Category: Capital District (page 1 of 2)

The City of Raleigh Must Support The Square Loop

Dear Raleigh Residents and Elected Officials,

The decision to decide on a new plan for the Capital Boulevard bridge at Peace Street is coming soon. After weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the two plans,we, the Downtown Living Advocates (DLA), want to show our support for the P5 alternative, commonly called “The Square Loop.”

Our members have voiced, in majority, support of the Square Loop as we feel this new plan will be the best option toward creating a better sense of place, encouraging new development, and connecting the area along Peace Street to our current urban fabric.

The Square Loop is in keeping with the values that were adopted by our City Council in the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study. The DLA asks that our elected officials continue to support the best options for the Capital Boulevard corridor and promote alternatives, like the Square Loop, that create better pedestrian/bicycle friendliness, urban environments, and new growth in our downtown neighborhoods.

We want to thank all parties that have been involved in the planning process, including those at NCDOT and Raleigh City Staff, that have shared information with the DLA about this critical project.

With over 1,000 registered members and many more supporters, the DLA wants to continue to be involved in Raleigh’s growing downtown area.

Downtown Living Advocates

Peace University reaches out to neighborhood residents to share ideas about Seaboard Station

 

photoThis week Mordecai and Pilot Mill neighborhood leaders met with representatives from William Peace University and Property Manager TradeMark Properties to talk about the next steps in Peace’s acquisition of the Seaboard shopping center.

Some short-term ideas include organizing community events, landscaping,  signage and parking lot improvements. In the longer term, parking is expected to become a larger issue as more customers visit the center.

Peace University plans to begin soliciting proposals for a master planning process in January that would include neighborhood input and participation.  The process is expected to take 8-9 months.  There was also some discussion about working with city officials to expand the planning process to encompass the Peace-Person-Seaboard areas.

The initial fears about the future of Seaboard Station appear to have calmed down, as Peace University has stated that the property would not be used for athletic fields or college dormitories and that current merchant leases would be honored.

It comes as good news to nearby neighborhoods that a master planning process is moving forward and that all stakeholders have the opportunity to be included.

Designing the Peace Street Corridor: A First Friday (May 3rd) Exhibit

Context MapIn collaboration with the City of Raleigh’s Urban Design Center, Landscape Architecture and Architecture students from the College of Design at North Carolina State University will present their conceptual designs and ideas to revitalize Peace Street from Glenwood Avenue to Person Street.

What: Preview the Designing for Peace Exhibit – Peace Street Corridor

When: May 3rd from 6:00-9:00pm

Where: City Museum located at 220 Fayetteville Street #100 Raleigh

The corridor project will include designs for a new bridge at the intersection of Capital Boulevard and Peace Street, a transit stop (for future light-rail), a 15-acre park along Pigeon House Branch, bus shelters, public art and street renovations.

Students are asking the public to take a few minutes now to answer this survey, so that the results will be available during First Friday opening at City Museum. You are also encouraged to forward the survey link to community groups that might have an interest in the renovations along Peace Street.

Survey link: http://ncsu.qualtrics.com//SE/?SID=SV_bxSD4qftP95nPr7

 

For more information contact Carla Radoslovich Delcambre, NCSU Department of Landscape Architecture, Ph: 919.538.8739, email: carla_delcambre@ncsu.edu

 

Introducing Link Peace Street, A Resident Backed Alternative For Capital Boulevard and Peace Street

Peace Street with Capital Boulevard bridge

There’s a new project that’s growing some legs in downtown Raleigh. Link Peace Street is a vision from Raleigh residents for a more walkable environment on Peace Street. It coincides with the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study and hopes to put another alternative onto the table that is currently not being considered. I’m helping out with the effort and the core focus of it revolves around creating a plan for an at-grade intersection at Capital Boulevard and Peace Street.

Over the next few days, more information will be put onto the vision website of Link Peace Street so I encourage readers to check out the site we’ve built and sign up for updates.

Link Peace Street revolves around three main goals,

  1. Economic development in a form that fits into downtown Raleigh.
  2. Strengthen the connections between neighborhoods.
  3. Deliver on the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

The Capital Boulevard Corridor Study, taking public comments at this time, targets private investment in the area using several projects. Some of those include an expanded greenway, a park at the old Devereux Meadow site, and multiple tweaks to Capital Boulevard itself. We’ve mentioned before that the state of North Carolina is going to replace the bridge over Peace Street within a few years. The study wants to piggyback on that project and is considering some alternative routes to getting on and off of Peace Street. You can read about those alternatives on the Peace Street Vision document in the sidebar on the city’s website. These ideas are what planners think will help spur private investment in the area.

