Pic of the Week

West South Street. April 2018.

The storage facility being built on West .

It could be worse.

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Yeah, they could have built this right between the State Capital, Legislature building & Governers Mansion…Lol

Exhibit A of why building elevations alone are not enough information to approve a design. What a horrible waste of that lot.

Amazing how the City council nitpicks every minute detail of a hotel on Peace street, something that will actually ‘ADD’ vitality to the City yet they allow this eyesore to be built with no aesthetic concern whatsoever. They can’t just say ‘code allows it’ given they can change the code.

This could be a great opportunity to turn some of our street artists loose, to turn those terrible expansive flat surfaces into murals to brighten our city. I’m seeing more street art popping up here and there. Let this unfortunate building open the doors to a whole new level of street art.

@Thomas… completely agree!

Are we sure that isn’t the new Hilton Garden Inn?

I know that it’s difficult to legislate aesthetics but I still don’t understand which projects make it through the appearance commission and which don’t. Does anyone know?

It’s obvious that the developer was trying to break up the massing with the illusion of segmented “buildings”. It was a fail.

Meh, this doesn’t bother me too much. I agree it could be worse.

Is the east or west corner where the ‘retail’ space will be? On a side note, is storage space renting considered ‘retail’? If so, we may have been snookered.

It’s not “real” retail to the best of my knowledge. It’s retail that supports the thing it’s in so it’ll sell tape, boxes, etc. I keep forgetting the name of this type of retail.

Good grief, that is an abomination . . .
Couldn’t they have at least continued the use of brick on the corners, as was done with the residential buildings at The Dillon? It wouldn’t have looked half as bad that way.

These uses should be only allowed in industrial areas. They should not be allowed in residential areas such as West South, & particularly not pertruding in front of the Cotton Mill condos. City officials should fix this travesty.

Developers should stack extra storage spaces in towers, like parking is, lease it out to the public and maybe give residents an assigned unit. It wastes ground level space just like parking decks have historically. Then you can get some extra height out of towers too so the post cards look nice.

Mark, I agree!!!
City Council should have told them, make it look
urban, transitional and pleasing to the eye from a
neighbor and walkability point of view.
If not, project not approved.
And they are worried about a roof top bar on Peace.
Clueless city council members.
Who wants to look at that from across the street,
unless it’s all commercial.

Now Historic Boylan has beautiful views to Death Row and a massive storage building. Good thing that awful hotel on Peace is stuck in city council hell.

Agreed Fran. How can we get rid of these people. The problem jokers seem to keep getting elected with zero understanding as to what they’re doing. It’s mind boggling!

While this was approved by the City before my appointment to Appearance Commission, I do not believe it came before the AC for consideration (blank walls).

I am looking into the issue presently and will report back.

Who the frick uses storage that is right in downtown anyway? Jesus. Me: “Where do you store all your things?” You: “At the swanky new luxury storage facility just opened in downtown. It’s fab.”

“Who the frick uses storage that is right in downtown anyway?”

Probably people who live in downtown. Why drive your crap a few miles away when you can walk down the street to it?

“Let’s downsize by moving downtown!. And look, a convenient storage unit to help us downsize!” :/

Ummm, if you’re using a storage unit for things you can carry by hand by walking, then you shouldn’t be using a storage unit – you should be getting a slightly bigger place.

With the incredibly low cost to run a storage facility and our current consumer culture, it shouldn’t be shocking that residents might use this. Retail may use it too.

I’m not defending it but it just shouldn’t be a shock that these are built so close to home. If you really map it, these things are all over the place!

Maybe, just maybe, the trend of young folks preferring experiences over things might put a dent in this industry and cause less to be built.

Too be fair I’m typing this while vacationing in Portugal. So you may be right.

Wow! I just looked up storage rates, and they are super cheap. If i was homeless I’d totally just live in one of those with a cheap gym membership for showering!

Sweet Mother Mary & Joseph, this is a joke right? We can’t have a rooftop bar without declaring the end of civilization as we know it yet this is A-OK?

Well they did a great job redoing the street to handle traffic and made it very nice with the trees and sidewalks. Was it to lure in one of these wonderful facilities.

So much for caring about finding affordable housing locations downtown, unless this it the affordable housing.

Wasted space!

Oh well, more to come.

*ancillary retail ;)

Hopefully all is not lost. I’d imagine cost of construction is considerably less than apartments or office space. Overhead costs are low too.

Perhaps the immediate plan is to earn income with a long term plan being to redevelop into something else after real estate prices escalate further.

Perhaps it’s designed to be converted into multi family at a later date. Here’s an interesting design phenomena – the Dillon’s 8 story parking structure is built with flat slabs and 11 ft. clearances. It’s likely been built to be converted to future office space in a future less dominated by cars.

