Wednesday, March 08, 2006

NASCAR's UFO has landed

About that NASCAR Hall of Fame: You may be cheering. Or maybe you doubt it will bring in either the people or the money projected and think the city made a stupid deal.

Forget that for the moment. I’m more worried about the building itself. If you care about uptown design, you should be, too. Feel free to add your comments below.

What I see in the renderings released so far make it look like a flying saucer hunkered in a parking lot. (I'll try to add a link, below).

Yeah, yeah, it has a fancy architect – Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. That’s Pei as in I.M. Pei, ultra-famous architect who designed the glass pyramid at the Louvre and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

But if you’re going to build in this city – in any city – you need to understand urban fabric. It’s what makes cities and city streets and sidewalks interesting places. Paris has it, and, I assume, Cleveland. In those places, you need a break here and there from the urban fabric. Charlotte has precious little of it. New projects should help create it, not obliterate any opportunity.

Urban fabric means a lot of very small threads, woven close together. Like any ecosystem, a city needs tiny organisms: coffee shops, apartment buildings, stores, doctor’s offices, rowhouses, Chinese take-out places, pizza delivery joints, bars, cleaners, day-care centers, condos, French bistros and Italian trattorias, banks, insurance offices, antique furniture restoration shops, boutiques, art galleries – all in close proximity. Huge, single-use buildings in huge-single use blocks pretty much obliterate any hope of urban fabric. That’s why you don’t want them clustered together.

Second Ward, where the hall is planned, is a veritable monument to Bad City Planning Circa 1960. It is scarred by too many leviathan-sized projects that destroyed the old street grid: the government center, the Convention Center and its hotel and the Education Center-Marshall Park-First Baptist megablock, among others. Big blocks make boring neighborhoods and worsen traffic congestion.

The city’s planners know this. That’s why, in the Metro School rebuilding, South Davidson Street is being extended to Stonewall Streets.

The area around the Hall of Fame is dead, dead and more dead. Dead as in butt-end of the convention center loading docks. The last thing it needs is another gigantic-footprint building. The city – which will pay to build the building – should demand better.Interestingly, the city uses your tax money and mine to pay the salaries of a staff of urban designers in its planning department. They haven’t been consulted about the NASCAR hall design.

The city engineering department has taken the lead so far. Now, I value engineers. Without them bridges would collapse and skyscrapers tumble. But most engineers don’t know diddly about urban design. Maybe that’s why the city has eagerly planned yet another overstreet sidewalk, to connect the Convention Center to the Hall of Fame-new Convention Center ballroom complex. This despite haranguing for decades from planners that overstreet passages are fatal to a lively street scene.

So, let’s see. If a developer wants to build one, the city nixes it unless it’s B of A or Wachovia in which case the city curls into the fetal position. But when the city wants to build one, it’s OK?

Stay tuned. Whatcha bet the city will want to exempt itself from its own sign ordinance, too?

To see the rendering:


Anonymous said...

Oh please, bad architecture in Charlotte? One more bad building will simply add to the tradition. If you want great architecture, sense of place, time, all that, drive into Myers Park or Dilworth and you will see wildly imaginative homes built in a time when architecture and land planning really meant something. The NASCAR Hall of Fame cannot make a statment that is 'Charlotte'. No, it will make a statement that is NASCAR, and is there any sport that is more garish? It will will way over the top, silly, techy. Just maybe we will luck out with something great.

Anonymous said...

Does Charlotte=Myers Park/Dilworth?

Does a NASCAR Hall of Fame HAVE to blend into the fabric weave of whatever babble followed in Mary's Blog?

This is not a "Charlotte" Buillding. It is a Hall of Fame for a major sport with a national and looking at attendence in Mexico international following. It should not blend into everyday streetscape but stand out as a destination.

The Pei design captures the stage of NASCAR - the oval track and the speed and motion that make the sport exciting.

It looks like a place to visit for an adventure. Simulator rides, 3D movies, etc... It says come to the NASCAR HAll of Fame which fortunately for our tourism industry in located in Charlotte.

Couple this Hall of Fame with races in Concord and an Area full of Race Team Shops (mini-entertainment destinations themselves) and we win. Far more than the new Bobcat House with less than predicted attendence and $15,000 fees for public use such as school graduations.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that Charlotte has no architecture (remaining) downtown that is particularly interesting. I think the new hall-of-fame should be architecturally intersting, not another bland soulless box.

Look at what Seattle did with their new public library. Is it odd looking? Sure but it beats the pants off of the Charlotte public library. Let's build some buildings of architectural note!

The new NASCAR hall-of-fame may look like an Escher drawing but it's got to be unique. Who knows, maybe it will become as recognized as the Sydney Opera House . . . the city's boosters could only hope. Or we could get the worldly recognition of our lovely Government Center.

Anonymous said...

