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It’s been decades since downtown was a destination for a night out in the city of angels, but a slew of developers were keen on changing that reality — right before the economic crisis hit. Wine bars, restaurants, and trendy lounges were supposed to follow, and in some sense, the transformation has begun. It’s definitely not the renaissance that was hoped for, but downtown isn’t what it used to be, either.
Enter Bottega Louie, one of the few successful emerging players in the downtown dining scene. Located on the ground floor of the historic beaux-arts Brockman Building, the space is huge. Parking can be a bit of a problem; there’s no valet and street parking is difficult at night, so it’s best to shell out the extra dough for a lot a few blocks away. But, once you finally step inside, the white marble floors and vaulted, 20-foot ceilings transport you to another time and place. It’s cavernous, it’s loud, and it’s crowded. There’s a pastry bar to the right, a proper bar to the left, and straight ahead, the maître d’ dressed like a bank manager. A fleeting, unfamiliar feeling passes over you — it’s a feeling of being underdressed, rare for Angelenos — that is, until someone stubbornly sporting flip-flops and a polo walks past you in the middle of January. The process of securing a table seems intimidating, but actually turns out to be quite painless, aided by competently mixed cocktails and a staff on top of its game.
So what to order? Pastas are reasonably priced, mostly fresh, and made in-house, so don’t miss the trenné with prime rib eye and Tuscan black kale, as well as the classic tagliatelle Bolognese. Pizzas are a bit steep but have a decent crust and prime, fresh ingredients; try the burrata pizza with broccoli rabe, garlic, and prosciutto. Some of the pizzas can get weighted down with too many ingredients though, and require a fork and knife to eat (the aforementioned included); if this bothers you, steer clear of any pizzas that sound like they have a salad or a mountain of meat and cheese on top. Notable entrées include the short ribs, braised and bathed in a lardon ragù, served on top of a bed of white polenta, and the hanger steak with black truffle sauce. Pacing can be an issue; the food can take awhile to come, but the space lends itself to some good people watching, and it’s entertaining to watch the action from the open kitchen, replete with a pizza station and a brick oven.
Modestly priced, well executed, and downright fun, here’s hoping that downtown’s revitalization brings Angelenos more restaurants like Bottega Louie.
It's time to rethink downtown SF. Here's one of the most radical visions out there
Working from their kitchen table the past four months, Elizabeth Ranieri and Byron Kuth got to roughing out napkin sketches of lofty designs that might serve the needs of one of the country&rsquos densest cities, potentially forever changed by coronavirus. They looked over San Francisco&rsquos perpetually beleaguered downtown corridor and saw an area ripe for redevelopment.
&ldquoAs we come out of this pandemic, we&rsquoll have changed how we live, how we work,&rdquo said Ranieri, design principal at Kuth Ranieri Architects, headquartered in North Beach.
Companies are already mulling how to incorporate social distancing, new cleanliness protocols, workspace redesigns and improved ventilation into their offices. But Ranieri and her husband and business partner, Byron Kuth, are thinking bigger.
What if you took two blocks of office towers in the Financial District, closed off traffic between them and turned the street into a park? What if you converted one block to apartment housing and the other to green energy infrastructure, wastewater treatment and vertical agriculture? You&rsquod have a self-contained, energy-independent community of the future.
Ranieri and Kuth call it a micro-hood.
The two have been proposing radical, speculative infrastructure concepts for two decades as a means of questioning the status quo of 21st century urban planning. Some of their proposals border on science fiction. In 2009, for example, they rolled out a &ldquovertical wetlands&rdquo design that would transform and celebrate wastewater treatment in Mission Creek.
The pair work on real, practical projects too. They helped design the new Harvey Milk Terminal (Terminal 1) at SFO, which wrapped last year.
The coronavirus pandemic got them thinking about how the city might change, looking ahead.
They zoomed in on a two-block area between Mission, Market, Beale and Main streets. The site contains the soon-to-be-vacated 32-story office headquarters of PG&E, built circa 1925, as well as other pre-war office buildings whose structures lend themselves to feasible conversions.
