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Future downtown Raleigh high-rises will reduce wind

I've always thought that wind gusts seemed to be stronger in downtown Raleigh than in my neighborhood a few miles outside the city. I never quite knew for sure.

Turns out I was right. On windy winter days, we can blame Fayetteville Street's tall buildings for that extra blast of cold on the way to lunch. City planners point to the PNC Plaza building as one of the biggest culprits, since its 33 stories of glass and steel rise directly from the street front.

The winds might die down with future additions to Raleigh's skyline. Under the development code the city council adopted last week, new buildings' tallest sections will be stepped back from the street. That means the part of the building closest to the street will only be a few floors high.

The new code currently requires several of those step-backs, but developers are concerned that could cost them too much square footage on upper floors. The council will look at relaxing the requirement when they tweak the new code this summer.

"We’re looking at just having a step-back on the third floor," Planning Director Mitchell Silver said Monday.

That design would still help reduce the downtown wind tunnel effect, he added.

City planner proposes to resurrect guerrilla Walk Raleigh signs

Planning Director Mitchell Silver pulled down Matt Tomasulo’s pedestrian navigation signs last week because they broke city rules. Now he wants to put them up again.

Tomasulo has agreed to give the city 27 signs he posted at three downtown street corners to promote shoe-leather transportation, in a civic-minded guerrilla campaign called “Walk Raleigh.”

Silver will ask permission from the City Council next week to resurrect Tomasulo’s idea in the form of an official 90-day city pilot project.

[3/7/12 update: Approved by council Tuesday, according to city news release:

The creator of the “Walk Raleigh” signs posted at up to three intersections in the Capital City has agreed to donate the signs to the City of Raleigh. The City Council voted unanimously today to accept the signs as a gift from Matt Tomasulo, a local college graduate student who launched the initiative to promote walking and healthy living in the Capital City.]

Each sign is simple: an arrow, a destination and the time it takes to walk there. A special scan code on each sign provides online directions for pedestrians equipped with smart phones. ... [MORE]

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