The City Council is making baffling decisions on urban planning

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For those that pay attention, the rezoning meeting Monday night should be really eye opening to just how lost our City Council is.

The project development firm Faison has planned in Elizabeth is the most well-thought-out, beautifully designed and urban apartment complex the city has seen…. perhaps ever. The flatiron design is unique, there is a ton of retail, the streetscape feels incredibly urban and for the love of God, it is not too tall.

7th-and-Caswell-corner

Photo courtesy of Faison

Several city council members didn’t seem to think so. The folks “looking out” for the area are heavily opposing it. Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey has said it is too “intense,” too “long” and too “high” and questioned the architect’s inspiration. I can’t decide if she’s blind or if she is just so scared of making the neighborhood angry and losing votes. She won’t raise her hand for this, yet she did for so many other awful projects throughout town. It makes no sense.

Where was City Council in blocking the awful looking project right across the street on the old Roy’s Flowers site? This project has no retail, generic design with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The fact this project was approved and Faison’s is opposed is all the proof needed to demonstrate the hypocrisy at hand here. 

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7th-street-development

Claire Fallon, another City Council member, stated “Can we find some architects in this town that don’t design buildings to look like a factory or a barracks?” This project looks nothing like a factory or a barracks. It actually more closely resembles a community in an urban environment in Boston or Washington D.C. Both cities with fantastic urban design we should strive towards.

7th-and-Caswell-street-level

Photo courtesy of Faison

Meanwhile Fallon, Kinsey and others have no problem approving garbage like the Presley and 1100 South, for example. All projects with no urban streetscape, bland design, and “barracks” looking facades.

I am not saying that City Council is being malicious in both approving or opposing these projects. I am just stating that they need to open their eyes and do what’s best for Charlotte.

Faison’s project is impeccably designed and will add a lot to the neighborhood, not take away. The startling lack of vision on the council is concerning.

I hope City Council takes a look at themselves and starts to adapt their thinking. If they want to oppose this Faison project in Elizabeth, that’s fine, but then I better see them start to oppose other projects that are actually bad for the city. Ones with terrible beige and blank design, no retail, no pedestrian focus and no urban components.

If opposing this project leads City Council to become stricter on urban design, I guess that is a win. But if this is opposed and other, bad, projects still get through, then there is truly a problem.

Cover image courtesy of Faison

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Jason Thomas
| @jasonthomasclt |
Development expert since 2015.