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Metropolitan, Midtown Redevelopment


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Well...I blame them simply because Harris Teeter in 4th Ward had enough urban sense to station one cashier by their entrance to the sidewalk, while still accomodating those that drove. This should have been the model Trader Joe's focused on.

The bigger issue in my opinion is that precedent this is setting for Kings. To be cliche, it's a chicken & egg argument. Stores aren't oriented towards Kings because it's not pedestrian friendly, but Kings will never be pedestrian friendly until stores are oriented towards it. The more pedestrian activity is discouraged from using Kings, the less likely that future developments will make a serious effort into making it an urban corridor.

Of course, I'd like to blame the city too. With their $17M+ subsidy, they should have demanded better urban design. Simply getting retail to locate in the center city isn't enough if its not urban oriented.

As much as I hate to say it, Monsoon was right on this one. ;)

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Plan was approved. Rezoning plans allow up to 330 units in a building 285 feet tall / 20+ stories.  https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/development/article250791819.html

From Lincoln at Dilworth Rooftop Lounge:

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I hope that the front doors at TJs are enough that they COULD open it to the street if the climate was right. Maybe, say, if the parcell across the street (between Kings and the Pancake House) is built to embrace pedestrians. I don't think BB could ever reorient itself for that case. Speaking of that parcell, I noticed the sign was changed from reading "New Development COMING SOON" to "New Development AVAILABLE." I take that as a sign that there are no specific plans for the parcell.

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Well...I blame them simply because Harris Teeter in 4th Ward had enough urban sense to station one cashier by their entrance to the sidewalk, while still accomodating those that drove. This should have been the model Trader Joe's focused on.

The bigger issue in my opinion is that precedent this is setting for Kings. To be cliche, it's a chicken & egg argument. Stores aren't oriented towards Kings because it's not pedestrian friendly, but Kings will never be pedestrian friendly until stores are oriented towards it. The more pedestrian activity is discouraged from using Kings, the less likely that future developments will make a serious effort into making it an urban corridor.

I disagree with your chicken vs egg comment because as you stated, the HT in 4th Ward work fine. This thing is more than that since the concept is proven. This city needs better urban design. Period. If we keep getting crap like this then that whole "world class" thing isn't going to happen.

I wonder if we all complained to the management about it if they would open up that door and put a register there? I know for a fact that trader joe's does more urban designs that this.

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I was at Trader Joe's on Saturday and I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention, and I assumed that the door to the street was open always. Agree that this would be a much better way in and out than walking into the Parking Garage.

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Outside of this rarified forum, Met is considered great urban planning by most Charlotteans. It's being marketed as a great urban neighborhood to live and shop in. Convenience has always been valued over form in this city. The new Bojangles near Met, the new B&N in SouthPark, and on and on. So there will be mostly faux urban centers all over Charlotte. Apart from the design I think the services in Met are greatly needed and fill a niche. One of the major selling points is the greenway incorporation. Hopefully the cosmetics will at least be nice once the structure is done and landscaping put in. That is what we have here. Window dressing. Have to accentuate the positive...that view of the mighty Sugar Creek has to be promoted :lol: It looked so wide and flowing in the web video...

Edited by voyager12
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^Indeed. Some might not realize that Birkdale Village is also located on a greenway and hence the same accolades were given to it too even though it is mostly an urban planning failure. However Pappas got a lot of airplay for BV and due to that got a healthy dose of tax incentives to develop the Met. He took the opportunity to "enhance" Birkdale Village concept by adding big box retail and fast food chains. I posted on this site years ago about the terrible problems caused by BV and its becoming apparent the Met is headed down exactly the same path. Huntersville and Cornelius have been able to mitigate this somewhat but I don't know if this will be possible with the Met.

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Not sure where you saw that. The store will be open till 9 M-Sat, till 6 on Sun.

A friend of mine who's living in the Metropolitan sent an email indicating this... I tried referencing the image but UP doesn't allow dynamic images. But it says: 10am - 6pm M-Sat and 12pm-6pm Sun.