The unique design is exactly what Charlotte needs and it will add a sense of style to the area. Unique buildings are attractive. The last thing Charlotte needs is another boring building. ThePei design rocks! Hopefully, the EPICENTRE and the new high-rise condos will help add some spice to bland Uptown as well.

Anonymous said...

"Does Charlotte=Myers Park/Dilworth?"

Well certainly. And NASCAR is to "garish" for the refined sensibilities of some.

I was especially amused by the comment about land planning that "really meant something" when Dilworth was built.

Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

At a minimum the NASCAR Hall of Fame needs to have ground floor retail/restaurants along its perimeter (facing outward) especially on Brevard Street. Brevard Street could be a great street being anchored by the Arena on one end and Hall of Fame and Convention Center on the other end. There should be eateries that face outward with outdoor eating that can be attended by both NASCAR visitors and the 55,000 employees who work in Center City. The last thing we need is another building that turns inward and creates blank space to walk next to. I also agree that the overhead tunnel is a mistake.

Disgusted in Union Co said...

The problem goes so far beyond bad architecture that it is impossible to ignore the other factors.

First, the parking lot is Charlotte's architectural tradition. "Urban fabric"? Bah. Not here! Parking lots = cars = exhaust fumes = NASACAR. And endless strip shopping centers disguised as "pedestrian villages" by means of even worse parking lot design. But always parking lots. Parking lots are our legacy.

Parking lots where once-stately older buildings once stood. Parking lots at every big-box strip center. Parking lots with weeds growing through the cracks at the abandoned big-box strip centers. Big parking lots, little parking lots, paved parking lots, unpaved parking lots, parking lots with UFO-like buildings in the center, parking lots everywhere! Charlotte can, and should, sponsor an annual celebration of parking lots. It would be another classy tourist-drawing activity. "Our parking lots are tackier than yours".

Add this to the governmental malfeasance that has resulted in yet another taxpayer-funded subsidy to a multi-billion-dollar-profit industry, and we get the government we deserve. I guess.

Total cost (including estimated bond interest) of just the NASCAR UFO and its parking lot? $300 million. Billionaire Bob's playground? $420 million. Just these two handouts? $720 million. First year demonstrated financial loss to the Charlotte tacxpayers just from BB's playground? $1 million for additional police services. And counting.

Whatta deal!

And you expect good architecture too?

Anonymous said...

'Urban fabric'? 'Lively street scene'?

I love it.

Have you ever actually BEEN to Paris, Miss Newsom???

Dirty streets, lots of traffic, basically urban decay. Unless you just look at the parts tourists would visit.

It is really unfortunate that Newsom and company want to turn Charlotte into a 'nice place to visit' rather that a 'nice place to live'.

Ironic that the week the NASCAR HOF was announced was also the week Judge Manning threatened to close 4 high schools because of academic problems.

Newsom and company are like the corrupt diamond miners in Africa who look the other way while human rights abuses are taking place, just as long as the diamonds keep coming.

This NASCAR HOF is just another diamond in McCrory's jewelry box that few people who LIVE here will actually ever use.

Spare me the droll about 'tourism' tax paying for this. When there are cost overruns, and lack of attendance, and we are done rendering under to NASCAR, the city will pay the bill for the shortfall.

There isn't a hall of fame, arena, or venue of ANY kind run by a municipality in this country that makes money. This will be no different. If NASCAR thought it would make money, they would have built it. Instead they doped McCrory into paying for it (hey, its not his money).

I hope this building is an enormous, ugly, behemoth with no parking and neon lights and a giant 'Tide' logo on it.

What else would you expect from NASCAR?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the suggestion of outward retail/restaurants on Bevard St. The lack of street-level national retail and signature restaurants make the area very boring and dull. The overstreet walkways only benefit the employees who work in those buildings, which makes Uptown a place to work only. Charlotte has the only center of a city that shuts down after 3 p.m.

Anonymous said...


Hey, I got an idea!!

Get your checkbook and and build some!

Don't you thik if it were profitable, then all of those things WOULD be there?

Center City is a place to work from 8-5 then get in your car and go home.

VERY few people I know EVER come into town on the weekends or at night.

Keeping businesses all uptown is insane. If you want to solve traffic and congestion, move Wachovia and BofA into Ballentyne or Fort Mill.

Also, the NASCAR HOF belongs out at Lowes Motor speedway, not uptown.

The traffic and lack (and cost) of parking will deter most race fans from heading into town.

Claiming this boondoggle will be funded by car rental and hotels is stupid.

NASCAR fans DRIVE to the race (no rental car needed) and stay at friends or at the track in campers.

Anonymous said...

Developers are moving forward and are making Uptown a place to visit and live as well as work. So, conveniently located shops are necessary to bring MORE people to the area at night. And for your information I have a shop in Uptown, but more is needed. The HOF and the other planned developments will eventually bring more businesses to the area.

I agree that businesses need to be spread out, but Uptown is the perfect location for the HOF.

Anonymous said...