@evan, that’s an interesting factoid that I’d love to see come to fruition in the future. Even today, garages can be positioned to be multi-use. The 1111Lincoln garage (by Herzog & de Meuron) in Miami Beach has a convertible top floor outdoor event space. Car bumpers are removed, the place is carpeted and the LED lights are adjusted for different events. With the top of that garage having such nice vistas, it would seem like a natural fit for Raleigh during the long warm evening season.
As for future conversion, it makes sense to think about it at the very nexus of a future transit oriented environment. With more retail coming to the west side of downtown, bike share, jobs and housing, one can finally start to see the gemination of a possible car-less lifestyle: well, at least a personal carless lifestyle.

If only we took transit seriously in this part of the country.

Storage buildings like this in this sort of location are generally a longer term real estate play. The land isn’t crazy expensive yet, so you put up a storage building. Then you let the storage income pay the property taxes and amortize the construction cost over, say, ten years. Then when the land is worth a lot more, you either tear down the relatively inexpensive building and replace it, or flip the property to another develop. It’s quite common.

@Magnus, I’d expand your comment to the entire country. We don’t have the appetite to invest in anything public in the country because the prevailing narrative is that all public investment is inherently bad, suspect, corrupt, or ineffective.
That leads me to think that the proper way of addressing the issues caused by one person/on car planning is to look for all ways to reduce the need of cars in as many instances as possible. If we can find ways to reduce everyone’s dependency on cars by even a little bit, we’d all be better off. For me, that means that we need to plan all of our communities where more things can be safely and pleasantly accessed by foot, by bike,by bus, and yes, by rail. However, not having rail right now doesn’t prevent us from reducing demand by other means. I’m hopeful that development happening now in DT Raleigh is going to do just that. We have our circulator bus, and we are getting bike share this year. Our newer developments have better & wider sidewalks. Grocers that can be accessed by foot are just around the corner as well.
It’s unreasonable that the car is ever going to go away altogether, but we can and are making strides to reduce our total dependency on them.

@John532 there are parts of the mid-Atlantic region that take transit seriously (DC, Philadelphia, NYC, etc) and I suppose after experiencing those systems and the Paris Metro, Raleigh’s bus system just seems like phoning it in & not giving a damn.

When talking about cities that have great transit, folks always use ones triple or higher the population size of Raleigh. In all seriousness, can anyone name a few “peer” cities (however you define it) that have a solid transit culture?

San Francisco is a little bigger than Raleigh but has had mass transit baked in for quite a long time. We are at a little over 450,000 in Raleigh now. SF was at about 678,000 when their Muni Metro system opened (light rail) but had a street car system running long, long before that.

@Magnus, when San Francisco was 678,000, it did so in less than 1/3 the land area of current day Raleigh. For a true comparison, Raleigh would need to be 2M+ people for it to be fair. Using another metric for a city of similar population right now, let’s look at Miami. Miami’s population is just a few thousand people shy of Raleigh’s, but it achieves that number in a land area that’s about the same size as just the ITB area of Raleigh.

Raleigh had electric streetcars in 1891.

Now we have bicycles. Which is fine. But let’s have those street cars back.

@Leo Suarez There’s two ways to look at it, population and population/job density. For the purposes of transit, population/job density gets you a lot closer to a true comparison, for the reasons a few people mentioned above. The 2016 Census estimates place Raleigh at about 3,163 persons/sq. mile. Some major cities with decent transit infrastructure in that ballpark include:

– Phoenix (light rail with more on the way)
– Austin (extensive bus system)
– Houston (obviously a large city, but successfully redesigned their bus network and is adding a lot of light rail)
– Denver (the FastTracks program has built an entire rail network in about 15 years).

That said, it’s still not a perfect comparison. Most of those cities have large central business districts and older inner-ring neighborhoods that probably hold about 20-30k persons/square mile, which makes it easier to run high-frequency transit service if only in those corridors. There really isn’t a city in the U.S. quite like us here in Raleigh, at least not until we significantly increase residential and job density inside the Beltline or immediately outside it (i.e. North Hills).

