Jan
05

2008 – The Year In Review

The year 2008 will most likely be best known for its financial crisis and its election, however it was chock full of many other fascinating stories. While the nation was taking a financial and emotional beating, Raleigh remained a buoyant market, full of growth and opportunity. Compiled below are the top 100 stories that shaped 2008 for Raleigh. The list appears in reverse order of importance (“Convention Center Opens” was the most important event of the year…). While each person could create their own permutation of this list, it is still fun to review and remember the busy year that was 2008.

  1. Convention Center Opens, Shimmer Wall Wakes
  2. RBC Completes/Dedicates Tower
  3. Garbage Disposer Ban Overturned
  4. RDU Opens Terminal 2
  5. Marriott Convention Hotel Opens
  6. 2008 Ends Exceptional Drought, Water Restrictions Continue Despite Excess Water
  7. Canes Fire Laviolette, Bring Back Maurice
  8. U-verse Goes Live in Raleigh, Time Warner Rolls Out HD Channels
  9. North Hills East Revised Plans Submitted
  10. Soleil Redesigns
  11. N&O Reorganizes Local Coverage, Major Changes
  12. Josh Hamilton Almost Wins HR Derby, Makes SI Cover
  13. Durham Opens Performing Arts Center and Strong Lineup
  14. Blount Street Commons Breaks Ground
  15. Waverly Sold To Distant Firm
  16. Raleigh Unveils New Comprehensive Plan
  17. Jones Leaves NCT
  18. Reynolds Tower Approved, Gets Financing
  19. Tom Suiter Signs Off
  20. Yamaguchi Wins “Dancing With The Stars”
  21. Holly Park Renovates, Plans Trader Joe’s
  22. Chick-Fil-A Files Site Plan for Cameron Village
  23. Sheri Leaves WRAL Morning Show
  24. City Plaza Begins Construction
  25. Raleigh Woman Wins Mrs. America
  26. West Tower Opens
  27. Raleigh Hosts NCAA Tournament Action, Curry Amazes
  28. Van Halen Plays RBC Center (Eddie Amazes)
  29. Sitti Now Open
  30. New Restaurants Planned for Cameron Village
  31. Moshakos To Revive Former Pine State Office
  32. Flemings, McCormick & Schmick, and Brio Open at Crabtree
  33. GSK Assigns RTP as Sole HQ
  34. Broughton Gets (Back) 150+ Parking Spaces
  35. Riviera Closed
  36. Capital City Grocery Closes
  37. Yancy’s Closes, Replaced by The Oxford
  38. Annuals Played on Conan, Ryan Adams Played Letterman, Ben Folds Played Conan, Ed Mitchell Appeared on The Today Show, Tift Merritt on Leno
  39. Coquette Opens in North Hills
  40. Jibarra Moves Downtown
  41. Cameron Village Corner to be Redeveloped
  42. Solas Opens on Glenwood
  43. Powerhouse Plaza Announced
  44. Captrust Tower Construction Begins
  45. Raleigh Gets Downtown Amphitheater Supplies
  46. Chef Rameaux Dies
  47. Council Approves Edison Project, (more)
  48. Jimmy V Classic Returning to Cary
  49. Mez Opens
  50. Raleigh’s Nutty Brainstorm
  51. Chuck Berry Plays Raleigh Wide Open, Raleigh Wide Open 3 Celebrates Convention Center During Storm
  52. Hall of Fame Concert Comes to Cary
  53. Canes Unveil Third Uniforms
  54. Beltline to Lose “Inner” and “Outer”
  55. Longbranch Closes
  56. Raleigh Couple Wins “Biggest Loser”
  57. Angus Barn Wins Wine Spectator Grand Award, Again
  58. 222 Glenwood Opens
  59. Ashley Christensen Featured in Bon Appetit
  60. Lafayette Gets Extension
  61. Clayton Bypass Opens One Year Early
  62. Wake County Unveils Justice Center Plans
  63. Bobby Flay Came to the N.C. State Fair
  64. Shucker’s Sold, Moving
  65. Summerfield Suites Coming to North Hills East
  66. Third Train to Charlotte Coming
  67. BB&T To Replace North Hills Office
  68. Kiplinger Ranks Raleigh #2
  69. Jack Boston Dies
  70. Webb Simpson Ranked As #1 (golf) Amateur
  71. Raleigh Hosts Spy Conference
  72. Tookies Closes on Six Forks
  73. Cameron Bar & Grill Opens
  74. Gianni & Gaitano’s TTC Location Closes, No-Go for Glenwood
  75. CAM Has New Design
  76. Boylan 615 Redesigned
  77. Waraji Downtown Stalls
  78. Downtown Segway Tours Begin
  79. Smithereens Playing First Night
  80. WRAL To Test MPH Mobile DTV Device
  81. Ruth’s Chris Opens in North Hills
  82. Wiggles Make RBC Center Debut
  83. Prime Only Downtown Closes
  84. CBS Drops Packer (not local per se, but still great news)
  85. 111 Seaboard Canceled
  86. Foster’s Reopens in Cameron Village
  87. Martin St. Pizza Opens
  88. Comboland Radio Up on 365
  89. Hook Up Closes
  90. Flying Biscuit Coming To Cameron Village
  91. Red Palace Closes
  92. Cherry Closes
  93. Village Tavern Coming to North Hills East
  94. Crabtree Place Goes Back to Drawing Board
  95. Mixed Use Project for East Downtown Approved
  96. Carpenter Ads Showing Up
  97. Forbes Names Raleigh Best Place for Business and Careers, Again
  98. Harmon’s Floating House Featured in Architectural Record
  99. Carvers’ Creek Closes
  100. Raleigh Pinata Now On Sale
Oct
12

