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Blount Street Commons

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Hey all,

I just stumbled upon urbanplanet.org while googling planned Raleigh downtown projects, and it's great to see that there's actual a forum for discussion of such endeavors.

I don't know if anyone had a chance to read Bob Geary's article on the Blount Street revitalization in last week's Indy:

linkage

It seems that the time is nearing for decisions to be made on what's actually going to happen with the area, which I perceive to be a great opportunity to accelerate downtown's redevelopment. I live right by the capitol building, and I'm struck by the lack of activity in the immediate area, particularly east of the state gov't building complexes that line perhaps the biggest waste of open space in the city (the "park" between the legislature and Archdale buildings, if you could be so charitable as to call it that).

Given the black hole comprised by Capital Blvd (which really couldn't be in a worse place) and the state gov't buildings, an effective mixed-use plan in the Blount St. area has the potential to link Glenwood South with Moore Square, forming a somewhat circuitous are of activity between Glenwood South, Blount St., Moore Squre/Fayetteville St. (which hopefully will evolve into a destination in its own rite), and the Warehouse district.

I don't know about you folks, but although it's becoming trite downtown, a few mixed-use condo/commercial developments would fit the bill nicely. Street-level retail might not be appropriate there (except a small grocery store which I've been dying for!), but a restaurant/bar or two would bring folks in. The eye candy provided by some of the magnificent houses there wouldn't hurt, either (Heck-Andrews, etc.).

What would you like to see there? This is a big opportunity as far as I see it.

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the thing about the blount street project is i think they have it narrowed down to 5 developers who are creating a master plan for the project then will submit the bid. But they have to find a spot for the government workers currently working there and remodel alot of the historic houses. Raleigh went to some company to set guidelines for the project and recommend what is to be done with the area. There is a huge pdf file explaining all of this off the livable streets website, might be available on blountstreet.com too.

But i would like to see mixed used with restaurants, bars, retail on the bottom floor of condos

-have a two way traffic pattern,

-good streetscape like what they did with glenwood south

-Wouldnt mind seeing some high density office tower, the plan has an area designated for that. Probably something along 25-35 stories would be awesome thats probably wishfull thinking though

-large family housing

-maybe a hotel even doubt that though.

thats all i can really think of, maybe this will spread to person st. as well next to peace college and business will develop there.

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the thing about the blount street project is i think they have it narrowed down to 5 developers who are creating a master plan for the project then will submit the bid.  But they have to find a spot for the government workers currently working there and remodel alot of the historic houses.  Raleigh went to some company to set guidelines for the project and recommend what is to be done with the area.  There is a huge pdf file explaining all of this off the livable streets website, might be available on blountstreet.com too.

But i would like to see mixed used with restaurants, bars, retail on the bottom floor of condos

-have a two way traffic pattern,

-good streetscape like what they did with glenwood south

-Wouldnt mind seeing some high density office tower, the plan has an area designated for that.  Probably something along 25-35 stories would be awesome thats probably wishfull thinking though

-large family housing

-maybe a hotel even doubt that though.

thats all i can really think of, maybe this will spread to person st. as well next to peace college and business will develop there.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I seem to remember seeing a Peace Street master plan somewhere but I've forgetten where. Once you get down from the hill at Glenwood, Peace is not pretty. However, coupled with whatever transpires on Blount St., it's the linchpin, as I see it, when it comes to connecting Glenwood South with the rest of downtown (as well as Mordecai, which has great potential in areas on Person St.) on the north side.

The south end of Glenwood South will ostensibly link well with the warehouse district once Hillsborough st. in that vicinity gets humming along (areas just east of the Clarion). There is LOTS of attractive streetfront property between Dawson and McDowell near the Flying Saucer that would be perfect for retail/a restaurant/bar or two.

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I seem to remember seeing a Peace Street master plan somewhere but I've forgetten where.

I've seen the same thing actually, but I cannot recall where or even when. That side of Peace St has a lot of potential IMO, but now it is sort of dumpy. I would love to see the north end of Blount fixed up and have it spread west down Peace St to Glenwood. It would be convenient to what is already happening along Glenwood as well as the core of downtown.

I used to visualize that area revitalized even back when I was in high school (1991-1995). Our theatre program rented tons of equipment from Stageworks Lighting which used to be there on the end of Seaboard Ave near the CSX rail yard. I remember driving out there many times (during 3rd period--tech theatre class) to pickup load after load of stuff. Even then I thought how cool it would be to have it fixed up.

