Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What's new? Take a walk, and take a ride

First, however, whoever made the comment on the previous thread about New York City buses was making a perfectly legitimate point, until he/she added at the end: "Idiot." Make your points, stow the insults. Now the whole comment is gone. I'm cracking down on incivility. Too many readers have told me: "I'd like to comment, but I'm afraid of the attacks from the mean readers."

Last week I took a walk from the Observer building at 600 South Tryon up to The Square to see what's new. I noted the site of the historic Jack Wood store is STILL undeveloped. Two very nice historic Tryon storefronts, plus a small-scale collection of historic buildings known as Film Row on Church Street, were torn down in 1998. Because of some clumsy computer stuff I can't link here to a couple of columns I wrote at the time, but the words "civic vandalism" were used.

Notice, that was 10 YEARS AGO! What's there now? A surface parking lot, and a fancy-schmancy sign. In other words, developers haven't yet succeeded in putting together a buildable project there. For a full decade Tryon Street has been deprived of some graceful storefronts it could badly need.

Reminds me, again, how lame Charlotte's development laws are at protecting older buildings. Those buildings should never have been demolished until building permits were in place for what was to replace them, or at a minimum until a developer got the replacement project rezoned.

Other cities' politicians have spines, or even a moderate interest, in protecting historic buildings. Charlotte's elected officials don't seem to care. Nor have city planners proposed much of anything to strengthen the situation, unless that happened in the past 10 months. If they did, someone please let me know.

Another huge change: I took the bus to work today. It was so full people were standing. A nice young man even got up to offer me his seat! This is a huge turnaround from even a year ago. I know $4-a-gallon gas hurts many people's budgets and is a drag on the economy, but it's also a good way to get people to change transportation habits -- and that's a real important tool in the fight against global climate change. After a year using Boston's excellent public transportation system I know I'll be using CATS a lot more.


Anonymous said...

"and that's a real important tool in the fight against global climate change"

And right there is where you lost all credibility. First the fearmongering revolved around "global warming", but then too much of the data came back and said no, the "globe" isn't "warming". So now the new catchphrase is "global climate change", which is just as dumb because the climate is ALWAYS changing.

Anything to control people's lives, eh?

Anonymous said...

In 2007 a survey of scientists found a 95% agreement that globe was getting warmer and that the reason for the temperature change was because of human activity.

The Bush administration refuses to use the phrase "Global Warming", they insist that all goverment documents use "Climate Change". Americans need to get their head out of the sand before its too late. Global warming is very much real and will affect our lives and the lives of all generations after us.

There are people out there that still think the earth is flat too.

Anonymous said...

And which survey was that, exactly? Be specific.

Anonymous said...

I do believe the 'climate has been changing' since the last ice age. I remember the big scare tactic to get us evil humans to change our ways in the late 70's early 80's was 'global cooling' we were headed for the next ice age. Yes we do have an impact and should change how we do a lot of things but running around like chicken little and telling us how bad we are only leads to eye rolling after awhile and nothing is accomplished.

Anonymous said...

the earth hasn't been "warming" since 1998.
That's why the buzz phrase was changed to "climate change."
Which, of course, is constantly changing.

That aside, what is the deal with Charlotte developers?
Some retail projects go up lickity-split and others are on the verge of collapsing like the 2 condo towers downtown.
Who is accountable?

And yes, civility please.

Terry said...


I recall taking a ride on the trolley with Tony Pressley and how he would seethe at long-vacant parcels along the trolley line from South End. He thought speculators were holding out for maximum profit, which just made it that much harder for people who wanted to accomplish something positive. Don't know the details of the parcels you describe, but chances are greed has stalemated civic progress....

Anonymous said...

Sure, some parcels have taken a little longer to develop than others, but look at what has gone up in the last three years alone.

And please Mary, enough of making sacred cows out of old buildings. It you want older archetecture, go to Philadelphia, detroit or some other city that matured early in the 20th century. You lived in New England for a year. Did you bother to visit places like New Bedford, MA, Waterbury or Willimantic, CT or Warwick, RI while you were up there? They have planty of old buildings and nice turn of the century architecture. Unfortunately, they're also dirty, crime ridden and provincial. I'll take a gleaming modern Charlotte any day over that.

As for CATS, yep, riding public transportation is cool now, global watming or not.

Anonymous said...,2933,249659,00.html

Anonymous said...

Oh, right, the UN study. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Code words are springing up among the climate crowd.

Global warmings has been changed to global climate change. That way they can also blame record cold weather on humans.