All plans being considered so far include the new NCDOT designed bridge and Link Peace Street wants them to consider the ‘no bridge’ option. We feel that the upgrades to Capital Boulevard, outlined in the study document, only promote more speed and will continue keeping vehicles moving through the area rather than stopping at a destination. Peace Street is the northern border of downtown Raleigh but most people don’t see it that way as the built landscape is not meant for a downtown at all. It’s possible that an environment that balances pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles can promote development that is appropriate for downtown Raleigh and is a much better use of land.

With vehicles speeds kept the same and not increased, a walkable Peace Street will connect the neighborhoods rather than be an obstacle between them. In March, the Blount Street Commons project was asking the Raleigh City Council for a zoning change to allow for more density. At the same time, there is an apartment boom near Glenwood South. Both neighborhoods are so close yet feel much farther because of the uneasy walk down Peace Street in its current state.

It is a half mile walk from the Mellow Mushroom to Tyler’s Taproom yet so few people make that walk. In comparison, Fayetteville Street from one end to the other is a half mile. Peace Street may never have the towers and historic structures of Fayetteville Street but we think that we can atleast set up Peace Street for the same walkable experience. To have it, it starts with people and not vehicles.

The 2030 comprehensive plan specifies that this area is in the Core Business District category. It states:

This category applies to the Raleigh Central Business District, and is intended to enhance Downtown Raleigh as a vibrant mixed use urban center. The category recognizes the area’s role as the heart of the city, supporting a mix of high-intensity office, retail, housing, government, institutional, visitor-serving, cultural, and entertainment uses. Multiple zoning districts apply within the CBD, corresponding to the different character and vision for its various neighborhoods. The maximum residential density in this area would be 320 units per acre with densities tapering off towards edge areas adjacent to established residential neighborhoods, but not falling below 40 units per acre.

The Capital Boulevard study wants to widen lanes and help the flow of traffic. This does not fit with the description above and Link Peace Street feels that goes against the plan adopted just a few years ago.

How can we continue to do what we’ve been doing here in the corridor and expect different results?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

-Albert Einstein

We’re hoping to build support for the idea before the study is brought to the city council before the May 1st meeting.

Discovering Samad Hachby’s New Downtown Destination, Babylon

When our friend, Angela invited us to join her this week at the newly opened Babylon restaurant (309 N. Dawson St), she described it as “hidden in full sight.”  Just a few blocks east of Glenwood South, the building tucked on the west side of Dawson is actually more visible from Lane Street than Dawson.  I recognized it immediately as the old mill I had always imagined converted into lofts like Patrick and Demi’s in the movie Ghost.  But Samad Hachby’s imagination went a lot further than mine.  As in to the other side of the world.

The Greek word Babylon means roughly “Gateway of the God” and that’s what I felt walking through the entranceway into the candle-lit courtyard with stylish wicker tables arranged around a multi-sided reflecting pool, and bar crafted from Moroccan tiles. Borrowing from another movie, Hachby had me at Hello.  If I had only enjoyed a glass of wine by the pool, I would have left happy.  But that’s not what happened.  

Following the tiled path to the front door invited mystery and delight.  I noticed that the rough brick walls of the hundred year old mill blended beautifully with the exotic detailing.  I couldn’t wait to see what was on the other side of the front door, and  I wasn’t disappointed.  What was striking to me was the feeling of privacy and intimacy, in spite of the fact that this building could accommodate hundreds of guests.  With each room looking out on the courtyard, a group could opt for the opulent Palace Room that manages to be chicly comfortable, while crowned by ornate chandeliers and a colorful Moroccan tile ceiling, or for a smaller garden room, softly lit with natural light from a southern exposure.  

Samad Hachby is an artist, whose food matches his imagination for renovation.  His menu (using fresh, locally grown produce) transports his guests to ancient cultures where food is prepared in clay pots and savored for its spices.   Even the olives were memorable.  (Tell me if you can figure out that blend of spices.  Angela and I tasted turmeric and cumin, but we weren’t sure what else.) I loved my Fetard salad with peaches, walnuts and feta, complemented by a small plate of Bodega marinated and grilled lamb skewers, and my husband Jim’s Lamb Tagine was falling-from-the-bone tender and delicious in a sauce of apricot prunes.

As we sat over our coffee at the end of the meal, we all agreed that the two block trip to Babylon seemed like it should have required a passport.  It was amazing to believe we were still in Raleigh.  We’ll be going back for the food, for the decor and because we want to introduce this find to any friend who, like us, loves to be surprised by the unexpectedly fabulous.

Links:
Babylonraleigh.com [website in progress]
 
All photos courtesy of Babylon
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