RDU Shows Off Terminal 2

rdu_term2_pan

On Saturday the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority opened the doors to Phase One of the new Terminal 2 to the public with an impressive open house. The celebration showed off the new 920,000 square foot, $570 million terminal which will offer expanded security areas and improved efficiency with check-in and baggage security and routing.

After being shuttled to the upper levels of the hourly parking garage, visitors were greeted in the parking plaza with a jazz band, the first of many dotted throughout the terminal during this seminal event. Upon entering the front door of the terminal, it is easy to be swept away by the arcing, curved ceiling. Made of glue-laminated layers, the sturdy wood beams carry a shape reminiscent of a wing’s airfoil shape. Dramatic windows have been incorporated to allow in much natural light. The ticketing area contains two island style ticketing stations as well as individual kiosks for express check in.

The layout for the new terminal is essentially the same as that for the old Terminal C; a big “H”. The isthmus, again, is the site of security, only this time, there is no grade change until one is beyond the security areas.

The single, long concourse is similar to that in Terminal C, however the building is about 25 feet wider. The extra room accommodates bidrectional travelators as well as numerous full-service restaurants. The ceiling is a continuation of the arched airfoil concept, and contains many strips of glass to allow in natural light. The three big restaurants that will be open in this phase are 42nd Street Oyster Bar, Carolina Ale House, and Gordon Beirsch.

The concourse features some welcome improvements. The bathrooms are large and well-lit. The seating areas at the gates have some end tables with hidden power outlets. While AC outlets are offered, other form factors such as USB are offered. Finally, the large displays throughout the concourse are on par with the flatscreen displays that are appearing in the nation’s best airports.

As stated before, the isthmus is on the ticketing level, so arriving passengers must ride up a short escalator, then down a long escalator to access the baggage claim areas. The baggage claim area is unremarkable. The best kept secret in this complex, however, is the aluminum tree sculpture at the baggage claim entrance on the lower level. The tree’s base is outside, though some of its branches seemingly “pass through” the building’s two-story windows.

