Friday, November 13, 2009

What's happening to East Boulevard?

A neighborhood activist in Dilworth tipped me off to property that's changed hands along East Boulevard, at the corner of Garden Terrace and East, where East Boulevard Bar and Grill has lodged for decades. EBB&G is moving (has moved?) up the street.

Word on the street is that Carolinas Medical Center bought that property and has "plans." I know a meeting is planned in coming weeks between hospital officials and Dilworth neighborhood leaders.

This much I know to be true: Many Dilworthians worry about the hospital's continuing expansion. Yes, expanding is understandable for a large, urban medical center. But CMC's campus so far is a suburban office-park-style configuration: lots of surface parking lots, parking decks with no other uses, oversteet walkways, grass that isn't a public park where you can play Frisbee or have a picnic, etc. etc. Not suitable for an in-town neighborhood.

But even if new buildings are better designed, as I hope to see, CMC's campus is still a gigantic single-use footprint. In an urban setting, that's not a good thing.

The city's zoning standards allow suburban office-park parking and other suburban-style hospital uses in any neighborhood if the property is zoned for office or commercial, etc.

Some of this block is zoned multifamily, so maybe there will be a chance for neighborhood and/or planner input. Let us hope. But a scroll through the Carolinas HealthCare System's board of directors shows a lot of big names - the kinds that too often make elected officials bark prettily, lie down and roll over.

A check of online property records for parcels in the old EBB&G block (which includes the site of the former Chez Daniel restaurant, among other businesses) lists as owner Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, a well-connected law firm (Russell Robinson, Robert Sink, Richard Vinroot, etc.)

I checked with a helpful city planner, who knew of no conversations about development plans for the block.

In September, the Observer's Karen Garloch reported that CHS president and COO Joe Piemonte said the hospital system didn't have specific plans for its East Boulevard property. "We're kind of standing pat ... and monitoring very closely for maintenance. Some of those buildings need to be torn down," he said then.

64 comments:

MrAfternoon said...

wow. You're REALLY behind the ball. East Blvd Bar and Grill relocated up the street in development @ East and Kenilworth, and did so close 2 months ago.

maybe if you drove up or down east blvd to research your post, you would have noticed and god only knows how long Chez Daniel closed-I now know how much research goes into your articles.

Mary Newsom said...

MrAfternoon: Actually, I drive down East pretty often, I just haven't thought to notice the EB Bar & Grill move. And I concluded that the more recent occupants of the Chez Daniel bldg were far less memorable. A couple of Chinese restaurants, right?

No, my blog is not my prime research duty - that time goes into the editorials and oped columns I write for the Observer's opinion pages. Blog must necessarily be done with my left hand, in my "spare" (*laughs with vigor*) time.

Check out my other work at www.charlotteobserver.com/marynewsom and at www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion

Anonymous said...

keep digging Mary - you haven't scratched the surface.
Look into the parcel Caribou Coffee
currently sits on. Essentially, the hosp owns that whole section of East Blvd. There are some very intricate 'deals' that have to go through in the way of attracting better nursing and resident's programs.....if they hit, that area will most certainly be built upon. I just hope they understand the very reason that attracts people to the quality of life (for purposes of retaining resident Docs) IS the neighborhood.
Growth for the sake of growth is irresponsible - we've seen that everywhere in Dilworth/Southend/Uptown.

Good, sensible, strategic growth is a different story....but then again, that's just NOT what this city does. too many backroom deals for my comfort.

btw - this has been going on for years....and don't leave out Lincoln Harris's involvement in all of this - that would be missing half the story.

Anonymous said...

This is really old. The DCDA had lots of post about this on their old forum.

http://dcdaforums.org/htdocs/dcforum/DCForumID1/383.html#

Nomius T. Feldwerthen said...

Pssst. Meet me on the 3rd level of the parking deck behind the hospital at 7:30 if you want the full story. I'll be sitting in the black Mazda 3. Remember the phrase, "Raccoons approach from the North." Kthxbye.

Jon said...

What really gets me is that all this valuable land is being taken off the tax rolls as it's acquired by the hospital (CMC doesn't pay property taxes).

Mary Newsom said...