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A friend of mine who's living in the Metropolitan sent an email indicating this... I tried referencing the image but UP doesn't allow dynamic images. But it says: 10am - 6pm M-Sat and 12pm-6pm Sun.
I was in the store last night at 8:45. The posted hours say 10-9. I guess they must've sent out a flier with a typo.
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Outside of this rarified forum, Met is considered great urban planning by most Charlotteans. It's being marketed as a great urban neighborhood to live and shop in. Convenience has always been valued over form in this city. The new Bojangles near Met, the new B&N in SouthPark, and on and on. So there will be mostly faux urban centers all over Charlotte.

Thanks....I needed a swift kick to the groin to bring me back to reality. Sadly you're right.

I just desparately wish that the city would create a vision plan to determine what ultimately level of urbanity they wish to achieve, and then revise zoning, codes, etc so that new developments contribute to this vision.

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He (Pappas) took the opportunity to "enhance" Birkdale Village concept by adding big box retail and fast food chains.

Regarding fast food, Wendy's was already there and unwilling to move too far from their prior location. Last I heard, Pappas would love to replace Wendy's with a hotel.

As for complaining about the parking deck entrance, I find it interesting that only now with Trader Joes, not Target long before, not subsequently Home Depot, not Best Buy, not Marshall's, is everyone complaining. Granted, the others do have ways to enter without going through a deck (technically not in case of Marshall's, but less noticeable than TJ's), but none of them have public entrances on Kings Drive.

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I think these frustrations were expressed back when the siteplan came out, and people have already taken exception with the developer.

I think the reason that it has become a talking point with Trader Joes is because I (and presumably others) always thought the smaller retailers that had good sidewalk access with implement them. This is an attack directed at Trader Joe's for not utilizing the most urban retail bay in the complex in any way that supports pedestrian activity.

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Thanks....I needed a swift kick to the groin to bring me back to reality. Sadly you're right.

I just desparately wish that the city would create a vision plan to determine what ultimately level of urbanity they wish to achieve, and then revise zoning, codes, etc so that new developments contribute to this vision.

Truth hurts sometimes...we are all hopelessly elitist when it comes to urbanity :shades: I am the worst. I love to eat arugula.

I walked over to TJ's on my first visit. Thought I was lost and was shocked that there was not an entrance on Kings. I think there was a missed opportunity to have a nice awning with perhaps space for some outside tables to sit and eat. That alone would attract random walkers. I have never seen a "cafe" feature in Trader Joes like they have in a Whole Foods or Earthfare though.

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Elitist?

No. We all have experiences that show us it can be done better. We're talking about the placement of a cash register in this instance. This isn't rocket science. Harris Teeter in 4th Ward is a perfect example of how it should be done. A good urban environment is one that puts pedestrians first. Nobody is saying "ignore" the cars, but by having the only entrance to TJ's located in the parking garage we are sending the message that "you need to drive here." We have to have a direct entrance from the street that is an ACTUAL entrance so that being a pedestrian is at least somewhat convenient and comfortable.

I was reading some of the old CityStates report from 1995 by Neil Pierce last night. One of the articles from that time discussed how Charlotte builds its buildings inward. We don't embrace the streets. Each building is its own compound. This hasn't improved much in 13 years. The Midtown area is not much better than your standard variety suburban lifestyle center. You just have some luxury residential units so it can be called mixed use.

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I sent a message on Trader Joe's website about the lack of another door and this is the response I got:

"Great news! We actually have two entrances to our store. The first is the one you mentioned (coming from the parking deck) and the second is on Metropolitan Avenue (across the street from the Metropolitan sales office). To note, this is an entrance only door as determined by the city. I think the confusion is that this is not an automatic door--simply grab the latch and pull."

I guess this is the emergency exit door. Good to know that we can enter that door, but it is stupid that we can't exit there.

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I ate at the Wendy's across from the Metropolitan yesterday with my daughter. We went inside rather than navigate the "Matrix" like drive through at the Wendy's. We sat and watched the nightmarish traffic at around 4:30 PM. This area is perhaps not intended to support carbon based life forms. A fellow in an electric wheelchair made it halfway across Charlottetown Plaza before he was stranded by the "Good Samaritans" of Charlotte who would not stop or even slow down to let him complete his journey. Come Christmas shopping time, this road will bring even more excitement and high drama.

