Thursday, February 14, 2008

Downtown Design Charrette

Tia and I attended the unveiling and presentation of the Downtown Design Charrette last night. I would have had something up sooner, but I'm plagued by a sore throat and congestion so I thought it better to get as much sleep as possible. I will link through to the D&C and RNews' coverage like a regular Urban News entry and fill in the spaces with my commentary at the end.

Midtown Designs Unveiled
by Brian Sharp, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Article Key Points:

  • Charrette recommendations will be compiled into a report later this month
  • PaeTec hopes to have conceptual drawings for their portion of the redevelopment completed by the end June
  • Planners recommended hollowing out the Sibley Building to create courtyard style natural light usage
  • The RRCDC representatives will meet today with PaeTec representatives to discuss ideas
  • Craig Jensen, presenter of the Midtown focus area, stressed the importance of PaeTec building up and not out to leave a maximum amount of other developmental space

Downtown Rochester Plans Refined
by Mike Hedeen, RNews

Article Key Points:

  • Charrette recommendations may form an addendum to the 2004 City Master Plan
  • Architect Al Pardi places an emphasis on beautifying the public realm
  • RDDC President Heidi Zimmer-Meyer reiterates the importance of retaining young professionals and the reality that Rochester is in economic competition with international cities

This has been my busiest week of work in months, so I'm even more late with this than I was this morning when I began writing, but I'd like to start by saying that the public can view the plans on easels as shown in the RNews article and to the left. The exhibit will be taking place tomorrow (Friday) night at the RRCDC Design Gallery (directions) at 1115 East Main Street from 6 to 9 PM. You can buy the main promotional poster with a downtown overview and paragraphs on design goals for $10.

Among the things that I was very impressed with was an excellent vision for the Southeast quadrant of downtown. In addition to filling in the Inner Loop from East Main to its junction w 490 near South Ave, streets such as Broad and Chestnut would be NARROWED to reduce speeding and better accomodate pedestrians. I could type forever about what I saw, but I'll simply say that the most appealing structure proposed for the former Inner Loop real estate would be an arcaded market the likes of which you see in Ottawa's ByWard Market or Baltimore's Broadway Market at Fell's Point. This model would actually even add parking spaces to the East End rather than detract from them for those of you concerned about those things.

I will also laud the efforts of the High Falls focus area team. Their vision includes such things as a wildlife refuge on the large islands and flatland in the gorge along with a tram loop that would shuttle people between High Falls Entertainment, a possible Genesee Beer Garden, and Frontier Field. Platt St. could be converted into a secondary entertainment corridor with the re-use of the main Kodak parking lot between State St. and Plymouth Ave. A multi-story garage would be built in the center of that lot with liner buildings along Platt and State to respect the street and connect the ballpark to the 'High Falls Village' as it was coined. Another out of the box suggestion included turning an abandoned forge into an Artist's kiln. Very visionary.

I will refrain from commenting further since I want to encourage attendance at the gallery. I will certainly be posting on the recommendation report at that time. On a personal note, the place we went to inspect on Greig St. was a complete bust. The square footage and potential were enormous, but the previous tenants left behind a lot of damage. A shame really, but not something undoable for someone interested in getting a deal and putting some money into it. So its full speed ahead with the University Ave. property and we'll be meeting to list our Webster Condo this weekend.

1 comment:

thethirdcoast said...

WTF is with the comments on the D&C article? That guy should be blogging about this too!