The best part of Peace St in that area is the gas station with the drive-thru counter. :D

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The south end of Glenwood South will ostensibly link well with the warehouse district once Hillsborough st. in that vicinity gets humming along (areas just east of the Clarion).  There is LOTS of attractive streetfront property between Dawson and McDowell near the Flying Saucer that would be perfect for retail/a restaurant/bar or two.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's right where Reynolds & Reynolds want to build a 30+ story tower, isn't it? City council asked for R&R to produce a site plan for the 301/309 Hillsborough St. property by this fall, with an absolute deadline of February 2006.

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yea thats exactly where it is at the top of glenwood, and hillsborough st. Perfect spot i think for a 30+ story. In the core downtown right now there just is nothing there to go there, glenwood atleast has something to offer. thats why blount st. and fayetteville st. are so critical to tie the whole downtown together. i think there is talks of re doing the streetscape for hillsorough st, too. If i had money id open up a bar at the old darryls location perfect spot for a good bar there.

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Hillsborough street is loaded with potential but it disappoints me. There are plenty of places to go of course, but the appearance needs some work. That Darryls location is excellent, you'd just need to chase the rats and roaches out! :D

Have you guys seen Cameron Village lately? I know this sounds sad, but the last time I saw it, everything was gaudy blue and hardly any tenants were there. I drove through there recently and was floored. The facades have all been redone with earthy tones and it looked like every space was leased. Talk about a turnaround!

Raleigh-NC was telling me that it has been renovated for some time now. Heh, I guess I missed that!.

Edited by NorffCarolina

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yea thats exactly where it is at the top of glenwood, and hillsborough st.  Perfect spot i think for a 30+ story.  In the core downtown right now there just is nothing there to go there, glenwood atleast has something to offer.  thats why blount st. and fayetteville st. are so critical to tie the whole downtown together.  i think there is talks of re doing the streetscape for hillsorough st, too.  If i had money id open up a bar at the old darryls location perfect spot for a good bar there.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What's also going to help things move along is actually having residents at the Dawson. Hopefully that will increase demand for more storefront activity in the Hillsborough St. block b/w Dawson and McDowell.

The possible Reynolds tower---is the site you mentioned immediately adjacent to the Clarion in that little half-block undeveloped lot, orulz? Raleigh needs a new tallest or at least another skyline fixture, I agree; however, I still think that having lots of pedestrian/storefront-friendly midriseses is better than the large monolithic towers. The smaller, not-as-tall buildings mesh with this city better. Just one guy's opinion B)

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i think there is talks of re doing the streetscape for hillsorough st, too.  If i had money id open up a bar at the old darryls location perfect spot for a good bar there.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hillsborough St. near NCSU is too crowded, narrow, and dangerous in its present four-lane configuration. They want to convert it to a 2-lane road with a median and roundabouts. This will allow for streetside parking at all hours, wider sidewalks, and a bicycle lane. Pullen Rd. will be extended north and connect with Oberlin Rd., rendering obsolete the zig-zag movement needed to reach Oberlin from the south and west. Since travel time will increase due to the two lane constriction, through traffic is supposed to shift to Western Blvd. Some are apprehensive about the idea of intentionally restricting traffic flow. The money situation isn't really sorted out yet, but it's definitely going to happen sometime in the near future.

The eventual result will be a much more pleasant environment. Some facade renovations on Hillsborough St. near NCSU have already happened, more are currently in progress, and more yet will undoubtedly happen in the future. I hope something happens with Western Lanes, too. The lanes probably haven't been resurfaced since 1962, and the building is ugly - a bit of a black hole for small businesses. The beautifully refurbished Porter's Tavern is an example of what needs to happen up and down the entire street.

From what I've read, the future of the Darryl's building is up in the air. The developers are even considering tearing it down and redeveloping, but that would be a tragedy since it's hands down the most attractive building on that part of Hillsborough. The orignial owners may also choose to sell it or simply renovate, but at any rate I don't think it's up for lease at the moment.

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I still think that having lots of pedestrian/storefront-friendly midriseses is better than the large monolithic towers.  The smaller, not-as-tall buildings mesh with this city better.  Just one guy's opinion B)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Definitely... though I would love to see some new tall buildings in Raleigh's core, I would put a higher priority on the human factor. Just look at DC--all the buildings are relative short but it is wall-to-wall and possesses a very active street scene. Of course, I'd take both if I could have it.

If any tall buildings are built in Raleigh (like the R&R tower), I'd want it to blend nicely with the existing high rises. One time someone posted a skyline shot from the parking deck of the hospital on Wake Forest Rd, and superimposed the R&R tower. It looked nice from that angle.

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Have you guys seen Cameron Village lately? I know this sounds sad, but the last time I saw it, everything was gaudy blue and hardly any tenants were there. I drove through there recently and was floored. The facades have all been redone with earthy tones and it looked like every space was leased. Talk about a turnaround!

