash cans (that way it doesn't cause confusion, and gives indication to blind and color blind.

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It seems to me that stone materials are much more readily available in Europe, so much that most of their ancient cities are built by them. I do agree that they should set high standards though. I am personally looking forward to the day when the pedscape on Trade extends from Gateway all the way to the hospital.

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I'm not opposed to granite sidewalks at all :) Obviously they have access to it since they are building the curb out of it on parts of Church St in 4th Ward.

I suppose my point was more directed at the fact that its more difficult to get to here in Charlotte. Its not impossible though. Quarries do exist around here. These standards address several of my primary frustrations about walking around Uptown, which is namely the crappy narrow back of curb sidewalks that exist all over the place without trees.

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Granite is available here in almost unlimited amounts. The reason they don't use it much isn't a supply matter, but one related to cost. It is much more expensive to cut and lay granite curbs over pouring concrete. I will say that it looks much better when done properly. Cornelius completely revamped Catawba Ave. with granite curbs and wide brick sidewalks which made a very nice stroll district.

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