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Justin6882

Dan Douglas' European vision for Raleigh

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Great vision... and I wish we had more people around here like Dan. He makes several strong points:

Totally rebuilding Capital Blvd, Pigeon Branch stream, and the railroad corridor would create a pedestrian-oriented (not car oriented) environment north of downtown, open up tons of land for development, and re-connect Glenwood South, Glenwood-Brooklyn, Five Points and Mordecai neighborhoods (as many have talked about on this forum). It's amazing that the 50th most populous city in America has no economic development strategy. Leaving this activity to the chamber (not exactly the most visionary group) is a big shortcoming. The fact that Raleigh has a large supply of state, local and quasi-govt entities as major land holders near downtown could be an asset and not a hindrance, if they think outside the box and with a common goal in mind, with the goal being creating a better city and making some money in the process.

Even if half the ideas he brought forward were implemented, it would be a great result for Raleigh.

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Dan, I know you check in here quite a bit and I have great admiration for your ability to plant this "black sheep" vision in the midst of a region where the modus operandi is distinctly one that lacks vision and not have it shouted down as the idea of a left-wing acid tripper. Both private groups and public ones bear this tattoo..or scar as it is, and as I have mused before, maybe it's nothing more than a reflection of what this local population mostly is comfortable with. The hallmark of your interview with the Indy, I want to stress to others, is less about the actual pattern of the quilt (which I will say contains the core principles I too hold dear) but about the method of creating it. The master plan. This schema is being held together by a non-profit corporation.

The first step, however in this Raleigh world of laissez faire and status quo is to present the numbers. Financial numbers. If you want folks to bite, generate these numbers......initial cost+O&M+replacement cost < revenues for each entity involved over a life cycle unit. I believe a grad student would love to take this on as a project. Raleigh has more vision than being the champion of the fixed gear bicycle. Root the proper people out, line them up, and pitch into this. I do not want to be drawing a pension before I can truly say I am proud of this city. I have 20 years until then.

:good:

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check out those comments

Yet another government planner, enthralled by all the neat things that could be done, if only they were dictators for life, if only there were no property rights, if citizens were just sheep to be shorn of their money, property, and freedom to choose their own way of life. Sigh.

Why can planners not accept that cars are the most flexible, inexpensive, environmental, and practical solution to life's transit problems? Why the fascination with iron fisted, horse drawn political machines of city politics that ruled this country in the early 1900's? Americans voted with their feet, en masse for the freedom and lower cost of life in the 'burbs. Why settle for a lousy vote when you can have real financial and personal freedom a few miles away?

And Triangle Transit's rail projects were unable to garner subsidy from the federal rail organizations. Against a backdrop of uncontrolled fed gov spending, each administration doubling up deficits, one can only imagine how profoundly stupid Triangle Rail must be if it is unable to convince one of the dumbest and recklessly profligate governments in the history of the planet that the project is worthwhile, or even relevant.

I remember the last planning fad to sweep the city, the Fayetteville Street Mall. It took 30 years to correct that mistake. Don't forget the urban renewals of the 60's and 70's that wiped all the housing stock just north of downtown and converted it to warehouses and light industrial buildings. Too bad, since Oakwood and other intown neighborhoods have been renovated and the demand remains for good single family housing.

A vibrant city is one that grows and changes without the heavy hand of planners, the impossible burden of planning costs, and the even greater costs of correcting the inevitable mistakes.

Consider Houston, no zoning of any kind, lowest cost housing in the nation, completely absorbing the Katrina refugees. Or New York, whose subways were built privately, for profit, only to be stolen by the city and integrated into a mafia monopoly.

We seem to take the same approach at home as we do abroad, waging war on the unlucky locals, dictating terms, mandating results, ignoring costs, subject only to kissing the ring of whoever is in power at the moment. We behave like an empire. I can only hope that the empire goes broke and that the hubris is not as painful as I fear.

There is hope though. Glenwood South developed in spite of planning, even thriving in its absence, as entrepreneurs took a chance on on teardowns and retrofits to dirt cheap real estate.

Here's to less FLUM, less zoning, less millions in plans and studies. Step away from visions, that is the dark side. Instead, open a business, satisfy a customer, make a buck, reinvest it, repeat.

