Thursday, January 12, 2006

Uptown's Great Skyline Views At Risk?

All those people buying up condos in those uptown towers ’cause they love the view? Guess what. Nothing in city regulations can stop the owner of some parking lot next door from putting up a tower to block the view.
I guess it’s only a major point if you’re one of the people buying in to places with names like “the Vue,” but it’s a great example of our city planning policies being a day late and a dollar short.
The point came up Tuesday night in a forum called “Towers: Is Charlotte Losing Or Finding Its Soul?” at the Levine Museum, put together by an interested group that calls itself the Civic By Design forum. Architect/developer David Furman, who’s building Courtside among other uptown projects, was asked about the problem of shadowing, which you get in places with a lot of tall towers.
The questioner wanted to know what’s being done here?
“I think nothing,” said Furman.
City planner Kent Main, in the audience, confirmed that. We do not have any regulations on that, he said. One reason buildings in New York City are terraced back from the street, he said, is because of those kinds of regulations requiring sunlight and shadow studies. But, he said, he didn’t think Charlotte had reached that point yet.
He’s right. We haven’t. But here’s the problem with that kind of thinking: By the time Charlotte has reached that point, with everyone wanting a tower on every uptown plot, how hard is it going to be for City Council to buck the pressure they’ll get from all those developers planning to build all those towers? Setting sunlight rules and viewshed rules will limit the ability of some property owners to build everything they want, wherever they want it.
The time to adopt regulations is now, before the pressure gets so intense.
How important is the view to potential condo buyers uptown? Patrick Kelly, a young architect who works with Civic By Design forum coordinator Tom Low, went around to a bunch of for-sale condo tower projects uptown to hear their sales pitches.
His conclusion: “They’re all selling the view.”
Betcha all those buyers will be a tad ticked when they learn their “view” has no protection. Welcome to Charlotte.


Anonymous said...

Ok? So whats your answer? That they stop building towers because it will block other people's "views"? Isn't that called density? Doesn't density=urbanity? The "views" alone are not selling the condos - so is the active city lifestyle. By the time Charlotte reaches that point, people will be buying condos downtown because of the lifestyle, not just the view. Why do you think people live in cities like NY, Chicago, LA, Miami, etc? Because they want to live in the city - they like/want the lifestyle. Living in a tower downtown is not just about seeing the skyline, it's about being a part of the skyline - it's about being a part of the city.

Soo, are you bi-polar? Do you want Charlotte's downtown to be urban or not? I sure do - downtown gets better every year...

Anonymous said...

I think it's a big overstatement to suggest that Charlotte propose ordinances on shadowing issues like New York. We are nowhere close to doing anything like that, and sorry 'world class' wannabes, we never will. Even when every block within the I-277 loop is filled with a structure, tower or not, it will STILL be merely a fraction of Manhattan's skyline.

As for those ambitious condo buyers who would covet a skyline view, surely most of them are educated enough to review master plans and other developer proposals. The same would be said for those in the 'burbs who buy a house with a woods behind the backyard only to have another subdivion built there later. This stuff is thought out well ahead of time.

The only case of a false promise of guaranteed skyline views I can recall was when Jim Gross sold condos in the old Lance building on South Boulevard, only to build the big pink building in front of them five years later.

Anonymous said...

If you buy in an uptown high-rise condo, you are already probably blocking somebody else's view. So you have no right to complain when somebody blocks yours. This was a big issue at Factory South in Southend a few years ago. It had great views of uptown, but then the same developer dropped the Arlington eyesore next door, blocking those views.

If I were buying, I'd take a close look at neighboring properties. If you see a parking lot, beware.

Those new condos along Morehead, with the I-277 valley below, can pretty much guarantee a future view. So they'd be worth more to me.

Anonymous said...

A view of what? Other buildings? Puhleese...if I wanted a view of something I wouldn't be living in Charlotte, I would be living in Seattle or NYC, because they have a view of the water.
Like the first commentor, people aren't buying uptown for the views, they are buying into the urban lifestyle. I thank God every day that I hear another eyesore of a parking lot is going to be made into a something more creative like residential or retail.

Anonymous said...

Actualy, I've always wanted to live somewhere with a view of a city skyline. To each his own :)

hueion said...

Ahh yes, more regulation will keep everyone happy.... We need a more reasonable argument than that.

Let the market handle the issue.
You can always live on a hill in Southpark and get a great view of the skyline. Some of the best skyline views are those in West Charlotte along Summit Ave. Until the towers prevent grass from growing in the fourth ward park, let the market drive the development.

Disgusted in Union Co said...

Ah, the market. The market. That's the excuse so often trotted out to justify bad public policy, or bad outcomes, or just plain bad.

Destroying or compromising one party's property rights in order to enhance another's is not the answer. The anti-regulation argument has spawned all manner of bad development, unsustainability, and elitism. Those who glorify the pure "survival of the fittest" model really should divest themselves of all their possessions, strip themselves naked, and head off to the jungle to survive among the lions, tigers, and hyenas.

hueion said...

Those who glorify the pure "survival of the fittest" model really should divest themselves of all their possessions, strip themselves naked, and head off to the jungle to survive among the lions, tigers, and hyenas.

Or, you can live uptown and climb to the top of the tallest tower.

I live uptown for the view, the convience, the walk to work, the restaurants and bars. The new 50+ "Vue" tower set for 4th ward will completely block my view of the Bank of America and Hearst towers. I certainly do not feel as if someone is compromising my property rights. I encourage it, without regulation. Keep it up Charlotte, more towers.... more urbanity.

Anonymous said...

The courts have ruled, in numerous cases, that there is no "right" to a view. Just because someone purchased a piece of property when a good view was present, does not entitle the buyer to keep that view forever.

The property rights of your neighbor will typically win in the event of a conflict.

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