I have a feeling I will be the first one to post on this thread ðŸ˜†
Absolutely fantastic images, although I have to admit that the view of the skyline from the new parking deck is not the prettiest. I have taken many pictures from there, and I don’t care how good photographer one is, the view is still underwhelming. It shows clearly what we discussed many times before: Our skyline needs depth, ASAP. From Salisbury Str to McDowell Str we need high-rises above 400ft. Even the proposed Public Safety Center, if built, would be underwhelming, although it will also make a good start. There is one area where we also need to focus, and that is the Hillsborough Str section of downtown. From the new parking deck it becomes more evident that this are is golden. If we can get 5-6 high-rises at least 25 floors tall, the view will certainly be great!
Matt, the funny thing is we had the same ideas and were inspired in a similar fashion, but there is no contest between my images and yours. Your work stands out no matter what. The Gloomy Sunrise photo was outstanding, IMO. Many thanks, again, for sharing your work with us.
Depth……definitely. I was driving down Fayetteville Street the other day and noticed that the view from my windsheild facing outward looks impressive, but that “lack of depth” is noticeable at an interection when looking down side streets like Hargett or Martin.
Fayetteville has the buildings lined up on each side, with no depth behind them. I know I’m whining….Raleigh has come a long way in the past 10 years.
I actually really like the first one. I think you’re right about Hillsborough, the view going west isn’t as shabby as I thought it would be and a handful 20+ story buildings would completely change the view and character. Obviously I’ve never lived in Manhattan like Ernest, so my standards are a little different ðŸ™‚
We have a chance to create some nice depth if we build taller structures along Wilmington, Salisbury and McDowell Str. I would add Dawson Str, but given how dumb developers are to build small (i.e. Hue) and the failure to materialize The Hillsborough, I doubt we can hope for much, although some hope may exist along the East side of that street.
Here is a funny thing, though: We seem to view depth with the North-South axis as reference. In other words, we discuss building along the streets parallel to Fayetteville Str. How about depth using the East-West axis. Take Davis Str as an example. Imagine a few high-rises between McDowell Str (Enterprise Car Rentals) and Blount Str (The Edison). Not only it is feasible, but also possible. Developing carefully along the East-West axis may give us not only density, but also the depth we want to see. Take a look at images from the Boylan Ave bridge and you will see what I mean. Just imagine how the skyline would look if we could get high-rises all over the CBD – wherever possible. It would be AMAZING!!!
Steve, I didn’t live in Manhattan. I was born there, lived in Queens, went to college in Manhattan and worked there, as well. Not to mention my frequent visits for entertainment reasons. When you live in NYC, though, you don’t pay much attention to the skyline. Urbanity matters a little more.
Ernest … I gotta say … you are the MAN. BUT ðŸ™‚ what I think our city lacks in addition to a skyline and overall height is WETNESS. WATER. REFLECTION. As much as we need a couple 50-60 story buildings our city needs the softness and reflection of a water feature(s). Else it kinda becomes Atlanta. Now I know it would be costly / dreamy / would create major opposition to create something GRAND in terms of water – but it is vital to a cityscape. Raleigh sorely needs it. Right now our downtown is somewhat desert like. There is really no reason to go downtown. Water tends to make people want to hang out and live near it. Traffic, buildings and street is effective only to a certain extent.
I know we don’t have a major river running through the middle of downtown but hey let’s think big here. Run a canal system like San Antonio. Even the Bellagio type fountains would be tricked out yes but very interesting and a major step in the right direction.
Just sayin that we keep thinking height but there really needs to be some type of DRAW for Downtown.
And by the way – I don’t think the current “City Plaza” is a great example of forward thinking. Need to think generational here not something that will be ripped out in 30 years. I know you were against Plensa’s design but he saw the fact that there is nothing of INTEREST and offered the oasis idea … the green and the replenishing power of water. Though I would agree that he did not present a very thorough solution for that space.
Anyway … coming down off my fountain errrrrr soap box ðŸ™‚
I never comment on this page, but I always stay updated on what you guys post. But, there is an article in today’s N&O, which is discussing Royal Bank seeking a buyer for RBC Bank due to troubles caused by the recession. This doesn’t sound too good for DT Raleigh.
