Last night I checked the front page of this site and noticed that due to the archiving of the giant transit article, there was little meat on the front page. Gotta fill some space to keep it looking pretty, so here goes…
A couple of years ago, as the new North Hills (fuschia) was reopening, the property across Six Forks Road caught my eye. I saw an outdated bank building, a tiny motel, a closed Bennigan’s, an outdated office mall, and a non-descript glassy office building. Behind that was a large set of low-rise apartment buildings that had seen better days and a street that meandered without a purpose. I thought,"Wouldn’t it be cool to expand this North Hills idea across the street where more substantial buildings could go in?"
I returned from my only Las Vegas visit thoroughly impressed with the Bellagio hotel and its dancing fountains. It seemed a crescent-shaped building with an italian flair, like the Bellagio, could go in the place of the North Hills office plaza (yellow). On the building’s east side would be an elliptical pool with dancing waters (blue), much like the Bellagio’s but to a far smaller scale. Also like that hotel, the building could gracefully step downward with restaurants perched overlooking the water. To the east of the waters, the newly aligned St. Alban’s Drive (brown line) could cut through at its current elevation. The water plaza would be one story above the street, disconnecting pedestrians from the vehicular thoroughfare.
To the east of St. Albans would be three blocks of shopping village (purple), each with parking decks flanking to the exterior. To the south the project could house a big box retailer like a much-needed Home Depot as well as a large parking garage (orange). Graduating away from the retail mall would be various housing (pink) including a 3-sided condo tower, stand-alone housing, row houses like those on Capitol Hill in Washington, and condominiums. A park also could fit in on the south side of the project.
Cars would access the project from a newly aligned Dartmouth Street segment called "St Alban’s". It would proceed downhill from Six Forks as it currently does, however it would curve to the right and pass through the development as if it were a bypass road. Camelot Drive would intersect the curving St. Alban’s at an intersection after receiving Dartmouth Drive. This intersection could be an interesting residential corner. The project would be connected to the New North Hills via a pedestrian bridge or a tram.
The idea here is to develop Phase II of a master new-urbanist development that begins at North Hills and continues all the way to Atlantic Avenue. Shopping centers and existing office and residential areas could be redeveloped to a confluent, walkable area that would eventually reach a TTA transit station. The village could have its own free transit circulation to tie different phases together, and a pedestrian and/or bus transit-only bridge over I-440 halfway between Six Forks Road and Wake Forest Road could connect the north and the south portions.
Just after throwing my ideas for this Phase II on paper we got the opportunity to move into a fantastic house down the street. I got buried in moving chores and never bothered to drop my plans off in John Kane’s mailbox (like I did with my original North Hills plan). Nine months later (one year ago from now) Kane announced plans to build North Hills East. His plans look different from mine, but are nonetheless an exciting addition to work well done so far.