Tue 3 Aug 2010
Be the First to Comment
It airs this evening (Tues. Aug. 3rd, 2010) at 6PM.
While the subject was supposed to be the Lot #5/140 West project, which is slated to finally get started later this month, Fred used this opportunity to talk about development Downtown, public engagement, and Council.
As I said then and before, I believe Lot #5 presented an excellent opportunity for redevelopment.
I and others argued for a fiscally prudent, environmentally sustainable, community-oriented development that had workforce housing, affordable commercial opportunities, an integrative tenant – like a grocery store – and real public space.
Instead of getting a signature development that met those goals from the RAM Development/Chapel Hill collaboration we got a $10M+ taxpayer funded luxury condo development with little public utility. Architecturally, the project’s look fits the Atlanta beltway more than Chapel Hill – it says little, if anything, significant about our community.
Not only was the business model flawed but so was the underlying commitment to adhere to measurable energy and environmental targets (the Council, unlike what they’ve pushed UNC to do, did not adopt and has no plan to evaluate energy usage, for instance, using ASHRAE or other quantifiable standards).
Of course, I thought that the scale of this development (which you can get a sense of from the site models I created 4 years ago) didn’t fit the human-scale dimensions of our current Downtown. That human-scale is part of Chapel Hill’s ‘brand’ – evidenced by the Town’s own logo – and shouldn’t have been casually tossed without at least a proper attempt to educate our residents and some informed buy-in from the community.
The Council had many chances to walk away from the project over the last few years as RAM Development missed contractual obligation after obligation. The majority didn’t.
The Council had 2 years to work with local businesses to minimize the impact of the next 2 years of construction. That collaboration just started and already there is some significant friction between the Town and the Franklin St. commercial district.
The public financial burden begins immediately as the environmental remediation begins though the Town’s finances are stretched to the maximum by the majority of this Council’s decision to issue $20+ M in bonds for the Library expansion among others capital improvements. There’s no plan in place to publish those costs as they mount.
Is it too late to do anything? No.
This is OUR project. WE are investing $30-40M in cash and property and have every right to expect that nearby businesses can still function, that questions of public access be finally laid to rest, that every dollar invested by our residents is accounted for and that we have a solid commitment to measuring the success or failure – in terms of tax and parking revenues, energy efficiency, growth of commercial activity – of the project
I did a quick review of my posts on the Lot $5/140 West project and have collected those from 2006 to 2010 below for further background:
- June 2010
- 21: 2010 Final Spring Meeting Chapel Hill Council
- 12: Downtown Development Framework: Compact, Connected, Anchored and Green
- 10: Radical Shift in Vision For Downtown
- March 2010
- 09: Sustainability Task Force: The Whole or The Sum of the Parts?
- February 2010
- 03: Chapel Hill’s First Budget Meeting of 2010
- 01: WCHL Commentary: Library Expansion Next Year or Lot #5 Project, Not Both
- January 2010
- 25: Library or Lot #5?
- October 2009
- 28: Unfunded Liabilities
- 03: 2009 Sierra Club Chapel Hill Candidate Forum
- 03: 2009 NRG Chapel Hill Candidate Forum
- November 2008
- 19: Community Oversight of the Planning Board
- 17: Southern Village: So Long Six Stories
- 13: East 54’s Virtual Chapel Hill
- 12: A middle finger to Northside
- 04: Dec. 10th: The Density Discussion
- October 2008
- 27: Affordable Housing: I Can’t Live In Lieu
- September 2008
- 18: Twisting the Zoning Pretzel
- June 2008
- 25: Council “Off the Rails”
- November 2007
- 14: Chapel Hill’s Resegregation?
- 10: Closing the Door on Diversity
- 08: Election 2007: Incumbents Strategy Disservice to Our Community
- October 2007
- 23: Election 2007: Money on the Street
- 15: Election 2007: Friends of Affordable Housing Questionnaire
- 13: Election 2007: Chapel Hill News Candidate Questionnaire
- 13: Election 2007: Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth
- 12: Election 2007: Chapel Hill’s Diminished Environmental Credibility
- 11: Election 2007: Chapel Hill Sierra Club Forum
- 06: Election 2007: Carrboro’s League of Women Voters Forum
- 02: Election 2007: League of Women Voters Forum Unplugged
- 01: Election 2007: League Of Women Voters Forum
- August 2007
- 01: Election 2007: Keeping it Simple
- July 2007
- 19: Not Just Real-Estate: Chapel Hill’s Economic Strategy “Chained” Down?