From a municipal perspective, Raleigh’s closest peer in terms of current size and post war trajectory is probably Colorado Springs. It’s slightly more populated than Raleigh but it’s not a terribly fair comparison because C.S. has 50 more square miles of land than Raleigh. It’s also part of a much smaller metro area, even if we only include the Raleigh MSA. Virginia Beach might be another example that warrants some comparison, but it really functions more like a giant Cary than a central city. Raleigh’s hard to compare apples to apples.
Nashville is an interesting comparison if you could find a way to normalize the disparities in land areas of the cities themselves and their respective metros. Even then, Nashville was a much larger city in 1940 than either Charlotte or Raleigh and that context matters. Even so, Nashville struggles with transit as their MSA is really sprawled out and gobbles up more land for less people than the Triangle’s CSA. Here’s a (biased anti-transit) story about Nashville’s rail strategy. http://www.newgeography.com/content/005938-nashville-s-hopeless-rail-transit-proposal While I don’t agree with everything this man says, he does make some objective points that shine a light on the reality of the situation.
In my opinion, Miami’s much maligned elevated metromover, like what you might find at an airport but actually on wheels that run a track, is a better answer for Raleigh. It could connect DT to NC State, Cameron Village, and run short fingers in each direction of DT proper. The Miami system didn’t get used much for decades, but now it’s packed with city dwellers who have filled up the tens of thousand of high rise condos and apartments built since 2000. It’s the sort of system that could get built in phases and support the greatest need first. I bike to the system using bikeshare from Miami Beach and then hop on it to anywhere in DT Miami and Brickell. I can extend my reach from another station by foot, or once again by bikeshare.

@John532 If we’re talking Raleigh-esque cities with transit that needs improvement, Nashville is a really good example. I’d add Orlando as well…their downtown is coming along but much like RTP, their major attraction is the theme parks and hotels southwest of downtown, with the attendant sprawl that comes with it.

I’ve always found Cleveland to be an interesting city that few look to regarding transit. Don’t they have a pretty successful BRT system, and rail/light rail system?

Also, I would point to Portland as a peer city for Raleigh. Especially with the CBDs being less of the main target center. It would be interesting to see how Raleigh could stack up to PDX as a whole on transit and retail planning.

The form of a city plays a huge role in how implementable and successful light rail would be. Nobody is going to walk down a sidewalk-less entry road from their cul-de-sac to a transit platform 3/4 a mile away unless they have no other option. You need proper street grids, with sidewalks, mixed use blocks and mixed use buildings. Transit must be implemented with people friendliness because walking to your train, and walking from you train should be the primary goal…cars entirely eliminated from the commute. Car friendly transit, is super half-a$$. Since the lions share of Raleigh’s fabric is not people friendly and never will be, we have to try and make the half-a$$ version work with park and rides and ‘nodes’ of density. So instead of being available to an entire City, it becomes available only to those who interact with 2 of those those nodes, or who are willing to drive to one, if they work in another. So for a peer city comparison you really need to look at another place that’s stuck in this half-a$$ situation. Like it or not, Charlotte is a close peer. Anything up north has proper urban form and a distinct advantage in making transit work.

Mark great comment. Unfortunately I think transit here will not be fully effective for eliminating cars until flying self driving taxis, which I will certainly see in my lifetime. My drone is almost there.

However, I am excited for brt and commuter rail. I can’t wait to take the train to a day on the town in Durham, then maybe a bus down to DT Cary, then rail back to DTR, where my bike will be parked. And hopefully by that time my bike ride from downtown via lake wheeler across 40 will not be ultra treacherous.

Reading some of the comments on Transit and Light Rail, and I find myself Just shaking my head, ( ??? ) While it may not be the cure for Traffic woes, it is a form of transportation that can relieve some of the traffic nightmares on some of our busiest roads. A light rail from DT to the airport w/stops can be a great way to go for One. I do believe that with Proper planning and effort in investing light rail in the Triangle, it can become a success story that other cities will envy, but WE have to at least try and make an effort of it, at least. TO not use my Car for a few days a week, Hop on the GoTriangle light rail to my stop in RTP to go to Work, or to the Airport and leave my car at home rather than a car garage and pay $100 for leaving it there. Well…the light rail part was just an Example, But I have left my car at Home to go to the Airport on my way to New York for a few days, Saved $$$ on leaving the car at their Airport garage. Again….with planning by State leaders and the City, it can happen.

@Evan – I just discovered this blog yesterday and wanted to speak up as another person living just south of 40 (near Carolina Pines) who bikes to work and is hoping for improved/safer bike and pedestrian infrastructure across 40 to DTR, Dix, Farmer’s market, NCSU.

The problem with light rail is that it isn’t necessarily a wise investment so far as transit modes go. It’s extremely expensive, and the effects are quite limited. You can accomplish almost the same level of service with improved bus systems. Yes, light rail is attractive, and it does spur incredible amounts of dense development, but its effectiveness as a transit system isn’t very impressive. It’s really more of a flashy, tourist- and development-drawing toy than a useful transit system.
Yes, I think light rail would be neat in Raleigh, but I don’t think we’re ready for it. Let’s get the BRT and commuter rail lines running first and invest in the existing bus system before we venture down the path of light rail.
I’ve been writing about this topic all semester for an English course, and doing the research actually changed my opinion on the matter. There are of course benefits to light rail, but it is hard to justify such large public expenditures on a system that isn’t very useful for commuters.

Brian – preach, brotha preach

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