Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The candy bar approach to city planning

Thank you, anonymous commenter from 5:20 p.m. Tuesday. I am not against density or height. I am against height in the wrong place. You can make a case that next door to the Arlington is an appropriate spot for density, and I won't get in your face about it, although I think the proximity to the Dilworth Historic District makes it problematic, for reasons I've mentioned before. Overall, I tend to agree with Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who says that six five-story buildings are better than one 30-story building.

But here's the crux of my objections to the South End rezoning: The whole point of a small station area plan is to plan what heights and densities are appropriate on which spots. If the planners who wrote the South End Station Area Plan and the City Council who adopted it in 2005 believed that site was appropriate for buildings twice the height of the rest of the area's height limit, why not have the plan say that? Why limit the appropriate height there, in the plan, to 120 feet? Those kinds of issues are precisely why your tax money pays for planners and why your elected representatives adopt small area plans.

Why even bother with any plan if it's routinely disregarded?

It reminds me of taking a kid to the grocery store. You say before you go, "I'm not buying you candy in the check-out line." If you then buy the kid a Snickers in the check-out line, that kid will cry for candy on every visit to the store for the next 20 years. And you will have undermined any credibility your authority might have had.

One last thing, responding to a commenter on the post about the Piedmont Town Center project: I LOVE Filene's Basement. Offer one of those up and I'll be out there with my chainsaw. (Joke, people, joke.)

38 comments:

Sloan from SouthPark said...

Like you, Mary, I’m against height in the wrong places, such as in Myers Park and SouthPark. It will be interesting how city council eventually votes on the condo skyscraper proposed for the center of Myers Park, a petition I understand has been deferred.

Unfortunately the Displaced Persons (I.E. “Northerners”) who have taken over our city just don’t understand why we don’t want things done the way they did years ago to screw up Cleveland, Buffalo and Hackensack.

If the people in Myers Park and SouthPark wanted to live in Buckhead-style skyscrapers, wanted to bring the crime of Buckhead to the intersection of Sharon and Fairview, they would have done so long ago. They have the money to do so. They haven’t because that’s not the lifestyle they want. Don’t we have a Declaration, Preamble or Constitution that explains that to the lesser educated D.P’s?

Anonymous said...

The thing is that there are already high rises in the middle of Myers Park. There's one a few blocks from Queens College, and it's hardly noticeable with all the trees around. same with the Pink Building. Drive a couple blocks away on East Blvd or Morehead, and you don't even know it's there. I think it just annoys some people that these buildings exist period. As for the South park issues, may I remind some of the people who live there (including some of my family), the mall's upgrades, the additional upscale retail, and much of the dense residential has done nothing but increase your property values threefold, not to mention bragging rights of living in a destination part of town. I bet the people around Eastland would love to have some of your 'problems'.

Anonymous said...

Crime in Buckhead???? Buckhead is 100% nicer than South Park! Taller buildings make sense at that location. They should of zoned it that way originally. I love skyscrapers so bring them on!

Anonymous said...

I am one of the most die-hard hater of the Yankee hoards that have invaded our fair city. At the same time, I think it is absolutely ludicrous to get all worked up about a few tall buildings (going in places where tall buildings ought to be going.)

You claim they made a mistake by changing the zoning, why is it not equally likely that the original zoning was a mistake?

For those who, like me, are disgusted with the Yankees and want to live happily in MP or Dilworth or Cotswold or wherever, why should we care if they want to ghetto-ize themselves in tall buildings in South End and Downtown, or for that matter out in suburbia in bedroom communities surrounding places like Ballentyne and around Providence, Ardrey Kell and those areas, not to mention all the similar communities including the blight on the landscape that is Birkdale Village (pukes).

As far as I am concerned, if we can't keep "them" from moving here at all, then I'm all for allowing them to segregate themselves in buildings along the light rail, downtown, and out in the boonies.

sloan from southpark said...

Apparently you don't live in Buckhead. Else you would have heard about the crime. My Atlanta friends are moving out of Buckhead because of all the crime that's attracted to the denser affluent population. Tell you what: We'll put the skyscrapers and density in uptown Charlotte, and they (and you) can have all the crime you want!

Anonymous said...

Ballantyne. Isn't that the Yankee Ghetto down on Johnston Road?

Anonymous said...

Build more concentration camps, I mean, "mixed use communities" along 485 and beyond. I'll continue to avoid them and the Yankees and other undesireables will continue to flock to them.

It's a win-win!

Anonymous said...

