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68 Responses to “NIMBY’s to left of me, NIMBY’s to the right”

  1. Kev says:

    Excuse my ignorance, but what is the impetus to develop this area anyways? I feel like apartments here wouldn’t be that marketable. They have a nice view, but they aren’t near anything. Groceries are far away, and so is town. What makes the developers believe that there is a market for these apartments, anyway?

  2. Adrian says:

    Same as the people on East Ave who are terrified of an apartment building next to the Eastman House, or the Pittsford people scared of an apartment building. “We got ours so screw you guys.”

  3. Patricia Carey says:

    I do not live in Charlotte, but I live very near there and spend a lot of time there, year ’round. I am a native Rochesterian and have seen a lot of plans and a lot of talk about the waterfront come and go, and I can see merits and drawbacks in both of these plans. Let me just say this, however. Sometimes NIMBY-ism is not a bad thing. Who better to speak up about proposed changes to a neighborhood than the neighbors themselves? In my opinion, Charlotte’s best asset is its beautiful view of Lake Ontario from the bridge over the railroad tracks on Lake Avenue. Right now that view is free and open to the public. The “tall” plan is right on the edge of impinging on that view and making it cost a million dollars to see it. The waterfront in Charlotte is a wonderful asset that should be enjoyed by the public as much as possible. We don’t want our harbor area to look like Toronto, where if you’re not right on the beach you can’t even see the lake unless you’re inside a very expensive condo.

  4. I have to jump in here with a thought I just had… the most common argument I hear against the “tall” proposal is that it will block views, or disrupt “the view.”

    Who’s view would this be blocking?

    And more importantly, will the 4-story “short” plan not block these same views?

  5. Martin Edic says:

    Unfortunately your example actually detracts from your argument. I’d rather you get right into the actual Charlotte situation. A vocal minority consisting of homeowners who have not spent a cent improving their properties for years are threatened by change. A neighborhood known by outsiders as ‘the beach with a parking lot’ finally gets some needed development after years of our community turning its back on our incredible waterfront assets. A laughable video that describes the horror of a ‘hotel’ with a ‘restaurant’ (when I first watched this thing I thought it was a joke). Drive around Charlotte- it is a mess excepting what the City has done on the river (which residents opposed).
    I do have a problem with how the City is making choices- there has been little transparency in the process. But we need this kind of development on our waterfront. It will attract more people not less. And as for views? No one has them now- go look at what’s there. Nothing.

  6. Martin, I agree. But I also genuinely want to understand the argument about the views. Even a 3-story building would block all of the views that any property owner across the street might currently have.

    Can someone enlighten me? I spend a lot of time in Charlotte. When I stand on the sidewalk at Lake Ave, sure I can see the river and a little bit of the lake. But I don’t stand there and enjoy the view from the sidewalk. I walk down to the waterfront. And quite frankly, the Edgewater design looks like it will provide a much nicer pedestrian experience at the waterfront. The Morgan design has a big parking lot on that side.

    So what gives?

  7. Adrian says:

    Another thing that’s odd about the “tall plan” is that it stacks two towers so that one tower is behind the other one and thus doesn’t get a waterfront view. That seems very odd. Seems to me that a building with steps in it (I thought of the Hyatt in Boston) would make the most sense to take advantage of the view.


  8. Martin Edic says:

    Mike, look at what’s across the street. It’s Dominic’s and several defunct businesses. There are no residents with views. And I agree- the larger, taller development actually seems to be friendlier to the public than the Morgan block.
    If you inventoried Charlotte north of the bridge you get virtually no buildings with views that are residential and few with views at all unless you live on the lakefront- which would not be affected. And you can argue that all those units in the development would offer wonderful views that do not exist now.
    The fact is that Charlotte has its back turned to the water. I grew up across the river in Summerville/White City and can tell you that Charlotte has done nothing to improve the area, excepting the aforementioned river walk improvements, in my lifetime. It’s time.