@Lew: Don’t encourage me because you will have to suffer yet-another lengthy post ðŸ˜† Let me say that I agree with all the points you made. I happen to love water fountains and other such attractions. I think that Raleigh needs these features, but right now they would look out of place. The thinking behind the improvement of our skyline has to do more with improved image, higher density and increased tax resources than simply having tall buildings. The street level is just as important. Personally, I feel that we need to bring more people downtown, so we can justify all those wonderful attractions. As for the Riverwalk idea, RayP already made the suggestion. I will only add that over 10 years ago I first heard of developers envisioning an urban “oasis” along the proposed Riverwalk. It will be tough and very expensive, but it is doable. As long as we don’t let the NIMBYs shove their own ideas down our throats – and believe me, they will try – we have a wonderful chance to succeed.
Just for the record, I loved Plensa’s idea. I just didn’t want it in the middle of a street. Not only it would be against the initial plan of re-opening Fayetteville street, but it would also be impossible to gather around it with all the traffic. Great idea, poor location. The fault falls on the city leaders, not Plensa. They should have thought about it before they asked for ideas.
@JC: Let’s hope that RBC Bank will return to profits and remain in DT Raleigh. Hopefully, it will strengthen itself thru acquisitions. What bothered me about the article is that it makes no mention of the majority of RBC Bank’s employees who work in Rocky Mount. They are part of the Triangle, too. Any purchase of RBC Bank by another institution may strike a huge blow on Rocky Mount, even more than Raleigh.
You guys are all crazy! Celebrate the skyline we have. I suppose none of you have realized that there are costs and risks involved by randomly plotting tall buildings just so we can say what a great skyline we would have (already have). This isn’t SimCity you know. You better kiss the foot of the government for starting at least 2 great projects. In the coming years then we can start seeing things Charter take off. Though I guess that’s ‘too small’…
There is nothing wrong with thinking big. There is a finite number of city blocks in DT Raleigh that are available for construction. Raleigh gets only one shot per city block, lets make it a good one.
Aaron, the only thing I would celebrate is that Raleigh isn’t Detroit. In other words, we are not dependent on one single industry to carry the weight (i.e. automotive industry). While I do understand the risks, it would be naive to think that other cities haven’t take risks and won big. Not every place is Miami and Las Vegas. There are cities with great skylines and acceptable vacancy rates.
As for Charter Square, the two buildings combined make this a large project, but that site deserved more. How about one 40+ story mixed-use and one 30+ story residential/hotel? I think we’ve had enough of the mentality which dictated that the tallest buildings have to be lined up along Fayetteville Street. Instead, we get an underwhelming 16-story/400-room Marriott Hotel and if we are lucky we will see the 20-story North Tower of Charter Square. As for the government-sponsored projects, I will not kiss their feet. They wasted two half blocks and millions of dollars – tax dollars, that is – on two buildings that could have easily been combined into a couple of taller buildings. That could have saved us half a block, which we could use for another project, and a skybridge.
I am sorry Aaron, but I am not going to celebrate for anything, particularly the skyline. I remain grateful because given the economy we could not get much more than what we are getting. At least something is moving, but the skyline is still, and will remain for the next few years, a thorn. I am in total agreement with something you said: The risks are huge and the financial burden is even greater. We need successful projects, not buildings that will sit mostly empty. This is why I will sound like a broken record, once more: Corporate relocations. Without them no major project will take off anytime soon.
We need a DT Shopping District .. similar to North Hills but in a DT location…to attract corporate entities we need to make Raleigh Attractive and less boring..And companies love people and cities with vibrant life.. (Do Your research and see!!) What Major CEO would want to come out of his office and then have to drive all the way to North hills or Crab tree Mall to shop and play? We need a Hot Shopping Area with medium and high End stores in one state of the Art location DOWNTOWN!! GUCCI, PRADA, BANANA REPUBLIC, ZALES, ETC… Hot, Trendy, and Stylish… we have enough places to eat!! A Shopping District mixed with Charter Square and another High rise like Ernest said about 30 TO 40 feet in the next 5 TO 6 years will set Raleigh in the right Direction! And then we will have a line of Corporate big wigs begging for Office space!!!
30-40 feet is not a high-rise, it is a NIMBY shelter ðŸ˜† I know what you meant though.
Shopping is a serious issue for most downtowns. Not many companies would risk opening locations in an area that doesn’t get much traffic by shoppers. This is a huge challenge for downtown promoters and investors. The main areas we need to focus on are high-density residential areas and corporate relocations; the latter being something I have been screaming about for a long time now.
The Edison and Charter Square offer HUGE opportunities for shopping destinations, but I don’t want to see a mini mall, though. The areas between Blount Str and Dawson streets, as well as the downtown section of Hillsborough Str, carry massive potential, but they need to be fully developed and not just with entertainment destinations and eateries. For the lower density Blount Str corridor and sections of Oakwood and Mordecai, something like Georgetown would be a great model for redevelopment. Since NIMBYs care about “human scale”, what else would be more appropriate? Larger stores, like Gucci, Banana Republic, etc., would be great anchors in projects like The West, RBC Plaza, Powerhouse Plaza, Charter Square or The Edison. However, filling the gaps is of great importance because emptiness doesn’t quite attract customers.