The HOF and the other planned developments will eventually bring more businesses to the area

What the HOF will do is more of what is already happening, skyrocketing parking rates, which will further drive the suburbarn house moms from ever coming here to shop.

Downtown Charlotte is booming with business and services such as fast food that serve workers, but good luck on name brand retail.

If it were profitable, it would already be here.

The difference is that government can lose money indefinitely, hence the HOF, light rail, afro arts musuem, etc.

The private sector has to turn a profit.

As long as center city supporters continue to drive people away by building a MORE congested, MORE dense urban core, your prospects get worse of attracting large retail.

No disrespect, but you cannot see the forest through the trees.

If you want more shopping, have Center City partners build a LARGE amount of FREE parking, build betters roads in and out of center city, and relocate the transit center the hell away from uptown.

If any uptown banker type drives by the transit center once after dark, that will be the last time he ever lets his wife and kids come uptown.

Anonymous said...

To the last blogger, first you need to realize that having a dense urban core does not create congestion as long as there is good connectivity. Center City and the few miles outside of Center City are the least congested locations in Charlotte. The disconnected areas outside of this "core" area are far more congested than inside the core...and is getting worse every day. The real congestion is occurring in from Woodlawn southward. I'll take my chances in the driving in the intown areas over the suburban areas any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Dense urban cores don't result in congestion so long as their is connectivity? Do Chicago streets lack cannectivty? HOw about London? New York? Rio De Janeiro?Atlanta? Minneapolis?

The answer, of ocurse, is "no". Yet they are all cities with dense urban cores and are extremely congested.

Anonymous said...

They are congested because people actually go there, unlike here. A grid is way more efficient than sprawling roads that end in cul-de-sacs and dead-ends. And in all of those cities there is the same issue with parking, yet there is still name brand retail. Congestion and traffic in a city is usually a good thing, because that means it's VIBRANT - something people in Charlotte are apparently afraid of.

Anonymous said...

Not EVERY street in NY, London, etc are congested. It is mostly the major routes, but for the most part, the streets are not congested (I'm not talking about highways). Ugh - after reading most of these comments, why do I (or anyone else) bother explaining anything to these hicks here. This place is so lame...

Lets just build more PARKING LOTS and STONECRESTS!!!!! Because thats so exciting!!

Anonymous said...

Well, "previous poster", you obviously have no idea what you're talking about. Not every street in Charlotte is congested either, but most of those cities are indeed very congested. Connectivity is not solving the problem there, because the problme doesn't arise from a lack of connectivity. That is merely one of the mantra's repeated by those who don't bother to understand the obvious: more people in less space equals congestion. Not too hard to figure out.

(And btw, to the editor who removed my previous response, I presume for pointing out that I have lived in t hose cities and my correspondent above simply has no idea what he's talking about, -and the admintedly condescending tone in which I did so, I find it ironic that you removed mine but not the one to which I responded. The tone of th two as the same -and obviously I used that tone on purpose to make fun of the condescending nature of someone who dismisses those who have a different view. The difference was in the content (and the fact that I used accurate, factual information rather than erratic assumption), not the tone.

It's your sandbox, and you're free to censor at will, but you ought to at least be clear that you WILL censor for content content rather than tone.)

Anonymous said...

The point is that Charlotte is growing fast. When you spread all these people out (350,000 of them in the next 20 years), it creates more congestion because everyone HAS to drive. When you create developments that offer a mix of housing, retail, and office, people don't have to go far, and maybe they can even walk. When streets connect, it creates more outlets and more routes. You say those cities are congested, well, so is Atlanta. Atlanta has the second worst traffic in the nation behind L.A. (and it's spread out with very little connectivity) Mass transit and connectivity are dirty words in Atlanta. People love to drive, and it shows with the amount of congestion there. Obviously that doesn't work either. Both options have negative aspects, but connectivity is still better. Atleast you don't get stuck on one road with nowhere to go. Downtown can handle the traffic in downtown better than Tyvola road could. What a mess that was - one way in and one way out.

And why are people here so afraid of having a dense, urban core? It's exciting. It's not like all of Charlotte is going to be like downtown. IT IS DOWNTOWN - it should be urban and vibrant. There should be congestion and pedestrian traffic. There is nothing worse than driving through a city and it's empty - the first words people think are BORING. If Charlotte wants to attract young professionals, it needs to be EXCITING. If your old or you hate any of the above, move to a small town or out to the boonies instead of trying to stunt Charlotte's potential. THANK YOU.

- Native Charlottean who is ready to move onto bigger and better things.

Anonymous said...

It's exciting. It's not like all of Charlotte is going to be like downtown. IT IS DOWNTOWN - it should be urban and vibrant. There should be congestion and pedestrian traffic. There is nothing worse than driving through a city and it's empty - the first words people think are BORING. If Charlotte wants to attract young professionals, it needs to be EXCITING.>>>

Ahhh, the old 'coolness' argument again.