  9. MrRochester says:

    It is proven time and time again that mixed socio economic living is the ideal way to live. If the wealthy are willing to live up on the water, (no highway that goes directly to Charlotte beach, few current restaurant, grocery, shopping, and bar options) and are willing to wait for their income to inject some nicer places into Charlotte, then Id say the “tall plan” is the way to go. With higher incomes, better establishments will come, it will just take residents to be in place first. (just like downtown) While the working class Italian community of Charlotte is scared of change, yet they want the gang fighting and Sunday car music showdowns to end, the only way to do that is…wait for it…change. But the elderly and the simpletons are often averse to change. Corn Hill landing is mediocre at best. The apartments are poorly made and no better than a room at a Holiday Inn Express. It would be nice to see something different. And while you hear the negative people say “its another ferry” the ferry could have worked, but idiots chose a ferry that was huge and intended to carry semi’s with cargo, when it should have been a much smaller version that would have seen success. I took the ferry 6 times while it in service and it was a joy to ride, but was so empty it was doomed for failure. My parents summer in Toronto and not one resident of TO knew about the ferry, so a poor marketing plan also doomed that project. Right now there is no reason to go to Charlotte: windjammers has good wings (so does Matthews, The Distillery, and Jeremiahs), Mr Dominics has good Italian food (so does Panzaris, Papa Joes, and Rocco), and then theres Abbotts (there are a million all over Roc), create a destination like this and people will flock to it. (think the Grove in LA, Easton Town Center in Columbus, or the Summit in Birmingham)

  10. John Smith says:

    I don’t really see the problem with the larger proposal, if people have a problem with high density development they could move to sodas point or Hamlin. There’s plenty of other low density communities along the coast of Lake Ontario.

    The video also fails to point out that the tall proposal is smaller than the high rise across the street.

  11. Martin Edic says:

    It’s great to see a positive, supportive discussion about development rather than the total negativity found too often in the past around here. The collective goal should be to make Rochester the jazziest mid-sized city in the country, a fun place. We’re on one of the largest bodies of water in the world and the neighborhood there is woefully uncool.
    As for the Ferry I totally agree with Mr Rochester’s assessment. Add in the possibility that the entire thing was a financial scam…
    One of the outcomes of this development might actually be a new ferry project, one with a reasonable boat and early collaboration with Toronto. Rochester will have an entirely new downtown two years from now, virtually unrecognizable, with tons of housing and amenities. We have 77 public golf courses within 30 miles. In Toronto there are virtually none. But we need Charlotte to be an inviting, interesting place, a gateway.

  12. Urban Explorer says:

    As has been pointed out, the view issue is a red herring. A ONE story building would block the “view” from the Lake Avenue bridge over the railroad tracks.

    Also, can anyone from Charlotte really explain to me why this view is so important? To me, it’s mostly a view of a vast parking lot, with some river and a bit of the lake in the distance. I cannot for the life of me figure out why people in Charlotte are so wedded to their parking lot view.

    Charlotte could be so much more than a park, a pier, an ice cream stand and a giant parking lot. It could be a Sackets Harbor or Niagara-on-the-Lake. When I take out of town visitors there, we do the ‘de rigueur’ stop at Abbott’s, walk out to the end of the pier, gaze across the lake hoping to see Trenton, Ontario (no mom, Toronto is not directly across from Rochester), and then go home.

    The attitude of the “save Charlotte” crowd is embarrassing. Maybe the Town of Greece should take Charlotte back. They clearly don’t want to be a part of a city with, you know, buildings and streets, and people walking on sidewalks. They like big parking lots in Greece.

  13. Benjamin says:

    This is just another example of the “old school” generation in Rochester being afraid of badly needed change. Rochester, and more specifically Charlotte, will never be the way it was…and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
    I have been to numerous cities (Buffalo included) that have done SO much more with their waterfronts, whether it be by a lake or by an ocean or river. Although the Genesee is finally getting some love, the Charlotte area has been largely ignored since the Fast Ferry/terminal project. I have spent a lot of time in this area during the summer and the opportunities for growth are tremendous.
    The business owners are afraid that they will lose business if the “tall plan” is approved due to the larger number of retail/restaurants included in the plan. But it has been proven time and time again that more development is actually good for business. Look at Henrietta as an example. Even in Pittsford, the owner of Black and Blue said that the opening of the Cheesecake factory INCREASED business to his restaurant. The only reason business owners in Charlotte should be worried is if their establishments aren’t alluring enough in the first place.
    I don’t understand the viewpoint of homeowners that are worried about the sight lines with Waterfront Rochester either. From the plans, it looks like Waterfront actually offers better views with the ample areas in between the buildings (a la Erie Harbor).
    The corn-hill-looking plan is just another suburban development in what is supposed to be an urban environment…and did anyone else notice a bit of ethnocentric/jingoistic sentiments in the video? The Waterfront project would be funded in part by people trying to get Green Cards to immigrate to our country???!!!! STOP THE PRESSES!!!! The fact of the matter is that the developer found a unique way to fund the project without using taxpayer money and the fact that the people funding it aren’t Rochester residents does NOT mean they won’t be invested in the success of the project. I’m pretty sure that they would be LITERALLY invested in the success-monetarily- and that they would want it to succeed as much as any Rochestarian, albeit for different reasons.
    I’m actually quite happy that Lovely Warren supports the larger development and she is starting to assuage my previous fears of her being anti-development. She has pushed for all of the great projects started by Richards and even initiated conversation on new ambitious projects (downtown performing arts center, hotel/resort/waterpark next to the Strong after the “big fill”). She is the kind of forward-thinker Rochester needs right now to separate the ideology from the dying breed of NIMBY-ers who can’t see past their backyard and into what is becoming a promising future for this area.