The Hillsborough Street corridor is also crucial, as there are a few churches in that area that pour lots of people in the nearby streets after Sunday service. That crowd screams opportunity!!! A few family/kids oriented stores would be great. Personally, I favor a few relocations, like Babies-R-Us and CompUSA, and even a second A Southern Season location. Trader Joe’s could also open one store in downtown, since their Wake Forest Rd location is really busy.
I am with you Thomas. Something like a Copley Square mall (Boston) would be ideal, which is like a shopping haven right in the middle of the hustle and bustle, but lack of residential density is probably scaring major retailers off. To add to your point, what point is there in living in DT Raleigh if you must trek out to RTP to get to your job?
oddly enough, most people who work and shop in boston live further away than rtp is from DT Raleigh. And they still pay 1500/mo for a regular apartment. moving DT here and driving 10 minutes to grocery stores and a mall is sooo much more convenient than living in or near boston (within an hour). With better weather and better prices, I feel like we’ve got it better. I’d love more retail DT here, but I lived within an hr of Boston (we called that suburbs) for 10 years and I’ve been to Copley less than a half dozen times. They need simple convenience things like a Walgreens and Harris Teeter for the people living right there, and some regular stores, but then some unique destination places to draw enough people from the suburbs where they already have stuff…. Creating a destination is better longterm planning than simply trying to meet the draw of the suburbs, as if DT was simply another Brier Creek.
I think that’s true in most big “shopping districts” whether it’s in a major city or small town. There’s never enough population in the area to support the retail, it comes from the whole area, and with big cities it comes from people out of town. How many hundreds of thousands or millions of people take trips to New York every year and include shopping on their itinerary, and how many people to go New York or Paris JUST to shop? It’s not like people who live in Midtown Manhattan are constantly going to Bloomingdale’s to spend a few hundred bucks (ok maybe some of them are, but you get the point). People come there from all over the Metro and all over the world to shop. But at the same time, in many smaller European cities there are substantial retail establishments downtown. Some of them are big department stores, but a lot of them are small little shops, even places like McDonald’s are integrated into urban fabric (like Chic Fil A on FS).
I know i’m not the only one that would love to take my family DT for the holidays and shop!! Now don’t get me wrong I don’t want Raleigh to become an Urban Mess but I think we are living in one of the few Cities that can blend the country and City life in one Trendy Downtown Area in the next 5 to 7 years if the economy begans to turn around. But Steve is right a ” Trendy Shopping Distict” would attracked people from all over the country and maybe the world, but I just don’t know if some of our leaders would want that! I would a little life for our Downtown besides getting a bite to eat.
This may not be of great importance, but one of the obstacles we are facing is the gaps along the streets of downtown. For example, take Hillsborough Street (the downtown section): That could become a HUGE attraction for Glenwood South, Cameron Park and Boylan Heights residents, as well as visitors, but there is nothing there. Sure, there are a few churches and some store fronts that look empty, along with Clarion Hotel, Second Empire and Cambell School of Law, but where are the infill development with lots of retail at the street level? The Hillsborough, Winston Tower, One Glenwood and 2-3 other infill and redevelopment projects would have provided a great boost. We could “demand” chains like GAP, Banana Republic and even a few upscale stores, but we still have the problem of gaps. Same problem with Salisbury and Wilmington streets.
On the other hand, if we can fully redevelop large sections of downtown into mixed use areas (i.e. Glenwood South, The Warehouse District) we can expect a lot of major and upscale retailers to become bolder and open downtown locations. Massive potential for the section of Glenwood South between Glenwood Ave and Capital Blvd/Dawson Str, as well as the entire Warehouse District. But, we will need developers who dare to bring high density urban projects and high-rises with lots of elegant retail space. Enough with all that crap that looks fake. Give us some facades that are attractive, tree-lined and comfortable sidewalks, with enough space for outdoor dinning.
Anyway, I think we will need to wait until we see another 10,000 people calling downtown home before major retailers take us seriously. Sad to admit, but this will not happen any time soon. This doesn’t mean that we will not see some progress, but the stupid malls will rule for the years to come, regardless of which city we live. Unless we talk about the traditional urban centers, or some places in Florida – I personally love St Armand’s Circle, in Sarasota, although it is not part of the downtown area.