Pic of the Week

Elan Apartments under construction

This weekend I took a walk around the Blount Street Commons area. The Elan Apartments look almost done here along Wilmington Street. As we’ve discussed, nothing fancy at all but it’s a lot of urban infill compared to the parking lot that was here before.

The state government district could use some new residential for sure.

Elan Apartments under construction

CityCamp NC is June 11-13

CityCamp presentations during the 2014 event.

CityCamp presentations during the 2014 event.

An event that I’m passionate about, CityCamp NC, is coming up soon and I want to encourage readers to consider attending. The annual unconference focuses on conversations around how government, businesses, and citizens can use technology to create solutions. Come listen to talks and even participate in a team that could walk away with a cash prize.

At different parts of the event, you can hear talks about what is going on around us such as government/citizen collaboration, how open data can help teams find solutions, or what problems civic hackers are working on. During the kickoff on Thursday, June 11, we’re taking over HQ Raleigh for networking, lightning talks, and inspiration.

On Friday and Saturday, we’re moving over to the Wake County Commons where we’ll be hearing ideas from participants, start the conversations around those ideas, and teams will start forming. Working demos and pitches on these ideas will be done by the end of the event and judges will help determine the winners.

This is what I love about the event. Inspiration leads to ideas leads to action in such a short amount of time.

For more information check out the official press release and make sure to register soon.

Let me know if anyone has any questions about it as I am a core volunteer for the event this year.

Warehouse District Rezoning Planning Commission Video

Real quick. I wanted to throw this up to keep the conversation going and give folks a chance to watch it for themselves. Here are some quick notes.

Pic of the Week

The Gramercy under construction

The Gramercy coming out of the ground at the corner of Glenwood and North Street.

More on the Upcoming Dillon Supply Company Warehouse Rezoning

Dillon Supply Company warehouse

Click for larger

According to the May 26, 2015 Raleigh planning commission agenda, the rezoning request for the Dillon Warehouse Company building is at bat. I wanted to get into it today before the meeting and maybe follow up in the comments after the results.

For a little background, jump to this post:

Multiple Rezoning Requests on the Table

If you want to get into it, search the city’s website for case Z-1-15.

The request is to rezone the group of properties, listed in the case, for buildings up to 20 stories with some conditions. Here are a few key ones that stuck out to me:

There are a few more that deal with parking but we’ll get to that soon. Just like the story at 301 Hillsborough, there are those for and against this rezoning.

The opponents claim that 20-story buildings are out of place with the warehouse district and that removing one of the great warehouses would be detrimental to the area’s vitality. Those very pro-development want to see intense urban growth in the city’s core as well as making the most for our public dollars being invested across the street in Raleigh Union Station.

Reading these conditions, it sounds like work has been done to perhaps make a compromise.

I thought about it a lot and I lean more toward pro-growth and getting some bang for my dollar in the Union Station project. However, I do love the warehouse district and for us to even have a district at all we need, well, warehouses.

My fear isn’t losing Dillon Supply as it sounds like there are conditions in place to help maintain the facade. I’ll be interested to hear discussion about the 9-story cap on 65% of the southern block as that may limit what a developer can do compared to 20. Still, 9 floors of active space is way better than the zero we have today.

My biggest fear is of course my favorite topic. Parking.

I wrote about what the Citrix project has done to the warehouse district and I fear the project here will do the same.

Less intense development = less of a case for transit. That means large parking decks will be built and downtown is still not moving closer to being a multi-modal area. Raleighites will still find it more convenient to drive to this location, even when across the street from our central transit station.

On top of that, the parking situation with this rezoning leaves some possible undesirable effects. I’m pulling all this from the agenda, emphasis added by me:

However, there are several urban frontage requirements that would not necessarily be addressed, notably design standards that would require structured parking to have active uses on the ground story between the sidewalk and the structure. The conditions do require that W. Hargett and W. Martin Streets have active uses between any parking structure and the rightof-way. The conditions also offer that at least 45% of the width of any parking structure on S. West and S. Harrington Streets would have a “non-parking use” between the structure and the right-of-way. While this provision does offer some guarantee of active uses (or at least nonparking uses) on the ground-floor on these streets, it still leaves a significant portion of building area – some of which would be directly across the street from Union Station – that would not be required to have active uses.

We could see long stretches of the future development being long, blank walls (hello Citrix!) which doesn’t add anything to the urban form of the area. Again, that’s less desirable here because of Union Station being right across the street.

I’ll end here with the conclusion from the agenda:

The proposed rezoning is consistent with the Future Land Use Map and would allow an appropriate density and mix of uses on a site located next to the city’s future transit hub. However, the proposal is not consistent with the Urban Form Map as well as key policies from the Comprehensive Plan. The Urban Form Map and policy guidance from the Comprehensive Plan require an urban frontage designation or a conditioned equivalent, the latter of which the proposal has not fully provided.

In my opinion, the request makes me nervous for the future of the warehouse district. I’m not talking about torn down warehouses. I’m worried about the warehouses being shells for parking decks. I want to see the warehouses incorporated into complex building plans that are interesting and are activating the sidewalks. That’s urban to me.

I hope that the commission can take pause and not be swayed by an opportunity for parking to support Union Station masked by the face of “new development that supports transit.” For me, I need to see this issue improved for my support.

I’ll definitely be watching this discussion and let’s get a conversation going afterwards.

Pic of the Week

Construction at Exchange Plaza

Great to see construction starting on the makeover of Exchange and Market Plazas. The construction should wrap up this Fall.

Construction at Exchange and Market Plaza

Choose Our Transit Video

I recommend email readers click through to the website to see the embedded video.

Still on my to-do list is to catch up on the Choose Our Transit sessions. Above is the video of the meeting that took place on May 11 at the convention center. If you can’t see the embedded video, go see it on YouTube here.

To dive right into things, see the full Expanded Transit Choices report on the Choose Our Transit website.

The consultant, Jarrett Walker and associates, has also introduced the report on their blog.

This begins a period of public discussion about the report and the choices it outlines. That discussion will give us direction on what form the final recommended plan should take. That plan, in turn, will form the basis for a proposed referendum on a sales tax increment to fund expanded transit.

*Raleigh: Four (or 36) alternatives for Wake County’s transit future via Human Transit.

I’m sure downtown Raleigh will be a key role in no matter what comes out from the plan. However, how many routes and the kind of ridership levels coming into and out of downtown could change based on some of the recommendations.

Let us know what you find interesting and make sure to provide feedback, not here but on the sites linked above.

The Link Apartments Tops Out

The Linnk Apartments under construction

Well almost topped out. I took a walk around the site of The Link and this apartment project is currently in the “beehive” construction phase. The eastern most side of the building is topped out with the western half almost there. Last time we talked about The Link on the blog was in November 2014 and the building wasn’t out of the ground yet.

This building has a real impact on the intersection of West and Jones Street which should see a real uptick in pedestrian activity due to all the new residents in the area.

Nothing thrilling to report really but it was time to check in on this one again.

The Linnk Apartments under construction

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