This plan is DOA. The flow of tax money from outside I-440 to downtown is about to stop. This week's election is one indication; the shift of voters outside the I-440 subsequent to the 2010 Census will be another. I'm tired of throwing money into downtown when we can't even get the city to build sidewalks on major roads north of I-440.

"Guh I hate having some of downtown raleigh's money supporting itself. Why can't it all just go to me like it did in the 90s?"

"We should be free to choose whatever lifestyle we want. People that want to choose to live in an urban city with walkable neighborhoods, a lower environmental footprint, and something resembling culture can fudge off though. Nobody should get that choice."

I'm almost floored by the stupidity of the first quote. I can't help but wonder if he's trolling. If it were N&O it would be dead serious but Indy... harder to tell.

Edited by Spatula

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Dan, I know you check in here quite a bit and I have great admiration for your ability to plant this "black sheep" vision in the midst of a region where the modus operandi is distinctly one that lacks vision and not have it shouted down as the idea of a left-wing acid tripper. Both private groups and public ones bear this tattoo..or scar as it is, and as I have mused before, maybe it's nothing more than a reflection of what this local population mostly is comfortable with. The hallmark of your interview with the Indy, I want to stress to others, is less about the actual pattern of the quilt (which I will say contains the core principles I too hold dear) but about the method of creating it. The master plan. This schema is being held together by a non-profit corporation.

The first step, however in this Raleigh world of laissez faire and status quo is to present the numbers. Financial numbers. If you want folks to bite, generate these numbers......initial cost+O&M+replacement cost < revenues for each entity involved over a life cycle unit. I believe a grad student would love to take this on as a project. Raleigh has more vision than being the champion of the fixed gear bicycle. Root the proper people out, line them up, and pitch into this. I do not want to be drawing a pension before I can truly say I am proud of this city. I have 20 years until then.

:good:

I have done some rough calculations. Each acre of new development over the last 6 years has averaged about $24 million dollars. If you add up the "partners" developable acreage times this number (granted it was before the credit crash) you get the potential of $1.6 billion - not counting any development on "private land." That yields about $18 million an year in new property taxes to support expanded infrastructure.

Unfortunately, I am not an engineer, every project is different and I have no reliable way of calculating the costs for new roads, bridges, uncovered streams, greenways or streetcars. However, I am confident that much of the infrastructure work could be done incrementally as tax revenues from new projects rise.

Also there are many sources of matching funds at the state and federal level that can be leveraged to share the costs. I am increasingly getting the sense that higher levels of government are willing to help fund innovative, creative and sustainable economic development initiatives such as this.

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check out those comments

"Guh I hate having some of downtown raleigh's money supporting itself. Why can't it all just go to me like it did in the 90s?"

"We should be free to choose whatever lifestyle we want. People that want to choose to live in an urban city with walkable neighborhoods, a lower environmental footprint, and something resembling culture can fudge off though. Nobody should get that choice."

I'm almost floored by the stupidity of the first quote. I can't help but wonder if he's trolling. If it were N&O it would be dead serious but Indy... harder to tell.

Planners and the Government in one way or the other and in partnership with the Private Sector - envisioned, planned and permitted RTP, I-540, I-440, Capital Boulevard, Glenwood South and the subdivision in which the commentor lives. Was that heavy handed? I am proposing no more or less for our center city.

The last planning fad to sweep this city was and is umitigated sprawl. It will take much longer than 30 years to correct that mistake, if ever. We are beginning to make the right moves with the Comp Plan concentrating new development along transit corridors and redeveloping inside the city limits - not extending them too much. But its going to take much more work from all of us.

We will see how practical, inexpensive and flexible single occupant vehicles are after China and India add 400 million new ones to their streets in the next 20 years - sending gas prices well beyond the almost $5 a gallon we hit last year. Some have predicted that when the world economy comes back in three years we will see $8 to12 dollar a gallon gas...I hope not - but if we do - folks like the commentor will be asking why the government hasn't provided transit options and how did we not see it coming.

It has been documented by the realtors association and the homebuilders association that around 30% of Americans would prefer to live in the type of connected, compact and green urban neighborhoods described by this idea. We just haven't built enough of it yet in Raleigh - at least not the "true" model - dense, sustainable and connected by transit. Downtown is only at the very beginning of its tranformation. Just wait until High Speed, Commuter and Regional light rail connect it to the whole of the south east and beyond. We will capure that 30% and then some.