&ldquoIt&rsquos up to us as designers to really understand how to repurpose these buildings, to evolve the downtown into a new neighborhood ecology,&rdquo Ranieri said.
The guiding theory of Ranieri&rsquos and Kuth&rsquos micro-hood concept goes like this: With COVID-19 amplifying the health imperatives of personal space, and shelter-in-place proving that many companies can operate on full-time remote staffs, we&rsquoll have a permanent surplus of vacant office space in downtown high-rises. It&rsquod be only natural then to put that space to new use &mdash perhaps serving San Francisco&rsquos gaping need for low-cost housing and injecting lifeblood into the city&rsquos urban core.
Any new project should at least in part address our uncertain climate future by incorporating green features and amenities. Plus a self-sufficient community, they reason, may be better equipped to weather an earthquake or economic downturn.
Red light: Kuth and Ranieri are optimistic realists. That's what makes their micro-hood concept so intriguing: it's technically feasible. Logistically, however, they acknowledge that it's a political nonstarter in San Francisco.
Their micro-hood design &ldquocould replicate that small-town model within the density of the city,&rdquo Kuth said. &ldquoIf you could take on two blocks and it&rsquos successful, that concept could proliferate through downtown,&rdquo Ranieri says.
Bringing micro-hoods to fruition would require zoning and policy rewrites sure to be rejected by city planners and voters. But that&rsquos not the point, Kuth and Ranieri say. This is a thought exercise in better living.
However, downtown San Francisco is already changing. Private vehicles were barred from Market Street in January &mdash part of the city&rsquos plan to decongest the thoroughfare and make it more pedestrian-friendly. Proposals for glimmering skyscrapers and multi-use revitalizations &mdash many of which integrate residential, office, retail, hotel lodging, parks and plazas &mdash are flowing some have already broken ground.
And then there is the sinking trajectory of office-space occupancy during the coronavirus pandemic. The overall vacancy rate of the city&rsquos office space was 8.8% in May &mdash already 5.4% above what it was at the end of 2019, according to new figures from real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield.
Circa opening shows ‘promise’ for downtown, watchers say
Las Vegas visitors will have access to a new adult playground this week: Circa.
Las Vegas visitors will have access to a new adult playground this week: Circa.
The 777-room, 1.25 million-square-foot resort casino opens at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The property, developed by Derek Stevens, has already changed downtown’s skyline, offering a 35-story structure — downtown’s tallest — that includes the six-pool swimming venue and a three-story sportsbook. The property’s hotel tower is set to open later this year.
It’s taken 40 years for downtown Las Vegas to open a new property from the ground up. While Circa is opening amid difficult circumstances, given the global pandemic, industry experts say the property and its unprecedented amenities will have a lasting impact on downtown and the greater Las Vegas Valley.
“It’s literally been decades since we’ve seen an investment of this scale in downtown Las Vegas,” said David Schwartz, a professor and gaming historian with UNLV. “So I think this really speaks a lot to where he (Derek Stevens) sees that part of town going.”
Changing downtown Las Vegas
The last time downtown Las Vegas opened a new property built from the ground up, Jimmy Carter was president.
Circa will be the first hotel-casino to debut in downtown Las Vegas since the Sundance Hotel — now the D Las Vegas, owned by Derek and his brother, Greg Stevens.
“This is a reflection of energy, excitement, of promise to the future, and I think it’s simply spectacular,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said.
Asked why it took so long for another property to join the fold, Goodman said the “energy” of the s, s and s focused on building resorts on the Strip rather than downtown. Downtown “was not only in disrepair and boarded up,” she said, but suffered from high crime and lacked appeal to visitors when her husband took office in 1999.
Goodman said the downtown area was recovering from the Great Recession and on a strong developmental path before the pandemic, which was like “putting a pin in a balloon.”
The mayor pointed to several recent developments. Last year, multimillion-dollar renovations turned the Stratosphere into The Strat. Earlier this year, plans were underway for the National Atomic Testing Museum to move to downtown Las Vegas. And recently, developer J. Dapper, of Las Vegas-based Dapper Companies, said he plans to buy and reopen downtown’s historic Huntridge Theater.
