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mallguy

Cities Charlotte should watch

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I returned from a great shopping trip to White Plains, NY, 22 miles north of Manhattan. Charlotte urban planners should take a trip there; it's a suburban city downtown, clearly built with suburbanites in mind, and with plenty of newish office towers and the squeaky-clean feel of Charlotte.

However, Main Street in White Plains, which just has maybe 5 blocks of high-density development, leading from the commuter rail station, has a Sears, Macy's, Barnes & Noble, Target, Whole Foods, Ritz-Carlton, Wal-Mart and other "destination" retailers all lined up, and there is a mall with a Neiman Marcus and a Nordstrom a block or two off Main Street. Once you leave that area, highways and nice suburban houses quickly appear.

If White Plains can get all of this in its newly rebuilt urban core, why can't Charlotte?

Stamford, Connecticut is similar- large UBS and other financial companies' office towers all lined up, plus a Saks Fifth Avenue.

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I returned from a great shopping trip to White Plains, NY, 22 miles north of Manhattan. Charlotte urban planners should take a trip there; it's a suburban city downtown, clearly built with suburbanites in mind, and with plenty of newish office towers and the squeaky-clean feel of Charlotte.

However, Main Street in White Plains, which just has maybe 5 blocks of high-density development, leading from the commuter rail station, has a Sears, Macy's, Barnes & Noble, Target, Whole Foods, Ritz-Carlton, Wal-Mart and other "destination" retailers all lined up, and there is a mall with a Neiman Marcus and a Nordstrom a block or two off Main Street. Once you leave that area, highways and nice suburban houses quickly appear.

If White Plains can get all of this in its newly rebuilt urban core, why can't Charlotte?

Stamford, Connecticut is similar- large UBS and other financial companies' office towers all lined up, plus a Saks Fifth Avenue.

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I returned from a great shopping trip to White Plains, NY, 22 miles north of Manhattan. Charlotte urban planners should take a trip there; it's a suburban city downtown, clearly built with suburbanites in mind, and with plenty of newish office towers and the squeaky-clean feel of Charlotte.

However, Main Street in White Plains, which just has maybe 5 blocks of high-density development, leading from the commuter rail station, has a Sears, Macy's, Barnes & Noble, Target, Whole Foods, Ritz-Carlton, Wal-Mart and other "destination" retailers all lined up, and there is a mall with a Neiman Marcus and a Nordstrom a block or two off Main Street. Once you leave that area, highways and nice suburban houses quickly appear.

If White Plains can get all of this in its newly rebuilt urban core, why can't Charlotte?

Stamford, Connecticut is similar- large UBS and other financial companies' office towers all lined up, plus a Saks Fifth Avenue.

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Isn't White Plains in an extremely wealthy suburban area of New York?

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Isn't White Plains in an extremely wealthy suburban area of New York?

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Isn't White Plains in an extremely wealthy suburban area of New York?

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^In other words, a denser, more walkable version of South Park.

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No I would not compare it to that. South Park is nothing more than a shopping mall and a bunch of disconnected cul de sac subdivisions. White Plains, Tarrytown, etc are actual grid based towns with real neighborhoods leading to village centers. The difference is that due to it's location it has gotten very expensive.

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IBM has its HQ in Armonk near White Plains. There are a lot of HQs in that area.

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One city I continue to be impressed with each time I visit (sister & Dad living there now), is Columbus, OH. Take a lesson from Short North arts district. One of the coolest areas I have visited anywhere. One of those type areas if you see a postcard, you know exactly where it is. Yes, they have OSU going for them, but a great road system and some of the cleanest, well maintained streets (i mean litter & landscape wise) I have noticed in just about any city of comparable size. Their downtown is awesome. Wide, wide streets (something Charlotte missed the boat on in the 1920's) and very clean. A new baseball stadium in a downtown on the move. Columbus, OH is one of my favorite cities and I have only been visiting there for a short 10 years and it continues to impress me every time.

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post-9912-1246654697_thumb.jpg

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I've only heard good things about Columbus. It helps they have 50k college students at OSU. I need to check that city out.

I would watch out for Denver or Portland. Also, Charlotte really needs more fun festivals.

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I've only heard good things about Columbus. It helps they have 50k college students at OSU. I need to check that city out.

I would watch out for Denver or Portland. Also, Charlotte really needs more fun festivals.

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Yep. Milwaukee is branding itself as the "City of Festivals" now. SummerFest is going on now and it is absolutely HUGE. The problem with Charlotte's festivals is they are geared towards families where other cities are able to make it family friendly and a drinkfest all in one. Plus, I think festivals would help attract more young people to the city. The biggest complaint I always here is that Charlotte is sort of boring.

Here is a quick list for MKE. MKE Festivals

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Columbus is nice, and Short North is beyond awesome, but downtown is mainly dead, dead, dead past business hours. They built one of the downtown malls that were all the rage 20 years ago and have been spending millions of tax dollars to keep the thing open. There has been some movement in getting people back downtown to live, but overall downtown Charlotte is MUCH more lively than downtown Columbus. Polaris and *shudder* Easton have taken a lot of energy from downtown.

...and yes, I love the Short North.

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^ I have never been to Columbus but have heard good things. To those that have, do you think it's possibe for one of our distinctive city neighborhoods to achieve the type of brand identity that Short North has in Columbus? How large is the neighborhood compared to NoDa and PlazaMidwood?

IMHO the relatively small footprint of our interesting and quirky hoods prevents any broader impact on the vibe of our city as a whole, diluting the intangible energy one just feels when visiting some other cities that are similar in population.

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Charlotte's biggest urban disaster was the building of I-277. It removed square miles of low rise urban development and made down town an island completely separate from the rest of the city. If they had not done this, I think there would have been a lot more opportunities for downtown to be much more urban than it is.

Many other cities made similar mistakes. I think it would be productive to study places where they have corrected these kinds of mistakes.

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One need look no further than Columbus, where 670 cut off downtown from the Short North, hastening the speed of downtown's demise.

Check out their solution. We desperately need this for 277.

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I went to Stamford, CT last weekend. Within a 10-minute walk from the train station is an urban Target, a mall with a Saks and a Macy's (and a new Barnes & Noble, Capital Grille and more) and plenty of other stores. Nice place (at least I thought). All of that is surrounded by RBS, UBS and other bank buildings.

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One need look no further than Columbus, where 670 cut off downtown from the Short North, hastening the speed of downtown's demise.

Check out their solution. We desperately need this for 277.

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That is a very nice park, I've been to it many times. The proposed 3rd Ward park will be very similar (just without the lake).

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That is a very nice park, I've been to it many times. The proposed 3rd Ward park will be very similar (just without the lake).

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