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On city officials' selection of a development proposal for Charlotte: The key problem here is that many people in this area have been involved with this process, and this is not what they were working on. Again and again [at the city's informational meetings], they asked why the unique nature of the area was not considered by this project, and Mark Gregor [the city's project manager for the Charlotte development] never had an answer.
When the zoning was proposed the question of height was raised, and council members and city officials promised they would not allow towers in the port district. Apparently things have changed.
Mark Gregor said they did not want rental in this project but could not explain how the townhouses in the plan are not listed as for-sale units. The city was clear that there will be no subsidized or low-income housing, though there will be some market rate – even though the builder claims they will apply for low-income-housing tax credits.
As for questions about emergency services, the city admitted they may need to examine this. Many wanted to know what studies were done to show a demand for this sort of building, and Mark Gregor could only claim that he was sure the developer had done this.
Asked about the city's financial contribution to this project, they claimed that is open to negotiations but would not rule out tens of millions of dollars of city funds in the form of grants and loans.
With all this evasion and misinformation, it should not be surprising that the public is angry. Despite years of working with residents, the city did not mention the idea of towers until recently. They failed to get input and seem to have raced into this without considering how city services will be stretched in Charlotte by such a project.
The city's financial obligations and tax returns were not mentioned, and so as usual the public was unable to weigh the benefits verse the costs. So the public was asked to trust the city to make this right, but unfortunately too many of the residents had been disappointed or deceived too often in this area, and they are unwilling to continue to just believe.
I think the city's reasoning for building a high-density development project is valid and well thought out. If people are upset about the high rises, they should consider moving to the town of Hamlin, which likely won't be the site of high-density development in the foreseeable future.
This just sounds so disastrous for Charlotte. Nobody ever asks the question: Once this project is completed, who has the responsibility for the marketing and sales of the project till it reaches full occupancy? What will the annual marketing and sales budget be, and who will be responsible for that appropriation? Where will the money come from in the five years it will take to establish this project once it is completed?
Get somebody to ask that question publicly and watch everybody back up: the developer, the city and the Port commission. Just another development without any long-term planning or infrastructure established up front. More empty structures is my prediction.
KC KATHY BAUMERT SCHULIK
We need to walk before we run. I do believe there's a market for new housing and even a hotel, but not the quantity proposed. Rather than offering three acres, the city should just offer one. Once that shows success, then open some more property for development. I think that that's what most of the residents are afraid of: vacancies.
On the other hand, there already are two high rises in Charlotte. We are such small thinkers. There are 1.1 million people in Rochester, and we have the most pitiful waterfront.
On Highland Hospital's expansion proposal: As per the Defend Urban Neighborhoods website, Highland owned the exact same property on Bellevue several years ago, and essentially used it as leverage to get an easement to build their new parking garage on South Avenue (which, BTW, did nothing to stop their employees parking on neighborhood streets).
Then there's the continued interest in purchasing 428 Mt. Vernon, a large brick residence on a two-acre wooded lot directly abutting Highland Park. Add in continued problems with over-salting of sidewalks and continued refusal to acknowledge the ramifications of their smoke-free policy (employees smoking near front yards of neighboring houses), and Highland Hospital has a bad reputation as a corporate neighbor.
The overall problem is URMC: they paint a picture of being a good neighbor and involved in the city, but then they do stupid things like build their own exit ramp off I-390, which simply facilitates employees driving in from the suburbs. They then complain they need more parking spaces, instead of investing in bus services or other incentives to live close by.
If they really gave a damn about the city, they'd ramp up parking costs and add value to city neighborhoods. Expanding Highland Hospital does the opposite. It really is the epitome of corporate doublespeak.
In the interests of full disclosure, I live in the neighborhood and work at Strong.
I live in the neighborhood, and find Highland a far better and more considerate neighbor than the Rochester City School District, including School 12.