Reply to Anonymous 12:57: Thanks for the DCDA message board link.

I'm aware of all the rumors, including about what's to be built. I saw the BizJ article last summer. All the talk is one reason Karen Garloch asked about it in September. What isn't confirmed is what any of the plans might be. If you hear more please do let me know.

Anonymous said...

From summer 2008:

http://tinyurl.com/yzd66ck

http://tinyurl.com/ybvomg3

Mary Newsom said...

And anonymous 1:10 - if those are links to related information, can you please use bit.ly or snip.url or anything other than tinyurl? Our IT folks have disabled tinyurl here, out of security concerns.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Considering that CMC is one of the biggest employers in town, if not the biggest employer and that most patients are traveling from out of town need a place to park and could care less about 'urban design' when visiting a strange place in a strange city. Also, please note that the people complaining about the suburban design of CMC are probably the same one who complained about about the six-story apartment/condos at Scott/Kennelworth for being 'too urban' and out of place for their bucolic setting. Get over it people, nothing is forever and things change. Dilworthites have benifitted from this change over and over again as their property values shot through the roof, yet some are still complaining.

tarhoosier said...

To Dilworth residents this is known as "the 4 blocks" for Kenilworth, Scott, Garden Terrace and Fountain View. Once a lively mix of homes businesses, residential, low-rise service style commerce and a walkable feel. The conversion of East Boulevard to bike lanes and turns tried to maintain that sensibility. The Hospital corporation has been buying property, usually not in its name, for years and consistently claims it has no plan. It certainly does not plan to maintain some of the properties, particularly on Garden Terrace where vacant homes languish in their "care" and no one but no one would buy the property from them even if it were for sale by the hospital, which it is not. Prepare for East Boulevard to look lke Morehead from Kings to Kenilworth with multi story medical buildings and parking, parking, parking asphalt to the distance.
The only business on Morehead that they could not roust was the ABC store at the corner of Morehead. They bought the property and quietly let the lease expire. Even the Hospital is loath to engage a state owned liquor store.
They could go across Kings toward Bruswick and Queens/Queens but my money is on East boulevard. They will rev the helicopter all night, leave vacant decaying property in the area, control parcels so that no one other than them could possibly buy what they do not currently own and convert the taxpaying real estate to non tax quasi-public property removed from tax records.

Anonymous said...

I agree, this is seriously old news.

Anonymous said...

Why is a county supported hospital buying buying prime real estate, when healthcare costs are skyrocketing? The only building in NC is hospitals and universities.
Please stop the madness.

Anonymous said...

It's really sad what they're doing to East Blvd. They don't have my support. Can the city counsel do anything about it?

Elle said...

As a longtime Charlottean, I have been following this story with sadness for a while now. The latest rumor is that CMC is considering those four blocks for a medical school. From what I understand, the hospital owns most (if not all) of the property from Dickadee's down past the Grill's old location.

I hate to see Charlotte turned into a city with no charm and no history. I'm all for progress but there comes a point when too much is too much. I miss Wad's, the coffee cup and the JFG sign. I will miss this too.

Mary, I am dyed in the wool conservative and I often disagree with you and the Observer, but I'm with you on this. Thank you for your post. (Thank you also for a previous post about preserving Charlotte's historic tree canopy.)

Anonymous said...

Ask CDOT about the changes coming to the South Blvd end of East Blvd. Those will really improve walk-ability and urban feel.

Stephen said...

Ok, I tried to post this about 2 seconds after your blog post went up but it was still locked....so other people have already said the same thing I'm about to say but it bears repeating:


Mary, not to be a jerk but this is OLD NEWS. CMC has been secretly and shadily buying up property in that neighborhood (MY neighborhood) for a couple of years. The Observer has reported on it lightly, and it has been in the Dilworth Quarterly a few times. No one is asking why a "public" hospital is engaging in speculative real estate investments. And the big worry is what happens when they finally own every property on Garden, Fountainview, and Lombardy. They're not that far off. Hint: they get to wipe those streets off the map. Try to get information out of them. Good luck. They really are an "evil empire" and anyone who defends them either is on their payroll or has no clue how shady their business practices are. Remind these people this is a "public" "non-profit" hospital. Also, remind everyone to thank their city council when they roll over and let CMC do as they wish.