  14. Adrian says:

    According to Brian Sharp’s twitter, Lovely Warren picked the tall plan.

  15. @SharpRoc (Brian Sharp):
    City chooses high rise option for Charlotte http://on.rocne.ws/1j1fxXT

    @SharpRoc @DandC You mean until the Charlotte Community Assoc. tells her to pick the other one, right?

    @SharpRoc (Brian Sharp):
    @RochesterSubway @DandC CCA hasn’t taken a position but group’s prez says this is part of the process, and discussion begins now.

  16. A letter from the City informing Morgan and CEA that their proposal was not selected was posted on the Charlotte Merchants Association facebook page:

    The comments under it are very different than the comments on this blog.

  17. Marcia King says:

    When the ugly towering condos are unsold and sit empty it will be too late. I think some development would be great but I don’t like the tall plan at all. The residents in the Charlotte area need to have a say in what is developed near their homes and business and should have had more say in the developer used. Our representatives in government are suppose to work for us. How will building these monstrosity’s make Charlotte more like Sackets Harbor or Niagara-on-the-Lake as “Urban Explorer” mentions above? Not to mention how the project will effect the traffic and public parking (there won’t be any parking on site & the traffic will be horrific). Develop yes, three 12 stories condos, a hotel and conference center NO!. Soon Charlotte Beach will be a gated community and only the affluent be allowed.

  18. jimmy says:

    I’m actually starting to think the marina is a bad idea. That land is more valuable as land. Those towers are a bad idea, but I don’t mind the idea of having a tower up there. But the proposed tower apartments are way too much $ and aren’t positioned well! The short plan is bad as well. Why not something like what Huntington Beach has on its main st.? Look it up on google maps. It would be similar to the college town project but without the college and with the beach.

  19. Jim Mayer says:

    I also don’t understand the arguments about the view and, especially, the arguments about access to the beach. The development area isn’t on the lake at all… it’s nearly a quarter mile away. Between the development and the river is the Port of Rochester terminal building. What views is this disrupting? As for parking, both proposals have internal parking for all of the units (for the
    Morgan proposal it’s underground, for the Edgewater proposal it’s the bottom two floors of the towers).

  20. Matthew Denker says:

    PHEW! Where to begin. Great chat guys. I really appreciate it. So this comment is going to be in response to a ton of stuff, very sorry to make you read it all. I’ll try to keep it chronological.

    First, this is one of the original streetcar suburbs, and it has the benefit of being on the water. It’s a solid place to develop, and could be reconnected to the city multimodally with just a little bit of surrender by the locals on Lake Ave. It also has the perk of being a “destination” in the way other neighborhoods do not. Looking for stability in the 19th Ward is laudable, finding a beach there would be a surprise.

    Second, there isn’t almost anywhere with any amount of development that has views from the ground. Nothing in Sea Isle City is taller than 3 stories, but you can only see the beach from the beach. There’s a reason beachfront property is so valuable. Towers don’t hurt that, and in fact can help if you site them correctly to have the same or higher density while still offering view sheds through clear areas. The shorter proposal is notably more view killing with how monolithic it is.

    Third, I’ve very sorry to have to trot out another example. The plan was to run two separate articles, but I also don’t have the second one yet. Keep an eye out next week for a discussion on it.

    Fourth, yes, mixed use is definitely more stable. The heterogeneity that comes from having hotel guests, restaurant-goers, residents, and workers would definitely create a more vibrant, more 24 hour neighborhood. This reduces crime and promotes activity in the area.

    Fifth, many of the arguments here are not using the term density appropriately. The towers are actually less dense as far as units/acre are concerned. This is actually my biggest problem with the tower plan. It should have more units. What frequently happens in these situations is that everything gets built just dense enough to make a developer a profit, but not dense enough to make a difference in transportation patterns, and the results is more traffic than is necessary given the lack of amenities supported by the less dense development. You see this everywhere. Park Ave, “48 apts is just too much!” The developer only builds 36 (or something, insert lower number here). The amount of apartments built is not enough to support a corner store (whereas more apartments would have). Now many residents drive to the grocery store when they didn’t have to. This is multiplicatively bad as people force development to be further apart, and as we choose to live less people to an apartment, or in places only part time.