Plans need to have some flexibility to respond to changing market conditions. Land values increase, denser uses are needed to make numbers work. Planning does not take into account the financials needed to make projects work. A lot of thought goes into these projects including looking at user demand, construction costs etc. etc. and sometimes developing according to a plan does not make sense.

I sure feel bad for all of the people in Myers Park and Dilworth. Seriously- all that darn appreciation and desirability must be awful. Far worse the getting section 8 dumped in your neighborhood...

And why do people hate Birkdale? It's a nice enough place- active, busy, attractive. Sure, maybe not everyone's taste, but Charlotte seems to offer enough alternatives to please people. What the heck do people want? Cripes- I know what I want and Charlotte doesn't offer it-at all- but you know, it doesn't mean that what it does offer is crap.

Militant devotion to planning will only reduce choices for people.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there are some freightening people out there. Last time I checked, this is America, and we're all Americans, right? For the record, the War ended 143 years ago. Let your hatred go, and maybe you'll feel better about yourself.

Oh, and not all the newcomers to Charlotte are from "the North". You do know people come here from California, Florida, Mexico, Germany, India, China, etc...

Those of you born and raised in metro Charlotte should feel flattered that you have a clean, beautiful, and tree filled city that has (until today, at least) a booming economy that is attractive to people from other places who want to build a life here.

People are going to continue to come here as long as there are jobs here to fill, whether your narrow minds like it or not. I'd recommend getting to know some of them. Most of them are nice people.

We can agree to disagree on how our city should grow, but it will grow. Hopefully you'll grow with it. Or you can take the advice that you so often like to give. Bessemer City or Albemarle are nice little towns where you never have to worry about big city issues.

Anonymous said...

People seem to forget, or maybe they just never knew, that the original plan for The Arlington was for it to be almost twice as tall as it ended up being. The 1998 original plan described a 44-story building. It was only when Jim Gross couldn't get financing for it (hmm, seems like we've heard that story repeatedly, recently) that he shrank the building, compressed the two-story lofts into a single-story condos, and turned it pink.

And then it got completed about three years behind the original schedule.

It was after the original plan was changed that the local zoning board changed the rules for the area around The Arlington to preclude the possibility of more skyscrapers. But as we know, rules are made to be broken.

Especially in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing ghetto about any of the residential towers being built here. Like the trailer parks in the "wonderful countryside" all the natives talk about aren't ghetto? Um, ok...

Anonymous said...

Sloan, I hate to stereotype the people of Southpark as 'snooty', as I know many good Southpark people. Unfortunately, you are not helping the cause. Buckhead has cleaned its act up over the last couple of years by replacing a bunch of bars with skyscrapers. The Ray Lewis-type activities are not near as frequent as they used to be.

One thing Southpark has missed out on is making it easy to walk from one area to another. For example, Mountainbrook and Phillips Place are just a couple hundred yards from each other. Unfortunately you can't directly walk from one place to another. Instead, you have to get in you car and drive a big circle around. I guess you showcase the Beamer somehow.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for some of the previous posters. What a miserable way to live your life hating other people. Today, our country is more diverse and it gets more diverse everyday. People don't live where they grew up anymore. They go where their jobs go and where opportunities and family bring them. These days you have to deal with people from all walks of life. People need to learn to get along with other people. It's your loss because there are a lot of great people from all over this country and the world. Time to get over the past (and yourself) and look towards the future. All of you sound so backwards and ignorant.

Anonymous said...

How is Birkdale a blight on the landscape? Do all the trailer parks around here not bother you? Now those are a blight on the landscape!

Anonymous said...

Skyscrapers don't equal crime, especially if they are filled with Class A office space and condos ranging from $500,000 to over $1 million. There must be something in the air around here because it is killing a lot of peoples brain cells.

Displaced persons? Are you kidding me? Where do you people come from? You would think you need a passport to come over here! Last I checked we all lived in the United States of America. We are free to move wherever we please. Geez, it seems like the transplants around here would be more welcome in North Korea!

Anonymous said...

How is Birkdale a blight on the landscape? Do all the trailer parks around here not bother you? Now those are a blight on the landscape!

You know, a lot of people can't afford anything more than a mobile home in a trailer park. While many of us are fortunate to have good jobs and live in shiny new condos and houses in well-manicured neighborhoods here in Charlotte, there are a lot of folks out there who work behind the counter in a convenience store or some other small business for minimum wage who can't afford to pay huge rents in order to live in nice digs.

Your referring to trailer parks as "blights" on the landscape is not far off from referring to the people who live there as "blights", as well. And this is not just a Southern thing; there are trailer parks in all 50 states.

