Monday, July 28, 2008

Save 8th Street uptown

Yes, I'm a dweeb. I'm sitting here watching the City Council meeting on TV. Just watched Mayor Pat McCrory veto a proposal for the city to buy a small convenience store in the Belmont neighborhood.

Lotta council discussion, and much of it reasonably intelligent, even when the members disagreed with each other. McCrory's veto was the right thing to do. I wrote a column on this issue last year. I can't link to it tonight, but will try to add a link tomorrow. Headline: The Belmont neighborhood -- thanks to strategic city investments and other good efforts -- is on the upswing. The private marketplace is slowly regenerating it, and those old retail buildings will help add character and a home for small business entrepreneurs. If there's a crime problem (and with some of the old stores, there is) the solution is policing, not the buildings. The city's money is needed in other, more desperate neighborhoods.

But here's what inspired me to crank out this posting. They're talking about a plan for the First Ward section of uptown, and for a park. It's a complicated land-swap deal, and will involve a park, underground parking, a UNC Charlotte building and other good things.

BUT, and it's a big but, council member Nancy Carter is spot on with her resistance to the proposal to close Eighth Street for the park. Uptown's traffic can be so congested that the last thing it needs is to close off even more of its grid. And as its development continues it is going to get even more congested. The city can't keep chipping away at connectivity uptown. Plenty of excellent parks have a small-scale street running through them, and this one could be one of them.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

Uptown traffic really isn't that bad at all...

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should cobblestone or brick the street, so traffic has to drive slow? I don't think they should close it, but I am sure they can install some kind of traffic calming measure...

Anonymous said...

We don't need streets uptown. Make people walk or bicycle, then take the bus or light rail to get out of uptown. Mass transit solves all our problems; cars are evil.

We can't build more roads because people will use them. It only follows that if we start getting rid of roads, people will drive less, right?

/sarcasm

Anonymous said...

I don't think closing off a section of 8th St. would impact Uptown that bad. Now if it was 7th St....

Anonymous said...

Do not shut off 8th Street! Yes, we need as much connectivity as possible with a growing uptown. We have already shut off too many routes uptown (to parks and neighborhoods). And with the ball park they are talking about shutting off 3rd Street from Graham. That would be bad also.

Anonymous said...

Id rather have the parks! make uptown more walkable!

Anonymous said...

Mary,
Could you give me a good example of a park the size of the one they are proposing in First Ward (4 acres) that has a road running through the middle of it?

Uncle Dennis said...

You are probably aware that a new street, Market Street, would be built running parallel from Seventh Street to Tenth Street ( to be extended from Tryon to the light rail line.
Eighth Street as a connector is pretty slow. There are stop signs at every corner, and much of Eighth Street runs through a heavily residentail section of the Firt Ward.
Further, the light rail will cause crossings every 7 minutes in rush hour and 20 minutes there after.
Even as this project grows, traffic patterns will not be that severly restricted.

Anonymous said...

More parks, more walkable like a REAL city. 8th street is dead for the most part. Get off your lazy butts and walk, bike, train or bus. I do, there's no excuse except laziness.

I live uptown, it's my neighborhood, I pay an extra uptown district tax so I want a park. I could care less what a commuter wants. Just as I don't think I should have a say in what the hell they do in their cul-de-sac either.

Not a yank said...

^ I completely agree that people need to walk more. I can almost walk faster on Tryon than the cars can drive it.

Anon 4:57 - Central Park has roads running through it, although it's a little bigger than 4 acres.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous who wrote at 04:57 am asking for an example of a park with a road through it:

Park Road Park.

The lake, picnic areas and basketball courts are on the west side of Park Road, hidden to traffic. The tennis courts are on the east side of that four-lane dragstrip, nearer Archdale.

No one in their right mind would attempt to walk from one area to another at rush hour.

Park South Drive was once part of Park Road, and traffic took one heck of a dogleg to get from the spot where PSD terminates near St. Sarkis Church back to the Fairview-Tyvola intersection. Then the city decided traffic was more important than parks.