Planning is the organization of hope.

My hope is that when climate change, peak oil, dwindling water resources, a growing population and the aging of america all take root in the next 5 to 15 years, Raleigh will have become resilient enough to continue to flourish as the city we all love.

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This plan is DOA. The flow of tax money from outside I-440 to downtown is about to stop. This week's election is one indication; the shift of voters outside the I-440 subsequent to the 2010 Census will be another. I'm tired of throwing money into downtown when we can't even get the city to build sidewalks on major roads north of I-440.
Author Unknown

I like Dan's ideas, and I've seen those types of development strategies in play as well. A shorter trip to California might have sufficed for most of those.

I wish I could say that I was optimistic about any of these happening in Raleigh. But the quote above from "CT" (yeah there is one of those on here too -- Hmm) is pretty indicative of why so many progressive projects fail in Raleigh. Until there is some cataclysmic paradigm shift in Raleigh's politics, these too will falter I am afraid. I've always said that the best thing Raleigh could do is split North Raleigh off -- deannex it -- and leave those cranky, surly, and oh so self-pitying suburbanites to their own devices. But for one, there are too many dollar signs in the way, and second, the Norquistian gadflys that run that part of town spew this stuff for soundbites only. Assuming they aren't totally stupid, they know that if such a thing were to happen that it would quickly become apparent that subsidized water and sewer to 3.3 acre tract homes, let alone those "sidewalks" that no one would use up there anyway, is not only a losing proposition, but a veritable sump of tax money. (The subsequent developers fees would probably kill future sprawl in its tracks, without Raleigh's denser neighborhoods, businesses, and industries picking up the slack.)

A land bank of which Mr. Douglas speaks would work only if you could convince the entire State and its body of legislators that the "upzoning" that he speaks of actually works (it does), and will actually provide more money to the state coffers than the raw value of the land itself, whether it be from production of sales taxes, jobs, aesthetic value inflation of the surrounding neighborhoods, or a combination of all of those. But considering the Dix situation (a much easier proposition to come by, one would think) I will not hold my breath.

May I make a suggestion? Well, too bad. You're gonna get it anyway... :alc:

You need some heavy hitters to come in. I also think that other parts of the world are better exemplars for you than Europe. The Continent has far more potent taxing powers and has a way more cohesive urban design ethic than the US -- especially the South. In places like Asia and South America, they have had to do way more with way less, and for my money are more impressive with their success for that reason.

Enrique Pe

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Dan Douglas' European vision for our city

This is an excellent read, and something I think most of us can agree on needs to happen. Once again, someone is tearing down my house for an arena, but if it's for the greater good, I can deal ;)

Thought I'd bring this topic up again considering the city is putting forth an effort to provide a make over to Capital Blvd. I thought Dan Douglas provided a good starting point for this undertaking. While some might argue for creating an entirely limited access blvd from downtown to at least the Beltline, Douglas proposes removing the exits from Capital Blvd.

Read the story, tell us what you think should be done to Capital Blvd to improve Downtown, the neighborhoods to the east and west of this vital artery in our city.

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Thought I'd bring this topic up again considering the city is putting forth an effort to provide a make over to Capital Blvd. I thought Dan Douglas provided a good starting point for this undertaking. While some might argue for creating an entirely limited access blvd from downtown to at least the Beltline, Douglas proposes removing the exits from Capital Blvd.

Read the story, tell us what you think should be done to Capital Blvd to improve Downtown, the neighborhoods to the east and west of this vital artery in our city.

I've always been a fan of douglas' vision for the city and for capital. Making it more livable would be fantastic and I think it's something that would really improve the city overall. I'm fully behind his ideas.

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The city has released the latest report regarding the Capital Blvd corridor just north of downtown.

http://www.raleighnc.gov/business/content/PlanUrbanDesign/Articles/CapitalBlvdCorridorStudy.html

Overall, I like it a lot. I was a huge fan of Dan Douglas' vision and although the City's plan is more open space instead of the urban street grid that Dan laid out, I like it. I think the key will be to concentrate dense development at the transit stops. I think its a good blend of developement and establishing a gateway to downtown fitting of the "City of Oaks".