Circa’s opening is another example of downtown’s forward momentum.
“I’ve been here since 1964, and this is the most exciting it’s been,” Goodman said.
Schwartz said casinos in Las Vegas are at an “inflection point” where creativity and uniqueness appear to be replacing the homogeneity across casinos of the past. Circa represents a differentiated future, and, if successful, could inspire others to invest in downtown Las Vegas projects.
“I think it’s definitely a possibility that other people will see that Circa opened, and certainly if they are successful, will see they opened in the most challenging time possible in the last 50 years,” he said.
Circa could bring fresh opportunities and more visitors 21 and over to downtown, said Greg Chase, founder and CEO of Experience Strategy Associates. He said that benefits downtown but also the greater city of Las Vegas.
Circa can entice people back through its amenities, like a tiered pool amphitheater dubbed “Stadium Swim” and a three-story sportsbook boasted as the largest in the world by cubic feet, as well as its other offerings and service levels.
“When you look at the history of new casino openings, not just downtown, but all across the Strip, there’s really been this historical premise of the newest, biggest, coolest thing to hit the area,” Chase said. “It becomes popular for a period of time and draws a lot of attention.”
Even after the shimmer of the latest and greatest wears off, Circa has potential to attract locals and visitors alike with its Stadium Swim and sportsbook, according to Schwartz.
Those amenities demonstrate a shift in what modern visitors to Las Vegas are looking for with the widespread availability in table games and slot machines, he said.
“Nobody is gonna say I have to drive past five other casinos because Circa is the only place I can play a Buffalo slot machine,” Schwartz said. “But I think they will say, ‘Well, Circa is the only place where I’m gonna get this kind of experience with the sportsbook or with Stadium Swim.’ ”
UNLV hospitality professor Mehmet Erdem noted that a novelty period might have lasted longer if it weren’t for the pandemic. With global transportation at nearly a standstill, the number of potential Circa customers has shrunk.
There are risks in opening a hotel-casino in the middle of a pandemic with depressed visitation and a crashed economy, Erdem said.
“They’re rolling the dice, but then again, these guys — they’re in the business of gaming, so I would say their risk tolerance is a little higher than your average Joe,” he said.
That risk, however, might be somewhat mitigated for Circa.
For one, Circa will be downtown, which isn’t historically reliant upon the convention business in the way that the Strip is. The valley hasn’t hosted a convention since the pandemic reached it in March. It’ll be a while before they return to the valley, even with the governor’s recent easing on restrictions on large gatherings, Erdem warned. Circa may fare better during the pandemic if it doesn’t have to host those conventions to stay economically viable, he said.
Downtown tends to draw a different crowd than the convention-dependent Strip, one that likes to hop from one casino to the next and enjoys a more old-school feeling, said Brendan Bussmann of Global Market Advisors, LLC.
“Downtown is where it all began and still holds a special place for a lot of people,” Bussmann said.
Also, Erdem said Stevens isn’t an out-of-country conglomerate trying to establish a property in a completely new market. He knows Las Vegas.
Erdem assumes Stevens and his team have done their market research and anticipate there is a segment of people who are looking for the type of property they’re establishing.
“These are your local yokels,” he said. “They’re from here, they know the business, they’re in the business. I would think they have a much better sense than an outsider investor in terms of what would work, what would not.”
Downtown Garland’s central square is getting a major makeover. Here are the new designs
12:45 PM on Jul 1, 2020 CDT
Garland has shared the concept designs of a plan to remake the city’s central square, which Mayor Scott LeMay called “the last piece of the puzzle” in the continued efforts to redevelop Garland’s historic downtown.
“It is a critical link in our downtown redevelopment,” he said. “The square is the focal point of that whole area. It’s the heart of the city, that little square.”
Landscape architecture firm Studio Outside drew up the concept, which the City Council approved this year. It’s intended to help refashion the square into a year-round destination, adding green space and a playground while making downtown more walkable and welcoming to visitors.
LeMay said residents and guests have long gravitated toward the square, particularly in recent years as the city has invested in downtown redevelopment projects to remake the surrounding streetscapes and connect the square to neighboring businesses, new apartments and the nearby DART rail stop.
