Friday, August 08, 2008
All is takes, you see, is for a developer to be interested, and suddenly the city decides it's interested, too. At least, that's how it might look to a cynic. (Moi? Mais, non!)
It's been more than 10 years since the idea was first proposed to cap I-277 and put a park there. It's been eight years since it was included in the Center City 2010 plan.
Next week, the city's transportation department will take a serious look at the possibilities. It's part of a four-day design workshop to look at I-277 and its interchanges from Mint Street to Kenilworth. The freeway cap is sure to come up, I'm told.
Here's a tidbit that might be more than coincidental: Developer Afshin Ghazi of the EpiCentre has bought a spot of land uptown at Tryon and Morehead, overlooking the I-277 gulch. He's a smart guy and he knows that in other cities, freeways have been capped and developable land created. Columbus, Ohio, put a retail development above a freeway. In Boston the Copley Place shopping mall sits over the Mass Pike. And Boston's famous Big Dig (above) is really a freeway that's topped with a park. Of course, in Charlotte we wouldn't have to do that expensive digging part.
The caps themselves aren't all that expensive -- at least, not in the relative terms of massive freeway construction budgets. But putting development on a cap would boost city revenues. It will be interesting to see whether the original idea for a park survives.
Also, I hear that the consultants who'll do the workshop, HNTB, have been hired in Kansas City to help explore a freeway cap there.
Read my Saturday column in the Observer -- here's a link to the Opinion page for CharlotteObserver.com -- and I'll tell you more about what's happening.
Posted by Mary Newsom at 6:11 PM