The terminal will no doubt offer an improved ticketing, security, and dining experience. The use of large windows will allow the building to utilize natural light for most of the time that passengers are using the building. Overall, the architectural design is stunning, and will make an excellent impression on those arriving to our area for the first time.

However, upon leaving the building, I have to wonder if this is the best way we could have spent just over half a billion dollars. Will the added natural light’s savings be offset by the additional costs to heat and condition the vast spaces inside the terminal? Will the movement of passengers up and down escalators eventually be seen as a backward way to move people? The facility only offers 4 more gates than Terminal C offered. Will this offer adequate revenues to help pay for this very expensive building? Will people actually use these full-service restaurants on the concourse? I can see this working in a hub setting, but in a point-to-point airport, the only customers they will get is those arriving early for their flight.

The new terminal is much like getting new shoes to wear with suits when your old shoes weren’t that bad…and your casual shoes are embarrassingly awful. The explanation I was given for replacing Terminal C first, instead of Terminal A, is that the airport could not move all of Terminal A’s functions into Terminal C while Terminal A is being replaced. With Terminal 2, they supposedly will be able to move the Terminal A airlines to 2 while replacing A. How will they accomplish this with just four more gates in Terminal 2?

Unfortunately Terminal 2 is another giant missed opportunity in RDU’s history. Ever since 1987 we have operated two airports at RDU; one right across the street from the other. Whether it be parking decks, ticketing areas, baggage claims, runways, control towers, or concourses, there are at least two of everything at RDU. If we’re building a baggage claim facility, a ticketing area, and a security area, why not build such that both concourses can use it?

By building a central terminal and connecting it to just the concourses in the existing terminals, RDU could have set itself up for easy, efficient expansion and renovation in the future as well as incredible efficiency in the present. This design is called the landside/airside design and it has been so beloved in Tampa since 1971 that Orlando used it when it built its new airport in 1981. A central terminal almost the size of Orlando’s could easily fit on the NE side of RDU’s parking decks. People movers are so flexible, that future gates could be put virtually anywhere along the runways.

rdu_plan1 There are two main arguments I’ve heard against the landside/airside design for RDU. One is that Southwest Airlines likes their arrangement in the Terminal B section of Terminal A. They have full control of their gates, their security area, and their baggage claim. They have apparently been resistant to any changes. Second, the inter-runway space between RDU’s two primary runways is much smaller than most airports. The original design was to build twin runways beside Terminal C, so the 5L/23R runway was placed as close as possible to Terminal C to allow for its eventual twin.

That said, most airside/landside arrangements have central terminals, but there is no law stating that the central terminal cannot be offset, as depicted above. (The green lines represent roadways and the orange lines represent people movers. Terminals 2 and C can be seen in the top of the picture, while Terminal A is at the bottom.). In fact, if the road entering the airport could be aligned to run along the edge of the parking decks, it would be entirely possible to rebuild Terminal A as a two-sided concourse.

While Terminal 2 is will be impressing a lot of people in the next few years, it depressing to think of what could have been.

Sep
10

Five Restaurants I Miss

Restaurants really come-and-go. Unfortunately some good ones weren’t able to make it for one reason or another. Which do you miss?

I’ll go with:

Lock, Stock, & Barrel (Colony Shopping Ctr) – The first salad bar in the area and one of the all-time best. Great sourdough melt burger, spaghetti, and sandwiches. Drinks were served Ball jars, and 50′s era jukeboxes were at every table.

G.D. Ritzy’s – Chain out of Columbus, OH IIRC. Great little fried burger and fries. Really good ice cream, too. Chain was mis-managed and folded, yet our stores (now Hooters on WF Rd and Breuggers on Avent Ferry) did well

El Pollo Asado (now Arbys near TTC) – Flame-roasted chicken chain that served pieces with sides of salsa, tortillas, and vegetables. mmmm.