Some of my comments were:

  • Include a bridge (either multi-modal with vehicles, or just pedestrian/bike) connecting Carson St in Five Points neighborhood to N. Blount St.
  • Include a Light Rail station along the existing proposed route near where N. Blount St currently ends.

These two features combined would allow dense development along Capital and the West Street extension between Wade and Wake Forest Rd as well.

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The Final Report of the Capital Blvd Corridor Study is scheduled to be presented to the City Council next Tuesday, the 19th at 1:00 pm.

I wonder if the Link Peace Street Group got their point across for a grade intersection of Peace St and Capital Blvd.

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I wasn't even aware there was such a group, but I have certainly been advocating this on UP for a number of years. This would do wonders for allowing Peace to be redeveloped as an urban street instead of the suburban style it currently is from Halifax to West. Fairview Road originally connected to Peace where Capital is now, and it was of course at grade.

Edited by Jones133

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I wasn't even aware there was such a group, but I have certainly been advocating this on UP for a number of years.

Here's a link to their website:

http://linkpeacestreet.com

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I wonder if the Link Peace Street Group got their point across for a grade intersection of Peace St and Capital Blvd.

Apparently not, as state transportation officials, according a recent N&O article, said that the bridge will remain because 50,000 cars pass this area on each side, each day and a light would create traffic backups.

http://www.midtownraleighnews.com/2012/06/16/12880/raleigh-nears-vote-on-capital.html

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I am not convinced this corridor is the best application for the "superstreet". And of course they will determine that a bridge over Peace St is required with their assumptions. My problem with it is that all of the assumptions are for Capital Blvd to function the same as it does today. It will still act as a thoroughfare to get people through the corridor quickly, rather than trying to develop an urban avenue that would help create a new district and extension of downtown.

This 1.8 mile stretch from Lane St downtown to Fenton St (Bobby Murray Chevy) is the only stretch of Capital in the entire CITY that functions as an expressway. Why the need to continue this when we have the opportunity to fix it. Sure it made sense in the 60s to speed commuters through the railyard no-man's-land, but it doesn't make sense if you want to turn the corridor into an inviting place for pedestrians, bikes, and development.

Also, can pedestrians/bikes cross superstreets? My only experience with them is a small one in Wakefield and then highway 17 near the coast - not exactly urban areas.

My solution would be to create a street grid for the area between the two railroad lines. Capital would be an avenue with 3 lanes each direction and would have signalized cross streets (lights can sync for rush hour commuters). Major intersection with Wade would be a traffic circle similar to Dupont Circle in DC. Local traffic would take place at grade in the circle, but thru Capital traffic would pass in a tunnel underneath.

Just seems like the "superstreet" proposal is taking what we have now and adding u-turns.

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Link Peace Street has the greatest of intentions but I think they're making a pretty serious error.

I am not convinced that Capital Blvd and the Pigeon House Branch valley are good targets for any kind of urbanization at all. It's really a uniquely constrained area that's extremely unfriendly for any kind of urban development. It's not a highway that was cut through an existing neighborhood. It's a flood-prone lowland that's tightly hemmed in on both sides by railroad tracks and yards (and will be even more tightly hemmed in if/when High Speed Rail is built. There is practically zero connectivity with neighborhoods to the east and west. It was essentially undeveloped for all these reasons until the 1950s when Capital Boulevard itself was built, and as a result of the poor connectivity and flooding, it was developed with low intensity industrial uses.

For every Hillsborough Street that turns into an axis of dense urban development, there needs to be a Wade Avenue/Western Boulevard to carry the heavy car traffic that won't disappear in any version of the future. We would be well-served to configure Capital Blvd, given its physical constraints, to handle as much of the traffic as possible - divert the heaviest traffic away from the other roads where urban development actually has a realistic chance of taking off.

If you want corridors to focus on for urbanization north and northeast of downtown, choose Blount, Person, Wake Forest, and Atlantic, which lack the physical constraints and connectivity issues that Captial Blvd faces.

If the only goal of an at-grade intersection at Capital/Peace is to make Peace Street more pedestrian friendly, why? There's already two railroad overpasses and High Speed Rail will add a third, what's one more overpass? Besides, the only way that I could see where Capital Boulevard could be converted to an at-grade intersection is if some of its traffic were diverted elsewhere. A Wade-Halifax connector would be one example, but I don't see that as feasible since it would step on an awful lot of toes to provide what amounts to a somewhat nebulous benefit of "Maybe downtown will eventually start to extend up this corridor that is hemmed in between two railroad tracks and largely unable to be developed anyway due to flooding."