    Sixth, it is very much the case that businesses tend to agglomerate together. You don’t see all the bars in the East End lost it over a new bar opening. It is one more piece of the attraction. It was the weirdest argument about the coffee shop
    next to the coffee shop on Park. Who gives? There are a dozen successful coffee shops within a few blocks all over Seattle and NYC and other places.

    Seventh, the racism in the video, first regarding the Chinese, and second regarding “those people” who will surely come to live in the failed husk of a condo tower is a disappointing stain on the people fighting this.

    Eighth, and last but not least, allow me to clarify – in our dystopian future, the condo towers are unsold and sit empty, but they are also generating an absurd amount of traffic and using all the parking? Go on…

    I’ll have more to say about all this soon.

  21. Matthew Denker says:

    Oh man, and my comment took so long to write I missed jimmy’s. Well, fwiw, I’m not so sure the land is more valuable as land, but that doesn’t mean the marina is a great idea or anything. It’s a thing, to build. I think the city would be better off putting in a hundred miles of protect bike lanes and better bus stop shelters for the same price, but who cares about those people [sic] AMIRITE?

    I’ll be talking through a number of alternate ideas in the coming week(s), and that huntington beach project (if it’s the one I’m finding), is stylistically not a fit for Rochester, but programmatically is great.

  22. Jim Mayer says:

    Thanks Matthew.

    By the way, here’s a Google Maps streetview image off the railroad bridge: http://goo.gl/G3qqA0

    Here’s the view from Lake Ave at Hincher Street through the center of the project: http://goo.gl/XtVrEL

    And here’s the view from Lake Ave at Hincher Street towards the lake: http://goo.gl/Io0mku

    Feel free to zoom and pan for best effect!

  23. jimmy says:

    Mr. Denker, at the intersection of Main St. and Pacific Coast Hwy. Stylistically I think they are close to what would look good in Charlotte (summertime).

  24. Urban Explorer says:

    “The residents in the Charlotte area need to have a say in what is developed near their homes and business”

    The residents of Charlotte had a say when the zoning was being written and adopted and the exhaustive environmental review was conducted. The new zoning code was adopted by the duly elected City Council, representing their constituents. This zoning code set the rules and parameters for development. The “tall” plan meets the parameters. The “short” plan does not. If Charlotte doesn’t like the rules of the game (i.e. zoning) they should lobby Council to change the rules, not whine about the outcome.

    “there won’t be any parking on site & the traffic will be horrific”

    Actually both plans have parking on site. The tall plan meets the zoning code by having the parking inside and/or underground. The short plan does not meet the zoning code by having surface parking (??!!) along River Street.

    Name me one desirable tourist destination/resort area/thriving urban neighborhood where traffic isn’t congested at least some of the time. Localized traffic suggestion is a sign of economic success. Rochester should be so lucky to have a little more traffic congestion.

  25. Urban Explorer says:

    “How will building these monstrosity’s make Charlotte more like Sackets Harbor or Niagara-on-the-Lake?”

    By bringing some wealth into the community. So that the area can support more than a couple semi-nice restaurants. People of modest means such as myself enjoy visiting places like Sackets Harbor and Niagara-on-the-Lake because the wealth present in those places contribute to them being charming places with lovingly restored buildings and occupied storefronts instead of the crumbling vacancy we see on Lake Avenue.

    “Soon Charlotte Beach will be a gated community and only the affluent be allowed.”

    How did you make this leap in logic? The entire waterfront is a PUBLIC promenade. The existing grid of streets and sidewalks remains PUBLIC space. Just because a community is affluent, doesn’t mean it’s gated (see: the Village of Pittsford, Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Beaches neighborhood in Toronto, Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Washington’s Georgetown, Boston’s Back Bay, San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, etc. etc. etc.)

    Also, Charlottians, I understand many of you don’t like Nola’s outdoor entertainment? Don’t you think the presence of some $500k condos might help your fight?

  26. Jim Mayer says:

    On Rachel Barnhart’s facebook discussion, someone responded to a comment of mine about the Edgewater proposal having two story buildings on the street. She said that all the pictures showed towers very close to the street.