Since when are dumpster, parking structures, and exhaust-spewing city buses 'vibrant'? LOL

Your examples of Chicago is excellent.

Chicago has countless ENORMOUS multi-lane expressways in and out of the city.

You can continue to hide your head in the sand and think people will take make transit, but that is not the case.

Even in Chicago and New York, that vast majority of people DRIVE everywhere.

Chicago has countless 4-6 lane interstates in and out of the city.

THAT is what makes it viable for people to go downtown for entertainmment and shopping.

On a smaller scale, Lexington, KY recently 'revtalized' its downtown by building a brand new loop around the entire city with weel planned exit ramps to all the right places. It completely changed the city.

Keep wasting your money on light rail.

Keep thinking Dilworth is Charlotte.

Keep thinking dumpsters and transit centers are 'vibrant'

Don't blame me when none of it works.

Build roads, roads, and more roads if you want them to come.

Anonymous said...

You put a fine point on it there, "Young Professonal": if you're ready to move on to bigger and better things, goof for you. But you in your "wisdon" suggest that people who want what Charlotte is or who are (and I love tis) "old" should leave. You appear to want everyone else to move on and someone to bring bigger and better to you. Chicago, NY, Philadelpha, Newark, -there are pleny of places fo you to move on to, if you don't care for Charlotte the way it has been.

That's not the only of your argumnents that is illogical. You applaud congested streets and tell us the city NEEDS them, but only a few lines earlier you are suggesitng that the city needs certain development pattersn that you apparently like and that you believe REDUCE that congestion. Apparently you not think that "moving on" means telling others to move, but you also think congestion is desireable so long as someone else is caught in it.

Anonymous said...

Architecture quality aside, this is a bad deal for Charlotte. The target audience for the museum is limited. More telling, the financial deal is a loser. If being a "global" city means subsidizing billionaires like Bob Johnson and various NASCAR royal families, I'd rather not be a global city. I'd rather spend that money combating problems facing our community. This is growth machine boosterism at its worst.

As for Chicago, the 2000 Census estimates about 26% of workers use public transit to commute to work. In general, the average American family spends around 20%+ of their household income on auto-dominated transit--now that's "freedom."

It's interesting to read the posts on this blog. I think they are a decent microcosm of the entire city. They show that culture matters. The cool library in Seattle would be lambasted by every wanna-be libertarian in the city of Charlotte as a waste of tax-dollars. Hell, most of them are against libraries, much less purty ones. This is a town where a Chili's restaurant is good-eatin. NASCAR picked the perfect HOF locale.

Granted, a cultural elite that yearns for better form and aesthetics exists, but it is derided as elitist, and sometimes rightly so. The clash between the arts elite and the economic elite plays out in market-determinism at the ground-level. Perhaps it was always so. However, when one examines the architecture of Chicago it is evident that the built environment mattered. It has lasted and contributes to a sense of being somewhere special. I don't think this would have happened using the utilitarian arguments used today to justify every investment of both public and private funds.

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of everyone framing comparisons to big cities like New York, Chicago, Paris, etc. in the context of what they see in coffee table hardcover books.

The vast majority of those cities are aging, urban decay with violent crime, pollution, congestion, etc.

Chicago had 600 homicides last year.

When you are a tourist to New York, of course you only see the good parts.

Chicago may have some interesting attractions, but their mass transit system has been bankrupt for 20 years. The crime is out of control, and the cost of living means anyone with an average wage and a family to feed can only live in a dump.

The Charlotte 'intelligista' is dominated by big-city wannabees with 'building envy' that ignore the negatives.

Yes, keep building art musueums, theatres, arenas, HOFs, light rail, and baseball stadiums and getting taxpayers to foot the bill.

You will wake up one day and say 'hey, where did everybody go?'

Anonymous said...

Be careful with sweeping generalizations. The 2004 FBI crime data shows that Charlotte's rate of burglary, larceny and vehicle theft is greater than Chicago's (rate per 100,000).

Okay, let's take Chicago, NY and Paris off the board. What do you want Charlotte to be other than the lowest taxed city in the country? Tell us your dream city.

Anonymous said...

NY, Philly, Chicago, etc are not GARBAGE DUMPS FULL OF CRIME. You are so sheltered to say something ridiculous like that. They are exciting, beautiful cities that have their own problems like anywhere else. First off, I never said anything about the entire city being CONGESTED. I was referring to downtown, which should be vibrant and exciting. What do you people like to do? Sit at home and watch TV? Why are so many boring people here? And for the record, transit is not about eliminating congestion, it is about controlling it. If you shut down the entire NY transit system, the traffic would be absolute gridlock. As a city grows, there will always be congestion, but atleast the city is trying to control it (and again, I'm talking about rush-hour congestion only). If nobody wants mass transit, why did the voters in Mecklenburg County approve a half-cent transit tax (sales tax) to fund it???? Obviously the majority wanted it then. And if you want better roads, stop blaming the city and blame the state. They own like 90% of the roads here (including the highways). Blah - you people are so lame. No, I am not moving because I can see Charlotte's potential and this place needs more people like me around, not more people like you. I'm not just going to "give up" on it. I've grown up with people like you - PLEASE GO AWAY.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of negative nancies!!

