Meeting Report: PSP Meeting #3 - - Momentum is Building!

posted Sep 21, 2011, 5:08 AM by Philip Bernard   [ updated Nov 14, 2011, 1:12 PM ]
The third meeting of the Person Street Partnership was held on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at the Urban Design Center with approximately 25 in attendance. The Partnership's main focus has been to conduct quarterly meetings with an agenda that focuses on bringing in knowledgeable speakers, consultants, and City staff to discuss and debate the future of this important area of our shared community. Philip Bernard opened the meeting by announcing a recent, highly successful First Friday triangulation between Gallery C, Nicole’s Studio and Piebird that illustrated the momentum that is taking hold on Person Street. This event combined with the successful rezoning of the Raleigh City Farm property and the upcoming Oktoberfest on October 1st show that Person Street is starting to come alive with new activity! 

Updates from businesses and organizations within the Person Street area include
  • Gallery C - - owner Charlene Newsom was unable to attend but recently gave Philip a tour of her new gallery location on the corner of Blount and Peace Streets. She loves her new space and is utilizing the downstairs for the display and sale of art as well as hosting rotating exhibits. The upstairs houses a museum quality framing shop and office space. Charlene spoke favorably about the recent First Friday and Nicole's Gallery invitation to join her in opening her gallery to gallery goers. This fall, Gallery C will host a high profile Asian art exhibit from a gallery in Manhattan. In addition to artwork, Gallery C is available to rent for parties and other events. Charlene noted that the addition of a crosswalk and walk light on Blount Street would help her customers and other neighborhood pedestrians to cross the busy street. She agreed that an R Line stop at Krispy Kreme would be a great idea. http://www.galleryc.net/
  • Raleigh City Farm representative Laura Fieselman discussed their success in rezoning the 1.3 acre Blount Street parcel, allowing them to legally grow food at that location. They are finalizing their 8-10 year lease of the property and are working with In Situ Studio to design the site. The organization has obtained its state not-for-profit status and is pursuing federal status. Laura reiterated that education and outreach are the core missions of the farm. They anticipate that it would be at least several years of support from fund-raising before the farm is self-sustaining. They will begin their initial fund-raising efforts this fall with a goal of $50,000 to $100,000 for infrastructure, site development and salary for a farm manager. They hope to have the first crop in the ground by next spring. They anticipate selling farm produce directly to consumers and restaurants with potentially a produce stand on-site or at a local business. They are looking forward to being a part of the Person Street business district and hoping that their presence will act as a catalyst for more businesses to open in the area particularly at the Person Street Plaza location. For more information, see http://raleighcityfarm.com/
  • First Annual Downtown Raleigh Oktoberfest  Mordecai CAC Social Chair Guy Caprioli announced the first annual Oktoberfest for the Person Street area to be held on Saturday, October 1st from 4 to 9 p.m. on Pace Street between Piebird and the Person Street Pharmacy. Local businesses supporting the event include Piebird, Carolina Brewing and Klausie’s Pizza. More details about this family-friendly event will be announced shortly. Guy is the main guy responsible for organizing the wildly popular "Music on the Porch" series at Mordecai Histoirc Park. One of the partnership's main goals has been to create opportunities for folks to gather on Person Street and with Guy's and the Oktoberfest organizer's help this will soon happen. www.downtownraleighoktoberfest.com 
  • Paul Reimel, Economic Development Manager for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, provided a summary of the DRA’s report and proposed recommendations for the Person Street area. The DRA generously provided their expertise in support of the momentum-building efforts made by  Person Street stakeholders. The entire report can be viewed in the following PDF: Paul noted that achieving the Partnership’s goals ultimately depends on expansion of commercial businesses and he recommended cross-promotion of businesses within the Person Street area, focusing our efforts on building and sustaining existing business traffic and establishing a brand communicated through new signage and consistent messaging. The recommendations support continued advocacy with the City for pedestrian-friendly and accessible streets. The availability of parking at the Person Street Plaza and the site of the former Super 10 is a benefit. While the DRA is supportive of the re-development of the Person Street area, the majority of it is outside of the DRA’s Business Improvement District (BID), which currently limits the extent of their involvement. Philip noted that building up of the commercial district would allow the DRA to have a more formal role and potentially provide additional services. 
  • Ken Bowers, Deputy Planning Director for the City of Raleigh, discussed the Peace Street visioning study that recommends streetscape and transportation improvements for Peace Street from West Street to Person Street. The improvements would enhance the corridor as a complete street and support private redevelopment efforts. Larry Zucchino of JDavis Architects worked with the City of Raleigh to develop the Peace Street Corridor Visioning Study as a pro bono project. The study was presented to the City Council in May and City Council is now seeking comments from owners and residents in the Peace Street corridor. City staff plans to present the study to the public during an open house on the Capital Boulevard Corridor Study. That open house is scheduled for 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. on September 29th at Meymandi Concert Hall in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. A community meeting on the visioning study is planned for October at a location in the Peace Street corridor area. This corridor is the gateway to Person Street and very important in our overall planning efforts.