If those uptown folk get to have an intact park by closing 8th Street, I'll ask my councilman to close Park Road through Park Road Park or sue for discrimination.

Derwood said...

Assuming the part of 8th St that you are talking about is between Church and Brevard, I don't see this as a big impact. It's mainly a cut throw street and other than the parking lots backing up to it, what are we really losing?

A park on that side of Uptown would be beneficial to the residents of First Ward and continue making Uptown a more walkable city.

Anonymous said...

Why not keep 8th, but run it under the park?

That side of Uptown won't be a parking lot wasteland forever, keeping 8th is probably a good long term plan.

Anonymous said...

Haven't any of you learned from the mistakes of the past? Don't any of you pay attention???

Quiet cut-through streets are what keep traffic from bottlenecking. They allow residents to move in different traffic patterns than commuters. They disperse traffic jams. They allow for different development and re-thinking of the district in the future, when the sheen has worn off. They are what is missing in 75% of Charlotte's neighborhoods and their absence is the primary reason the city is fighting a losing battle against congestion.

As it stands, the three streets adjacent to 8th (9th, 10th, Garden District) are effectively dead-ends cut off by 277. 8th is the nearest connection to McDowell for those residents if they're heading south. Cut off 8th and now 7th is the nearest connection -- funnelling an entire neighborhood onto a 4-lane city street. This is EXACTLY what "new urban" development is supposed to prevent.

I like the idea of cobbling the street, or otherwise using a traffic-calming design (not sure underground is feasible there). But it is imperative that Uptown maintain these street connections, or it will become little more than a very dense set of suburban-style subdivisions.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the few times I'll agree with Mary. 8th Street needs to be kept intact.

But I'll extend the argument one more step: 3rd Street needs to be kept intact between Graham Street and Mint Street. Eliminating this section of 3rd Street in order to create a double-sized block so that an incredibly-small AAA ballpark can be built there is a bad idea. Jerry Reese's plan to build a MLB-capable ballpark in Second Ward is a much better idea, and would not require the closure of a major throughfare like 3rd Street in Third Ward. I would love to have baseball in Uptown, but it needs to be done right. Closing 3rd Street is not the right way to do this.

Anonymous said...

Keep 8th street, however totally redisgn it so that a park, pedrestrians and autos can enjoy the same space. I say make 8th run through the park like Lombardi Street does in San Fransico.

If they make the street have many curves, then only the local in town residents will use it. It's a win win for uptown. Get a park and keep a street.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the ballpark plan too.

Our grandkids are going to wish we had kept all these streets instead of making the SAME OLD MISTAKES and cutting them off.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte CANNOT support an MLB team and probably won't for awhile. We aren't big enough. We would be the smallest metro area with an MLB team.

Anonymous said...

We don't need anymore stadiums inside 277. We need more housing, office, RETAIL, and parks.

Anonymous said...

"Charlotte CANNOT support an MLB team and probably won't for awhile. We aren't big enough. We would be the smallest metro area with an MLB team."

This is all true.

But if we build a ballpark for the Knights in Uptown Charlotte that's just barely big enough for a AAA team, we are condemning ourselves to NEVER getting an MLB team, no matter how much Charlotte might grow. The smart thing to do, which would let us keep our options open, would be to build a ballpark which can be expanded in the event that we do someday get an MLB team. And THAT means a Second Ward location, not the proposed Third Ward location which would cut 3rd Street in half.

We're already saddled with an arena that's too small to handle really big events, like an NCAA Final Four. We don't need to add a ballpark that's also too small. For a city that likes to pretend it's "world class", Charlotte sure does like to do a lot of stuff in a half-assed manner.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"We can't even fill Bobcats for Christ's sake."