Have you noticed the latest fad? They refer to C02 emmissions as "Greenhouse gas pollution". Even though CO2 has nothing to do with pollution, they want to get it regulated. So now the very act of any human or animal exhaling is going to be regulated by nazi wing of the environmental movement.

Anonymous said...

As a former resident of Warwick, RI, I take offense at the remark that it is dirty, crime ridden, and provincial. OK, I'll give you the provincial, but it is certainly not dirty. And how can anyone living or working in Charlotte call another city crime-ridden given our own situation? Pot-kettle.

Kevin Leonard said...


Did it ever occur to you that the building-cum-parking lot, the demise of which you lament, is the property of a person? Laws protecting buildings? Is this a legitimate function of Government?

I like the workmanship, character and style of older buildings as much as the next guy. But if you want to preserve older buildings, the moral (and most effective) way to accomplish that aim is to gather your money and buy the buildings rather than use Government restrictions to limit what one may do with his own property.

Unless and until the Government buys a specific property and puts it to use in a legitimate Government function, it is not the property of the "community". It is the property of the individual.

Rick said...


I ride the bus every workday as well and have since before the recent run-up in prices and before last fall's referendum. For me it's faster since the 53X takes the HOV lane on I77, and it certainly does save money. However, let's not pat ourselves on the back for saving Mother Earth because we're not. One thing you missed from the transit debate last fall was that even the most ardent transit supporters stopped making that argument. They stuck to the tried and true fear tactics of higher property taxes (which are coming anyway) and dishonestly threatening the poor and the sick.

Here's a question for you...

Since, in your words, "$4-a-gallon gas hurts many people's budgets and is a drag on the economy, but it's also a good way to get people to change transportation habits", wouldn't a more expansive bus system better help more people by bringing public transportation closer to them than spending $40 million dollars just to study the feasibility of more train lines? ($40 million is how much we're currently slated to spend to study and preliminarily engineer the next two lines. I question this even though one of those lines will directly benefit me.)

In fact Keith Parker has already floated the idea that future fuel price increases could cause bus service cuts while the train projects plug on ahead. How many years of price increases could $40 million cover? How about the 100s of millions of dollars of local money to build more trains? How many hybrid/biodiesel buses would that buy and service? Not to mention the additional Federal money that regularly comes to support bus service, or the fact that bus service can be increased much more rapidly than building trains.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Warwick person. I was probably thinking Woonsocket instead. Either way, if Mary loves old buildings so much, instead of trying to make a changing city like Charlotte conform to her beliefs, she can go to a place that has kept all of its old buildings. Chances are though that these towns would probably gladly tear down some of those buildings for new ones if it brought them some of the prosperity Charlotte has now. Charlotte is not an historic city. Instead it's one that is making history.

Anonymous said...

To Rick @ 7/03/2008 10:28:00 AM

Don't confuse us with the facts! Our minds are made up.

Cato said...


I see that you haven't lost your touch. Indeed, relative to rail, buses are

1) Cheaper
2) Quicker to implement
3) More flexible

If bus usage is increasing with higher gas prices, why would we even look at rail? And, yes, I fear that not only will bus funds be used to subsidize rail in the future, property tax money will too.

But then, this was never about transportation.

David McKnight said...

Historic preservation helps in the fight against urban crime. "New Charlotteans," don't be so resentful and bitter toward people interested in older commercial or residential structures!

If you want to surrender Charlotte's heritage as a beacon of commercial and cultural life in the Carolinas and the Southeast just to rush into the latest "national economy fights," then good luck.

You don't see great American cities like Boston, Chicago, Denver and San Francisco giving up their architectural heritage just to climb the latest ratings ladder of cities on the make. What's not to like about Charlotte keeping its "sense of place?"

Jackson said...

Actually, Charlotte is a "historic" city. Perhaps you're the one who truly doesn't know what you're talking about. You should read more, perhaps take a trip to the public library uptown. They have plenty of resources to learn you something right.

Oh the library, or PLCMC? Thats the GOVERNMENT-OWNED AND OPERATED building uptown. You're obviously not making use of it, maybe we should sell it to make more parking.

-Jackson Charlotte

Anonymous said...

"I'm cracking down on incivility. Too many readers have told me: 'I'd like to comment, but I'm afraid of the attacks from the mean readers.'"

Afraid? Of what?!? "Mean readers"? C'mon. This is nothing more than an Internet blog, for goodness sakes. It's not like you're going to get shot, stabbed, or assaulted here. I mean, no one is going to reach out through your computer monitor and hit you or something. Jeez.

Sticks and stones, etc., etc.

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