chriskebob | Indy Week

chriskebob 
Member since Feb 24, 2014


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Re: “Turning the Durham Downtown Loop two-way: What do you think?

I don't think the plan intends to close Mangum St., just to design the area so that it feels like the street is running through a plaza. Something like how Corcoran St. runs through the CCB plaza.

I think once the East End connector opens, there will be much less North/South traffic on Mangum and Roxboro (as well as on Duke and Gregson) which will enable converting them both back to two-way streets. The lights could still be timed to give preference to Southbound traffic on Mangum and Northbound traffic on Roxboro, in conjunction with the configuration of the ramps to/from 147. Together this would help traffic flow even while supporting the conversion to two-way streets throughout downtown.

Posted by chriskebob on 05/15/2015 at 3:33 PM

Re: “Initial sketches of new Durham Police Department show way to save Carpenter Building

My comments submitted to the city:

Overall comments:

1. It is still asinine that the city and county can't find a way work together on this. It is laughable to build structured parking plus a surface lot, next to a gigantic surface lot.

2. Why have the private development sites (assuming these are the blue blocks in the conceptual site plans) been relegated to the back of the site? Wouldn't a private development site fronting on Main street be more valuable for development and for urban planning?

3. In the visioning sessions, many people voiced concerns about activating the streets with opportunities for small businesses. It is unclear how any of those issues were addressed from these site plans, or were they completely neglected?

4. Overall, I think Scheme 3 has the best potential.

Pros and Cons for each scheme:

Scheme 1:

Pros:

Large private development site.
Minimal exposure of parking garage to the streets.

Cons:

Demolition of historic structure.
Monolithic structure on Main and S. Elizabeth St. looks out of scale with surrounding structures, will dominate the street.
Large surface parking area fronting Hood St.

Scheme 2:

Pros:

Preserves historic structure.
Varied streetscape with appropriate scale fronting Main St.

Cons:

No private redevelopment (maybe the Carpenter Motors building? unclear)
Large surface parking area fronting ridiculously large county surface parking across S. Elizabeth St.
Parking garage exposed to streets on three sides.
Would be great if this plan could be somehow modified to reduce the surface parking (elevate the annex over the surface parking, service court areas?) and push the garage towards the middle of the site to allow private development fronting Ramseur St.

Scheme 3:

Pros:

This scheme has the best potential, could be even better with some tweaks. (drop the rounded concept, allow private development to wrap the garage fronting Ramseur)
Preserves historic structure.
Varied streetscape with appropriate scale fronting Main St.
Private development site.

Cons:

Private development site is tucked in rear. Consider swapping the low rounded building fronting Main St. with the private development site.
The rounded building looks like something from a 1980's office park, not a modern city, or a modern city influenced by historical precedent. Look at the old pictures of 5 points, there is good precedent for letting the building come to a point. Minimal green space here is unnecessary.
A lot of street frontage wasted on garage and surface lots. Can you consider this scheme with the garage oriented as in Scheme 1? Or can you at least push things a little bit to let the private development wrap the garage fronting Ramseur (see the "L building" recently completed in Raleigh that wraps a Wake County parking garage),

Scheme 4:

Pros:

Large private development site.
Minimal exposure of parking garage to the streets.

Cons:

Demolition of historic structure.
Monolithic structure on Main and Hood St. looks out of scale with surrounding structures, will dominate the street.
Large surface parking area fronting ridicoulsly large county lot across Elizabeth St.


Scheme 5:

Pros:

None, this is the worst scheme (so it is probably what we will end up with).

Cons:

Demolition of historic structure.
Unneeded open/green space in an awkward triangle, will add to the desolation of the Main St. streetscape.
Large surface parking area fronting ridicoulsly large county lot across Elizabeth St.
Parking garage exposed to three streets.

Scheme 6:

Pros:

Large private development site.
Space is conserved by having a building elevated over the service court. Why couldn't this be incorporated in any of the other schemes?
Parking garage is only exposed to one street.
Some variation in massing on Main St. - could use more variation and step back in height.

Cons:

Demolition of historic structure.
Unneeded open/green space in an awkward triangle.
Large surface parking area fronting ridiculously large county lot across Elizabeth St.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by chriskebob on 05/15/2015 at 3:25 PM

Re: “300 more apartments coming to downtown Durham—and none of them for us peasants

The various DHA housing projects on Main St. and vicinity will be in easy walking distance (between 1/4 and 1/2 mile - i.e. 15-30 minutes at average walking speeds and within the 1/2 mile threshold agreed on by City and County) from the proposed Dillard St. Station. So will the bulk of the Southside developments.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by chriskebob on 11/07/2014 at 1:25 PM

Re: “Condo-mania in Durham Central Park

Completely agree with Suzanne, and I think the comments are mostly reacting to the tone of the original piece, not the changes that are coming in some form or another.