Well, that's probably because 57% of the population voted against a new arena back in 2001 or so. That's a good 57% who, right off the bat, had no interest in a team. Another big chunk are probably turned off by the high ticket prices and the lack of interest by Bob Johnson in being Charlottean. The NBA is a dying brand and in a town where one team was already ridden out on a rail, only a truly dense person would expect a second team to succeed.

Baseball, on the other hand, is a popular sport and the Knights would do well in an Uptown ballpark. My point is that if we are going to get them to move up here from Fort Mill, we should build a ballpark that can do more than just host a AAA team. Building the ballpark in Third Ward represents small thinking.

"Minor league is as good as it's gonna get."

Now, that ain't world class city thinkin'! If you wanna make it here, you've got to be more ambitious than that. :-)

Anonymous said...

^

Haaaaa, good one. But I've already made it here and this city will never be world class and that's okay. It's doing a fine job being palin old "Charlotte".

And that from a Yankee.

Anonymous said...

opps, "plain".

Anonymous said...

"But I've already made it here and this city will never be world class and that's okay."

Clearly, you are not a politician.

For what it's worth, I agree that Charlotte has no *need* to be a world class city. But I do think that when it comes to yet another sports venue, we need to not take the low road.

And back on topic, we need to leave 8th Street, the street itself, just the way it is.

Anonymous said...
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Eric said...

Rip up the road, put in a moving sidewalk. Jetson's meets Disney's 'Carousel of Progress.'

Anonymous said...

Can 8th be made one way, all the way back up north.

Nigel said...

Anonymous at 02:21 pm said “Well, that's probably because 57% of the population voted against a new arena back in 2001 or so. That's a good 57% who, right off the bat, had no interest in a team.”

As one of that 57%, and a Hornets season-ticker holder at the time, it wasn’t that I didn’t have interest in a team. It was because I felt that multi-millionaire owners, coaches and players could either bloody well subsidize their own private arena, or learn to live on a “smaller” salary and remain playing in a perfectly-good, 22,000-plus, less than 15-year-old public venue.

I love the Knights. I’m not wild about public tax money being outlandishly spent on infrastructure changes, or on a ballpark itself, just for the sole purpose of getting people to ride the LYNX uptown and walk to the ballpark. Ditto for ballpark financing that has the purpose of attracting people to live uptown. If we are going to do that, let the city subsidize people to live in the Eastland area so we could actually revitalize a dying part of town, instead of shooting more adrenalin into an already vibrant uptown.

If major league baseball wants a ballpark here, let those multi-millionaires finance it.

Anonymous said...

I like the arena downtown. It is in a much better location and you cannot deny that! The one on Tyvola SUCKED!

Anonymous said...

It's in a better location? It was much easier to get into and out of out there on Tyvola.

But I guess some people would rather pay $10 to park instead of $5 and sit in a parking garage for 30 minutes waiting to get out.

The new one has about as much personality as a concrete iceberg.

Anonymous said...

The arena isn't "downtown". It's uptown. SouthPark is downtown.

Anonymous said...

"UPTOWN" A term used by people who like to pretend Charlotte can be defined by words. It is an amorphous area delineated by an area approximately 1/2 mile in radius with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce's office at its center.

"DOWNTOWN" A term used to describe the area of Charlotte built up with high rises and similar office buildings. Generally it is the office area inside of the I-277 loop. It is a term in use for 50+ years.

Anonymous said...

It's in a better location? It was much easier to get into and out of out there on Tyvola.

Regardless of which event I attended on Tyvola - Hornets games, concerts, circus, etc - I can't remember ever getting out of there in less than 30-45 minutes. It was always a traffic jam before the event, traffic jam after... and with the interstates overloading it would probably be even worse today than it was back then.

At least with the new arena you can park somewhere on LYNX and ride the train, find parking a few blocks away from the arena and just get your daily exercise, or even hit the town for an hour while traffic disperses. Uptown's a nice place to walk in the evening, much safer and cleaner than similar districts in most other cities.

Anonymous said...