Darryl’s – If you weren’t here before the sale to General Mills (or whatever- around 1980), you completely won’t get this one. Darryl’s was the child of Darryl Davis, Thad Eure, and Charlie Winston. I remember the iron jail cells, the elevator, the pong table, the graffiti-carved booths and tables, the heavy frozen mugs, the red carpet, and the jukebox like they were yesterday. Foodwise, I like the steak sandwich, hamburger, blue cheese dressing, pizza chips, and spaghetti. Perfectly family friendly yet totally appropriate for dates, it was probably the most perfect restaurant for daily all-purpose eating in this city’s history.

Sadak’s – Short-lived, but this sit-down middle eastern restaurant at Hillsborough and Horne (where Q-Shack was) was run by Walid Sadak, owner of Hector’s in Crabtree. I love Hector’s, but Sadak’s had some even more interesting items on the menu.

Honorable mention: Santa Fe (MacGregor Village), Luigi’s (NH), Deli King (NH), Su Casa (Crabtree), Oak Park Pharmacy, Glenwood Pharmacy, Nana’s Chophouse, Hang Chow, The Far East, Swensons, Jack’s Steakhouse, Brother’s Pizza, Hardees on Wake Forest Road (now American Pride car wash), Black Dog Cafe, Jason’s Donuts (Falls Village), Hamburger Hut (Morgan & Mayo).

Notes: Lock Stock, & Barrel has reopened in Clayton. It is in a strip shopping center and while it still features the sourdough cheeseburger, the owner didn’t bring much else. Darryl’s had pizza chips and blue cheese dressing that are now featured at the Angus Barn. Sadak’s baklava, hummus, and tabouleh are available at the Crabtree Hector’s (Food court).

Sep
08

Five Stores I Miss Most

My wife said something tonight that triggered a great topic. What five stores in Raleigh do you miss the most? (Keep the topic focused on retail instead of restaurants. That comes later)

Sep
05

Hints for Convention Center Going

I am headed out the door to the International Festival and wanted to pass along a few hints to those wanting to attend events this weekend.

  • There is a Wachovia ATM just inside the main entrance (Salisbury Street) to the Convention Center (turn right)
  • Try parking in the base of the Marriott. The easiest approach is to head downtown on Capital Blvd, which magically becomes Dawson St. Proceed onward and notice the shimmer wall on the left (That’s the rear of the convention center). Just after the best shimmer wall view, turn left onto poorly-labeled Lenoir Street (just before the RR overpass). Proceed 1.5 blocks, and turn left into the Parking entrance for the Marriott. (map it)  Get the first space you can find. Just after passing through the deck’s ticketing area, you’ll see the desired convention center/hotel entrance. Once inside, turn left to go to the convention center and right to ascend into the Marriott. Here’s a hint: ride the elevator up to the Marriott. The very urban view is dramatic! The subterranean access straight into the convention center is an enormous benefit on rainy days. (returned – coast is clear. This deck is the way to go)
  • Parking is $7 “for the event” – cash up front …or… $3/hr up to $12 – pay as you leave with cash or credit card.
  • Food selection is very impressive. I like the Egyptian food most.
  • Convention Exhibition hall is probably 60% 63% the size of Atlanta’s World Congress Center room #1 when it is configured for a dental convention that draws 25,000 people, but is much more convenient. Not as much walking and better bathroom placement.
  • No signage exists to get you back to the parking deck. Drop popcorn from your car into the convention center. In fact, signage is extremely poor throughout the Convention Center, parking deck, and Marriott.
  • Be sure to ascend the lobby escalators to see the 33,000 square foot ballroom. Excellent space!
  • The convention center has free WiFi.
  • Admission to the International Festival is free.
  • Programs are available at the base of the escalator, but they do not really map out where the countries’ booths are.
  • Where is that giant Sir Walter that the man carved in North Hills Mall in 1976? It would be a perfect addition to the convention center.

Follow future hints on my Twitter feed. Have any hints? Feel free to add them in the Comments section.

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