Edited by maratletter
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That is dissembling on the part of Trader Joes to imply that the city is that cause for that door to be 'Entrance Only'. But theoretically, if you've paid up, you can walk back through the store and they should allow you to leave through that door, too. I would hope, however, that you reply back and call them on this fib. They might have defined this door as Entrance Only with the city, but the city would certainly allow that (and encourage) them to make it a normal door just like Best Buy has if they designed their store that way.

Too bad Pappas couldn't include the pedestrian-oriented golf course like he did at Birkdale.

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I made a venture to the Met today- went to Trader Joes, West Elm, and HD again so I have some mixed opinions now that much of the development is completed to give a follow up to all of the commotion that went back in forth on whether this development is pedestrian friendly / urban. Here are my opinionated points:

  • Driving down Kings from CPCC, I noticed that this road is much more inviting in part of the Met development. There was lots of pedestrian activity and the area seemed very inviting. Lighting, signage, sidewalks, the whole shabang.
  • Trade Joes: ughh. It's not just the fact that there isn't an 'inviting' second entrance on Kings, it's even more so what this represents for the whole development. I think others have stated it before, and I hate to be another- but Monsoon was [partially] right about this development being more of a mall that you drive to than a true urban project. I did say partial- though, and I'll get to that. With Trader Joes- the entrance is just like that of Staples and Marshalls- it's only practical and only inviting as someone driving in with a vehicle rather than embracing any street presence that filled parking garage. I'm not against the garage- I'm just against the garage replacing and taking away from the street presence aspect. I would have much rather preferred to see, if only one entrance, the entrance being along King's or the side road that runs through the development, sort of like how BB did theirs, then force anyone parking in the deck to walk onto a sidewalk in the open to get into the store. Trader Joes itself is very welcomed in the development as a tenant, however, and I'm sure they will flurish as the other 2 Charlotte stores have.
  • When I first arrived to Met and parked in the garage, I found it ironic to Monsoon's previous points to see some young blonde pull up in her Escalade, take up one and a half spaces in the bottom of the deck right in front of Trader Joes, shut the door, and walk in all by herself. I get an impression that the Met has become a destination for Suburbanites who view it as the latest trendy mall that is better, newer, and cleaner than their typical strip mall. I cringe saying this, btw, and I also don't find it at the fault of people visiting by car; I find it the design of the project embracing the wrong strategic points to welcome both by vehicle AND those walking (even if it's people that park and walk from store to store).
  • Back to my alternative aspects to this project. I went to West Elm. First the store itself: very nice, new, trendy, a little pricey. They have limiting products on the showroom versus online, which unfortunatly what I was looking for, would have to be purchased online. Now the urban review: this is like day and night to the Trader Joes. All of a sudden, walking down the sidewalk and into the much more inviting store, I felt like I was in more of an urban setting than the Trader Joes. No carbon inhaling, a nice sidewalk that brings a lot of hope to this side of the development. Of course it is unfinished and sprinkled with construction everywhere, but it's a much more welcoming stage of the development. I sort of wish that West Elm had a second entrance either along Charlottetown in the future, or along the Greenway, which I don't know if they will or not, but it isn't bad how its set up now.
  • The bus stations along Charlottetown are amazing. I really hope it inspires future designs of stations as they were very welcoming, safe (glass you can see into) and provided adequate shelter. Also, they have installed some "Met at Midtown" directories that seemed to be very nice and large enough to read well. I do enjoy the modern elements to the development and all of the glass and steel; I feel like they excelled in design style and materials but lacked in the planning dept.
  • I had to go to HD Design Center to get something so I walked across Charlottetown. I feel like they will need to add a light here, and I also would hope that it isn't long before something is done about either slowing down traffic or setting standards that pedestrians have rule of this part of the road, and you YIELD to them; not pedestrians YIELDING to your vehicle. It seemed that once I started walking that no one would slow down for me to even complete my venture across the road. I wouldn't mind seeing this pedestrian crossing equiped with the stop and walk lights to give priority to pedestrians. This will in fact be a mess come Christmas. It will be a cat and mouse game, too, for a pedestrian trying to cross the street at this time; that is of course unless traffic is so backed up it is stopped.

