DTR is lacking that retail density that malls (and the epicenter) has. I think it will take a LONG time to get there especially in the age of online shopping, but if we can, I think it’ll be something special.
I think some of the small store spaces in foreign cities are partly a function of transporting the goods to the space. In Athens most stores had their stuff brought in on little tuk tuks. But yeah the variety is amazing. There were no one-stop-shops. Hardware items were sold in individual stores. The electric drill store. The nails and fasteners store. The shovel store. It was exceptionally cool.
I couldn’t agree more. I grew up in Central Florida and a predominately service industry around Disney, Universal, Sea World, etc and if we end up with an I-Drive in Raleigh, I’m out. I love Raleigh local culture and I’m not 100% against allowing some external brands in, but going after tourists will erode what we love about Raleigh today.
Funny…when I think of cities in NC with tons of things for tourist to do, Asheville & Wilmington come to mind before Charlotte, and they don’t have any epicenter thing. I say look to their examples before building that monstrosity.
Can we just get a stand alone urban model multiplex cinema complex and just forget this other crap?
I’d also love a water feature. I’m jealous of Durham’s American Tobacco campus.
Same haha. Strolled through there last week and it is nicer than I remember.
Do you have some examples you like? I’m all for learning about some variations of how things are done in other places. Thx
I just love Durham’s industrial character, it’s a shame Raleigh doesn’t have a ton of it, though that’s to be expected since it’s a government town first and foremost.
I am not among those who want to plop a self contained “center” or “campus” into DT Raleigh. I’d rather activate each and every street possible with services, stores, activities, etc. I see these sorts of self contained centers & campuses as drains away from adjacent urban areas. People come them, experience them and then leave, usually by car. No thank you.
As for Durham’s ATC, I understand that it was there and I agree that it’s better saved and used than tearing it down. However, I don’t think it’s a good idea to build one from scratch. There a few of these in South Florida that are aging very badly (and quickly), and I’d hate to see Raleigh get stuck with this sort of future white elephant in its core.
I do seriously love the ATC but can’t help feel like I’d get sick of it as a local. It’s great to visit but its artificial and a timid attempt at an urban environment.
Sure, maybe it wasn’t intended to be that way. That’s fine. I’ll take Fayetteville Street over the ATC any day.
Yes Asheville and Wilmington don’t have an Epicenter but they do have the Grove Arcade and the Cotton Exchange. Smaller but still destinations.
Never thought I’d hear anyone called the ATC “timid”. I remember what it was before, razor wire and broken glass. I’m also curious why you called it “artificial”? I’ve been to several warehouse rehabs in big cities and I’d call ATC above average. Not to get TOO off-topic but when Broadstone, Van Alen, the Police HQ redevelopment, NC Mutual Life, the ATC expansion and maybe those fancy townhouses are all done, that area will be one of the most urban and architecturally interesting in the Triangle.
I’m not really familiar with the before picture of the ATC but I’m sure the renovation is of supremely higher-quality.
I just get the sense that the ATC is more of a campus than an area having some real urban form. Maybe I’m just a fanboy of a grid system but when I look at the ATC and ballpark in general, I get a sense that it’s more closed off than actually creating organic life within and through it. (now I don’t live in Durham so I could be completely wrong)
For example, what if people wanted to go east-west through the ATC. The old warehouse is a huge barrier with no public way of getting through. Sure, you can open the doors and walk through it but if I recall, I had to go up/down stairs last time I did that. What if the doors were locked? Then I’d have to walk around.
Also, what if I wanted to get through on a bike? I don’t see that option.
As a destination and campus-like setting, I see the ATC as being one of the best. However, with all it’s value and high-quality features, I’m just not seeing it as naturally growing urban experience.
But hey, that’s all good. I know what to expect when I go there.
Two thoughts on ATC…at the time it was developed, it was indeed timid in that it was sticking a toe into the bathtub of downtown Durham. Would affluent people actually go to downtown Durham and hang out? Bright leaf was doing good, but was also sort of self contained but closer to Duke and Ninth Street. There was perceived safety in a campus setting that cracked the door open for the development we are currently seeing in downtown proper. Secondly, and what a campus is, is ATC doesn’t face outward. It could. It just doesn’t. There is street grid adjacent to it, but the primary store openings do not engage the street grid. Downtown Raleigh has some signs still of early downtown development. Like the entire first floor of the Cotton Mill is parking. That is super expensive residential space, nowadays, ripped out back then for convenient parking…the all important sales pitch in 1996.
I get this is a Raleigh blog, so I don’t want to get TOO off topic, but I think I have to say this for my own sanity.
First, “urban” doesn’t mean “grid”. I’ve been to several warehouse conversions and none of them are grids. I’m not sure what a “naturally growing urban experience” is, because all urban experiences are planned. But warehouse complexes are a common feature of urban life and they all have the same problems that Leo mentioned, but that doesn’t make them any less urban.
Second. ATC is surrounded by train tracks on the north, a car lot to the west, a highway to the south and the ballpark/dpac area to the east. Why would they make it externally-facing?
To be honest, these criticisms just seem like some silly Raleigh v. Durham tribalism. Like, you can’t admit Durham has something cool unless it’s backhanded. I also get that this forum probably isn’t the best place for this conversation, so that’s all I’ll say about it.
You’ve certainly made some good points, I appreciate them, but the Fayetteville St vs. ATC point was for objective comparison, not inter city rivalry striking. (with a hint of personal preference rather than “here is what is better”)
Let’s leave it at that.
I like DTR and I like DTD. They both have major strengths and some weaknesses. Smush then together and you’d probably have the coolest downtown in the country, but alas.
Having a commuter train between the two downtowns would be kind of like smushing them together.
I’d like a midnight train coming back from Durham.