Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Happens in Texas

... let's hope it stays in Texas.

The nightmare is reported here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On the Town

This is the latest story produced by WUNC-FM on Raleigh's growth. Raleigh's position at the top of the fastest-growth ranking is a surprise to some, and not a surprise to others.

"Well, we have a lot of green here in terms of the trees, the parks and greenways, a school system that is generally in good shape, traffic is not too bad at the moment…. just all kinds of positive things that we have here that other cities don’t have the combination of."
-Mayor Meeker

The Comp Plan is certainly a significant effort at trying to manage our growth so that this which is so positive remains a part of our fair city. Fallonia believes getting a plan onboard could not come soon enough. Ask any of the older neighborhoods how spot growth is going.

Story can be heard here.

The Comp Plan can be studied here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I hope it becomes a little park

Courtesy of - tonyjcase

Day 074/365 - the Bugs Bunny house

You remember that old Loony Toons where a building is being constructed over Bugs Bunny's hole, and he goes to war to save his home. The end result is this huge skyscraper with a divot taken out of it where his hole is.

This house is kind of like that. The Big Evil Conglomerate bought up all the surrounding land save for this one house - the owner refused to move - so they built around her.

Makes for a very odd looking building, donchya think?

(The full story here)

This is an update to an earlier story about a woman in Seattle who held out against progress. An unlikely friendship developed between her and the super on the building project. He looked out for her until the end. From her obit:

During her last days, Martin said he made sure that she was comfortable at home.

"She got to do it the way she wanted to do it," Martin said. "She had already made up her mind, and that's the way it was going to be."

He still wonders what drew him to the cranky, stubborn woman who seemed to do all she could to discourage friends or visitors.

"I think we were a lot alike. I am stubborn and so was she. We had some incredible arguments," Martin said. "She was amazingly smart."

It's unclear what will happen now to the tiny two-bedroom, two-story house built in 1900. Macefield said she doesn't have any relatives. Her only child, a son, died of meningitis at 13.

Martin isn't holding out much hope for the old house. It leans seriously to one side, he said. "I straighten the pictures every time I come over," he said.

"Eventually it will all go to progress."

. . .

She adored animals, and could be seen almost every day standing outside her front yard tossing out seeds for the birds.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Heard at the Comp Plan Public Hearing

"What made Raleigh what Raleigh was?" asked the speaker. "It's the people, caring about each other -- whether they are people who have, or people who didn't have. We cared about each other."

"When we look at a thing like this plan, we need to ask ourselves 'who is gonna win from this? and who is gonna lose?'"

"We need to make sure Raleigh is still home to her people when we are done."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bob Geary Writes Again!

Please see the Independent for the complete article:

Imagine Raleigh without sprawl

18 MAR 2009 • by Bob Geary, rjgeary (at) mac (dot) com

In the run-up to this week's public hearing on Raleigh's draft comprehensive plan, the advice to city leaders from a stream of visiting experts has been remarkably unified. Success, experts say, depends on taking city life "back to the future."

The era of suburban sprawl is ending, these planners maintain, not simply because of high gas prices, but because it is fundamentally unsustainable. As Christopher Leinberger, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., put it in a recent talk, the more "drivable suburban" neighborhoods a city allows, the lower the quality of life becomes for everyone living in them. The fastest-growing market now, said Leinberger, a developer, is for "walkable urban" places: the kind Raleigh doesn't have, yet needs to create, that are modeled on what cities were before cars took them over.

Such places are far more complicated to build and manage than the suburbs, Leinberger said. But done right, these areas improve as they grow. They have more cultural diversity and housing options—and with public transit, the chance for people to save money by owning fewer cars, or none. If Raleigh fails to create them, Leinberger warned, "You will be left in the 20th century."

The question for Raleigh is where these walkable urban places should be. ...

Hope you will be at the Comp Plan Hearing tonight: details follow, courtesy of Bob's article:

  • What: A public hearing on Raleigh's draft comprehensive plan
  • Where: Raleigh City Hall, 222 W. Hargett St.
  • When: Thursday, March 19, 6:30 p.m.
  • What to expect: Raleigh Planning Director Mitch Silver will present the draft plan, a blueprint for the city's growth over the next 20 years
  • What's next: After the public hearing, the plan goes to the city planning commission. It is expected the commission will consider the plan this spring, then sent it back to City Council, which could adopt the plan as early as June.
  • More info: Read about the process at Planning Raleigh 2030:
  • Learn more about the plan for the city's neighborhoods:
  • Leinberger's analysis and the other experts' jibes with the basic goal of the comprehensive plan to curb sprawl and guide development into designated "growth centers." Yet it also raises the issue of whether the plan identifies too many centers—including some in places that can never be urban.

Love this:

At the same conference, Mindy Fullilove, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said true urbanism is characterized by a sense of connectedness that allows people of diverse backgrounds and incomes to nonetheless feel that they live in the same community and share an identity with the same "great place."

At a time of rapid upheaval in the world, Fullilove said, people yearn for the kind of stability and belonging that existed—before urban renewal cut through it—in the Hill district of Pittsburgh where her parents grew up. It was a relatively poor, predominantly African-American community of row houses, storefronts and apartments. There were no high-rises, nothing fancy. But it was a place where people believed "whatever problems you have ... you can get together and solve them."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hopes for a Happier Hillsborough Street

News & Observer has a story on the Hillsborough Street Renaissance Festival held yesterday.

Rhodes' association joined campus environmental groups, local restaurateurs and bands, and student chefs on the street Saturday. In one tent, people formed a drum circle, banging empty water jugs and detergent bottles. In another, they tasted barbecue prepared by the school's fraternities.

The idea for the festival started with three NCSU engineering students who wanted to raise money for campus charities and draw attention to environmental causes. But as they began organizing, a grander concept emerged.

They saw it as a way to erase the street's image as a divider -- home to rowdy bars that irritate nearby homeowners -- and turn it into a place where families, business owners and students could come together for a day.

Looking forward to that day to become real life again. Many of us remember the simple life -- where a trip to the A&P was just one stop that could be done on foot or bike from your home.

Extra credit for remembering the names of the places that Hillsborough was home to.

I'll start: Hamburger Hut. Gateway Restaurant. ...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Incredible Journey

To Save a Venturi House, It Is Moved
The owner of the Lieb House, a beach cottage designed by the architect Robert Venturi, had wanted to tear it down. Instead, it was rescued by relocating it. Here.

The spectacle attracted a throng of about 150 onlookers to the third floor of Pier 17 at South Street Seaport, including Mr. Venturi, the 83-year-old Pritzker Prize-winning architect who built the house in 1969 for Nathaniel and Judy Lieb. The Liebs had it built near the northern tip of Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore. The current owner of the property planned to demolish the structure, prompting the unusual rescue effort, which involved selling the house to an owner willing to relocate it.