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The fundamental problem is that big box retail and fast food only work by attracting huge numbers of people from some distance. This means that in Charlotte you are going to have to make accommodation for significant numbers of cars or the these places won't survive from a sales point of view given their business assumptions. Low costs made possible by very high volumes.

Now when these kinds of places were invented in the first place, they were placed out on the perimeters of cities because this was the only place where they could attract significant numbers of people that could support their business. You can look at the ruins of some of Charlotte's strip malls and if you know when it was built, then you also would know where the edge of the city was at that time. South Blvd, Independence, N. Tryon, etc are all littered with them. This has gone on since WWII and now in Charlotte's case, much of it is out at the county line. It's a problem is lack of political will by the local government to stop it or show any leadership in the matter.

So instead of that, instead we are now building a faux urbanism where big chain stores are considered good simply because of their proximity to downtown Charlotte. A target at Exit 25 is bad. A target on I-277 is good. I don't understand that logic but it's my opinion this is the wrong way to go with city development. You guarantee huge numbers of vehicles no matter how its dressed up and which is now being proven with the Met. It's also soon to be proven with the "urban" Lowes. The fundamental problem with this kind of retail is they are anti-city and there really isn't much that can be done about it.

I am reminded about the recent saying on putting lipstick on a pig.

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The fundamental problem is that big box retail and fast food only work by attracting huge numbers of people from some distance.

With everything that I said, I don't think it's a simple fact of 'big box' retail being that to blame. I can name dozens of examples in the heart of urban environments that are able to support 'big box' retail names, I think it's more of how it's implemented and planned. I'm not saying I disagree with you in much of Charlotte's big box retail, I'm just saying as a generalization I don't feel it's fair. Off the top of my mind- I visited a Best Buy or Comp USA or one of the electronics big store retails in the heart of San Francisco some 10 years ago. In fact we were able to take the street car system there and walk right in. Ironically enough, they also have a Trader Joe's in the heart of the city, close to the Golden Gate Bridge. Also, Minneapolis, although I have never been to it, has a true urban Target in their HQ city.

Edit: Here's a rather interesting NYT article on big box retail in urban environment that reminds me a lot of the Met. Like I said, I'm not against the Met as an urban development, I think it's a catalyst in the redevelopment of Midtown as an identity, but I find agreement in the way some things were implemented (particularly the way that 4 of the big box stores are focused around a parking garage rather than the street). In solution, I do feel like the bones are there, they should really knock some holes on the outer walls and change the layout of stores to less focus it on the garage).

Edited by Andyc545
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... In fact we were able to take the street car system there and walk right in. Ironically enough, they also have a Trader Joe's in the heart of the city, close to the Golden Gate Bridge....

You mean the Bay Bridge. The GGB is nowhere near the heart of San Fran. :)

You're right about the SF CompUSA.... it was nice to see something like that within easy walking/transit distance. It saved me a couple of times when my laptop acted up or I forgot to pack my mouse when I went there on business. Too bad CompUSA closed it with the rest of their stores.

Edited by Datamastr
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When I have gone to Met I have made a point of parking in one of the limited spaces outside of the garage. Last trip I accidentally discovered the competely hidden "street entrance" across from the Met sales center. There is no sign or differentiation to make it stand out as an option. I only noticed when I saw someone open what I thought was solid wall. Driving into the complex gives me a very negative subterranean feeling. The developer has alllowed it to overwhelm everything else in this portion of the project. By placing the TJ's main entrance inside a walled off windowless bunker for cars, I feel like I am shopping in the garage and not the store. The two are so close together and intertwined it's a wonder they did not just turn the store rows into drive thru lanes. It just feels totally disconnected to anything "Metropolitan".

Edited by voyager12
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