- 19: Not Just Real-Estate: Chapel Hill’s Draft Economic Development Report
- June 2007
- 04: June 6th’s Closed Council Session
- May 2007
- 04: Another $460,000 for Lot $5: Will Rising Costs Mean Raising Taxes?
- 03: Carrot or Stick: House Approves Chapel Hill’s Energy Reduction Incentives
- April 2007
- 27: Two years later, Town hires Economic Development Officer
- 05: Hazardous Consequences: Mystery of the Vault Contest
- 04: Hazardous Consequences: A Report, a Rushed Decision, a Regrettable Day for Chapel Hill
- March 2007
- 29: Hazardous Consequences: No Official Word, Yet, On Lot #5’s Hazardous Waste Issue
- 28: Dad
- 25: Lot #5’s Silver Lining
- 23: A Matter of Process: Greenbridge and Council’s Devolving Standard of Public Review
- 21: Raleigh’s Carlton Place: A Downtown Affordable Housing Commitment Worth Emulating
- 20: Lot #5 Development: “…up through the ground come a bubbling crude…”
- 19: Lot #5 Development: Two Pictures 1,000 Words Apart
- 19: The HeraldSun Turns A Corner: Trouble on the horizon at lot 5
- 16: Lot #5 Downtown Development: Do you smell gas?
- 14: Municipal Networking: St. Cloud Soars Above Chapel Hill
- 07: Chapel Hill 2035
- 07: Giving Kiosk Out, Panhandling Meters In?
- February 2007
- 23: Parking Downtown: Water, Water Everywhere, Nary a Drop to Drink
- 19: Chapel Hill News: Crushed by Council’s Jagganath
- 14: Downtown Development: Feb. 12th Council Debate
- 14: Downtown Development: The LEEDs Trade-Off, AIA 2030 Up Next
- 14: Downtown Development: Feb. 12th Citizen Comment
- 12: Godzilla vs. Bambi:RAM Development and Chapel Hill
- 12: RAM’s VP Casey Cummings – The Sixth Beatle?
- 12: Downtown Development Intiative: Thank you Sir, May I Have Another?
- 12: Downtown Development Intiative: Easthom, Ward on Hazardous Waste Liability
- 12: Downtown Development Intiative: Feb. 12th’s Comments
- 12: The Sad Story of Council’s Downtown Development Initiative
- 12: Confidential Lot 5 Memorandum and Notes: Update I
- 12: Downtown Development Initiative: Listen and Learn How Negotiations Went Awry
- 08: Confidential Lot 5 Memorandum and Notes
- December 2006
- 06: Downtown Development: RAM’s VP Cummings’ Smackdown
- 05: The Chickens Have Roosted: Council’s Environmental Credibility Gap
- 04: Downtown Development: Steamrolled by Jagannath
- 04: Out-Foxed Chapel Hill Style
- 04: Downtown Development: Easthom’s questions, questions, questions…
- 02: Downtown Development Initiative: A Few New Perspectives
- 01: Downtown Development Initiative: Our Fair City Before Lot #5
- 01: Downtown Development Initiative: Search for Wholesome Goodness Continues…
- 01: GoogleEarth Experiment: RAM Development Flybys
- 01: Downtown Development Initiative: Where’s the beef?
- November 2006
- 29: …water fountains, bathrooms and benches….
- 28: Chapel Hill Downtown Development Initiative: The Debate
- 28: Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership: Nov. 28th State of the Union
- 27: Downtown Development Initiative: Stanford on a Sea of Asphalt
- 27: Downtown Development Initiative: Culbreth and the Domino Effect
- 20: Downtown Initiative: $500,000 here, $7.3 Million there, pretty soon we’re talking real money…
- September 2006
- 22: Hillsborough425: Yes, it is interactive!
- 22: Hillsborough425: Google Earth Fly-By, Alpha Quality
- 20: Hillsborough425: Daily Tar Heel Says “Scrap the Plan”
- 17: Hillsborough425 aka “The Residences at Grove Park”
- 07: Greenwashing?
- August 2006
- 09: This grass is not greener…
- 06: What Price Downtown? Possibly more than you might think…
- 06: What Price Downtown? The Mayor Responds.
- 06: What Price Downtown
- July 2006
- 31: You can’t squeeze orange juice from a turnip….
- June 2006
- 20: Haven’t we heard that before?
- 19: Session closed under North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11(a)(6)
- 19: 7:30am Wake Up Call for Downtown Partnership Members
- 17: Council’s Conflict of Interest? Maybe just a slight edge….
- 16: Council’s Conflict of Interest?
- April 2006
- 27: Tapping into our community’s aggregate wisdom
- March 2006
- 01: Castles in the Clouds