Anonymous said...

Well "YP" if that screed passes for logic in your world, good luck with thigs. you're going to need lots of it.

As to the various contending "elites" it seems obviousl to me that the landed interests uptown are the only one that actually has any sway. I wouldn't count on architecture mattering much at all, other than in terms of lip service. Most of the public projects in recent memory serve one master: the property values of a handful of landowners, the economc interests of a coupe of banks, and the economic interests of the major clients of those banks.

The only thing I find astounding about that is that all of the people who actually believe that they're going to realize they "vision" for what a city should be are so thoroughly co-opted by those interests, and so apparently clueless to it.

Anonymous said...

To the previous poster, you have no logic and you are a fool who only sees things "one way." Your lame.

Anonymous said...

Their dream city would be a city with low taxes, two buildings, a dead downtown, lots of trees with everyone owning 5 acres of property, 20 lane roads, and 10,000 churches. Everything else is a waste of money - besides, who cares about culture and entertainment? *rolls eyes*

Anonymous said...

If nobody wants mass transit, why did the voters in Mecklenburg County approve a half-cent transit tax (sales tax) to fund it????


What voters approved was a very vaguely worded 2028 transit plan that they were duped into thinking might include roads.

The light rail is 100% over budget already, and the costs keep climbing.

Light rail has been a FAILURE in every city that has tried it, and will be even more so because of the shifting demographics and more mobile workforce of the 21st century. Do you think that the trends in employment are moving towards more mobile, less fixed locations, or towards less mobile/more fixed locations?

Fixed transit lines make no sense for an economy that is continuing to be loess predictable in its travel needs, telecommuting, home office, etc. It's a throwback to the 1950's.

Dedicated bus lanes and car express lanes like in the Chicago loop would make much more sense.

As for my version of the dream city???

Do you seriously believe the if the morons in city/county government just stepped aside, dropped taxes dramatically, and let the private sector do its thing that Charlotte would be a two building, empty city? Not a chance.

In the words of the late great Ronald Reagan, 'government is not the solution, government is the problem'.

For government to be involved in the arena, NASCAR HOF, etc. is no different than the govt running bars, restauarants, movie theatres, etc. It's not the role of govt, because they stink at it.

Explain why Union County, which has very little government and low taxes, has the best public schools (go look it up) in the area, and the fastest growing business and residential community around.

City planners are failed wannabee developers who get elected with a nice haircut and good ole boy connections then use their position to push failed ideas on the masses.

Anonymous said...

No vision, other than "let the market work its magic." Union County is a great example of a dynamic urban environment.

Light rail has been a FAILURE in every city that has tried it..."
How did you reach this conclusion? What analysis can you point us to to confirm this? What are the indicators of success or failure? If you are using "ability to pay for itself" as the key variable, please apply it to developer-friendly locales like Union County. Give it time, but Union County will soon be choking on its own growth with school overcrowding and inadequate public facilities forcing tax increases.

The rest of your post is the typical AM radio invective. High on rhetoric, low on substance.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAH - he used Union County as an example to follow. That right there shows how you know absolutely nothing. Why don't you move there then? Or wait, maybe you are one of those people that already live there but love to complain about everything in Charlotte. Charlotte = the city full of whiners.

Anonymous said...

Roads don't pay for themselves either. And Atlanta is a classic example of how you can't pave your way out of traffic.

Anonymous said...

Light rail has been a FAILURE in every city that has tried it..."
How did you reach this conclusion? What analysis can you point us to to confirm this?

You can study the National Transit Database data which catalogues all transit systems, breaks it down by type (bus, train, etc), and shows all costs and ridership data in great detail.

Declining ridership, skyrocketing prices, and not a da*m thing to reduce congestion or pollution.

New York and Chicago lose a combined $6 billion per year, and they both have polluted air and gridlocked streets.

Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

If light rail FAILS to reduce pollution and reduce automobile congestion, will you vote to unplug it and sell the trains?

Doubt it. Its a philosophy with you people. It doesnt matter if anything makes sense. You just have your minds made up.

BTW, whoever said Union County was trying to a 'dynamic urban environment???'

Who the hell would want that?

Dynamic urban=polluted, congested, crime ridden.

If you enjoy that sort of thing, I support you 100%.

Anonymous said...

"Dynamic urban=polluted, congested, crime ridden."

Hmmm, ever been to Singapore?

Anonymous said...

I just visited the National Transit database. It's big and it's extensive. I suppose your point is that fare revenue fails to fund operating costs. It's a public good. You neglect the fact that many businesses rely upon public transportation to get their employees from point A to point B. An economic benefit ensues from the provision of the public good.

