Meeting Report: PSP Meeting #5 - - Momentum Continues to Build!

posted May 8, 2012, 2:50 PM by Philip Bernard   [ updated May 8, 2012, 3:35 PM ]

The first quarterly meeting of 2012 of the Person Street Partnership (PSP) was held on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at the Urban Design Center with approximately 25 in attendance. The Partnership's main focus is 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 re-capping the successful Holiday Open House held in December 2011 on Person Street with approximately 250 people stopping in over the course of the event. The Open House showcased final project designs from NCSU architecture professor Tom Barrie's senior student design studio, "The Person Street Project". A special preview reception was held for business and property owners and was well attended. Representatives from Rapid Fitness were on hand to announce their exciting plans to open their downtown location on Person Street in the former Super 10 dollar store. 

Updates from businesses and organizations within the Person Street area included:

New Businesses --  Two new businesses have opened their doors in 2012: Discount Hair Salon next to Piebird and Illya Alexieff Architect and associates next to the Person Street Pharmacy. Another new business, Oak City Cycling Project is coming to Franklin Street right around the corner from Nicole’s Gallery. www.oakcitycycling.com

Barbershop Gallery - - Artist Claire Johnson has agreed to provide artwork for the window gallery for the next six months with the display rotating every 30 days. Plans are developing for the installation of a mural on the side of the barbershop stretching along Pace Street.

Governors Square --   Homeowners Association President, Tim Rogers noted that landscaping in the courtyard between the buildings and the perimeter will be re-evaluated in the near future  to provide more of a street presence and connection to the Person St. business district.

Rapid Fitness - - Renovations are almost complete with a targeted opening date in late April. The parking lot has been repaved and landscaping installed. Update: Rapid Fitness is now open.

Person Street Plaza - - Market Restaurant, Escazu Chocolates and Yellow Dog Bread Company will be relocating to the Person Street Plaza. In addition, Market Restaurant will be adding a 4,000 sq foot grocery store to the plaza. There are currently 2 spaces available for lease with approximately 60 to 70 percent of the plaza leased. Chef Chad McIntyre of Market Restaurant noted that they plan for the restaurant to be 1,500 sq feet with an interior connection to the adjacent 4,000 sq ft grocery. The restaurant will be next to the City Farm with outdoor seating available. Chad is investigating potential collection of rainwater from the roof of the plaza buildings for the farm’s use. The grocery will feature meat, dairy products and fresh produce from local farmers. It would also offer a few other amenities such as green cleaning supplies and locally made artisan soaps. Chad is hoping for an opening in the latter part of 2012.

Raleigh City Farm - -   Ground has been broken for their first crop after several successful volunteer days. For more information, see http://raleighcityfarm.com/.

Nicole’s Gallery - -   Has relocated to a larger, freshy renovated space next door to her former location and is continuing to serve as a First Friday venue. Her former space is still available. Unconfirmed reports of a coffee shop in that location have materialized.

Former Rosie’s Plate location - -   Niall Hanley with Hibernian Pub on Glenwood made a "soft announcement" his "intention" to open a neighborhood brasserie in the currently vacant space. Comfort food, Sunday brunch, international beers and wine would be offered to a neighborhood oriented customer base. He would maintain the charm of the exterior of the building but would provide for a cozy feel on the interior. While the planning is in very early stages, the new business could be open before year-end if all goes well with planning.

Peace College - -  John Cranham, Peace Vice-President of Buildings and Grounds of Peace College was receptive and willing to work on several issues related to the area: 1. potentially using Peace’s vacant lot on Blount Street for a parking area between Peace college and the business district; 2. potentially re-establishing a walkable connection to Seaboard Station along the route of the former Franklin Street now that neighbors are allowed to traverse the campus grounds; and 3. Peace hosting an outdoor neighborhood/student event on their grounds.

Blount Street Commons - -  The developers have been successful in increasing the density of the project. The first phase will be to construct an apartment complex on Wilmington Street that has increased from three to five stories. Parking will be within the footprint of the building. Also, John Butler of Fonville Morrissey Realtors noted that there are several letters of intent on the parcel at the corner of Peace/Person Streets and hopes to have something finalized in the near future. Update: John reported that there is currently a contract on the parcel and will provide more info as it becomes available.