If we want to support more local retailers in downtown and central park, including places to buy fresh food, necessities, etc. we need more people living in the area. Apartments and condos will bring a more consistent load of people in the area beyond special events (even weekly ones like the farmer's market).

The fact that there might be a "glut" of apartments in the area only means that rents and prices will have to be somewhat competitive - the under-supply has kept prices high at places like West Village, and that trickles down through the rest of the housing market.

We need to get past this rhetoric of "our little community is going to change, change is bad, we don't want more people moving here, they're going to make Durham like Cary." Hardly. Instead, accept that our little community is going to change, and help direct it to change in positive ways. Vote with your dollars, communications with local elected officials, voting for local elected officials and discussions throughout the community.

Finally, is Llyod's lounge actually still open? I don't think I've seen activity there in months.

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by chriskebob on 04/18/2014 at 11:11 AM

Re: “Prodigal Farm is growing, along with its humanely raised herd

In other news ... in the summer, ripe tomatoes should be falling to the ground to create new tomato plants, yet farmers steal the ripe tomatoes to be fed to humans. See how ridiculous that sounds?

Talk to anyone who has visited this farm - it is the most humane operation around and the goats are completely spoiled. It is hardly an "industry."

Please, veganism has lots of advantages, but this kind of evangelical veganism BS takes pages from the playbooks of the worst kinds of manipulative religious organizations. Get a clue.

14 likes, 17 dislikes
Posted by chriskebob on 03/27/2014 at 10:42 AM

Re: “Downtown Durham's green space

Chris - Thanks for the response. I didn't mean to say that open space vs. jobs is either/or, so if that is what came across, I'm glad for the opportunity to clarify.

Having spent some time with the open space report, it is an impressive piece of work, and I don't think the Indy blurb did it justice. I think the ideas in the report about improving connectivity through creative use of current and historic railroad rights of way, as well as excess capacity on roads, make a lot of sense. I am also glad that they aren't recommending demolishing existing buildings to make new open space, or excluding current open space from development where development makes sense.

I'm always concerned when people compare any urban park development to Central Park in New York City. New York City is such a special case for urban development in this country - the park is surrounded by incredible density, which is enabled by a massive public transit infrastructure. That city government in NYC had the foresight to allocate such a parcel of land in advance of the development laid out in Manhattan is a credit to them. LA is also a special case. Its density also developed on the back of a well developed public transit system (whose systematic destruction in 50s is well documented). Then the grid system of wide mega-blocks and the dense freeway system supported additional development.

My point is that downtown Durham will never be like Manhattan or downtown LA. Accordingly, its open space needs are different, too. I agree with you that I am looking forward to continued, planned improvement of our current public spaces that are attractive to a wide variety of users and help support additional private development. I think the Open Space Report is an excellent first step to that. And, I'm guessing that we both agree that trying to make every spot in the downtown area that has grass now into a public part is not the best idea - but again, that was the impression I got from the blurb that I was reacting to.

Posted by chriskebob on 02/26/2014 at 11:44 AM

Re: “Downtown Durham's green space

This blurb is really strange to me.

First, I have reviewed the linked document and I think the map you generated here is incorrect. One of the proposed park locations on your map is City Hall! The proposed park is actually to the east of city hall, as assumes that the downtown loop is eventually made 2-ways and the highway-like ramps in front of the library are removed. You also put another existing park at the location of Bull McCabe's - I'm sure they would be surprised to hear that they are located on a public park.

Second, the report makes a variety of recommendations, but developing new parks downtown is not one of them. The city is not going to condem the "green wall" lot at the corner of Main and Corcoran to build a new park, as the first paragraph implies that they should. And we can hope that the county have indeed abandoned their plans to demolish the old DSS building at the corner of Main and Roxboro to put in another unneeded park.

Third, I disagree with your analysis that downtown Durham needs more public spaces - and this is also not the conclusion made in the linked report. What downtown Durham needs is more hotel rooms (working on it), more affordable/not luxury condo housing (maybe getting there), jobs - including diverse types of jobs (developing the Chesterfield building as lab space will help), and more retail. While I'm wishing, some more affordable and quick-service restaurants downtown (beyond McDonald's), and some good Asian, African, or Middle Eastern options downtown would be appreciated as well.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by chriskebob on 02/24/2014 at 11:13 AM

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