I've never contended that light rail is appropriate for Charlotte, btw. I don't think it is given the culture here. We can densify until the cows come home without changing the underlying culture of fear articulated by the "polluted, congested, crime-ridden" stereotype. You know, "those" people who would ride mass transit.

Anonymous said...

"Dynamic urban=polluted, congested, crime ridden."

You are such a moron. Atlanta is spread out and has more pollution, traffic, and crime than Chicago and New York. Go live your sheltered life in the woods you redneck.

Anonymous said...

"Who the hell would want that?"

Obviously the millions who already live in urban areas (compared to the few who live in the middle of nowhere). Most of the negative things you just listed are perceptions sheltered people like you have.

Anonymous said...

"What voters approved was a very vaguely worded 2028 transit plan that they were duped into thinking might include roads."

As a citizen, you should know that NCDOT, the state, owns most of the roads. The city would have to buy back the road from the state if it wants to be able to do anything to it (like what they did with South Boulevard to make improvements). Do you know how expensive that can be? And the plan does include roads - upgrading the infrastructure to allow cars, bikes, and people (sidewalks) and fixing intersections. And you excuse that the voters were "duped" is lame - maybe YOU were duped because you have no idea what your talking about.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in the discussion, the topic shifted from HOF architecture to a grudge match dominated by people who would assume Charlotte be the next Birmingham or Shreveport. As someone from the next 'Atlanta or Chicago' bandwagon, I will go back to the topic of the building itself.

Mary's problem is that she scoffs at anything that doesn't fit her utopian ideal of a traditional, turn-of-the-century, Dilworth look city-wide. Thank God other visions prevail!

My favorite buildings in other cities are the ones with the WOW factor that you don't see in other places. Boston's new aquarium expnsion, Milwaukee's fairly new Art Museum and Seattle's library fit that bill. I am glad that the new NASCAR Hall of Fame will put an exclamation point on the city's landscape. As fo location, I have no problem with it being adjacent to the Convention Center plunked where it is. Mary can cry about 'urban fabric', etc. all she wants, but the people going to this place don't necessarily care about all that. Same with the Overstreet Mall and its hamster tubes. Only Mary and other 'urban visionaries' don't like them. The workers and other people who use them every day love them, or so I've heard from some. Many of them scoff at the idea of the skywalks being removed.

Let's concentrate on what actually works instead of sense of place. Let's also rmember that the quality of life in a city goes beyond how little our taxes are too.

erin said...

I would love a change of pace from the skyscrapers and concrete boxes that dominate Uptown right now. A little visual interest can go a long way.

Anonymous said...

You are such a moron. Atlanta is spread out and has more pollution, traffic, and crime than Chicago and New York. Go live your sheltered life in the woods you redneck.>>

Must be one of them 'uptown intellectuals'.

I guess you have no facts, so you resort to name calling.

Too bad.

Let me clue you in on a little secret:

The people who live in the 'burbs/Union County CHOOSE to do so because the QUALITY OF LIFE is better.

We are not all enviously on the outside looking in wishing we had an uptown condo and light rail.

There is a reason that (according to Business 2.0 magazine) by the year 2030 40% of the United States will live in the southest.

Nice weather, easy access to tourist attractions via the INTERSTATES (cars), and cheap land.

Again, I support your version of the American dream, whatever that is. Just don't ask me to pay for it (read: light rail, NASCAR HOF, arts, theatres).

And BTW, you big govco types got us private sector types all wrong. We ALSO want a thriving uptown, and all around town for that matter. We just know government will screw it up like they screw everything else up.

Can you name one successful government run program?

Anonymous said...

I have stated several times that the state is control of most of the roads here, so there isn't much the city can do about it. I have no problem with the suburbs - the problem with Charlotte is that it has annexed so much, that now the suburbs are the city. So, there's people like you who live in "the suburbs" even though it's technically "the city" and you don't want anything to do with the city. I really wish people would be aware of the fact that when they buy a house with a Charlotte address that, although it looks suburban, it is also the city and they need to take that into account or move to one of the surrounding towns if they don't want to live in a "urban environment." Like it or not, Charlotte will densify (hopefully leading to more interesting, urban life). And like I said, if you don't like that, there are plenty of towns around that will cater more towards your needs. It bugs me that people can easily move to Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville, Concord, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Waxhaw, Weddington, etc, but instead they stay in Charlotte and complain and try to hold the city back from it's full potential. If you don't want to pay for it, don't buy a house with a Charlotte address!!!

Anonymous said...

To the previous poster, BRAVO...I couldn't have said it better.

Disgusted in Union Co said...

A bit off the "UFO landing" topic here, but I can't let the misinformation go unchallenged:

anonymous wrote:

"...Explain why Union County, which has very little government and low taxes, has the best public schools (go look it up) in the area, and the fastest growing business and residential community around..."

Union County is a cesspool of corruption, bad (correction: no) planning, and most rapidly declining quality of life in the region.