“People were naturally using it as a park,” LeMay said. “The concept design is taking it how people are using it now: as a park.”
The city holds a number of celebrations and functions in the square, among them the weeks-long Christmas on the Square, which features more than 100,000 Christmas lights. The proposed redesign would allow for continued large events while encouraging more casual everyday use as well.
“Our goal is to make sure that this park speaks at different levels and in different ways to a really diverse community, so that they all come together and it becomes a fabric,” Studio Outside’s Mike Fraze said in a video the city shared on social media to showcase the plan.
Before bidding and construction can kick off, the project design is estimated to take about a year.
Although local governments across the country are facing budget crunches stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, LeMay expects the City Council will push forward with the redesign of the square.
“A lot of the downtown merchants have been counting on us making those enhancements to the square,” he said.
Intrinsic Smokehouse and Brewery’s Cary Hodson, whose business is downtown, said in the video shared by the city that he is looking forward to expanding into the “open space” of the redesigned square.
“There’s some vacancies down here that will fill up quickly, and they’ll have that added perk and advantage of having a beautiful space that is unique and accepting for large events,” Hodson said.
A new ice cream shop that offers 32 flavors has opened in downtown Delafield
The ice cream shop Here's the Scoop recently opened in downtown Delafield. (Photo: Submitted)
More than a year after the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory closed in downtown Delafield, another business that sells sweet treats has taken its place.
The ice cream shop Here's the Scoop opened at its new location May 1 after previously being in the town of Genesee for 2½ years. Owner Stephanie Mercado said the move from Genesee to Delafield occurred because of another business she owns.
"I own the strip mall (Here's the Scoop) was in, and I also own a sports bar (Sideliners) in that same strip mall," Mercado said. "We're expanding where the ice cream shop was."
Since opening in Delafield, Mercado said business has increased significantly.
"It's been crazy, crazy busy," Mercado said. "We had a record week by far. It's been awesome."
She was also drawn to Delafield because of the events that take place in the downtown area.
"I feel like everybody walks around here, and an ice cream shop is best for foot traffic," Mercado said. "There's a bunch of events down here, and I just love the downtown Delafield feel."
Here's the Scoop has 32 flavors of ice cream provided by Madison-based Chocolate Shoppe. It also sells homemade ice cream cakes and ice cream pies. Besides ice cream-related treats, the business offers kettle corn, rice crispy treats and more items made by local companies.
Salt Lake City is having a skyscraper boom. Here’s the next one on the way.A new tower on the northeast corner of 300 South 200 East would replace a one-story building and local retailers with a 31-story residential building. Rendering courtesy of Worthington.
Salt Lake City’s Downtown has long since entered a residential building boom, and we now know details about the next project that will add to the city’s rapidly changing skyline.
Retailers in the existing two-story building on the northeast corner of 200 East 300 South told us months ago they faced eviction by this summer. But most details about what would replace the existing building in the Downtown zone have been unknown until now.
The tower that will replace the existing Broadway Place will be 31 stories tall. It will bring 359 residential units to the area on 26 of the 31 stories, leaving 5,800 square feet of space for ground-floor retail and 359 parking stalls on four stories above ground.
While the new tower doesn’t have a name, we’re calling it the Worthington tower. That’s the registered name of the three developers building another skyscraper on the capital city’s skyline.
The Worthington tower “builds on the vision of community leaders who developed the goals of programs like ‘Downtown Rising’ and is one step forward in ensuring Salt Lake City remains the primary cultural, financial, legal and government center of Utah,” Matt Lusty, a representative of the group, told Building Salt Lake on Wednesday.
It will continue two ongoing trends Downtown: new, skyline-altering skyscrapers, and an impending swell of people living in the city center.
With the newest addition, nearly 3,000 units — space for perhaps 5,000 or more people — are either under construction or have recently been completed in the Downtown area.
Salt Lakers should also get used to the sight of cranes on the skyline that will be replaced by permanent, tall buildings.
The future site of three new towers, with Liberty Sky (center), 95 State (far left) and Kensington Tower (center left, Carl’s Jr.). Photo by Taylor Anderson.
