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Blue Ridge Road District Study

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The presentation from the Blue Ridge Road District Study was recently posted on Raleigh's website.

Having lived in that area for quite a while, I can certainly say that Blue Ridge Road has potential. Office rents are relatively high, and yet there's a lot of land that is completely undeveloped or occupied by low-value state facilities like an NCDOT vehicle yard. All of that is bound to be developed eventually. Interestingly, a dense street grid (an irregular one, but unmistakably a grid) has seemingly sprung up organically in the area near Rex Hospital, but without a vision and a plan, even with the grid, it's completely certain that the area would continue to be developed in exactly the same way it has been up until now.

I don't know if I'm completely optimistic that this transformation will work, but at any rate I'm all for it.

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I noticed the streets connecting up west of Rex. There are some nice areas nearby with Lake Boone shopping center and whole stretch of Edwards Mill from Duraleigh to Eden is pretty nice with some buildings being pulled up to the sidewalk even. Blue Ridge, done right, will link all this together.

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The final draft report has been released with much more detail on aspects such as proposed street cross-sections, street layouts, and recommended developments. One interesting thing mentioned is relocation of the DHHS offices to a semi-urban campus across from the Art Museum that would be part of a North Hills-type district.

Overall, I think its a good plan and even the road improvements for bikes and pedestrians would go a long way, but I question if all the pretty pictures of the developments are feasible considering that it would take millions and millions of square feet of office and residential space to create these districts.

http://www.raleighnc.gov/business/content/PlanUrbanDesign/Articles/BlueRidgeRoadDistrictStudy.html (part 4 of 4 has the district plans)

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The proposed "Entertainment / Arena District" is confusing. I'm not sure what they propose to do the practice fields, by Centennial Campus they must mean Vet School, and I have no idea why they would want to connect the greenway under Wade Ave to the cow pasture. Also seems like you would want your mixed-use/retail along the major roads Blue Ridge and Trinity... instead they have it on the New Street. I guess its just a frame work and would have to actually be developed and fully thought out by a private developer - however long down the road that will be. I wonder if the city will go ahead and build the street networks proposed or wait until developers sign up.

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Looks unremarkable except for the bridge over Wade Avenue, a great idea. One of the Triangle's failings is that there is hardly any way to cross I-40, I-440, or the limited access portion of Wade Avenue without hitting stop lights and cross-turning traffic.

The State of NC isn't going to relocate its facilities along Blue Ridge Rd just because the City has a nice plan. Hasn't anyone learned from the Dix experience?

Anyway, it's good to see the City spending money on a study outside the Beltline.

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The state already has a huge presence along Blue Ridge Road. To me that seems like something that is very much in line with what they've done in the past.

However, the state is not going to put the DHHS in a nice mixed use development just because the city of Raleigh has a nice plan. They would build a campus of office buildings surrounded by a parking lot.

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They would build a campus of office buildings surrounded by a parking lot.

I agree that this has the norm for some time, but their assumptions are just wrong. Maybe it's cheaper to do acres of surface parking lots, but from an employee standpoint (and shouldn't that factor in?), parking garages next to the building or even integrated into the same building would be much more convenient and more people can park closer to the entrance. I wonder how much savings you even get from surface parking over a parking garage because you'd have higher costs for more land to purchase and more site/grading/drainage work.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I agree with you that the State has no incentive to cooperate with the City but it really shouldn't be that way and it actually makes sense for them to take advantage of the City's loosely recommended plan - although the DHHS location is somewhat in the hands of private developers after their RFP. Maybe a developer will put together their proposal for this area.

Who knows, maybe the State will surprise us? They DID put together a nice Green Square development! (Wishful thinking)

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Parking deck spaces are like 30k a piece I think. I got the impression that the State helped put this together reading the intro but it's hard to tell.

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the DHHS location is somewhat in the hands of private developers after their RFP

Yes, and there are large chunks of empty office space in RTP. Landlords there have been reluctant to back off their prices because they've been waiting for the economy to pick up. Problem is, the economy simply isn't picking up -- and now they've got competition from downtowns. My guess is that eventually DHHS will be made "an offer they can't refuse" on some of this space.

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The state has transferred 34 acres of prime real estate to the NC Museum of Art Foundation.  The foundation is the primary body responsible for bringing revenue into the museum.  The land is the former Polk site, located at the intersection of Wade and Blue Ridge Rd.  The foundation states that is doesn't have any current plans for the land, but will spend the next 18 months studying what they want to do with it before opening it up to developers.  The foundation will retain ownership of the land in either case and only lease it to developers, so the foundation will have a great amount of control in ensuring that that whatever is built will blend in with the museum and surrounding area without overwhelming it.

 

http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/12/11/2539463/state-gives-raleigh-land-to-nc.html

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It sounds to me that this is the reason the Blue Ridge Road study was conducted in the first place. Substantially complete in 5 years, 10 years for 100% completion seems pretty fast to me. 