If you think uptown's a nice place to walk in the evenings, you must be confining your walks to the block in front of Founder's Hall, where police keep a close eye on all the panhandlers ready to pounce on you the minute you stray onto a side street.

I've known folks who've been accosted walking from the arena to a restaurant.

And the arena itself is a folly. We even let the fox (Bobcats) run the henhouse!

Maybe you should get a job with the uptown Chamber of Commerce or Center City Partners. They have a knack for hyperbole as well.

Anonymous said...

If you think uptown's a nice place to walk in the evenings, you must be confining your walks to the block in front of Founder's Hall, where police keep a close eye on all the panhandlers ready to pounce on you the minute you stray onto a side street.

Don't be ignorant.

If you start at the arena and walk directly toward Tryon, you go right past the College St nightclubs, including Dixie's and Cosmos, or for a nightcap you can hit Blue or Zink. If you want cheaper eats you can do Fuel or Pita Pit or Ri-Ra's, or Mert's if it's still open.

Once you hit Tryon you can turn left, and in the process of going from 6th to 1st St you pass: Rock Bottom Brewery, Lavecchia's, Harry & Jean's, Therapy, Buckhead Saloon, Grand Central, Harper's, the Square (which usually has street performers), and the Green where you can eat at Fuel or Jolina's or just sit under the stars. In a couple of years the next block over will be a museum district which will undoubtedly have even more options, and by that time you're at a LYNX station that you can take back out to South End or the 'burbs or wherever.

If you can't find a decent time in all that, at least something that beats sitting in a traffic jam, you're a miserable soul with no shot at ever truly having a good time in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tour of that tiny part of Charlotte called "Uptown". I was wrong. You don't need to get a job with the Uptown Chamber of Commerce or Center City Partners. You obviously already have one with them.

But instead of addressing the crime issue I brought up (that's prevalent uptown), you reverted to name calling. Yep, that's the Uptown Way. If you can't refute 'em, try to distract 'em.

But you do have a good idea. Maybe folks in north Mecklenburg or University City can eventually ride the Lynx to Tyvola Station and take a bus to SouthPark or Ballantine where they can have a really good time without being hassled by panhandlers.

And if you waited 30 minutes in traffic at the old Coliseum, you weren't there.

As another responder already pointed out, Charlotte is the sum of ALL its parts, not just the center portion.

Anonymous said...

But instead of addressing the crime issue I brought up (that's prevalent uptown), you reverted to name calling.

This coming from a guy who paints everyone who enjoys Uptown as a corrupt business official. Nice. I'll tell you what, I'll stop calling you names when you stop making assumptions about my background.

And if you waited 30 minutes in traffic at the old Coliseum, you weren't there.

You MUST be kidding.

I can specifically remember the last time the circus came to the Coliseum (that gives you a solid date to work with, Mr. Skeptic) they actually scheduled the shows so close to one another that the early-show cars were still in the parking lot when the late-show traffic arrived. So it was mayhem, a tangled web of deadlock extending beyond Billy Graham and all the way up the interstate ramps. It was a total mess, took me well over an hour to drive out of, and I'm sure you remember similar things happening on a regular basis if you spent ANY time at the Coliseum (post-Hornets traffic... give me a break, it was a parking lot all the way out to Nations Ford after big games... even the Panthers move people out faster than that and they have 50,000 more cars to deal with).

As another responder already pointed out, Charlotte is the sum of ALL its parts, not just the center portion.

So what? You obviously prefer BallantYne for whatever reason. Nobody is on here ripping you for your choices. Follow your own advice and consider how many tax dollars were spent on 485 and 51 and 521 and all the other highway development that made your favorite playground possible.

We are here to talk about saving ONE street uptown in order to keep the street grid connected. Not which part of town you personally happen to like or dislike.

BTW, I feel safer on Tryon than anywhere else in Charlotte. Anyone with a lick of sense can say "no" to a panhandler and keep walking.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

can we jsut run 8th into 85N so all these people can go back to the north.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Feel free to comment on my "crude" language.