    I went back to the documents to work out some measurements and realized that the Edgewater proposal doesn’t contain a single street-level rendering of the project. All of the pictures are either flat distance elevations or taken from up in the air. Given that I don’t generally travel by helicopter, I found them pretty useless.

    In addition, most of the renderings are from the river side and, if they show the Charlotte buildings at all, the perspective reduces them to insignificance.

    In contrast, the Morgan proposal has quite a few street level renderings. Oddly, they never get closer than the middle of Lake Avenue, perhaps to keep the four story building from looming too much.

    The absence of street level renderings makes it a lot harder to evaluate the proposal. I bet the lack of human scale visualizations helped inflame the reaction too.

    Personally, I don’t care about the buildings; I care about how the buildings fit.

  27. Matt Rogers says:

    I have read a lot of the feedback from Rachal Barnhardt’s posts, the Charlotte community posts, this site’s article, and channel 13’s posts. The level of NIMBY mentality is staggering.

    What charm and character are we trying to maintain in Charlotte that is directly in conflict with the plans for Lake Ave.? Most of that charm and character is before the bridge, around the bend past Abbotts and into the neighborhood of houses itself, or right on the beach. The other charm? Dilapidated buildings lining Lake Ave from the bridge to the bend in serious need of revitalization.

  28. Urban Explorer says:

    I agree Jim. The problem, in my opinion as someone who has experience with developers, the problem with the renderings fall into three main categories:

    1. Renderings are done or directed by architect-types who envision their buildings as a piece of sculpture and forget, or don’t care, about how the buildings are actually experienced by the walking public at sidewalk level. Generally because this is not taught in architecture school.

    2. Renderings are done or directed by developer-marketing-types who feel its more impressive to show how it looks from the air. I agree with you, that’s not how anyone is ever going to experience it. The developer has to sell it to the community, who is going to experience it walking by on the public sidewalk, and sell it to potential buyers, who might like to see what the view looks like FROM a future unit.

    3. The renderings are actually produced by techno-geek video-game-programmer wannabes who are enthralled with concept of zooming through the air.

  29. I am not an economist, and I cannot comment on the economic viability of the selected plan. I will leave that to the wiser among you all.

    However, I can offer this counsel: the city of Vancouver began developing the ‘podium and tower’ approach to urban architecture in the 1980s, and from the outset this approach was accompanied by view-shed design guidelines and directives. As you may know, this approach has been enormously successful there, for decades. As in many things here in our city, we can learn much by simply looking around us.

    And this: almost all great urban places have traffic problems. Generally, this is a signal of success. If Rochester’s 20 minute commute starts being compromised, this will mean we are making progress.

    Urban triumph is often accompanied by honking….

  30. Martin Edic says:

    When Mayor Richards kicked off the Marina project that started this development he had this to say about the parking lot fans: He said he felt it was his job to eliminate as many parking spots as possible. Why? Because parking lots are blights that do nothing to encourage foot traffic, use of public transport or a feeling of community. In every great city people have learned to leave their cars at home and yet they still love the urban experience.
    Charlotte is not a suburb, it is a city neighborhood. We should celebrate that. I can guarantee all its residents that if it was a suburb the development they would see would be dreadful compared to these projects. Sprawl by the lake.

  31. Matthew Denker says:

    Howard – thank you for the excellent Vancouver plug. I think every city has quite a bit to learn from them, although considering they banned downtown highway construction before any were built, it MIGHT be too late for most cities.

    The complaints about the renderings are well founded, and it would be good to get better ones.

    Finally, Martin, an excellent point about Charlotte being a neighborhood of the city. It really is. Although you see all of the exact sprawl you’re mentioning just on the other side of the bridge. As someone told me just today, there’s always room for improvement.

  32. Lorilyn says:

    There is a newer video that makes the case for NO towers. The City of Rochester should NOT sell PUBLIC property to PRIVATE investors for the benefit of moneyed residents. Read the proposal, and you’ll see there would be moneyed residents.

    People want to have FUN at the waterfront. Neither proposal provides FUN. This vision of Charlotte shows how Charlotte could be developed so that it would attract visitors:


  33. Matthew Denker says:

    We’re talking about this piece of land, right? https://goo.gl/maps/613wY I just want to make sure I’m not confused. So as I see it, the argument is now, this is public land (parking) and should remain as such, because 100 years from now, people in their self-driving flying cars will show up to Charlotte, and, upon finding a parking lot, say, “Damn son, these guys KNOW how to live.” As their car parks itself in the incredibly convenient (free) public parking.

