Author: springmagazine

Our awful job market, 2015-now

A few years ago, I was at a store and a salesman was helping me. I could see he knew the products well. He was friendly, and intuitive, and knew the products and also how people usually interacted with them. In the end though, I decided not to buy. On my way out the door, I saw the owner smiling. He was glad that man, who was young, probably in his 20s, did not make that sale. That was probably the worst instance I remember of there being managers and owners who are actually glad when their most talented young workers are not making them money. So where are workers with skills and talent supposed to go? The job market and unemployment numbers don’t tell the whole story. The official unemployment rates keep going down. North Carolina’s unemployment rate in February was 3.6 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5 percent. For the past year, that figure has stayed below 4 percent. This cannot be true because even in the years before the financial crisis, …

RDU’s “Vision 2040” master plan is absurd

When Raleigh-Durham International Airport embarked on its $2.7 billion “Vision 2040” master plan in 2015, its facilities were actually the newest they had been in decades. Terminal 2, the main terminal at the airport, had been completed in 2011 at the cost of $570 million. The new 900,000-square-foot terminal featured designs from Fentress Architects and The Freelon Group. It had high undulating ceilings of beams made of Douglas firs, abundant natural light, a layout that was easy to navigate, and connections for travelers with laptops. It was the most modern terminal the airport had had in a long time. Terminal 1, the old “blue box,” as it was known, also had just finished renovating in 2014. Far from being dilapidated and spent, the RDU’s facilities in early 2015 were the newest they had been for decades. It was the culmination of the work of the airport’s 1994 master plan. So the question is: Why did RDU officials insist on doing a new master plan at all when its facilities were mostly new? Actually, Raleigh-Durham International …

Blog post: It’s March! It’s springtime… Isn’t it? Here are two music videos that remind me of spring.

Anyone ready for spring? March to me is a transitional month between February and April. I’m very aware of February. I’m happy and excited for April. March is that month where I’m a bit in a daze and often feel like, Um, is it winter still? Is it spring? I don’t know. Should I still cook some stew? Is it watermelon season yet? I’m so confused! In March 2018, I was commuting and working a lot and barely experienced the outdoors and the weather. Last year, I was more local at a job but I felt like I was in a cave, and again, barely went outside. This year, because of the coronavirus, there’s an air of fear and disgust everywhere. What to do about this? If I go on a hike, should I wear a mask — because, you know, fresh air might infect you? Just kidding. But this is how people are feeling and behaving, isn’t it? Like some random fresh air will infect you. The panic over the coronavirus has been crazy. …

No, the light rail was not a good idea. Part 2: The obvious questions and other objections

One year on, there are still two major questions about the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project, that was re-proposed in 2012 and then sporadically discussed in the community for years until late 2018, when it exploded into a toxic issue.
The questions: We’ve been going through a chaotic time. Why was GoTriangle so intent on pushing through a huge project instead of simply maintaining existing services?
And where did the $159 million spent on the light rail go?

Let’s talk about the redevelopment of the CVS building on Franklin Street

On Feb. 20, the Chapel Hill Town Council heard the first plans for the CVS building on Franklin Street from Cary-based Grubb Properties. The developer wants to completely revamp the look and feel of the building, located at 136 E. Franklin St. and 137 E. Rosemary St., that used to be known as the Bank of America Center. According to Grubb Properties’ marketing materials, it wants to put in a new façade, a new lobby in 136 Rosemary St., 16 new restrooms, new roof, new LED lighting, and it says, demolition of all interior walls. The developer also owns the parking deck at 125 E. Rosemary St., which it wants to demolish and replace with a new parking deck. Additionally, Grubb Properties wants to demolish the existing Wallace parking deck on Rosemary Street and replace it with 200,000 square feet of office and “wet lab space,” according to the N&O. Grubb had bought these properties last April for $23.5 million. The redevelopment plan also calls for new “public green spaces,” behind the Chapel Hill Post …

No, the light rail was not a good idea. Part 1: Going through the route in detail.

It has been nearly a year since Duke University rejected plans for the controversial Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit, leading to GoTriangle ending the project, and questions surrounding it still abound. To sum up, the light rail was planned to be a 17.7-mile train with 19 stops, and estimated to cost $2.5 billion. Construction was supposed to begin this year and last until 2028. The train had been proposed back in the ‘90s, then fallen out of the political conversation for some time, and GoTriangle, the organization in charge of transit in the greater Triangle area, brought this project back to the table again halfway through 2012. In 2014, analysts told GoTriangle there was room for growth in the bus system and the light rail, or DOLRT, was not needed. In 2015, Duke University told GoTriangle it was not on board. But by late 2018, GoTriangle put the light rail at the forefront again and that’s when this light rail became a politically charged, toxic and explosive issue. First of all, even in 2012, this project …