Anonymous said...

Elle is a "dyed in the wool conservative," until something affects her.

I find that to be the case with most "conservatives." They want government to leave them alone -- until they need something.

Too bad the hospital can't move over to Eastland Mall. Plenty of parking, and the helicopters won't bother any of the rich Dilworth and Myers Pahk people. But on the flip side, it's a lot farther to go when aforementioned Myers Pahk people have their heart attacks.

g said...

The single most supported comment during the Charlotte Center City Partners 2020 Vision Plan kick-off meeting was from a gentleman who said we must do something to curb the sprawl-like suburban development that the hospital is placing around its ever expanding borders. I agree, something must be done to encourage the hospital to build more density on the sites they own, so that they don't end up owning the entire blvd.

J said...

I would like to point out something it doesn't appear you have thought about. Your list of characteristics about the CMC campus includes overstreet walkways. I still do not understand Charlotte's sudden hatred of these things. Your recent post about the dangers of walking in Charlotte got more comments than any recent postings. That should tell you that in a "suburban designed" facility, overstreet walkways are the best thing in the world for pedestrians. The insane driving on the major roads is just as prevelant on the CMC campus (yes, I've had some close calls at CMC also).

Overstreet walkways DO NOT destroy street-level activity if both are done right. Let's send the city officials back to Minneapolis to see an example of this.

As far as CMC and East Blvd. goes, the redesign of East is the kind of design that some of us really like - there's actually room for pedestrians and cyclists to exist. There's little that can be done about what's already been built at CMC, but hopefully the next round of building will incorporate some of the car-pedestrian cooperation many of us would like to see.

Anonymous said...

WOW, this was reported over three months ago, why are you just writing about it now? You must not actually live in Dilworth as it was in the spring issue of Dilworth Quarterly, the local newsletter that is distributed to all homeowners. One the the next "blog."

airedale said...

Ok, for all the "old news" comments, it is not old if it continues to occur. CMC continues to buy up property, so until they stop this is relevant news. Dilworth and CMC have always been neighbors, but the continued growth of CMC is cause for concern when it destroys the fabric of the neighborhood.

Louie said...

It's a shame, between CMC gobbling up land around their campus, mid rise office buildings taking over Morehead, historic homes being razed for McMansions, and the trademark willow oaks tumbling like matchsticks, there will be little left of the Dilworth area before too long. What originally attracted people back to the area will have been totally eradicated. Kinda ironic. Makes me think of the Eagles song Last Resort.

Elle said...

Excuse me Anonymous but liberals aren't the only ones allowed to like historic neighborhoods and support their protection. I do not live in Dilworth or Myers Park (I can't afford it), but as someone who grew up in Charlotte, I appreciate and love the old parts of our city and understand that their character is worth protecting.

Conservatives have long been champions of preserving American history-- from historic buildings to historic documents. My support of the effort to keep Charlotte's historic neighborhoods historic is in keeping with that core conservative value.

Anonymous said...

Dilworth should be very wary of CMC. Look what they did to the very small Mercy property. Destroyed a 100 year old building with LOTS of character to put a very suburban office building. I can only imagine their plans for East.

uglyyeti said...

The Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, the first transit mall in the US in 1967, is a textbook failure of urban design. It's FHWA Case Study No. 20 (1993) - literally a textbook case. Uptown Charlotte's Overstreet Mall was called out in the same study for killing street level retail in the 70's.

The CMC skywalks serve a purpose greater than street level walkability - it's how the hospital safely and quickly moves patients between buildings - from CMC Main to 1001 Blythe and the Morehead Medical Plaza.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you been down there lately? Only two restaurants are in jeopardy - Cantina and Caribou/Breuggers. EBB&G has already moved and will see a big increase in patronage (not many went to the old location, at least the 2 dozen times I'd been there over the past few years). City Tavern/Plan B/Rock-n-Lobster: all gone. Lebowski's: pretty empty, even for happy hours. Sole: smaller crowd every week. Only Big Daddy's on that side of the street attracts a crowd and is in no risk from CMC. So, while I do not favor hospital expansion onto East Blvd, let's not pretend it will kill East Blvd as we know it. Or that East Blvd as we know it is some Utopia. A few hospital buildings will not kill whatever vibe there is in that section of EB. FYI, I've lived down the street for 5 years now and love it there. Not some outsider spreading an unfounded opinion.