    Good luck with that. There are a million ways to setup some tasteful development in Charlotte. Development that is contextual, valuable, and inviting. Feel free to come up with them ahead of me. I’m giving you a head start. In the meantime, it’s clear that the idea is to just not do anything, because AH CHANGE! I mean, if the neighborhood is REALLY for improving itself, at least pony up and propose a park here or something. The parking benefits exactly no one in Charlotte (who could just walk here) and instead provides a huge subsidy to visitors who show up, drop a bunch of air pollution, and offer incredibly little to the neighborhood.

  34. Lorilyn says:

    No one is against change. They are against stupidity.

  35. Matthew Denker says:

    If no one is against change, what kind of changes does the community propose to make? Or is it perfect the way it is and doesn’t need to change?

    I guess, to put it somewhat more succinctly, what does Charlotte look like in 5 years? What could be different about it that would make it better? Then, what’s the mechanism by which this improvement happens? And finally, what sustains the improvement?

    Just to play out a simple thought exercise –

    In five years, Charlotte will have the largest ferris wheel in the world. It will be funded by a series of traveling white hot barbecues throughout the northeast. The ferris wheel will draw such crowds that the $.50 rides pay for its maintenance in perpetuity.

    Just for the hell of it, here’s another –

    In five years, Charlotte will have the busiest beach in Western New York. It will get that by building a 17 story parking garage allowing for every car owning man, woman, and child in Canada to come visit the beach. The garage and beach upkeep will be paid for by a special “Canadians don’t have Beaches Tax” charged to anyone driving across the Peace Bridge.

    Try it yourself and see what happens!

  36. Lorilyn says:

    Is pot legal in New York yet? Seems to be.

  37. Matthew Denker says:

    I mean, look, here’s a more serious one:

    Charlotte will become the most bike and pedestrian friendly neighborhood in the city. It will do this by building a series of protected bike lanes on major streets such as Lake, Latta, and Beach, as well implementing traffic calming and transit friendly features such as bulb-outs and pedestrian refuges at major intersections. All of this will be built with funding from a small charge to use the parking at the beach.

    There, happy? I’m just not sure why anyone should feel like that can claim to be pro-change while not offering up any kind of picture of what that change is. I don’t mind anyone not liking this development (or nearly any other one), but generally, having a better idea helps, and if the better idea is: do nothing, leave it as a parking lot, it’s hard to also believe people aren’t scared of change. Can you see where I’m coming from?

  38. Lorilyn says:

    I created an entire 7-minute video — in addition to the original one — that illustrated what change SHOULD look like.

    It included looking at what other towns do, including Niagara-on-the-Lake. The City would need to invest some $ to help make it that way, but it would be far less than the $$$$$ the City has wasted already.

    I mention flea markets, but it’s not the garbage-for-sale flea markets that I hear are there on Lake Avenue. Raleigh, NC, has a weekend flea market, and it is clean, fun, and it does not include old clothes.

    They hold it on the state fairgrounds, and the picture of a building in the video is actually one of the three original fair buildings in Raleigh — still used and in great shape.

    Just Google “Raleigh flea market,” and you’ll find lots of user videos and stories as well as nationial recognition.

    The City of Rochester wrote about rehabbing the “west side” of Lake Avenue. There is no other detail, but if they want to Disney-fy the businesses across from the marina, that is a HUGE mistake.

    People do appreciate the uniqueness of old buildings. The structures need repair, not demolishing. (I would think readers of Rochester Subway would understand that.)

    Charlotte provides a skeleton of a quaint village. They need to build on that and not kill it with huge buildings that destroy the wide-open look of it now.

    Here’s my Part 2 video…


  39. Matthew Denker says:

    Sigh, I’ve been trying really hard to let the videos slide. There’s no way to say everything about them that should be said in one comment. I really hate to defer this, but I’m going to talk to Mike about writing an entire column about them. It’s the only fair thing to do. I hope you can understand.

    I definitely agree that much of the building stock currently in Charlotte is worth saving/rehabbing, and that this is a good thing. I guess the piece I’m struggling with is how this creates sustainable change. Generally, structures get rehabbed as an area improves, because it IS an efficient way to fill demand quickly. I’m not sure the demand is there in Charlotte without other big changes. I want to say this makes it sounds like I should be unsure of the demand for the proposed development there, and in a way, I am (I certainly haven’t endorsed either plan). But I also think that the development is targeted at a different demographic. A nice loft apartment above retail has a different appeal, and appeals to a different demographic, then a tower designed for rich snowbirds. Generally you won’t find handles in the showers of hip lofts.

    Anyway, I’m again very sorry if this end is unsatisfying, I’ll try to rectify it soon.