I think that time spent pushing an at-grade intersection for Peace/Capital is wasted time. Instead, we should be trying to make the Peace Street bridge and interchange designs as compact, attractive, and pedestrian-compatible as possible. The DOT designs have LOTS of room for improvement this respect, but all the grassroots effort has been concentrating myopically on this Link Peace Street idea which, in my opinion will not come to pass and even if it did would not have nearly as many benefits as its boosters claim. So we're going to end up with a crappy bridge design instead of a good one, which is what we could get if Link Peace Street were pushing for more realistic goals.

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I am too tired to write much but just want to say in response to Green Man that even the 60' expressway were bad ideas...they were nothing more than white flight corridors. No side walks. No buses outside the loop...don't get stopped at a traffic light and you can't get mugged. And Orluz, Capital did cut through an existing urban neighborhood. The whole eastern half of 'smokey hollow' was destroyed between Peace and North streets. Pigeon House starts its jog north near Peace and it was mostly pasture land along it north of Peace. It was as destructive as South Saunders was much later on. I still advocate a hybrid that grids south of Peace but keeps the expressway (and corridor study ideas) north of it...at grade.

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But how do you grid south of Peace with the railroad being where it is? Something like this? Given all the property that would have to be acquired, the fact that the chiller plant for the state government complex would have to be relocated, the cost of building new underpasses for the railroad, and the (IMO) dubious developability of anything on or between Dawson and Morgan, it's probably not worth it.

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Orulz offers very persuasive logic for why the Link Peace vision just ain't gonna happen. An at-grade intersection is infeasible. Worse, the flood-prone area with a significant hill to the south makes a mini Big Dig (like Boston) infeasible too.

The answer is to pretty up the area as much as possible and spend the big bucks elsewhere where they can have a higher payback.

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The idea of extending McDowell and Dawson as a one-way pair to essentially split the Peace/Capital intersection in half seems to have merit on first glance, but I think on closer inspection even that idea proves to be far too costly for comparatively little benefit.

To improve the grid in the area without the costly extension of the McDowell/Dawson one-way pair, extend Harrington to Peace. This is already included in DOT's "square loops" design. Other possible connections include Tucker to Harrington, Lane to West, and linking the two segments of Johnson Street.

The "square loops" design has other issues too, but I believe those can be clearly and sufficiently addressed.

Really, though, what are we losing, from a development perspective, by leaving Capital Boulevard as an expressway? The triangle of land east of Capital, south of Peace, and west of the CSX railroad becomes a bit less attractive for redevelopment. But given the proximity to the planned Peace Street light rail station, and given a satisfactory interchange design, I think it will still be attractive enough to developers.

The reason that Peace Street feels so hostile to pedestrians through there is not because of the fact that Capital Boulevard bridges over Peace. It is because of the 1950s interchange design (which we now have the opportunity to correct, provided we lose the tunnel vision for this "link peace street" at-grade intersection idea) and the auto-centric way the area is developed (which will improve on its own with redevelopment.) The city also eventually plans a streetscape project that will make it more friendly as well. In fact, I think it would be LESS pedestrian friendly with an at-grade intersection.

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But how do you grid south of Peace with the railroad being where it is? Something like this? Given all the property that would have to be acquired, the fact that the chiller plant for the state government complex would have to be relocated, the cost of building new underpasses for the railroad, and the (IMO) dubious developability of anything on or between Dawson and Morgan, it's probably not worth it.

You're right. I tend to rearrange things as if they were legos. The idea was follow the southbound off ramps south to Dawson and McDowell, move the chiller, raise the railroad , and reconnect North (as far west as Daswon), Johnson and Harrington. McDowell would essentially hug the parking decks, punch Johnson through to Salisbury and as part of a separate project have the State redevelop the training center lot, re-square WIlmington and Salisbury, build a big office building fronting Peace that connects to the Archdale....on and on my legos....essentially getting the grid right all the way to Peace. There was plenty of money to undo the grid and acquire the properties, but I realize the reverse logic won't sell my pretty plans

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