Phase I, the first mile and a half of the trail, is now completed. Phase II, the second phase, has been bid and is currently under construction. Phase III of the trail, the next one mile section, has been funded, and has been sent out for bid for design. We look to see construction begin in 2009. Phase IV and V are in the stage of feasibility study and conceptual design. See our latest map for how Phase V will dovetail with the Manchester Street Distillery District. For a closer look, go to McConnell’s Trace at Long Branch Rd. to see our first mile in place.
Greenways and Greenbacks: The Impact of the Catawba Regional Trail on Property Values in Charlotte, North Carolina
by HARRISON S. CAMPBELL, JR.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
DARLA K. MUNROE
Ohio State University
Planners and policy makers are increasingly aware that local amenities can play an important role in community and regional development and greenways represent one such amenity that can be locally developed. As planning initiatives compete for scarce resources it becomes vital that decision makers have ex ante information about the impact of policy options. This paper provides empirical estimates of changes in land value that should be expected if a planned greenway, the Catawba Regional Trail, is developed in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Passing through economically modest neighborhoods, the trail holds potential to increase equity in the distribution of open space though the aggregate impact on property values is limited by neighborhood characteristics. Using a hedonic land value model, we estimate the real estate premium associated with the trail and find that most of the impact to land values will be captured within 1000 ft of the planned greenway.
key words: Greenway, amenity valuation, North Carolina
Read entire study (220k pdf): Greenways and Greenbacks: The Impact of the Catawba Regional Trail on Property Values in Charlotte, North Carolina
By Van Meter Pettit
Downtown Lexington is in the midst of a major comeback by just about any measure you can make.
We have produced more new housing downtown in the last few years than in many preceding decades. The Lexington Center-Rupp Arena Complex has been dramatically improved. The fine building stock of our historic urban neighborhoods has enjoyed a big boost in investment and a shift back to home ownership. Major urban stakeholders — schools, universities, churches and hospitals — have made major investments in staying downtown. It is a place full of life, with concerts, parades, footraces, sidewalk cafes and children playing in fountains.
Success has a thousand parents and probably as many people deserve thanks for downtown Lexington’s turnaround.
A dense downtown is an efficient economic engine for the whole state that can create a world-class quality of life while avoiding the negative affects of sprawl. This, in turn, will attract and retain the young talent needed to maintain and increase our economic vitality.
So how do we build on this successful pattern? How do we make Lexington competitive with an Austin, Portland, Boulder, Madison or Charleston? As Vice Mayor Jim Gray says, how do we raise the standards of our B-minus downtown to match our A-plus landscape?
There are no shortcuts. It takes planning, coordination and cooperation among all downtown public and private organizations and stakeholders — and significant public investment. This level of open and transparent team play can happen only with an inclusive government that welcomes civic engagement.
That engagement has happened recently with the creation of a Downtown Masterplan and a Newtown Extension area plan. An urban streetscape plan is in the works, and a citywide 2040 visioning process is under way.
But these great starts are undermined by a number of big urban projects that have been conceived behind closed doors, then unveiled as “done deals.”
These include the redesign of Bluegrass Aspendale and Ann Street; the new Rupp Arena proposal; the deal involving Eastern State Hospital, Bluegrass Community and Technical College and the University of Kentucky’s Coldstream Research Campus; and, now, the CentrePointe development.
Each one of these big projects has merit and is potentially beneficial to our city, but that is beside the point. They all were either specifically excluded from the Downtown Master Plan (for now obvious reasons) or they disregarded its recommendations. Public input has been minimal at best or came after the fact as a means of damage control.
Each time a big idea is foisted on the community without prior public input, it undermines the civic engagement and buy-in necessary to make downtown succeed.
We can’t have it both ways. If civic volunteers feel as if our most important projects are not open for discourse, they will lose faith in the process. Downtown needs significant public funding to spur the private investment necessary to grow our economy. With public investment (tax incentives included) comes real public oversight.
Downtown needs a permanent public-private oversight board to guide the area’s development. We will never take our city from good to great without a coherent and transparent process to make decisions large and small about downtown. Our economic future depends upon it.
Newtown Pike project to include Lexington version of Golden Gate Bridge
By Delano R. Massey
A gateway “signature” bridge over Town Branch will be included in the Newtown Pike extension project, Mayor Jim Newberry announced Monday.
Newberry said the bridge would be an “opportunity to enhance the beauty of our city” and “welcome our visitors with a strong statement about community pride and history.” The bridge, he said, would be the gateway into the city.
The bridge will be designed by Entran, an engineering firm that has been hired to do design work for the road project. Newberry said conceptual bridge designs would be presented later.
When pressed about the design of the bridge, Newberry said he learned a long time ago “to not play to your weaknesses.”
“The last guy you want designing that bridge is me,” Newberry said to a room full of laughter. Newberry said that’s why the city has tapped Entran to design the bridge. Generally speaking, Newberry said, the bridge should reflect something that comes to mind when people think about Lexington.
He likened it to the Golden Gate Bridge, which stretches across the San Francisco Bay in San Francisco, or the Zakim Bridge, which spans the Charles River in Boston. Of course, he said, those examples are “on a much, much, much larger scale than what I’m talking about here.”
“But on the smaller scale, there’s no reason why we can’t have something that will be a landmark for Lexington — particularly when you think about Newtown Pike being such a gateway to Lexington,” Newberry said. “There will be many, many, many people whose first impressions of Lexington will be a result of coming across that bridge. And we need to make sure that that first impression is a positive one.”
Newberry, flanked by U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, Vice Mayor Jim Gray and councilman Tom Blues, also gave an update on the plans for the Newtown Pike extension, which “will take some of the traffic off busy downtown streets and provide more direct access to the interstates for south Lexington and the University of Kentucky campus.”
The extension project has been studied since the 1960s — as Chandler joked, “longer than I’ve been on earth.”
In February or March, families that live in the lower Davistown neighborhood will start moving into new temporary modular homes that will be erected in the park. The families will live in the temporary homes for up to two years while their old homes are torn down.
New, permanent housing will be built for them in the neighborhood.
The reconstruction of lower Davistown — one of the city’s most economically depressed areas — is part of the massive $87 million Newtown Pike extension project. Nearly half the project money, about $42 million, will be used to buy land in lower Davistown, rebuilding the area’s infrastructure and paying for a portion of new housing that will be built there.
Ultimately, the Newtown Pike extension will stretch from West Main Street, where Newtown Pike now ends, to Broadway and, with a second prong, to South Limestone at the main entrance to the University of Kentucky, along what is now Scott Street.
Engineers are working to complete the first phase of the boulevard, from Main Street to Versailles Road, by 2010, in time for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Assuming funding is available, the second phase is to begin by 2011 and will stretch from Versailles Road to Broadway. The third phase is to begin by 2012 and will stretch from Patterson Street to Limestone. The city hopes the entire project will be finished by 2014.
In addition to the bridge and road construction, the project entails construction of a revitalized neighborhood in the area, which is rare for a federal or state road project.
A Community Land Trust will be established to ensure that current and future generations will have access to safe, affordable housing.
The Rev. Martina Ockerman of Nathaniel Mission said a committee made up of residents and members of the mayor’s office, among others, has been meeting once a month for the last four years to get everyone on board. Early on, she said, there was a lot of “mistrust” and “confusion,” but the group eventually came to a consensus.
Because it’s such a huge undertaking, and one that involves so many layers, Ockerman said this project could become a national model for combining affordable housing with a large project.
“People are watching this,” she said.
Reach Delano Massey at (859) 231-1455 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1455.