  40. Lorilyn says:

    When you critique the videos, please be sure to upload yours.

  41. Matthew Denker says:

    Will a series of columns about Charlotte and what I think can be done suffice? I have to be honest, I’ve never really made a video before. I guess if it has to be a video, though, I will.

  42. Lorilyn says:

    A video is just a method of communication.

    I think it would be a great thing if you illustrated your ideas (using legally licensed photos and audio, of course) for Charlotte.

    I’d like to see EVERYBODY who can do so create a video of how they’d like to see Charlotte. Not pie-in-the sky stuff but REAL ideas that are doable and that will meet the needs of city residents.

    It would be like that video game, SimCity — only real. Use the hashtag #SAVECHARLOTTE and everyone will be able to see what creatives can do.

  43. Matthew Denker says:

    Total side note to the conversation here. I just read the most incredible parable:

    In Briarcliff, New York, a spurned builder once wrote, the aim of zoning is to guarantee “that each newcomer must be wealthier than those who came before, but must be of a character to preserve the illusion that their poorer neighbors are as wealthy as they.”

    Carry on.

  44. Lorilyn, I have to say, these videos aren’t helping your cause. First, I’d suggest keeping them at 60 seconds max. The music is much happier. I like that. But the message… preserving public lands? Really? Are we talking about the same parking lot? This is not Niagara on the Lake. There is nothing on this land except asphalt. In fact, that asphalt is part of the reason why bacteria levels in the lake are high (run-off).

  45. Matthew Denker says:

    Ok, sorry to spam the comments, but the whole source of the quote is required reading: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/22567/dead-ends-euphemisms-hide-our-true-feelings-about-growth/

    The source book is here: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-End-Suburban-American-Urbanism/dp/0199360146

  46. Lorilyn says:

    The first video “How to Save Charlotte,” resulted in:

    – 6,300 views on YouTube
    – stories on two of the three TV stations
    – inspired conversations on morning talk radio
    – made front page news on the Democrat and Chronicle.

    A related Facebook group, “Save Charlotte – Discussion – Rochester” has grown to 347 members, and more join every day.

    I posted the video 12 days ago.

    I know all about the “rules.” I broke them, and I’m glad I did.

    But thank you for your critique.

    I look forward to seeing your videos.

    As I said, Charlotte needs development. Everyone agrees on that. However, it doesn’t need private housing on public land. It needs to attract visitors. It needs to be a destination park. Personally, I don’t like to visit towers or apartment houses for fun.

  47. And I commend you for all the views. Great job. Tell me how I can hire your PR firm to do a video for me and I’ll consider it.

  48. Lorilyn says:

    My long videos are not long.

    They are very short documentaries.


  49. Lorilyn says:

    I am available for a million dollars.

    Have your people call my people.

  50. Lorilyn says:

    By the way, that’s a JOKE.

    NO ONE paid me — or has ever paid me — to do any videos.

    I never heard of either developer until I first read the proposals.

    People have made charges that I was paid by a developer. All lies.

  51. Martin Edic says:

    I posted a simple solution on Facebook: Put a trailer park there. It will save the parking lots and the locals won’t have to worry about ‘rich’ people who buy ‘condos’ and want to stay in ‘hotels’ and eat at ‘restaurants’. And it won’t impact that non-existent view.
    Problem solved.

  52. Martin Edic says:

    And BTW, documentaries contain facts and ideas.

  53. Matthew Denker says:

    Ok, this is going to come up big time in a bit, and maybe even Jason Haremza would be willing to weigh in (assuming he’s even reading these comments), but I find it to be completely disingenuous that the city owns nearly all of the vacant land in downtown Charlotte, and despite the fact it’s all parking lots, it is all classified as Municipal Park land. Seriously?

  54. Lorilyn says:

    My mini-docs have facts, opinions, and ideas.

    Just like grownup docs.

  55. Marcia says:

    I’m not sure where Rochester is going to find all these young wealthy professionals that I keep hearing about that are going to buy and rent the apartments and condos. From what I’ve read in the newspaper and heard on the news due to lack of jobs in the area a lot of young professionals have moved on to greener pastures. In my opinon three large towering condo/apartment buildings are over kill.

  56. Urban Explorer says:

    “As I said, Charlotte needs development. Everyone agrees on that. However, it doesn’t need private housing on public land. It needs to attract visitors. It needs to be a destination park. Personally, I don’t like to visit towers or apartment houses for fun.”