"Fastest growing business and residential community..."??? That would be good because? Yes, it is the fastest growing residential community around (see today's news: 16th fastest in the US), but there is nothing good about that. The only thing worse than uncontrolled sprawl on 1-acre lots is four times the uncontrolled sprawl on 1/4-acre lots, accompanied by some of the most hideous McMansions in recent architectural memory.

"Business"? If you call a new strip shopping center on every corner "economic development", then yeah...but again, it's hardly vibrant "business". Fast food, discount chains, and lots of treeless, monotonous asphalt. There is little long-term sustainable corporate or industrial activity.

"Low taxes"? OK, go ahead and believe the lies spewed by the developers and the Union County Chamber while you drink the Kool-Aid. The Union County tax rate is 59.5 cents/$100, which is rapidly increasing to match Mecklenburg's 83.7 cents. Add to that another $521 million in school construction needed now - not to meet future needs, that will be even more, much more, but just to catch up - and one can see how Union County's claim to "low taxes" is just smoke and mirrors.

"Good schools"? Well, I guess. The de facto economic segregation in Union County has produced nicely segregated schools...that's good if you're into that sort of thing. Nobody should be.

Union County is the laughingstock of local governments everywhere; we are owned by residential developers, and everybody knows it. There is virtually no regulation of residential construction; our population is increasing at a rate more than triple the national rate and this unsustainable growth is being paid for by more borrowing financed on the backs of the existing residents. It is common knowledge throughout the nationwide homebuilding industry that Union County is one of the most profitable places in the country for developers and homebuilders.

The other "reward" of the "low taxes" is a disgraceful lack of services. The county has one county park, developed predominantly with federal funds in 1978, and is finally beginning development of one more. General government administrative services are grossly underfunded and understaffed, and burnout within a loyal and customer-friendly county staff is common.

I would love to travel to Charlotte more frequently, but lack of public transportation makes attendance at events such as the theater or the Charlotte Symphony too much of a chore. A good public transit system will help the region, in spite of the whining of ignorant naysayers. The 20-lane perimeter belt feeding into a network of congested spokes is a proven failed transportation method.

On second thought, I would think that the lack of transit into Union County might be a good thing. Maybe eventually people will realize that they are being sold a bill of goods and will stay away, leaving the rest of us to preserve some semblance of a quality of life.

The 24 cent higher Mecklenburg tax rate translates to a monthly differential of $60 for a $300,000 house. Compare that number to the following: 20 mile commute each way, 5 days/week = 200 miles/week; that's 866 miles/month to commute to Charlotte from beautiful "low-tax" Union County. At 40 cents/mile (actual vehicle costs probably exceed that) the monthly comuting cost just for the car (or most likely the SUV) is $346!!! Big economic benefit there, I see.

When Union County's tax rate is equal to Mecklenburg's, which I predict will happen in less than five years, and Union County provides a level of services roughly half that of Mecklenburg's...then, hopefully, people will "get it".

Please, stay away. You're driving my taxes up and my quality of life down.

Anonymous said...

Union County a cesspool?



McMansions are a good thing.

Go ahead and pay $400K for your dumpy, 50 year old 1,400 sq foot bungalow in Dilworth, get raped on taxes, and have lousy schools to boot.

As far as 'de facto economic segregation'?

Hey, now you're getting the picture.

Why would I want my kids to go to bad schools with thugs and gangstas in the name of 'equity'.

Amazing how strip malls in Union County are evil and in poor taste, but strip malls and chain restaurants on South Blvd are 'revitalization'.

Union's taxes will ALWAYS be way below Meck, because Meck has too many poor people sponging off the government.

If you feel 'economic diversity' is important, lets see some low income high rises in Meyers Park, Dilworth, and downtown next to Johnson and Wales.

Fat chance.

You are a bunch of limousine liberals and hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing data to the table, Disgusted in Union. You aptly point out the folly of "low taxes" by pointing out the costs of commuting. Factor in the hours of lost productivity while driving and you've got an even bigger cost.

Also, thanks Mr. Mulvaney/Lewis/Rebic for showing your true colors--priceless.

Anonymous said...

As long as Union County is inhabited by close-minded elitest bigots like the one a couple posts above, I want nothing to do with the place. If people like him are the make-up of the county, Union is most definitely a cess pool. Please do us in Chalotte a favor and stay down there in your overpriced McMansion. We don't need your kind stinking up our city.

Anonymous said...

You aptly point out the folly of "low taxes" by pointing out the costs of commuting

Commuting should teach you new urbanists an important lesson.

People do not care about commute times. They do not care about being near transit, they do not care about being near where they work.

Maybe a VERY small number who have no families do.

Pick ANY large city, and the car commuter traffic is horrendous. Why???

Because people want to live in GOOD neighborhoods, have GOOD schools, and LOW taxes. That is why the breadwinner will endure hours of commute time so that his/her family can have a higher quality of life.

I hope someday the light bulb goes on and you get it.