Actually, Mary will "comment" on your language by deleting your post. It's OK to disagree with her and with other posters, but calling people names is against the rules.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying that Jesus.

Anonymous said...

i think they hit a sore spot, it is a blog dont let it ruin your day yank..

Anonymous said...

well you can hardly blame him for reacting to the talk-show guy up above. some people think that any public discussion is an opportunity to prove they can yell louder than the other guy... welcome to the fox news generation.

Anonymous said...

Build a nice pedestrian bridge that crosses over 8th street and connects both sides of the park.

http://image53.webshots.com/453/3/73/69/2989373690041955433nOFXSg_fs.jpg

Anonymous said...

^ The link doesn't work, but I love love LOVE the idea of a well-made attractive pedestrian bridge over 8th. This is an opportunity for Charlotte to add a "signature" view to the city -- something big and outstanding like what you'd see in Barcelona if they had such an opportunity.

What the park would lose in square feet of grass, it would more than make back in attractiveness and romance. And 10 times better if 8th is cobbled... the whole idea sounds almost more sophisticated than Charlotte can handle.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

To Anonymous "The Crude":

Thanks for your boorish, juvenile rant. It only serves to allow everyone to see just who you are. How old are you? My guess is 18.

So based on your responses, all I can picture is folks going uptown to walk around, and then some very angry testosterone-charged dude (you) jogging down the sidewalk, charging into anyone he perceives has violated his sacred uptown space.

Like I said. People going uptown can expect to be accosted by the rudest, most selfish, arrogant fools in Charlotte.

Thank you for helping me prove my point.

Rick said...

Well, obviously our humble moderator's ability (or desire) to police vulgar and attacking comments as long as they agree with her world view is very limited.

Too bad, but not surprising.

Anonymous said...

Like I said. People going uptown can expect to be accosted by the rudest, most selfish, arrogant fools in Charlotte.

Let's be real... everyone knows where Charlotte's rudest, most selfish, most arrogant residents live... and it's not uptown.

Anonymous said...

I'm forty two years old and just because I don't take crap from people doesn't mean I am childish. It just means you are a total pushover.

Anonymous said...

it is only a blog, nothing to get that angry over. hate to see what would happen if someone cut you off. is that the "northern charm"

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that his comments were a response to another anon who felt the need to come in here and insult people for no obvious reason other than that they enjoyed their time uptown.

I am so sick and tired of people who think that life is one big political talk-show, as if there are no consequences to insulting a complete stranger for their political opinions. When I grew up it was a given that public political conversation would be civil and restrained, not a bunch of meatheads screaming at each other.

Anonymous said...

Thank you

Anonymous said...

they insult and yell here. I am willing to bet that face to face is completly different.

Anonymous said...

"Like I said. People going uptown can expect to be accosted by the rudest, most selfish, arrogant fools in Charlotte."

Ballantyne of course!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, face to face I am exactly the same.
Do I tend to hang around with Southerners ? No.

Thankfully uptown is swamped with New Yorkers these days.

I know, I know, all the more reason for you not to venture uptown. Again, good news for me.

Anonymous said...

(different than "face to face") but let me say thank you on behalf of the southerners. I think we can still live a full life without the pleasure of hanging out with someone as pleasent as you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with my fellow New Yorker. It's the same old mentality in Charlotte. If someone has an opinion and it's different than yours then they are "Rude Yankees".

Face it, you are just a bunch of spineless wimps. You talk behind peoples backs and bitch and moan because you don't have the balls to stand up for anything. But don't fret, it's not your fault. Blame it on the countless generations of spineless Southerners that came before you. It's a learned habit.

You people are the joke of the nation. The only reason we are down here is for the weather and to steal the jobs away from you.

Have a BLESSED weekend Ya'll.

Anonymous said...

it is not about differing opinions, the majority are just rude.

Anonymous said...

Rude to your face instead of the Southern way of talking behind your back.

Is that what you are talking about ?