The city is growing up.
Salt Lake City has a handful of buildings over 200 feet tall, but historically they’ve been built few and far between.
It’s been five years since developers finished 111 S. Main, the 23-story tower that’s home to the Eccles Theater. It’s been a decade since the 23-story Regent opened in City Creek.
That cadence is set to change quickly.
While the projects are spaced out, Salt Lake City’s skyline will grow with a number of towers started within a year or two of each other. It’s safe to say it’s rare to have this many skyscrapers under development at one time, especially given the amount of high-rise residential units being built at one time.
High rises at some stage of development
- : 31 stories and 400 residential units : 25 stories of office space : 24 stories and 300 residential units : 39 stories and 380 residential units : 26-story hotel
The group building Worthington tower on Broadway isn’t sure how long it will take to build, but it plans to start the process this summer.
At 335 feet, the new residential tower will sit in the top 10 of the capital city’s highest. (Kensington Tower will become Utah’s tallest when built.)
Buildings on corner parcels within the D-1 Central Business District zone don’t need to undergo design review if they meet the zoning requirements and aren’t taller than 375 feet.
Once built, the Worthington tower will add a mix of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.
The Downtown Alliance of Salt Lake City is undertaking a working group to figure out how to help displaced local businesses amid an ongoing rush of skyscraper construction. Photo by Taylor Anderson.
What about existing retail?
While it will make new space for retail, the new building will displace five local businesses in the existing Broadway Place building.
The displacement will add to the city’s angst around loss of existing cultural icons like the nearby Ken Sanders Rare Books, which has long foretold his removal from Downtown.
Another string of businesses fronting Broadway on the northwest corner of 200 East, including a unique furniture store, antique store and rug gallery, among others, also faces likely displacement, as the building is owned by a developer working on plans for redevelopment.
“New downtown residents want and need varied and vibrant retail,” said Dee Brewer, executive director of the Downtown Alliance. “This is a paradox in that the demand for downtown residential living is one of the market pressures on downtown retail. Land is scarce and prices are going up.”
Rents are rising, Brewer said, and some residential development is displacing local retailers.
The Downtown Alliance, an extension of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, said it was meeting with the Worthington developers to talk about plans and sparking a working group to try to help displaced retailers find alternative locations in the area.
“We want to attract and retain vibrant retail downtown,” Brewer said. “People who move Downtown are typically attracted by the ‘15-minute city’ — the idea that one’s work, nightlife, shopping, etcetera are all within a fifteen-minute walk from your door.”
Interested in seeing where developers are proposing and building new apartments in Salt Lake, or just want to support a local source of news on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Learn more about becoming a member.
The Worthington tower (which is yet to be named) facing east on 200 East 300 South. Rendering courtesy of Worthington.
Hundreds More Residents About To Move To Downtown Miami As Leasing Begins At Grand Station, Managed By A-Rod’s Company
Leasing has commenced at the 300-unit Grand Station tower in downtown Miami – and former baseball player Alex Rodriguez has become both an investor and a property manager for the new building.
“Downtown Miami was in immediate need of luxury housing that brought residents close to the city’s renowned amenities and transportation options that take them anywhere in South Florida,” said Rodriguez.
A-Rod’s Monument Real Estate Services will be the property manager.
The $70 million transit-oriented development is expected to be ready for move-ins this summer, the developer said late last month.
Net effective rents for residences studios start at $1,277, with one-bedrooms at $1,427 and two-bedrooms at $1,963.
The developer says the units will be Class A luxury apartments, with custom Italian cabinets, stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, walk-in closets and a full-size washer and dryer.
The project will include a “New York-inspired” rooftop terrace, an outdoor kitchen with grilling area and an oversized swimming pool with sun deck and several hot tubs.
An amenities deck will feature a fitness center, wellness treatment and spa rooms, an indoor heated soaking pool, a computer and business center, a clubroom, and an indoor-outdoor spa. There will also be a concierge service, dog spa with pet station, bike storage and 24-hour package lockers.