 

This really is very valuable real estate. It hasn't been developed to its highest and best use since so much of the corridor is owned by public entities. But the privately built offices that do exist, sufficiently demonstrates the land value; though largely suburban in form, there are several 5-6 story buildings with structured parking.

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Sort of a tough piece of land to work with. I'd personally say pack a hotel anchored mid density set of stuff right up on Blue Ridge where it's sort of flat. Hotel has obvious clients built in, and there is essentially no retail in the area. Then leave the downhill area, including the whole Reedy Creek trail area, completely untouched with perhaps a spur up to the hotel and/or an outdoor cafe/eating area that is part of the retail area I see in my head. Maybe even have access directly off the Wade ramp into the complex...

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The district plan shows the Art Museum developing a strip of land about 500-800 feet wide on the east side of Blue Ridge Road from Wade to Reedy Creek with a mix of residential, retail, office, institutional, and hotel development. So this is pretty much just the flat area that you mention.

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Surprised this story was not picked up on. Interesting idea but it seems pretty far off if it ever does happen.

 

http://www.wral.com/rodin-and-restaurants-nc-museum-of-art-could-transform-into-livable-campus/11998939/

 

This is actually pretty realistic - likely send out RFPs by the end of 2013?  Its the City's massive Blue Ridge corridor plan that falls in the extremely unlikely category. 

 

This article has a bit more detail... http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/12/11/2539463/state-gives-raleigh-land-to-nc.html

 

The one thing that I would stipulate is that the smokestack be incorporated into the new development in someway.

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Less optimistic than you. Why? Let's follow the Raleigh way of doing things. Offer this out to only local developers who know nothing but strip malls and could never conceive of a project like this that requires a little bit of vision. Everyone then throws their hands up in defeat and decides it should be a Walgreens (with a drive through) and plenty of parking spots. Mass transit not even considered. End of story. Hate to be negative but that's the way it always goes. 

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I understand your pessimism based on much of the development in Raleigh, but consider... The art museum foundation is in charge of the master planning and their goals for the land will probably not be achieved with strip malls.  I have a feeling you will see something similar to the development nearby on Lake Boone Trail (at Wesvill Ct) but on a slightly larger scale (more floors of office above the retail) and with a hotel.  The original re-development style of North Hills is not unreasonable:  2-4 floors of office above retail with an anchor hotel.  And yes, this will probably mean some surface parking, but also consider that the museum has a desire to preserve as much green space as possible behind this development - so hopefully this could lead to structured parking of some sort.

 

Lastly regarding mass transit; there is an existing bus route and I'm sure it will be incorporated into whatever development occurs.  Rail? no, not needed.

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I was concerned you would bring up North Hills, which I personally think is a retro-gauche/gaudy attempt at neo urban development (ala Charlotte-see the Metropolitan). There have been plenty of people that have trained it in from out of town to go to  the NC MofA and could not believe there was no public transit link. Even higher ups at the museum are embarrassed by this lack of connectivity-hence the proposal for a rail stop in the initial plans. 

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Not to split hairs, but North Hills was being refashioned before Charlotte started Metropolitan. North Hills was among the first of it's kind. It is kind of tacky looking, especially Park & Market, but the effect it has had on the area cannot be denied. I'd much rather have the current North Hills than a dead, ugly mall. I don't think Larry Wheeler would allow strip mall development on this land. He has a grand vision. I think it's safe to say he is willing to fight to ensure that it becomes a true destination, even without a rail connection. 

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Re: No public transit?  Was the #100 bus not running that day?

 

Definitely off topic, but eventually I'd like to see a bikeshare program in Raleigh... if there was a docking station at Union Station and one at the art museum, that would be a very pleasant 5 mile ride for visitors.  I remember doing this in DC from the zoo to downtown and it was one of the highlights of my trip!

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Not sure about the transit connection as I was not there. Larry Wheeler does have a grand vision but from prior experience we know that his vision or any other vision will be dumbed down or even demolished to crap by the powers that be and the local "critics" (see Jaume Plensa). 

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So, it looks like the great plan is more park space/parking lots-what a waste. Dud. NCMoA should explore a land swap for Dix relocation. 

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Just five years ago NCMA erected a $72 million building that was almost 100% privately financed, You're proposing that they move? Not a chance. Or perhaps I'm misinterpreting your point.

 

 

To DanRNC's point, the 1983 building "designed" by Edward Durell Stone turned out to be quite different from what Stone had in mind. The original design was much larger -- the 2010 second building would probably have not been needed -- and the design was cost-reduced, e.g. brick exterior instead of marble. It was all about money, of course. 

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NCMA is not moving. That's a pipe dream. But just like we want Dix to be a great park, NCMA can be an excellent green space if we develop the rest of the Blue Ridge corridor appropriately. We need more high-density, pedestrian-oriented development adjacent to and nearby the NCMA property.

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