    Charlotte already HAS a destination park. It’s called Ontario Beach Park. Charlotte needs more residents to support businesses. It’s dishonest to call these apartment houses (or, frankly, “towers”; only in Rochester is 15 stories a “tower”). They are mixed use developments with ground level retail. To be filled by businesses. Which will attract visitors. Parking lots do not attract visitors. Turning the parking lot into a park, next to an existing park, will not attract visitors.

    Furthermore, there is a distinction between “publicly owned land” and “public park land” that is being missed. Just because the city owns a piece of property doesn’t mean it should be turned into public park land.

    By that logic, instead of townhouses and a mixed use building at West Main and Plymouth, the city should have kept that “publicly owned land” (which, like in Charlotte, was a surface parking lot), and turned it into a park? How about Block F at Main and Gibbs? Or the property that now contains the Sagamore on East.

    “I’m not sure where Rochester is going to find all these young wealthy professionals that I keep hearing about that are going to buy and rent the apartments and condos”

    Why is that your concern? If the developer feels there is a market there, then let the market decide.

  57. Marcia says:

    It is my concern where the developer will find “all these young wealthy professionals” because I love Charlotte and don’t want to look at ugly empty towers down by the port. There should be a happy medium between ugly towers and ugly parking lots that can satisfy everyone.

  58. Adrian says:

    Do opponents believe that there is there such thing as a non-ugly 12 story apartment building (feels silly to call it a tower)? Are these rendered apartment buildings particularly ugly, or is it just that they’re tall(ish)? My understanding is that the renderings that we’ve seen are not necessarily going to look like what the final product will be in terms of aesthetics.

  59. Urban Explorer says:

    As I often point out, the 8 and a half story “tower” at the corner of Park and Oxford has peacefully co-existed with 2-3 story buildings in the surrounding neighborhood for almost 90 years now.

    There’s also the Charlotte Harbortown Homes tower just up the street at 4575 Lake Avenue, which, by the way, adds nothing to the public street life of the neighborhood since it has no ground floor retail uses. Is a tower ok for low income seniors but not ok for people with money?

  60. Marcia says:

    If the city is going to take away parking from locals at least make it be for something that will benefit Charlotte. The only benefit I see in these tall buildings (that will probably remain half empty or be turned into low cost income) is the taxes that the city hopefully will collect.

  61. Marcia says:

    Plus these are only WATER VIEW condos/apartments are they really worth the million dollar price tag? Or is this a Fast Ferry pipe dream?

  62. Marcia says:

    Why not renovate the top floor of 4575 Lake Ave. into million dollar condos and see how they sell (they would be water view also)before these other condos/apartments are built? Another concern I have is the increase of traffic in the area and the lack of parking for Mr. & Mrs. Local Joe who want to go for a walk, swim, dinner, etc.

  63. Martin Edic says:

    Basta! Enough with the parking already. These designs both leave a huge parking lot next to Ontario Beach Park. And they include parking for tenants. And no one said anything about million dollar units or wealthy young people. The buyers for this kind of thing are baby boomers with boats and empty nesters. It’s a lifestyle decision. Nothing is being taken away from the Charlotte community, in fact it is likely the home values would head straight up (they have not moved in years). The drawings are concept drawings, not the finished look.
    The arguments against this thing come down to the title of this post: Not In My Backyard.

  64. Marcia says:

    Martin Edic-Read the proposal for Edgewater. If they aren’t million dollar penthouses on the top floors they are close to it. For a WATER VIEW (not water front). And yes I have read that this is for wealthy young professionals or empty nesters, the reason being the middle class with children doesn’t want to move into Charlotte and send their kids to the city schools.

  65. Matthew Denker says:

    FWIW, they are targeting $1.2m for the lone (massive) penthouse. They’d also like some young people, and they’re the likes of people I don’t think Charlotte is used to. They’d be the same people renting at Erie Harbor or Corn Hill Landing (both of which being wildly successful). The planned one bedroom units in this building are half what my apartment in NYC cost and offer significantly better space and views. Considering we can just work remotely, it would certainly be a place I’d consider moving into. Just saying. I’ll have more on this soon.

  66. Jim Mayer says:

    On a side note, regarding the renderings in the proposal. I wonder what the reaction would have been if the renderings looked like this one from College Town?


  67. Jim Mayer says:

    Regarding the desirability of the location. I don’t think the view of the lake is primary (though I bet it’s nice from most of the floors). The killer aspect of the location is that it’s right next to the marina. I’m not a boater myself, but I know some who are, and I think that a lot of them would love to be able to walk to their boat in the morning. It’s a big deal.

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