You should have a little respect for the people who live in such places; they're generally good people who just haven't had a lot of success in life.

You could start by no longer continually crapping on their residences.

Anonymous said...

No one was talking about anything being "ghetto" in the urban slang sense of the word, that is, to refer to something as being somehow substandard. Rather, they were referring to a "ghetto" in the more commonly used (pre-"I love the 90s"..."oooh, that is so ghetto")) meaning of the word, where it would refer to a section of a city where a particular group or class of people live or are confined, sometimes by force rather than by choice, sometimes by choice.

In the same way that some would refer to these uptown towers and bedroom communities reflecting on segregation of certain types of people, so would one be justified in making the same classifications regarding trailer parks (ghettoization of poor, white (?), ______ (you fill in the blank).) But I don't think that Merriam Webster has started using it as an adjective exclusively yet, and so perhaps we should remember as well that it has an understood meaning as a noun as well.

Anonymous said...

There are still thriving cities in the Northeast. I don't think Charlotte is trying to be like Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, and Hackensack at all nor are we heading that way. Sometimes I wonder if any of you have even traveled past the Mason-Dixon line.....

Anonymous said...

Obviously you didn't understand what that person meant. First of all, a previous poster referred to Birkdale as a "blight" on the landscape. If Birkdale(a well-manicured, nicely kept shopping center) is a "blight" on the landscape, than how is a trailer park not? They abound around here moreso than other places and were most likely here for a long time. You can use the same argument you made: If Birkdale is considered "blight" than are the people who live there considered that also? No. That wasn't even the point being made anyways...

Anonymous said...

Some of you obviously have some petty hang-ups. You live in a city that has and continues to be built on people from other places. Your local officials "woo" companies over here and the banks (which as many of you know originated here) have expanded and relocated many people here. Part of living in a city is being around many different people. If don't want to live near people from other regions of this country you should really consider moving somewhere else. Life is way too short to hate, especially for petty, stupid reasons such as peoples origins of birth. All I have to say to the transplant hating crowd is, sorry, but you better learn to like them and get along because people aren't going to stop moving here anytime soon. You never know, you might actually meet some great people. It's a crazy thought, I know...

Anonymous said...

We wouldn't have to "ghetto-ize" ourselves if so many of you didn't hate us so much! Nobody wants to be harassed on a constant basis. What about southern hospitality? Oh, you must of meant southern hostility. It must be great being so perfect. I wish I was born with a halo around my head. *rolls eyes*

Anonymous said...

i love reading these blogs, but seriously....get out of the house, order a drink, listen to some jazz and just ponder how you have come to this place in your life and look back at the crossroad where you took the wrong path.

or..just buy a dog and maybe it will listen to your sadness and still love you anyway.

Anonymous said...

"I am one of the most die-hard hater of the Yankee hoards that have invaded our fair city."

Have you ever considered therapy? I think you should...

Sloan from Southpark said...

Anon at 09:27 pm said "Oh, and not all the newcomers to Charlotte are from "the North". You do know people come here from California, Florida, Mexico, Germany, India, China, etc..."

We natives don't have a problem with newcomers from California, Florida, Mexico, Germany, India, China, etc. Just the displaced ones from the rust belt who want to turn Charlotte into Cleveland, Buffalo or Hackensack. They're also the ones with the "mouths". Read their comments posted to Mary's previous blogs if you don't understand.

You also said "People are going to continue to come here as long as there are jobs here to fill, whether your narrow minds like it or not."

We welcome the polite, considerate, down-to-earth, well-educated newcomers from Florida, California, China, India, Mexico, etc. So what's narrow-minded about that?

Maybe if you hadn't segregated your cities and moved all the white folks to the suburbs, your dying towns would have thrived and you wouldn't have to be a gypsy.
Who you calling narrow-minded?

eye_dee_ten_tea said...

Credibility? With the current clown college we have in office?

BWAA HAA HAA!

Good one, Mary!

Anonymous said...

NOBODY SAID ANYTHING ABOUT TURNING CHARLOTTE INTO BUFFALO, HACKENSACK, CLEVELAND, ETC! WHERE ARE YOU GETTING THIS NON-SENSE FROM? CHARLOTTE IS NOT TURNING INTO A HORRIBLE PLACE! YOU ARE THE ONE WHO NEEDS SOME EDUCATING!

Anonymous said...

Hey sloan, sorry, but you have a pretty big "mouth" yourself. And what is with the CONSTANT reference to those cities? Just look at your posts on here and read them over and over. How can you say your posts are not narrow-minded, ignorant, and cruel? Gypsies? Gosh, you must be a very miserable person!

