Updated Renderings, Plans For New Convention Center Hotel

Rendering of the proposed Residence Inn on Salisbury Street

Last week, the Raleigh Appearance Commission got a look at some new renderings for a hotel planned for the parcel of land near 500 Salisbury Street next to the convention center between Lenoir and South Streets. Long-time readers might remember this site being called “Site 4″ and it looks like the renderings are getting more mature now.

Some of the specs for the hotel, planned to be a Residence Inn, have slightly changed also. Comparing to a January 2014 post, we have:

Most is the same including the second floor and rooftop terrace.

As mentioned in past posts, this project will not add any more parking as a deal has been made between the developer and the city to lease spaces out of the Performing Arts Deck.

Rendering of the proposed Residence Inn on Salisbury Street

The project has a good human scale to it and expands downtown’s hotel offerings. I think this project is an easy one to support. While not architecturally significant, it’s more a functional addition rather than an iconic one. Looking forward to groundbreaking.

Pic of the Week

Charter Square construction site
The Charter Square construction site seen from City Plaza. This is the first tower of the two-tower project.

Municipography, Moore Square Transit Station, Smartphone Apps, and Smart Cards

Municipography is a summary of current issues going through the Raleigh City Council and other municipal departments in the city. The point is to try to deliver any video, photos, and text associated with the discussions happening at City Hall or elsewhere. Since this is a downtown Raleigh blog, the focus is on the center of the city.

There was a lot of transit talk at this week’s city council meeting. Presented to council were some 3D renderings of what the future Moore Square Bus Station could look like after its upcoming upgrade. Technology upgrades in downtown transit are also coming as money has shown up towards setting up a downtown Raleigh smartphone application and a smart card fare system for the CAT buses.

Moore Square Transit Station


Watch the video snippet above. If it doesn’t work for you, go here.

As part of the ongoing Downtown Bus Facilities Master Plan, Moore Square Transit Station is getting an upgrade. Jason Horne of the Raleigh Transit Authority and
the design team presented some new renderings of the station’s future. Construction could start as early as Spring 2015 on the now 26-year-old facility. Plans call for a new bathroom, security and ticketing office, more open, friendlier spaces, and and an additional lane for buses to handle more capacity.

Construction is estimated to take 14-18 months with the station being open throughout that time period. Here are a few slides from the presentation. Make sure to read the Raleigh Public Record’s article about the presentation and to see the rest of the slides and renderings.

Plans for the future Moore Square Transit Station

Plans for the future Moore Square Transit Station

Plans for the future Moore Square Transit Station

Downtown Smartphone App


Watch the video snippet above. If it doesn’t work for you, go here.

We definitely talk about parking a lot here. However, an initiative that I’m involved with to bring a smartphone app to downtown in order to help with any parking struggles has moved one step further. During the meeting, council approved $5,000 from a contingency fund to go towards the development of that app. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance will raise the rest of the money and see the app to completion.

Read more about our efforts here:

It’s never a bad time to talk about everyone’s favorite topic: Parking. I typically don’t fly the blog outside of downtown Raleigh but North Hills has something that’s very unique. I’m excited to announce that the Parking App Team that won last year’s DataPalooza, with roots in downtown Raleigh, has launched in North Hills.

*North Hills Smartphone App Will Include Parking Directions, Rumored World Peace

My team’s idea? To help people navigate urban areas, showing them the best possible parking locations and offering wayfinding to their end destination. Our smartphone application, still in the prototype phase, is the first step in implementing this process. We also have a nice list of features that will make the application very helpful.

*Parking In Downtown Raleigh May Get Easier Thanks To Open Data

Smart Cards for CAT Buses
As a final blurb that I think is worth mentioning, the city has received grant money from NCDOT to go towards a smart card fare system for CAT buses. Mentioned at the meeting, here’s an excerpt from the press release:

The Raleigh Transit Authority has adopted a priority of offering smartcard technology on CAT buses. The grant will allow a contactless, smartcard payment option to be installed on the fare boxes of the CAT bus fleet. Bus purchases will have fare boxes that will accommodate contactless smartcard and mobile ticketing applications. The total funding for the project is $378,440 90, which is 90 percent NCDOT grant funds and 10 percent City of Raleigh funds.

*City Receives Grant to Allow Smartcard Payment on Capital Area Transit Buses

Yay! Technology!

Pic of the Week

Corner of Wilmington and Davie Streets

Corner of Wilmington and Davie Streets, future site of The Edison Apartments. The two-story brick buildings have been removed and the site is cleared for new construction.

Here’s a photo of the same corner in 2008.

Weekend Exposure: Life Found a Way

Life Found a Way
Take a guess where.

Summer 2014 Restaurant Roundup

Death and Taxes
Summer nights in Raleigh are good for sweets and ales. Maybe not at the same time but if you happen to like a beer after a sweet treat, this season’s eats news has you covered.

For a complete list of eats, drinks, and coffees in and around downtown, make sure to bookmark the DT Eats page. Try something new!

you’ll be able to pay when you enter, receive a bracelet and pour your own beer from 40 different taps.

*Hey Triangle: Order your fall beers from Facebook

Pic of the Week

Charter Square construction site
Concrete and steel is rising at the Charter Square site.

Sharing Bikes, It’s What Raleighites Do

San Antonio B Cycle Station

San Antonio B Cycle Station

Or will do anyway according to a recent report. I just went through most of the recently released 2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study. The conclusion of the study finds that a bike share system in Raleigh is feasible. You can get the study here (pdf) or see it and a lot of other Bike Raleigh information at BikeRaleigh.org.