Anonymous said...

Why do you non Dilworth and Myers Park residents always talk smack on those who live there? Give me a provocative, thoughtful and educated answer as I am sure that you can't. Those interested parties are smart to challenge as we are simply trying to maintain a smaller subneighborhood feel that allows folks to walk, talk, eat, drink and hang out without driving all over. Why is making sure we have some thoughtful design and development that incorporates the area and design rather than conflict. It should be admired from all taxpayers and neighborhood residents wherever you live that those neighbors care what their surroundings look like and how it will add value to their personal lives. The hospital has not earned its respect with Dilworth neighbors and I SEND A CHALLENGE TO CITY COUNCIL NOT TO SCREW THIS ONE UP. WE WILL FIGHT YOU unless everyone works together to leave a positive legacy.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? They bought this land over two years ago and it wasn't a shock to anybody then.
What's next? A story about developers buying up land along the Lynx Blue Line?

Anonymous said...

"Why do you non Dilworth and Myers Park residents always talk smack on those who live there?"

The people who go out of their way to talk trash on those parts of town are the same people who think they should be getting paid 6 figures with their CPCC degrees. They hate the fact that some people are more accomplished than they are and refuse to believe it's their fault.

David said...

I owned two homes in the area and sold them last year...drove by several months ago and they are both CMC offices. They paid the asking price...if you own a home in Dilworth, the growth of CMC is good for your values. With a larger hospital, will come more Doctors that want to live closer. I've been buying homes near hospitals in the southeast for over 10 years and have never lost money...even in 2008 and 2009. It doesn't matter what CMC officials/executives say...look who owns the land. I've never had any official/executive ever tell me what their plans are. You have your answer...look who owns the land. Not all businesses in the area will be bought up...several will be staying. Pull the property deeds and you'll have your answer.

Silky said...

This is just another step in Charlotte's ever continuing quest to become a city devoid of any class, culture or character. I was a resident for many years and always "promoted" the city to my friends in other cities but the propoganda wore thin. I had my fill and decided to move to Asheville to get back to smaller neighborhoods with character. Good luck Charlotte...it's time to step and preserve your quality of life or lose it forever.

Anonymous said...

It has been widely known for almost a year now that CMS purchased that land. If you are in the business world and have customres in that area... I am sure you have run across a move or two over the last 11 months. CMS has purchased most of the propoerty that backs up to the current hospital location all the way to EAST. Keep your ear to the ground and you can be more on top of your game.

Stephen said...

At this point it doesn't really matter because whatever CMC wants, CMC gets. Us residents will fight it for as long as we can, but there is not much we can do. City Council/Zoning Commission will rubber stamp anything with CMC letterhead. So if you want to know what that section of East will look like in 5-10 years, look at Morehead between Kenilworth and Kings. Or that hideous block where Mercy hospital used to stand.

Anonymous said...

As a Dilworth resident I sure hope they leave Caribrueggers alone. It's the most popular hangout in the neighborhood.

mcalver said...

This was well known a year ago.

Friday the 13th said...

You anti-CMC folks need to ask yourselves this: If you were on city council, especially in these dire economic times, would you vote to block expansion of something that would create more local jobs – most of them recession proof?

On a completely different note: Kudos to the school board for voting to limit the IB program at Myers Park High School to students who live within that school’s attendance zone. If you don’t want to send you kid to Harding or East to take a IB curricula, all you have to do is buy a house in the MP zone. Property values in my 'hood may go up greatly. Thanks CMBOE.

nkakalak said...

Thanks for bringing a larger awareness to this issue, Mary. This hospital needs to build up, not out.

Stephen said...

"You anti-CMC folks need to ask yourselves this: If you were on city council, especially in these dire economic times, would you vote to block expansion of something that would create more local jobs – most of them recession proof?"


You're damn right I would. Because I believe in City Council serving their constituents, not special interests. Look for me on the ballot next time.