If only one parent works in a family of four, the commute is irrelevant. What matters is neighborhoods, schools, and taxes.

THat is why the 'desirable' people (read: tax contributors) are fleeing Meck co. and no amount of light rail or art musuems will bring them back.

As a Union county resident, I would like to thank you for your consistently bad planning, higher taxes, and self-destructive school board.

I can actually HEAR my property values goes up every time I open the Charlotte Observer.

Thanks again, really.

Anonymous said...

"Go ahead and pay $400K for your dumpy, 50 year old 1,400 sq foot bungalow in Dilworth, get raped on taxes, and have lousy schools to boot."

First of all, you are a fool. Not only do those houses have a lot of CHARACTER unlike the new, vinyl, cookie-cutter homes, they are also located in a beautiful area where the schools are GOOD (Myers Park High is one of the top rated HS in the country - Union County doesn't have ANY). Your a racist, ignorant, conservative bigot. You are a sad, sheltered human being.

And since I am assuming you live in Union County, why are you posting here and complaining about taxes, crime, etc in MECKLENBURG? Stop acting like Union County is utopia - didn't you read the news today? The county wants to institute impact fees on developers? That means houses are going to be more expensive. So, instead of complaining and acting like a little baby, maybe you should consider moving to Anson County - you will be far away, it's not growing, low taxes, with a bunch of conservative hillbillies like you!

Anonymous said...

Man, I don't know what your talking about but people are not "fleeing" Mecklenburg. Plenty of people would rather live in Mecklenburg than any of the other counties - not everyone wants to live in a house with 2 acres, and not everyone wants to live in the woods. Some people like the city, some like the suburbs, and some like it more rural. So shut up, stop complaining, and leave us alone!!

Anonymous said...

(Myers Park High is one of the top rated HS in the country - Union County doesn't have ANY).

Get your facts straight. Go visit the NC DOE web site and get the school stats.

Meyers Park high is actually below Providence High, which is below both Sun Valley and Weddington in Union County.

Most Union County grade schools exceed Hawk Ridge and McKee Road elementary schools. Certainly the (gasp) predominantly white ones.

Let me get all these new urbanist rules stright:

1) If I want my kids to go to a good, safe school, I am a racist.

2) If I live in a house less than 10 years old because I don't like fixing faulty wiring every weekend, I have no taste.

3) Growth in Union County is bad and devlopers should be punished with impact fees, but growth in the inner city is good and contributes to the 'vibrancy' of the city.

4) The NASCAR HOF is a 'public service'.

5) The Bobcats arena is a 'public service'.

Until you do the following:

1) Voluntarily send your kids to West Meck High

2) Build section 8 low income high rises in Meyers Park.

3) Take out a 2nd mortgage on your house to pay for the $600K worth or ART to be installed in light rail stations.

I cannot possibly take you seriously.

It's easy to be noble with someone else's money.

Anonymous said...

I've already done all that. :-P

Anonymous said...

Nobody wants you in the city anyways. You have nothing to add to it.

Anonymous said...

Mecklenburg needs an occupational tax on those who purportedly don't need the city but use it as a place of entertainment and employment.

Anonymous said...

A commuter tax. Now THAT would be a good way to drive more business across county lines.

Taxing their incomes would have the effect of causing employers to have to raise wages and salaries to compete for those employees, and all that really accomplishes is to raise the cost of doing business in the county. Meckelnberg is already at a bit of a disadvantage with regard to the cost of operating a business: it hardly needs to exacerbate that problem. (And by the way, that economic disadvantage is not inconsequential. We moved our operations out of Charlotte and into Cabarrus County five years ago when an economic analysis indicated that the net savings from doing so would pay the salaries of two additional staff in our sales and marketing dept.)

Anonymous said...

Great point.

There are three banks already constructing facilities in Fort Mill (Citi, Lending Tree, and HSBC).

Why? S

Scenery? Arts and musuems? Proximity to transit?


Low taxes and lower costs of doing business (i.e., lots of cheap land).

Charlotte is not New York (which is landlocked).

We can build on vacant land until we hit the ocean.

Just check out Chicago where the suburbs now extend almost 80 miles down the Interstates that feed into it.

You may not like it, but one day Spartanburg will be a suburb of Charlotte (hopefully not vice versa if NC keeps raising costs of diong business and living in comparison to South Carolina).

Anonymous said...

While I agree with much of what Ms Newsome says, I grow weary of Charlotte's inability to embrace modern architecture. Instead, we build crap that's supposed to be "classic", i.e, the new CPCC art building on Kings Drive. We get a giant brick monolith (called the Charlotte Bobcats Arena) because the mayor wanted to "honor" Charlotte's mill heritage. Well sorry Mr Mayor and Ms Newsome. Charlotte, like it or not, is a 20th Century creation. We should be thrilled that we will FINALLY have a good modern building in uptown, instead of the crappy classicism that we are handed on a regular basis.

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