Government Center’s Metrorail, Metromover and bus hubs, as well as MiamiCentral which features the tri-county rail service Brightline and will eventually include TriRail, are within a five-minute walk of the property.
Zyscovich Architects and Anillo, Toledo, Lopez LLC designed the building.
A Streatery Is Coming To Downtown D.C. This Week. Here's How It Works
When Penn Quarter's Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar reopened in June, CEO Barry Gutin says that business in the neighborhood was slow.
"What we found is that there were very few people downtown and that couldn't fill the seats that we had," he says.
After reaching out to the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association, he connected with the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District to develop a new streatery, which will open later this week.
Located on a stretch of 8th Street between H and K Streets NW, the self-described "multi-restaurant, pop-up dining room," per a press release from the BID, features a range of options from downtown restaurants, expanding their dining capacity for five consecutive weekends.
"Since the restaurants in downtown D.C. are not clustered like they are in Adams Morgan or parts of Georgetown, we had to artificially create that critical mass of dining experiences in one place so that people wanted to travel downtown." Gutin says.
From September 25 until Oct 25, the streatery, dubbed "Downtown D.C. Dine Out on 8th Street," will operate on Fridays from 5 p.m.-10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon-10 p.m.
Participating restaurants include Cuba Libre, Cranes, Olivia, and Modena, along with a rotating cast of local food trucks, like Puddin'. (Gutin says the Mediterranean-inspired eatery Olivia and the Italian-influenced Modena, both from Knightsbridge Restaurant Group's Ashok Bajaj, will take turns.)
Each restaurant's dining room will have its own tent with 50 to 76 seats. Depending on the establishment, customers can choose from tasting menus, and limited or full a la carte offerings. Four food trucks will also share two tents, each with 20-25 seats per truck.
Gutin says each restaurant will "create their own experience." Cuba Libre will have a "chef action station," where they'll prepare dishes like pan tostado, a rustic bread cooked over charcoal and served with three spreads, including a herb-whipped goat cheese, house-made mango butter, and olive oil flavored with pork chicharrones, pan drippings, and parsley, and garlic, in addition to other offerings.
Spanish and Japanese eatery Cranes will also prepare paella in large pans on the street. "So, you're gonna get the smell, the site, the sounds of that," Gutin says, adding that "there's an element of theater to this."
The coronavirus pandemic hit downtown's economy hard. According to a recent report from the BID, the area's daytime population in July, including local residents and commuters, dropped 90% from levels in February. The same month, the BID estimates, economic activity downtown was 12% of what it was in 2019.
This extended streatery comes three months after the launch of a pilot in Adams Morgan, in which the D.C. Department of Transportation blocked off traffic on a stretch of 18th Street to allow outdoor dining during the region's ban on indoor dining. The following month, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's Office of Community Affairs told community groups that while restaurants could continue to block off parts of the street, the car-free pedestrian zone would not return. Elsewhere, Montgomery County closed off select Bethesda streets to cars to allow outdoor dining in June. On Sunday night, D.C.'s Office of Nightlife and Culture announced it would distribute $4 million in grants to restaurants to set up for winter outdoor dining.
With the downtown streatery, which has picked up sponsorships from Bacardi and PepsiCo, Gutin hopes to bring more foot traffic to the area, generating revenue for the restaurants and creating jobs. But he warns that the streatery should "not be seen as a festival."
In accordance with health and safety protocols, social distancing will be enforced and customers must wear masks when not eating or drinking. Tables are also limited to six people or less, along with other measures.
The restaurants will offer table service and require reservations. Customers should make reservations through restaurants directly, either in advance or in person, but will not be allowed to linger outside, in an effort to avoid crowding.
Gutin hopes the streatery proves popular and can continue beyond October, but for the time being, he is focused on getting its initial operation up and running. "We have to start someplace," he says. "We want to make sure that we are funded properly and that we get people out there."
Here's why downtown Baltimore isn't bustling
Nearly 10 years have passed since city leaders first announced a plan to reinvigorate Baltimore’s ailing central business district by converting underused office space into apartments. As 2019 begins, there can be no doubt that a residential boom has occurred. Scores of aging office towers just north of the Inner Harbor have been converted to high-end residences, including 10 Light Street, 2 Hopkins Plaza, 301 North Charles Street and the recently opened 225 North Calvert Street apartments. Thousands now live in downtown’s historic core, recently rebranded by the residents themselves as “City Center,” making it one of the fastest-growing and most diverse neighborhoods in the country.