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Yeah. It's better than it was - but you must have seen it a long time ago because I went there several times during the end of the "gaudy blue" era and even then nearly every space was leased out.

If you want my honest opinion, however, I would have much preferred to see a bunch of the the buildings get torn down one by one and replaced with three story mixed use structures - retail on the ground and apartments or condos on top. Who WOULDN'T want to live there? There a Harris Teeter, a Fresh Market, an Eckerd's, a Blockbuster, a Belk Express, PLUS piles and piles of restaurants and specialty retailers, all within a 5 minute walk. On top of that, there's frequent bus service and it's near NCSU. The collection of shops they have there is a great fit for the location; if only it had a residential component as well.

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Haha, yeah... though I had driven past it many times, the last time I had actually been in the grid and any paying attention was probably back in the late 90s  :P

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You mention the grid.

That is something that sets Cameron Village up as head and shoulders above pretty much any other development of relatively similar character (Lassiter at North Hills, Brier Creek, etc.) Cameron Village FITS in the existing network of streets. While modern developments only cater to people who live on-site and people who drive, Cameron really is a part of the neighborhood. The pedestrian connections are excellent, the parking lots are only two cars deep, and it just feels like a nice place. Cameron Village is exactly what the "new urban" developments springing up everywhere are trying (but not necessarily succeeding) to be.

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That is an interesting point--Cameron Village does interface very well with the surroundings, both in terms of roads and sidewalks. It feels very genuine compared to something like North Hills, which feels quite synthetic in comparison.

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That is an interesting point--Cameron Village does interface very well with the surroundings, both in terms of roads and sidewalks. It feels very genuine compared to something like North Hills, which feels quite synthetic in comparison.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Exactly, because it is synthetic. I'm from the DC area, creating these small town/downtown mallscapes was all the rage up there about 10-15 years ago (Reston comes to mind for anyone who's been).

Although the new North Hills feels synthetic, I do strongly support what's gone on up there, because you were dealing with an existing area rather than putting that development on new location. It would be nice if that sort of thing was downtown, but hopefully, Fayetteville St. and the undeveloped portions of the warehouse district will evolve on their own.

One thing that has always struck me about this area after I moved here is 1) how car-philic nearly everyone seems to be, and 2) how dowtown Raleigh is just only now beginning to crawl out from under its supposed "high crime," dangerous nature. I think people see homeless folks and assume that they're going to get mugged...that's the only thing I can tell. I very, very seldom hear about people getting mugged, etc. downtown.

Just ranting :silly:

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One thing that has always struck me about this area after I moved here is 1) how car-philic nearly everyone seems to be, and 2) how dowtown Raleigh is just only now beginning to crawl out from under its supposed "high crime," dangerous nature.  I think people see homeless folks and assume that they're going to get mugged...that's the only thing I can tell.  I very, very seldom hear about people getting mugged, etc. downtown. 

Just ranting :silly:

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I agree. There are way too many car-huggers here in Raleigh. The problem is, Raleigh's suburban, auto-dependant nature is a huge draw for many people, since it makes it feel like a smaller town than it is. People who are fed up with larger cities come here to live in a quiet, isolated cul-de-sac. If they work in RTP, they don't even have to go downtown for their job, either - and to some people, that is heaven.

But the idea that Raleigh's downtown is a dangerous place is absolutely laughable. This goes to show just how sheltered suburban life is. Some (most?) middle-class white people in Raleigh say the same thing about the buses, too: they're not safe. But I would argue that it's not actually an issue of safety, it's just an uncomfortable situation that is merely perceived as a genuine threat.

Many of these people grew up in a homogenous suburban environment, and have never known anything else. They usually only deal with other white people of similar incomes who live in similar homes in similar neighborhoods and drive similar leased SUVs. When confronted with something different, it makes them feel uncomfortable. Some people instinctively assume that people in a lower economic bracket are jealous of their posessions, clothes, etc. and will therefore try to steal them - put them on a bus full of a diverse group of mostly lower income folks and they go into panic mode. "Oh my God, what should I do!? Look at the floor! If you make eye contact it's all over! And DON'T DARE SAY A WORD! Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."

The truth is that it's all in their head. Nobody cares who ride the bus.

There are many people who are opposed to extending public transit into the suburbs. For example, in Atlanta, the issue of extending MARTA was on the table at one point. Many people in opposition to the idea gave reasonable arguments based on ridership, cost, environmental destruction, and even noise. However, there was one group whose main argument was that a MARTA extension would make it too easy for poor people to come to their neighborhood, burglarize homes, kidnap children, and rape women, and then just catch the next train out. Talk about ignorant! But yet, people who think like that do still exist. A big part of the problem in Atlanta is racial tension - which isn't quite so bad in Raleigh, but the undercurrents are still there. Even in Raleigh, your average middle class suburbanite would just as soon avoid "risking it," regardless of whether that risk is real or imaginary.