I decided to go through the study and take some notes.

Executive Summary
If anything, the Executive Summary is worth reading through. At a high level, the study identifies the following benefits of a bike share system for Raleigh:

These findings were based on certain qualities that our city has. This includes a comparatively “high resident density” and “high concentration of employers” near downtown, a “significant tourist market,” and “plans and policies in place focusing on the promotion of livable, walkable, and bicycle friendly places.”

A bike share system in Raleigh is not without its challenges however. Two major obstacles identified are:

  1. “A high dependency on single-occupancy vehicles (SOV’s)”
  2. “an emerging but not yet complete network of bicycle-friendly facilities”

Also mentioned as obstacles are a “difficult topography” and “existing development patterns” that promote low population and employment densities outside of downtown.

The first round of cost estimates are mentioned as well. From the report, here’s a table showing approximate startup and operating costs based on national averages.

2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study - Projected Implementation Costs

Diving Into The Study
The study is divided into nine sections that start by introducing bike share, what it is and how it has been implemented in other cities, all the way to demand analysis in Raleigh and a final recommendation.

If you are asking yourself, “What is Bike Share?” then I recommend reading pages 4-11 for some background history and fun facts about the service. For example, did you know:

A bike share system can help a community attract and retain residents. Many communities have used bike share systems as an added effort to help (re)vitalize and reactivate their downtown area(s). In addition, it provides a new and different way for tourists to see a city, helping attract more tourists and their spending power to communities.

*2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study – Community Economic Benefits page 8

I won’t go over the basics and benefits of a bike share system in this post. Instead, I’ll recommend checking out the study or reading a June 2013 blog post about my visit to San Antonio and using their bike share system.

Community Analysis
The study starts by taking a look at Raleigh and some of the community features like demographics, physical makeup, and current infrastructure.

Our temperate weather is always listed as a plus. Another plus are some generally flat areas around the core downtown. That’s not to say there aren’t some hills out there. I know Glenwood South is on quite a slant when cycling up and down it.

Our population:

The City of Raleigh is the second most populous city in the state with approximately 423,000 people living in the city – a density of around 2,800 people per square mile, which is higher than all of the other southeastern bike share cities.

*2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study – Demographics page 26

That’s a pretty powerful statistic right there. Here is the comparison between us and other southeastern bike share cities.
2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study - Size, Population, and Density Comparison

The study shows that the population and employment density is most clustered in and around downtown. There are a few pockets of higher density residential in southwest and north Raleigh but downtown really commands the most attention. See the figure below for a heat map of population density in Raleigh.

2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study - Population Density
Click for larger

Analysis was also done on low-income and minority communities. There is a significant overlap between feasible areas for bike share and locations of these communities. This presents an opportunity to provide a low-cost transit option to these residents.

Compliment to Transit?
Here’s probably the biggest challenge and detractor to the feasibility of a bike share system in Raleigh.

Raleigh is still a predominately auto-oriented city – single occupancy vehicle use represents 79-percent of all commuting trips (See Figure 21).98 Parking costs have traditionally also encouraged vehicle travel, even for short trips.

*2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study – Transportation Mode Share page 32

2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study - Transportation Mode Share

The quote says 79% while the pie chart shows 84%. Unless I’m missing something that might be a typo in the study. Either way, both numbers are pretty high and significantly show Raleigh’s dependency on SOVs.

The only area in the city with a significant amount of proximity to transit, mass transit specifically like Capital Area Transit (CAT), is in downtown. The study points this out as a challenge but lists an opportunity to use bike share to bridge gaps between activity centers that are poorly served by buses.

I think this is the biggest challenge by far for a successful implementation of bike share in Raleigh.

In addition to bus transit, our current bicycle facilities are mentioned. The study recognizes the increase in facilities over the last four years and the city’s commitment to be a “bicycle friendly community.”

However, if you look at the overlap between the areas where bike share is feasible, mainly downtown, and the fact that bike facilities are spread across the city, this leaves much fewer miles to be used within a possible system.

Here’s a point for more discussion. Most bike facilities are actually outside of downtown so to say that bike share can only happen near bike facilities doesn’t quite tell the whole story in my opinion. Downtown streets are naturally friendlier to bicycles so therefore are more fit for bike share. The study points out that there are much less bicycle facilities in downtown as a detriment to a bike share system and I think that could be argued against.

Policy
I’m not going to get into the details of this section but wanted to mention it as I thought it interesting. An identified challenge was that “The permitting process may be complicated due to restrictions on outdoor advertising, historic district designation, right-of-way ownership by multiple government agencies, and specific streetscape plans.”

Complicated indeed. An included flow-chart shows some situations having to go through seven layers of permitting.

Public Engagement
The feasibility study was not without its opportunity for you and I to participate. “Public feedback was gathered using a number of tools including a community workshop, a project website, an online survey, a crowdsourcing map, and interviews with local stakeholders and agencies.”

Surveys showed that 84% of respondents support a bike share program in Raleigh. Opinions, both supportive and of concern, were around the themes of:

To gather more information, an online crowdsourcing map was built so that people could suggest station locations and provide comments. Here’s a map of the 151 stations that were received including a table of the top 10.

2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study - Publicly Suggested Station Locations
Click for larger

Big Picture Conclusion
The study goes on to explain its methodology behind the recommendations and results as well differences between the types of bike share systems that are out there. Below is a potential bike share heat map as well as a list with final conclusions and recommendations.

2014 Raleigh Bike Share Feasibility Study - Potential Bikeshare Demand Heat map
Click for larger

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