Jimcat said...

The horse is out of the barn on this one. No way to stop this "progress"

S said...

Anonymous 03:02:00 PM

Originally CMC had not planned on tearing down the 100-year old building on the Mercy Hospital campus. They wanted to fix it up for the doctor's offices. However it was full of asbestos and that is the reason it was torn down.

Yamo said...

As a lifelong Dilworth resident, I have to say we're beating a dead horse. The city will do what developers want and know nothing of smart growth. All the good tranquility and lore of old Dilworth died with the BiLo, and East Blvd. has turned into a Dead Vegas strip full of empty fluff. I will give Kudos for all who fight to keep the dream alive. Also to those who are trying to make East Blvd. thrive. Plus, we can't forget the Comet and Dilworth Billiards!

Anonymous said...

>> a gigantic single-use footprint

You mean like the Observer building?

jones said...

CMC IS the largest employer in the Charlotte Metro region (45,000+ employees) not counting the hospitals not in the region. CMC alone has 7,000+ employees.

If you continue down EB, you would notice that the most of the houses between Garden Terrance and Kings Drive are not homes but businesses (Not Carolinas Healthcare System owned).

Funny thing is...CHS owns far more than you think they do...and they only changed it for the better (Pretty much Kings Drive, even the newer houses between CMC and CMC-Myers Park)

Anonymous said...

Let's see. Let the biggest employer in town do what it need to keep its business expanding, while saving lives at it. Or a bunch of armchair NIMBY's and newspaper editors who do not own the property can try to obstruct and micromanage it for their own utopian dreams. I say let CMC do its job and provide a great asset for the city as a whole, not just a few yuppies whose property values are going to go up anyway by being near the facility.

jdeting said...

the dilworth neighborhood will fight for every single thing to be refined, aesthetically pleasing, and as old-school wealthy as possible, and fiercely defend their property values as if they even need to. If you dont know how important the work is at CMC then you certainly can't appreciate it. What do you think is actually going to happen that Dilworth will turn into a white concrete neighborhood? Your residents are intelligent, accomplished, much praise to your successes and for advocating for your needs, what is "ugly" about Dilworth is attitudes like the previous post assuming people with CPCC degrees resent them.
Dilworth business owner

arejaye said...

Dateline Charlotte...2012
Carolinas Medical Center has just bought up Freedom Park, and has declared that so long as they have the money, there will be no "freedom" in the former East Blvd corridor, now known as CMN Plaza. Residents who used to live in the area and were forced into substandard shelters in the years preceeding, have gone on record as saying that CMC is, as one former resident put it, a "megalomanic with no regard for human life dispite their reputation as life 'savers' ". Others seem to agree. CMC(former Charlotte City) council, will meet monday at 3 pm at the CMC arena, also known as the former Bank of America Stadium, now home to the CMC Panthers. Film at 11.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this is relevent to the story, but while driving home from the airport the other day I saw a sign that read "Welcome To Carolinas Medical Center".

Anonymous said...

Mary Mary quite contrary Someone jammed in the entire mess into downtown; Mary where I live they spread things out ;and dont let People scare all of Y'all about URBAN sprawl . URBAN SPRAWl was another ficticious scare tactic to make Y'all believe the city is rolling out from underneath you. Its non-sense the other things you create help fund the center of you downtown. Look I admire People who run your City here but they havent lived other places and thats a travesty. They havent seen the powerhouse's that the outering energizes the inner ring. Its all about Tax base and distribution of it. Urban Sprawl was designed for the business owner near Downtown to keep foot traffic in the center. But you know what it still isnt working !

Anonymous said...

Mary , this jamming in is why all the traffic jams are going on . The best news I have heard was talk of I-485 getting finished so you can add a new city out there around the beltway. In my city of Columbus , Ohio life thrives all around the outerbelt. The reason downtowns die is 1) crime 2) nothing to do Downtown after work. 3) bad traffic patterns after hours and People trying to rush home. Lets look at a big Health spa downtown complete with Steam spa and suana and workout facility and a complete huge Health club with massage from well trained Swedish People . How about a Broadway show in Downtown with a version of "Gone with the wind" or heres my favorite a huge aqua center tank that has all the fish you can imagine and reefs and its 100 feet deep and you can scuba dive after work and see another world. Yes, thats my next project.