Anonymous said...

Hey sloan, I have a question... how do you know where the people who made those comments (I am not even sure which comments you are referring to) come from?

Oh, wait... maybe I should just use your ignorant thinking. Only somebody from "the evil, dreadful North" would say something like that! People in other parts of the country and the world aren't capable of saying such things! Righttttttttt...

And if you want to spew your venom on here, don't be suprised when people fight back and then use it against them. As always, you southerners love to stir it up!

Anonymous said...

Buffalo, Cleveland and Hackensack are nothing but scapegoats for people who wish Charlotte would stay like a Richmond, Birmingham or Shreveport. Sloan was probably one of the people that got upset when Belk closed down the Barclays Cafeteria and the mall built on the green patch on Sharon. Change happens people. Sometimes for the better.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many of these neo-Confederates understand that the original Charlotte banks were all financed with Northern money...

Anonymous said...

So Yankees were responsible for financing Bank of America, Wachovia and other local banks? That's a hoot!

Guess where the good 'ol boys who brought those and other Southern-born and bred financial institutions into national prominence were from.
Hugh, Charlie, Reese and others were Northerners? I think not! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Muffy from Myers Park said...

Sloan, Thanks for telling the truth. You've correctly described the Nothern element in our community: Displaced, ignorant, hateful, big mouthed, pushy and arrogant. But I haven't seen you spew any venom as one of the "Anonymous" group claim. I guess truth hurts, and they don't know the difference between constructive criticism and real venom.

Anonymous said...

So Yankees were responsible for financing Bank of America, Wachovia and other local banks? That's a hoot!

That is correct. After the Civil War, Charlotte received a great deal of investment from Northern interests. There wasn't enough wealth in the South at the time to re-start the bank system (remember, Confederate currency was worthless), so it was Yankee dollars that were the driving force behind the institutions which would become BoA and Wachovia.

While it's true that the banks were more recently guided by Southern individuals, it's an inescapable fact that Reb/Yank cooperation was the foundation of Charlotte's wealth.

Kevin said...

I just wanted to point something out on the trailer park comments. I use to make jokes and negative remarks on trailer parks until one day an elderly lady who's life work had been working to improve poor peoples access to indoor plumbing educated me about the issue. She pointed out that although trailers may not be the best housing option they had contributed greatly to the quality of a lot of peoples housing. Compared to the working class housing in the earlier part of the last century, which usually did not include indoor plumbing, the trailer was a major upgrade. It is important to note that we still have several hundred thousand people in this country who do not have indoor plumbing. For most of them the trailer may be the only hope that they will ever have to get it. Just something to think about the next time we use the trailer park to help support our arguments.

Anonymous said...

"Sloan, Thanks for telling the truth. You've correctly described the Nothern element in our community: Displaced, ignorant, hateful, big mouthed, pushy and arrogant."

Whatever. Southern people are a bunch of uptight phonies. I wish I could be just as perfect as you are! *rolls eyes*

GET OVER YOURSELVES.

Anonymous said...

What is sad is that many of you are probably grown adults. Your ignorant parents spread their hatred on to you, and you continue to spread your hatred on to your children. None of us were in the Civil War. It is long over and is nothing but history. Our ancestors did what they thought was the right thing to do at the time, but this is 2008 and what happened then doesn't matter now. So get the hell over it and realize that we are all human beings and none of us are perfect!!!

Anonymous said...

YANKEE DOODLE CAME TO TOWN RIDING ON A PONY! STUCK A FEATHER IN HIS HAT AND CALLED IT MACARONI!!!!!! AHAHAHAHEHHEHEHEE YANKEES!! OMG YANKEES! SOUTHERN PEOPLE ARE SO PERFECT AND FULL OF KINDNESS!!!!!! I WISH I COULD BE SO PERFECT JUST LIKE SLOAN AND MUFFY AND ALL THE OTHER BACKWARDS, YANKEE-HATIN' LOSERS!!!

Anonymous said...

Mmm, my comments have to follow those of some crazy bloggers! Geez!

Anyways, Mary how you not be for a Tower beside a Tower? I don't understand your logic there.

Also, the Transit Plan is simply that- a plan, not law. If you actually read the plan front to back, you will actually learn that is does encourage some exceptions to the plan be made if building such a building within eye sight or x amoutn distance.

So, I highly suggest you "plan out your next blog" by truly knowing the Entire story and facts, not just a slice of emotional facts.

I really like the way Charlotte is growing and love it more day after day after day.