Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Charlotte Trolley to roll through new neighborhood?

The nonprofit Charlotte Trolley has won a $15,000 grant from Wells Fargo to work toward putting historic Car 85 back on track, this time through the Wesley Heights neighborhood just northwest of uptown.

The organization hopes to start another demonstration project, like the one along South Boulevard that in the 1990s ignited enthusiasm for light rail. This time, the route would be the rail line adjacent to the Stewart Creek Greenway, said Charlotte Trolley board president Greg Pappanastos. It was the site of an original line of the former Piedmont & Northern electrified passenger railroad. Charlotte Trolley is exploring how it could use that still-existing pathway.

Here's why Charlotte Trolley's role is more than just that of a bunch of history and rail buffs.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Suburbia, dissected

Jason Griffiths writes a short essay, "Colonial Vista," to the suburban Colonial-style house he found in a subdivision in Charlotte a style ubiquitous in these parts. It's part of his slide show on "Manifest Destiny: A Guide to the Essential Indifference of American Suburban Housing" on the online forum, Places.

Griffiths is an assistant professor of architecture at the Design School at Arizona State University, hence the prominence of Arizona landscapes in his slide show. He was in Charlotte a few years back, he reports, to help review work at UNC Charlotte. (Want his book? Here's a link.)

The Colonial-style of housing, he notes, is perhaps more appropriate in North Carolina (which was, for a time, an actual colony) than other places, but, he points out the oddity that "the most abject facade of this building enjoys the most commanding view while the actual front elevation is stubbornly fixated by an abbreviated prospect of the road and the house opposite."

Friday, October 21, 2011

What do they (the creatives) really want?

What is that big armadillo-like edifice, and will it really attract the creative class to Kansas City, Mo.? Philip Langdon of the New Urban Network poses that question in his article, "Injecting spontaneity into urban development."

He writes: "I peered at The Atlantic’s photo of what Kansas City is building to lure the creatives, and thought for a moment I was viewing a gigantic armadillo. Oops, my mistake. The picture isn’t of an armadillo inflated to enormous size (though it certain looks like one). It’s the Kauffman Center, a $326 million performing arts facility [designed by architect Moshe Safdie] — purportedly a means for enticing talented young people to Missouri’s second-largest metropolis.

"Excuse me, but aren’t gigantic performing arts centers the sort of thing that cities were erecting thirty years ago? My understanding of the Richard Florida take on urban development is that bright young workers are less interested in vast cultural and entertainment institutions than in having access to stimulating everyday locales — places they can walk to from their workplaces or their homes."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A planning and 'public input' dilemma

Is it just me, or have others also been spotting an increasing trickle of  articles that might be viewed as anti-planning. Consider this one: "The false hope of comprehensive planning," from Michael Lewyn, an assistant professor at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Fla., on the Planetizen.com website.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

N.C.'s mayors: Who won, who's still campaigning?

Courtesy of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, here's the skinny on mayoral elections so far this fall in N.C. cities:

Election results are in.  Nancy McFarlane is the new mayor of Raleigh, and Raleigh voters passed bond referendums for transportation and housing.  Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and Monroe Mayor Bobby Kilgore each won re-election.  Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne won their primaries.   Incumbent Greensboro Mayor Bill Knight will face off against City Council Member Robbie Perkins next month.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

N.C. a gas-tax donor state? No more

N.C policymakers for years complained justly that this is a net donor state when it comes to federal transportation taxes paid versus federal transportation money spent in the state.

A new analysis by the General Accounting Office of 2005-09, reported by Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, in “Can highway spending ever be fair?”  finds that, when looking at how much federal highway money each state gets, per dollar of gas-tax revenue that the state’s motorists pay, it turns out every state gets more federal highway aid than it is paying. Here's a link to the GAO report.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Carroll Gray to leave N.Meck transportation group

DavidsonNews.net tells us former Charlotte Chamber CEO Carroll Gray has told the Lake Norman Transportation Commission he'll leave the commission's executive director job at the end of this year. Gray, 71, of Cornelius helped launch and lead the regional lobbying group over the past three years. He told DavidsonNews.net he has mixed emotions about the decision, “but I think it’s time to move on.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

What's that P in APA? Hint: Not 'process'

Journalists and planners share many interests – community wellbeing, policymaking and government, for instance – but here's one thing they don't share: A fascination with process. Most journalists I know get twitchy whenever people start talking about "the process" or about "creating a framework."

Huntersville mayor’s a winner

Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain won an award Thursday from the N.C. chapter of the American Planning Association for distinguished leadership by an elected official. The group held its annual statewide planning conference in Charlotte, Wednesday-Friday. Other awards for agencies in the greater Charlotte region:

Outstanding planning award for implementation (small community): Town of Davidson for its “Circles at 30” development at Exit 30 of Interstate 77.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Charlotte pedestrians - still waiting for that plan

Wilson has one. Durham has one. Charlotte doesn’t. Yet.

Those other N.C. cities have eclipsed the state’s largest metro in this way, at least: They’ve adopted pedestrian p.lans, both in 2006, to shape the way their communities plan for people on foot as well as planning for cars.  Charlotte’s proposed pedestrian plan has lagged for years, awaiting the city’s adoption of its Urban Street Design Guidelines which took more than eight years to adopt as policy and then to codify in city ordinances and then the re-adoption of its updated Transportation Action Plan.