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Good comments, orulz, and I agree that part of the appeal of relocating to Raleigh for a lot of former bigger city dwellers is this bucolic, suburban environment that they perceive (rightly, in many instances) to be the case with Raleigh. However, these are the people who have seen downtown areas with a legitimate risk of crime, which Raleigh generally lacks, spare a few areas. I mean, what's the murder rate here, 20-30 a year? These people probably don't much care to head downtown, though (I'm talking about middle aged to older folks who already have families and are content and happiest in the burbs, which is fine).

The younger, single locals, though, often seem to hold this perception of downtown being a dangerous place. When I tell coworkers, etc. where I live, judging from their questions/comments, it is clear that this is how they perceive downtown. I usually remind them that on average, downtown sees much, much more police patrol than the outlying areas, is generally very well lit/highly visitble, etc.--but the perception remains. Sadly, racism (or probably more aptly, prejudice) plays a very large factor here. Many people, southern or not, see working-class looking black people and think, "that guy is going to attack me!" or at least perceive themselves to be at greater risk of an attack when a black person is involved vs. a white person. To be sure, many black people live around downtown...but so do many white people!

In my opinion, it is going to take lots of car-friendly, affluent redevelopment projects (Fayetteville St./BLount St. chief among these) to help get rid of these misguided perceptions of downtown. At that point, downtown residency will begin to increase pretty steadily. We'll just have to be patient.

A random thought occurred to me while writing this: coming from DC, it is laughable to me that people think that there's "no parking" to be found downtown. Hah! If "no parking" means having to walk a block or two, it's a pretty sad testament to how car-philic the triangle is that people complain about there being no parking if they have to walk more than 200 ft. to their destination from their parking spot.. <_<

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I find downtown to be very safe. The perception that downtown is dangerous really isn't that common amongst the younger crowd--I can't think of anyone I know in my generation (upper 20s) or younger that thinks of downtown as being unsafe. I'm sure they exist, but it is no one that I know. I have heard some middle aged and older folks making that claim though, but it seems that some time explaining the situation will alter their view. How many violent crimes even occur in downtown? :)

Regarding the parking situation--it is just a part of that suburban mentality. People want free and convenient parking for their car. I don't like the fact that parking anywhere that's worth a crap downtown costs money.

The nazi parking police force needs to go too. They ticket your car even if you are in the process of pulling out of a parking place :D Raleigh's overaggressive and burned out police force seems to have improved quite a bit in the last five years.

Anyway, I would rather find a free parking lot (good luck with that) and just ride the bus into downtown. Unfortunately, even that is hard to do since selfish lot owners surround downtown for several miles.

The state needs to build and operate a high-rise parking facility for free or a low/flexible price in downtown or somewhere very nearby. The parking decks also need to open up after 6pm like they do in Charlotte, if they don't already. After hours I usually park on the street, I haven't tried parking in a deck in a couple years--and back then they were actually closed after hours! What a waste!

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Glad to find this board and the lively downtown discussion. I also live in DT Raleigh on the west side near Hillsborough and Glenwood, and I walk to work at NCDOT (next to the capitol)every day. It's interesting how many people think that DT is unsafe. That's such a misconception compared to the reality. I walk all over downtown, and with the exception of a few neighborhood bums here and there, there's really never been any problems for me since I moved DT about a year ago.

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Glad to find this board and the lively downtown discussion.  ....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm very happy you found us as well ChiefJoJo. I hope we hear more from you given your NCDOT perspective. Personally I have my issues with the agency as you will find in the forum but we are all here to learn. Welcome.

Also its good to see more non-Charlotte forumers. :P

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.....

The possible Reynolds tower---is the site you mentioned immediately adjacent to the Clarion in that little half-block undeveloped lot, orulz?  Raleigh needs a new tallest or at least another skyline fixture, I agree; however, I still think that having lots of pedestrian/storefront-friendly midriseses is better than the large monolithic towers.  The smaller, not-as-tall buildings mesh with this city better.  Just one guy's opinion B)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What's the deal with this tower? I have heard that it will be 36-40 stories in height (or equivalent)

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What's the deal with this tower?  I have heard that it will be 36-40 stories in height (or equivalent)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There is the Quorum Center which is around 14 and is being developed by Reynolds and I have seen information relating to this larger tower (Reynolds Project) also. But I thought that the Quorum ended up being a smaller version of the Reynolds Project. Anyone have any more info concerning this?

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