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Old 06-07-2011, 03:51 PM
 
1,661 posts, read 2,787,453 times
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Birkdale actually made the automobile traffic a lot worse.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:01 PM
 
Location: State of Being
35,885 posts, read 67,046,730 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akhenaton06 View Post
Well there are two specific New Urbanist developments in the Charlotte metro area that I can think of, Birkdale in Huntersville and Baxter in Fort Mill. These are the specific developments that were probably highlighted. They are better than your typical cookie-cutter sprawl, but they still exist within a car-dependent environment with no functional connectivity to their surroundings. I think New Urbanist developments work best as urban infill as that context would make them truly urban in practically every sense of the word (such as what's planned for the old mental hospital campus (http://www.dpz.com/project.aspx?Project_Number=507&Project_Name=Bull+ Street - broken link) just down the road in downtown Columbia, SC), but if they are going to be built as greenfield developments, to be maximally functional given the suburban context, they need to have access to a regional rail-based transit system. This is why the New Urbanist town centers and developments in the DC region largely succeed.
As usual, a nice review.

I think your observation about rail-based transit is spot on, btw.
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:03 PM
 
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I am always amused when I see one of these developments without a grocery store. It seems like that would be the KEY retailer for a truly walkable environment for residents. This is why many in-town neighborhoods are more truly walkable.

The zoning laws that dominated America since the 1950s (which essentially make walkability illegal) are tragic, but Charlotte recognized this in the early 2000s and has made some great strides in making a car-free existence possible in many in-town neighborhoods over the past few years. Fourth Ward, Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood are probably the top walkable neighborhoods in town. There are several other pockets of walkability surrounding grocery stores in the South Park/Park Road area and elsewhere.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:33 PM
 
6,270 posts, read 10,000,759 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coped View Post
There are several other pockets of walkability surrounding grocery stores in the South Park/Park Road area and elsewhere.
Amen!!! Most people would automatically call these areas suburban due to Southpark Mall and Park Road shopping center (if its a mall/shopping center, it must be suburban). However, when it comes to parks, doctors' offices, places to buy a pair of shoes, dry cleaners, grocers, and mass transit, (all within a short walk) these two are some of the best in town. They may not look very urban, but they do function in an urban way.

To be quite honest, uptown actually copied the Park Road/Woodlawn area. Take a good look at the Epicentre concept then look at the slightly older development at the site of the former Hannaford Food and Drug on the corner of Park and Woodlawn. If you notice a similarity, then you have a good eye because Epicentre and the Park/Woodlawn area has the same exact developer.

http://www.theghazicompany.com/bmcms...picentre.shtml
http://www.theghazicompany.com/bmcms...-village.shtml

This developer has been one of MANY that has tried his best to add a little new urbanism to this once boring town. However, he became "the bad guy" all of a sudden when he tried to bring his concept (a concept that had worked well in suburban areas of metro Charlotte) into uptown. It is like the same folks that complain about how suburban Charlotte is are the same folks doing everything to keep it that way. I just don't get it. I supported Park/Woodlawn and was happy to support Epicentre too once it was built. Yet some folks seem to want anything that is "uptown" to fail. Why is that? IMO this uptown hatred is the only thing that is holding Charlotte back from becoming truly urban/walkable. I mean if folks truly hate uptown, then these folks will most likely oppose uptown-like developments in their back yards. Its the NIMBYs that kill urban efforts in cities, NOT the local leaders. Then these same NIMBYS complain about how Charlotte isn't like downtown Charleston. Well DUH, you guys protested at the last city council meeting just so Charlotte would not ever look like downtown Charleston.

Last edited by urbancharlotte; 06-07-2011 at 10:57 PM..
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:42 PM
 
Location: Carrboro and Concord, NC
964 posts, read 2,041,901 times
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Charlotte has a very long way to go, and it's going at a snail's pace. I would hold out hope for infill - and I'd be MUCH more enthusiastic about infill if they included some some mixed price-points/inclusionary zoning to retain some affordabiliy. Chapel Hill and Davidson have at least looked into that. Charlotte should avoid the class-bound mistakes that other cities in the state have made however. Thus far, smart growth has been for wealthy or upper middle class folks, and this will not change in any meaningful scale within the lifetimes of anyone active on C-D.

