In the summer of 2001 I was eating at Pulcinella’s in North Raleigh. As we left the restaurant, it dawned on me: what if this L-shaped shopping center were reoriented to two parallel strips, and the facade where broken up to look like Franklin Street (in Chapel Hill)? At that point many in Raleigh were worried that the dying North Hills would be replaced by a big box store, a few outparcels, and sea of asphalt. The idea of a village-like shopping center excited me, so I put some thoughts together on paper and dropped them in new North Hills owner John Kane’s mailbox.
Kane kindly responded that wheels were already in place for a very similar project, which was a huge relief to my family. The letter became the seed for the Raleighing.com project, but has not made an appearance on gogoraleigh. So, to celebrate gogo’s 2nd birthday, here is what started the whole blogging thing for me:
September 7, 2001
Dear Mr. Kane:
I am ecstatic that you are interested in redeveloping the North Hills Mall property. I grew up in the mall’s back yard and always felt that it could do more for our area. It is GOOD to have local ownership again!
I am troubled by the recent events with Neal Coker’s Oberlin project, and fear the same from some of the similarly short-sighted neighbors of mine in the North Hills subdivision. When I hear of residents intending to treat the 100-foot buffer like a forest preserve, I worry that logic is being trampled by an emotional fear of change. North Hills Mall is a dump, and it is time to put something there that makes Raleigh a better place to live.
The owners of Tavola Rossa, the free-standing restaurant across the creek from the back of Hudson Belk, have converted the restaurant to the Crabtree Tavern. The new restaurant features a family-friendly sports bar theme with upscale food.
The chef, Aron Cremeans, comes from Restaurant Bateux in Beaufort, SC, and most recently Vines Bistro in Cary. The dinner menu (.pdf) features standard upscale tavern fare, but has enough range to be potentially a regular favorite. Prices are in the $8-$17 range, which is a price point for which this area, in this economy, is dying.
The restaurant will also host trivia each Tuesday (beginning 1/5) as well as competitions with Playstation and cornhole (I’m afraid to ask).
The site plan (.pdf) for the downtown Raleigh amphitheater was submitted this week and it reveals some more details about the facility. The site is the vacant lot to the west of the Raleigh Convention Center. This lot is not a simply “empty lot”, though, as it contains the service access for the center via a sweeping, curbed driveway though the property.
According to the plan, the road will remain intact, and the stage will be set just inside the road’s arc, facing the SE (toward Memorial Auditorium). Also it appears that small, portable men’s and women’s restrooms will be placed at stage right.
At this point it looks like the center will not be convenient for visitors needing to use the restrooms. The other problems that will plague this facility is acoustics. The shimmer wall and a parking garage, both hard surfaces, will be directly uphill from the stage. Perhaps the design could be improved by rotating the stage about 20 degrees to the south, with a bias toward the stage right side of the audience instead of the planned bias toward the stage left side of the crowd. This would flatten the angle against the opposing hard surfaces and drastically reduce reverb.
While the facility will be smaller and not as nice as Cary’s Booth Amphitheater, the site is not meant to be used for very many summers. The long term plan for the site is for convention center expansion.
We still need a clever name for the tent-covered amphitheater….!
The long-awaited downtown amphitheater will take a giant step toward becoming a reality tomorrow. City Manager Russell Allen will ask the City Council for a $1.6million appropriation for construction of a 4,200 seat amphitheater in the empty lot that once was home to Sir Walter Chevrolet, adjacent to the Raleigh Convention Center. LiveNation will operate the facility with the intent to bring 15 to 20 shows during the summer. For more information see WRAL’s story.
The only real question that remains is whether or not the Boylan Heights community will be tolerant of the city’s newest venture toward progress.
Today marks the last day for the temporary site of Aldert Root Elementary at North Hills East. The replacement school building, on Lassiter Mill Road, is complete and staff will make the move during tomorrow’s teacher workday.
The completion of the new facility frees up John Kane to begin construction on The Cardinal once the WCPSS moves their 5 MCUs away. Though nobody loves going to school in a trailer park, this has been a VERY smooth 15 months at the temporary site. The trailers were really nice and did their job perfectly. The only real drawback to the site was the lack of a gym and field for P.E..