Anonymous said...

Later I have a plan to flood the small creek next to the Downtown ; The creek would be flooded into a river basin . Yes this can be done a river flowing next to downtown Charlotte just like the Muddy Missisisippi in Baton Rouge. La. A river produced a cool breeze and activity and artificial rainstorms. A river makes a city look attractive. It a hardend fact that Business loves rivers. More drinking water can be derived from a River running next to Charlotte. We dam up the current streams to a height of a dam lets say 20 feet high VIOLA' a river Much like Columbus, Ohio and Cincinnatti.

Anonymous said...

How about a professional baseball team in the area of the Old grainery that stands in downtown. Mary whats this grainery all about anyway? Is this still in use? Downtown needs to offer the poverty houses $150,000 dollars to give People a new start in a nice house and then convert the downtown property to a sprawling office tower park where People can have jobs . The Downtown need to grow outward and the new will take out the Old boarded up and decaying neighborhoods.

Tina said...

We call that stretch of East Blvd. from Kenilworth downhill to Freedom Park "Little Gatlinburg".
Such a mish-mash of stores, pizza parlors and second-tier restaurants that come and go.

A high-rise medical university or hospital along most of it would be a great improvement.

Anonymous said...

Hey Stephen, so neighborhood NIMBY whiners are not "special interests"?

Anonymous said...

CMC a great asset to the city? Have you ever had "care" there? Its not exactly a pleasurable experience. Its like the Wal-Mart "get 'em in, and get 'em out" mentality. And you'd think with all their money they could at least offer a payment plan, you know since they are a "public" hospital serving the greater good. Instead they will happily refer you to a third party so you can pay interest on top of their ridiculous charges.

They may be the city's largest employer, but they're here to serve the city not the other way around. And I've never met so many people unhappy with their employer as CHS employees. Makes BOA sound like a dream.

Stephen said...

"Hey Stephen, so neighborhood NIMBY whiners are not "special interests"?"


No, they're called constituents. Look, I have no problem with CMC growing and expanding. I just don't agree with the way they go about it. Ask yourself why CMC secretly bought all these properties under a shadow corporation, hoping noone would notice.

To your point, I agree in this case it is literal NIMBY-ism, but I wouldn't want it happening in ANY backyard.

Anonymous said...

And CMC and developers are not special interests? It's usually neighborhood NIMBY's that stunt the progress of the city as a whole, not the business community. face it, if you live near a hospital or a university, not only will you get the benefits of living near them, but you should know ahead of time that these entities will eventually need to grow and spread out.

Anonymous said...

I menat 'aren't CMC and developers not constituents too?' NIMBY's are most definitely special iterests only interested in themselves.

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Stephen said...

I see your point. There are NIMBY's, but there is also the danger of our current council's attitude of "We know whats best for you". I guess its just coincidence that they most often vote in favor of those who support them most. And by support I mean give large sums of money.

There should be reasonable debate between the so-called NIMBY's and the business interests. Instead its a deep pocket contest. Not that this is limited to local politics of course, but its easier to fix here than on state or federal level.

Anonymous said...

O.K. In all this blather about who's doing what to who, I have yet to hear a single suggestion about how the hospital SHOULD deal with their growth. They spend millions on multi-story buildings and parking decks RATHER than clear and expand in a low-rise, suburban pattern. Their site is an 'urban' site whether people want to accept it or not. It is true that they have done a poor job over the years with maintaining relationships with the Dilworth community and that needs to change. But come up with a better idea for how they should grow and let's hear it. Perhaps they would feel like they could be a little more open about their plans if they knew they wouldn't get hammered by the likes of Mary and the Charlotte Observer every time they need to build a building. This is a growing community and health care services will grow along with the population.

Jumper said...

Off topic, but here we see Outer Banks island motion.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryanelkus/page2/

Jumper said...

There's a chance that CMC fears that if the seller knows who's buying, the price will go up. That's what Hugh McColl told me before he closed on the old church which he turned into the arts center.

Of course they'd say that anyway.

Anonymous said...
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