NCAIA Headquarters - - The new building is open and occupied. David Crawford of the AIA has offered meeting space to the PSP for future meetings.

 

Other reports provided to attendees included:

 

Elizabeth Alley, Urban Design Center, announced that the Raleigh City Council has approved the selection of AECOM to assist the City with the Blount Street and Person Street Corridor Plan Study. The AECOM team includes Alta/Greenways and Susan Hatchell Landscape Architecture, PLLC. The study will cover the entire Blount Street and Person Street corridor, from the Circus Family Restaurant on Wake Forest Road at Old Louisburg Road to the intersection of Hammond Road at I-40. The Blount Street and Person Street Corridor Plan Study will include detailed transportation scenario models, streetscape plans, and analysis of the potential impacts to community character and economic development potential, as well as recommendations, cost estimates and strategies for project implementation. The study will provide multiple opportunities for public input from stakeholders in the area, including an anticipated kickoff meeting in June. It is anticipated that the study will begin this summer with completion by mid-2013. A project website will be established.

 

Paul Reimel, Economic Development Manager for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, provided a summary of recent activities in the Person Street area that are helping to create the Person Street “brand” and  build relationships with business and property owners as well as residents and potential customers. He noted that the current momentum on Person Street is off to an incredible start toward a more vibrant business district. Activities have included exciting new business announcements, the Oktoberfest held in fall 2011, the Music on the Porch series, and the  ongoing activities of the Raleigh City Farm.  

Tina Govan, a neighborhood architect in Oakdale has volunteered to organize/plan a streetscape improvement  project in the Person Street that will focus on a comprehensive façade/exterior project. John Siebert, an architect who lives on Franklin Street wished to provide input as well.

Reid Serozi, Mordecai CAC, discussed communication sources available to the PSP. Currently, the PSP has a page on the Mordecai CAC site but eventually it might want to establish a separate website. Reid noted that the PSP could do more outreach to citizen stakeholders. For example, it could leverage the Mordecai neighborhood Facebook fan page.

Speaker:

Tom Barrie, AIA, Professor of Architecture, NCSU, presented a power point presentation of the “Person Street Project” prepared by 12 senior students (including 4 exchange students) from the School of Architecture that focused on the Person Street commercial area. Tom believes such projects are important to improve design literacy and help educate stakeholders about the value of design.

The four teams were asked to address: transit issues, green urbanism, streetscapes and place-making. The project incorporated contemporary urban design issues with a particular emphasis on mixed-use, pedestrian-scaled urban villages. The project included the design of a mixed-used housing project for the development sites at the north end of Person Street, specifically the Person Street Plaza and the then-vacant Super 10 (now Rapid Fitness). The students’ completed projects were exhibited at the Holiday Open House.

Next, Tom Barrie and Elizabeth Alley were panelists in a discussion regarding how ideas are transformed into buildable projects. Questions and responses included the following highlights:

What latitude is available to change streetscapes across the City? Is there one “model” to which all areas must conform?

Streetscapes should be context-sensitive solutions that still accommodate traffic needs.

Has  the current streetscape plan been replaced by the new Unified Development Ordinance?

No, the big change to streetscapes due to the UDO will be that the approval process for mixed use projects will be much easier.

For new construction or renovation of existing buildings, can suggestions/ideas be made by neighbors or can the individual property owner/developer just do what they want?

There are general guidelines from the City for parking and streetscape but obtaining and addressing stakeholder input shows value of good relationships (such as the PSP). The City does provide façade grants, which are a 50 percent match budget-permitting.

Next Steps:

The next meeting will be held in June with potentially a speaker discussing complete streets and a report on streetscaping/facade proposals. Please 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.

Also mentioned, the possibility of obtaining non-profit status for the PSP to assist in obtaining grants, soliciting donations, etc. to further the PSP’s goal of bringing property owners, business owners, stakeholders, residents, and Raleigh City Staff together to work jointly on creating a vibrant business community on Person Street and a livable, pedestrian friendly boulevard along Wake Forest Road.

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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