The original plan was to move Root to a site that Wake County uses for displaced schools. IT is next to East Millbrook, behind Sweet Tomatoes out on Capital Blvd. During the summer of 2009, some people made some phone calls and “paved” the way for the site at North Hills East. Kudos to John Kane, his accountant, and the WCPSS for making it happen!
TBJ is reporting that the Raleigh Convention Center has earned silver-level LEED certification. It is one of seven such centers in the USA that have achieved some LEED certification. The article states that the building’s design reduces energy use, water use by 20%, and recycled much much of its construction waste.
At Noon on Friday city officials will be on hand to dedicate the new City Plaza. The plaza will not be open to traffic until Sunday morning, as it is the centerpiece for RWO4. The Collectors Gallery, Krispy Kreme and Shishkabob will all open this weekend, while the fourth pavilion, the home for Jimmy Johns will not be open until December.
In November the owner of Sam and Wally’s Eatery and bar will open Shish Kabob, an express cafe Mediterranean restaurant, in Raleigh’s City Plaza. This will be the second store, the first opened in Wake Forest in June, 2008).
Shish Kabob will serve a range of specialties from gyro-style sandwiches in pita bread, to vegetarian dishes and salads, to the house specialty, char-grilled shish kabobs – chicken, beef, lamb, and kafta. Sandwich prices range from $4.50 to $5.95. In addition to a large assortment of gyros, classic options like hamburgers and steak and cheese hoagies are available. Shish kabobs begin at $7.25, while a three-kabob combination platter (including two sides and warm pita) is $11.95. The $7.95 vegetarian platter includes falafel, pita, and choice of two sides – tabouli, hummus, grape leaves, rice, pasta, or fries. A kids menu is also available, along with non-caffeinated, sugar-free beverage options.
Shish Kabob will be open from 11 am – 8 pm, Monday through Saturday and will offer sidewalk seating, carry-out, and call-ahead ordering.
The ugly, functionless, rundown trench through Raleigh’s north area of downtown, known as Capital Boulevard, is the focus of a fantastic article by Bob Geary in the Independent. His interview with former Urban Design Center director Dan Douglas reveals some of Douglas’ stirring concepts he envisions for Raleigh after a lengthy tour through Europe. On his tour he saw concrete examples of formerly burned out industrial corridors transformed into livable city streets, full of hard-working families and fun things to do.
Douglas’ plan involves creating a consortium of government agencies and corporate landowners to create a cooperative plan that would bolster the participants interests, and create an efficient living zone. The plan calls for changing Capital Boulevard out to Atlantic Avenue into a grand city avenue, lined with low-rise development, possibly centered around a public transit rail line. The plan also calls for connecting the Mordecai area over to Glenwood in two places, and adding nine different public park spaces.
It is a plan that actually makes a lot of sense and would replace some of Raleigh’s most pitiful areas with an actual desirable destination. Such a transformation is likely to be a win/win for investors, including taxpayers, as the tax base in these areas would dramatically improve. Getting everyone on the same page, as we’ve seen countless times, remains the beast.
Two years ago 10% of voters elected a new Raleigh City Council that quickly found itself at odds with its voters. Within months several drastic, potentially devastating measures were exercised:
Garbage Disposal Ban – Based on absolutely no scientific evidence, the entire city council (with the exception of Philip Isley) voted in a ban on new garbage disposal installations. The ban was later overturned after a political firestorm. During discussions Rodger Koopman stated that “we are at war” with soldiers living in less than ideal conditions and it is “our duty” to “suck it up once in a while”. Councilor Crowder stated that this would be the “only logical step toward healthy water”, yet the evidence actually points to the contrary.
Water Restrictions – This city council, in the aftermath of a highly unusual drought situation, imposed a water use policy that restricts residents from properly maintaining a drought resistant lawn. Watering laws are irrationally based on days of the week, rather than ideal watering times. There is a prodigious amount of information published by N.C. State University and the state’s Cooperative Extension Service, yet this city council never even considered conveying some of the simple and proven best-practices for drought resistant lawns.
Water Rates – After restrictions and diligent citizen behavior reduced water consumption by 7%, the city council voted to raise water rates 8.5% because the public works division was suddenly losing money.