The urban growth boundary in Chaepl Hill has not expanded or been modified, and the upwards pressure on local real estate prices (and the destructive effect on affordability) has been astronomical. Chapel Hill's policy dates back to the 80s. Portland's dates to the early 70s - with all Oregon cities, there must be a certain percentage of affordable housing on the market at all times, or several things must happen, under penalty of law - new infill construction at a scale that would correct the imbalance needs to be be authorized fairly close to immediately, expansion of the urban growth boundary to annex in pre-existing affordable construction, or expansion of the urban growth boundary with an eye towards 'annexing' easily developable parcels that could correct the imabalance. I wish Chapel Hill would adopt something similar, but I think Chapel Hill's real goal has less to do with Portland, and more to do with becoming a southern response to Mill Valley or Monterey - an extremely wealthy enclave of fashionable leftisms, and a very self satisfied view that there isn't poverty here. Not because we've progressively eradicated it, but rather because we've priced it all out to places like East (let the bullets fly) Durham - places no one in their right mind (even poor people!) is going to move to without a shrink and a bulletproof vest, and even then only if ALL other possible other options have been completely, absolutely, thoroughly exhausted.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC
4,761 posts, read 6,415,909 times
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I wouldn't dream of going car-free until the mass transit gets a little clean-up. And you're going to have runners everywhere, no matter how walkable or unfriendly to walkers the area is.

David, you're right about Charlotte being a long way off. I don't think Charlotte could be a very walkable area without substantial investment and then you've got to convince people to move into what would have been rough areas. With the current leadership and way of thinking, I would doubt Charlotte would ever be on par with major cities when it comes to walkability. This place just wasn't built with that in mind.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:35 AM
 
Location: metro ATL
8,190 posts, read 12,297,597 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spankys bbq View Post
I wouldn't dream of going car-free until the mass transit gets a little clean-up. And you're going to have runners everywhere, no matter how walkable or unfriendly to walkers the area is.

David, you're right about Charlotte being a long way off. I don't think Charlotte could be a very walkable area without substantial investment and then you've got to convince people to move into what would have been rough areas. With the current leadership and way of thinking, I would doubt Charlotte would ever be on par with major cities when it comes to walkability. This place just wasn't built with that in mind.
I'm not expecting Charlotte to try and overhaul areas like University City or Ballantyne into an urban paradise. I don't know of any city Charlotte's size that's undertaking such an endeavor. Hell, I only know of one city period that's doing that, and that's the DC area with Tysons Corner--and that's all because of the Metro being extended to Dulles Airport, so there's a major impetus behind that. However, I think Charlotte is doing great things when it comes to walkable development as infill in and around the urban core. Expanding transit (blue line extension, streetcar, etc.) will significantly aid those efforts.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:39 AM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC
4,761 posts, read 6,415,909 times
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Yeah, the streetcar is going to do wonders. All 500 feet of it. I'd bet most people would have preferred 4 lanes on Elizabeth instead of the set of unused tracks we have now. Blue line extension is how far away? Assuming its built in our lifetimes.

Charlotte's walkability ends with a few small areas and downtown.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:48 AM
 
2,603 posts, read 4,272,468 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akhenaton06 View Post
I'm not expecting Charlotte to try and overhaul areas like University City or Ballantyne into an urban paradise.
Yet if you've been by either side of the UNCC campus (UCity Blvd or N. Tryon) you can see that they've greatly enhanced the pedestrian-friendliness there, adding sidewalks, pedestrian islands, crosswalks, etc., to what was a high speed highway. So, it is possible to retrofit suburbia to make it more walkable.

And for the most part, mass transit in this town is remarkably clean and efficient in the core areas of town. There are some lines that are less so than others, but in all, transit here is pretty solid until you get far out.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:56 AM
 
Location: metro ATL
8,190 posts, read 12,297,597 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spankys bbq View Post
Yeah, the streetcar is going to do wonders. All 500 feet of it. I'd bet most people would have preferred 4 lanes on Elizabeth instead of the set of unused tracks we have now. Blue line extension is how far away? Assuming its built in our lifetimes.

Charlotte's walkability ends with a few small areas and downtown.
"All 500 feet"? The total streetcar line is planned to run 10 miles.

And yes, the blue line extension will be built in our lifetimes. Try and keep up: Light rail money back in budget | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/05/31/2340200/light-rail-money-back-in-budget.html - broken link)

Charlotte is doing the smart thing by greatly enhancing the walkability of areas where the infrastructure to do so already exists and having it spread out from there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coped View Post
Yet if you've been by either side of the UNCC campus (UCity Blvd or N. Tryon) you can see that they've greatly enhanced the pedestrian-friendliness there, adding sidewalks, pedestrian islands, crosswalks, etc., to what was a high speed highway. So, it is possible to retrofit suburbia to make it more walkable.

And for the most part, mass transit in this town is remarkably clean and efficient in the core areas of town. There are some lines that are less so than others, but in all, transit here is pretty solid until you get far out.
Good to hear about the efforts in University City. Although I haven't been gone that long, I never ventured out that way unless I had to which was rare.
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