Key recommendations in the Peace Street Corridor Visioning Study are:
  • Redesign the Capital Boulevard/Peace Street interchange to improve traffic flow and enhance and promote safe pedestrian and cycling traffic in the Peace Street Corridor. 
  • Improve pedestrian and bicycle accommodations. 
  • Encourage Triangle Transit to locate a Downtown transit station on or in close proximity to the CSX rail bridge over Peace Street. 
  • Explore the potential for a mid-block urban greenway with direct access from Peace Street, extending from the Seaboard commercial area south into Downtown at Harrington Street. 
  • Explore roadway improvements at the intersection of Peace Street with Wilmington, Salisbury and Halifax streets, including a roundabout. 
  • Reduce Peace Street to three lanes between Wilmington Street and Person Street. 
  • Extend North Harrington Street one block north to intersect with Peace Street.
Ken also mentioned that the Wade Avenue bridge replacement and the proposed high-speed rail line are among other topics of interest to Partnership stakeholders that will be discussed at the September 29 open house.

Speaker: 

Tom Barrie, AIA, Professor of Architecture, NCSU, announced that his senior students from the School of Architecture will participate in a semester-long research and design project that will focus on the person Street commercial area. The project will incorporate contemporary urban design issues with a particular emphasis on mixed-use, pedestrian-scaled urban villages. The project will include research on contemporary urbanism, mixed-use development and existing city studies and development plans for the project area; the urban and streetscape design for the Person Street neighborhood; and the design of a mixed-used housing project for the development sites at the north end of Person Street. The project will conclude with an exhibition at the end of the semester. The design project flyer may be viewed in the following PDF.

Presentation:

The Person Street Plan, 2011-2016, Philip presented a rough draft of a five year plan that would help direct the partnership's efforts by creating a clear vision statement and a start at hashing out an action plan. Items 1-7 of the action plan were derived from previous meeting presentations and discussions from the last two meetings.

Vision Statement

In the next five years, the Person Street Partnership actively seeks to build momentum for positive growth and change in the Person Street Business district by bringing together the area’s business and property owners, City Council and staff, real estate agents and developers, adjacent downtown neighborhoods (including Blount Street Commons, Mordecai, Historic Oakwood, Halifax Park, and Pilot Mill), Peace College, and other interested stakeholders who wish to see Person Street flourish as a vibrant neighborhood restaurant,  retail, and residential district with ample parking and an attractive pedestrian friendly streetscape that is connected to greater downtown by adequate transit and pedestrian connections.

Plan of Action

Over the next five years, the Person Street partnership will:

1. Conduct transparent and informative quarterly meetings with practical, knowledgeable, and visionary speakers who can help us realize our vision statement and build momentum on Person Street.

2. Encourage property owners’ to work together with businesses, realtors, neighbors, and City staff to fix-up, occupy, and lease vacant lots, buildings, and storefronts.

3. Promote the area to City Council, new businesses, and potential customers by creating an effective marketing campaign that emphasizes our strengths and identifies our unique qualities.

4. Work with and engage the NCDOT, City Council and staff to effectively increase the priority, design, funding, and implementation of the appropriate corridor studies, streetscape plans, and capital improvement projects located in and leading to the Person Street area.

5. Work with and lobby the NCDOT, City Council and staff to create a pedestrian, bike friendly “complete” street with mass transit connections to the R Line, city bus, and light rail.

6. Work with neighborhood organizations and event planners to plan unique special events like Music on the Porch and the Oakwood Candlelight Tour that draw visitors to Person Street from our own neighborhoods as well as others all over the City.

7. Form the necessary work groups and advisory board to move our goals forward.

Timeline

A five year timeline allows for an upswing in the economy which will be crucial to fund the capital improvements for Person Street. A stronger economy will also be needed to insure more development, housing, and the creation and success of new businesses and restaurants in the area. Until the economy improves, the partnership can forge the necessary relationships needed to insure success when funding becomes available. Now is the time to plan, budget, advocate, and organize.
 
Closing Remarks:

The strong support and interest of stakeholders in the Person Street area can influence the priority of City projects and timing of funding. The effectiveness of the Partnership depends on keeping meeting topics relevant, members engaged, and issues moving forward!

The City’s 2011 Bond Referendum for Transportation Improvements and Affordable Housing is on the October 11, 2011 ballot. Please consider supporting passage of the two proposals. Transportation Improvements includes funding for the Blount/Person Corridor study and sidewalk improvements. More information is available at CouncilConsideringBondReferendum.html

Items for future Partnership consideration include changing meeting times or locations to allow for greater attendance by stakeholders and potential development of a Person Street Partnership website in addtion to the current PSP section on the Mordecai CAC website.

Next Steps

The next meeting will be held in December and include the exhibition of NCSU’s Person Street project. Let us know about additional topics you would like to have covered. Let us know any additions or corrections to these meeting notes. Feedback is welcome and encouraged; call Philip at 919-247-8794 or email jpbernard@earthlink.net.

Many thanks to Trisha Hasch and the Urban Design Center, and to Sarah Roholt and Naudain Machen for helping to organize the PSP meetings.

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Reid Serozi,
Sep 28, 2011, 4:44 AM
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Reid Serozi,
Sep 27, 2011, 1:56 PM
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