House Replacement Law – Russ Stephenson and Thomas Crowder were strongly in favor of limits on homeowner’s abilities to renovate or replace their houses. Crowder wrote in an email “If a new house is to be developed on a site where a house was torn down, it would go to the Planning Commission for approval unless it does not exceed a reasonable increase in the existing area of the structure – say 10 to 20 percent in area and 10 percent in height.” Later he wrote “I spoke with Russ and I believe we are on the same page . . .The house being replaced is no more than 30% greater than the gross floor area of the original structure and the height is no greater than 10% of the original structure height. To sum it up . . .if you have a 1,500 SF home you can increase it to 1,950 GSF. Same analogy goes for height.”
Can you imagine living in a 1,500 square foot house and only being able to add 450 square feet, regardless of the neighborhood’s setback scheme, the condition of the house, the height of neighboring houses, and the condition of those houses?
* * *
The problem with some of these incumbents is that they are willing to take drastic measures without thinking through the consequences. A garbage disposer ban would have led to scores of improperly DIY-installed disposers, additional loads on garbage hauling, increased animal control problems, and, as the research suggests, a sewer system with more clogs than is currently seen. The city imposed water restrictions, only to raise the rates, keeping the total burden on families the same or worse than before!
A severe limit to house replacement sizes would destroy the value of older homes inside Raleigh, and directly cause more suburban sprawl. Who would want to renovate a 1,200 square foot house in Five Points when all you could add is a little utility room and a closet? Young people would completely lose interest in older houses that were improperly built, and flee to the outskirts of Raleigh much like they did after World War II, collapsing the housing market in established neighborhoods.
Another problem with this quantitative approach to a qualitative problem is that many of Raleigh ugliest replacements and renovations would have still been allowed under these restrictions. Conversely, some of Raleigh most beautiful replacement houses would have been denied. (Link 1, Link 2). It would turn the Planning Commission into a draconian architectural review board, putting architects at the mercy of the commission’s whim.
Do we really want a City Council that makes irrational, negligent decisions? These decisions have direct effects on our lives, our savings, and our children. People were intensely interested in the presidential election last year, but to be honest, this city council election means far more. Only 10% of registered voters bothered to vote two years ago, and the effects have been chilling. We heard a lot about “change” in the last year. I’ll take some change! It’s time to instill some common sense, freedom, and empathy in the Raleigh City Council. Vote very, very carefully today, and make this city more attractive, more productive, and more beautiful than ever.
The Rams Club has put together a new site demonstrating plans for expanding the 60,000 seat Kenan Stadium. The addition will replace the 1927 Spanish styled original field house with a complex housing “premium” seating, a student-athlete center for non-revenue sports, a new academic center for athletes, and new visitor locker rooms. The project will cost about $85 million and is expected to begin within the next two years.
On Saturday morning the City of Raleigh is hosting a charrette to focus on the strategic vision for the Five Points area. The meeting runs from 9am to 1pm at Our Savior Lutheran Church and will feature an on-site Five Points walk as part of the meeting.
For additional information, contact Carter Pettibone with the Raleigh Department of City Planning at 807-8482. Participants are asked to RSVP to by tomorrow (Thursday).
- North Carolina Loses The Great Teacher February 9, 2015
- City Lays Markings for Currituck Obstacle Course February 4, 2015
- History Making Heels and Wolfpack Prepare for Battle January 14, 2015
- 25 Predictions for 2015 January 5, 2015
- Raleigh’s 10 Biggest Stories of 2014 January 2, 2015
- 2014: The Rain Year January 2, 2015
- Tupelo Honey Sets New Casual Standard December 1, 2014
- 2013 Predictions. A Look Back November 18, 2014
- Wicked Taco Bringing Fresh-Mex to Western Blvd November 17, 2014
- DOT Unveils I-440 Widening Plans November 12, 2014
- County Power Shift Brings Major Changes to Raleigh’s Future November 5, 2014
- Jarrett Bay Store Coming to Crabtree September 25, 2014
- FirstWatch Coming to Glenwood Avenue September 9, 2014
- Big Shindig Releases Set Times September 5, 2014
- Appearance Commission to Review Residence Inn September 3, 2014