But has the residential influx had its intended effect? Is Baltimore’s old downtown now reinvigorated?
If 2018’s headlines are any indication, then the answer is a resounding “no.”
Random acts of violence still plague residents and visitors alike, and the appearance of City Center streets and sidewalks leaves much to be desired. Central downtown’s retail market is stumbling as well 2018 witnessed a spate of high-profile store and restaurant closings — including Urban Outfitters, M&S Grill, Brio Tuscan Grille, Alewife gastropub, and The Bun Shop’s Light Street location.
So, why aren’t the streets of City Center a bustling destination now that thousands of people call downtown home? If you ask the residents, three themes emerge:
First, high-rise living itself — despite the great views — has the unfortunate effect of isolating residents from their neighbors and from the streets below. With luxury “amenities” including rooftop pools, indoor dog parks, a system of high-tech package lockers (for all your online delivery needs), and weekly on-site social hours for residents and their friends, some buildings actually advertise that tenants “never have to leave.” This is not the message we should be sending, as City Center’s success relies on attracting more feet to the streets. Neighborhood stakeholders, including apartment managers themselves, must give serious thought to how we accomplish this. Street-level events, including this year’s wildly successful “Charm City Night Market” and community meet-ups sponsored by the Downtown Partnership and others, are a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.
Second, while private developers have dramatically transformed apartment interiors, the city, state, and other stakeholders have been less than diligent about upgrading the appearance and functionality of streets and sidewalks connecting these buildings. Residents lament City Center’s broken street lamps, potholes, grimy alleys, busted curb cuts and empty planters — not to mention the gigantic “pit” at Baltimore and Charles streets, now nearly five years in the making. In the words of one resident, “You don’t see this in Harbor East.” City and state-owned properties can be some of the worst offenders. Mangled metal and a temporary plywood barrier fastened to the side of Schaefer Tower at Baltimore and Light streets still mark the site of a vehicle collision that occurred there months ago. Residents report that busted bus shelters and street lights have taken officials equally long to address. The message this sends: We don’t really care. Why should area residents feel any differently?
Here's a first look at 6-acre expansion of Cary's Downtown Park opening in 2023
CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Construction is underway on Cary's unique Downtown Park expansion.
The urban park is a $50 million investment funded by bonds and will add another six acres to the existing one-acre park near the iconic water fountain.
"It's kind of a 20-year vision that is now finally coming to light in the planning process for phase two which has really been in planning since 2018," saidJoy Ennis, Downtown Cary Park General Manager.
"We really think it's going to be a regional draw," Ennis added. "It is an urban park we have a lot of parks in our system already here in Cary, but this is very different than anything we have in our portfolio. It's an urban park, and the programming in this park really is going to set it apart."
The expansion will feature a bark bar which is a combination outdoor bar dog park area which Ennis believes is the first of its kind in Wake County. There will also be a children's play area called The Nest.
"We're calling it The Nest because in the nest, we have two cardinals," Ennis said. "It is a mated pair of cardinals, they're 20 feet tall, and the kids can go, and hopefully adults can go in them and look out their eyes and slide out of them."
The park will also feature elevated skywalks, botanical gardens, water features, an area for a market and lots of free programming.
"There'll be about 66,000 different plants that go into the park so it's going to be very green and very lush," Ennis said. "And we're really excited about the programming opportunities and what we can offer. There will be anywhere between 800 to 1,300 events that go on each year here and 98 percent of them are going to be free to the public. They range from lectures to music concerts to knitting circles to just anything you can think of-art classes and fitness classes and yoga at sunset. So, that activation, plus the fact that the park is going to be so unique, and the park is in itself is just the amenity, so people can come and just enjoy the beautiful furniture that we're going to have all around and sit and work and read and just enjoy."
Cary's Downtown Park expansion project is expected to open in the summer of 2023.