Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Urban News Vol. 12

Hello all. Hard to believe the Rochester New Urbanists will hold their first meetup in just 8 days. Apologies if writing is sparse here until then. I still have 4-5 more slides to work out in addition to what I plan on saying behind them. More on that later.

I'd like to highlight a couple of stories that don't directly have to do with the built environment just yet, but certainly would going forward. They involve a downtown post office reorganization and a possible law school coming to downtown Rochester.

Postal Officials Discuss Facilities
by Gary McLendon, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Article Key Points:
  • Plans to close five postal facilities and build or renovate six
  • New facilities would open in fall of 2009
  • No decisions have been made on the exact locations of the new facilities
  • Plan would close original Cumberland Street Post Office
  • Five facilities would either be constructed or housed in renovated buildings

This is of course notable as it effects the efficiency of services necessary for the new downtown constituency to self-generate economic activity. I'll admit I originally didn't read the story thoroughly and panicked when faced with the prospect of no downtown post office. According to the D&C map (left), something would be located near Main and Plymouth as well as Main and Chestnut to replace 3 downtown branches in Midtown, the original regional post office, and the federal building. While sad to see the Cumberland Street landmark (right) go, which persevered despite its amputation from contiguous downtown by the inner loop, the most important thing is to keep branches close to existing public transit until critical mass develops for improved modes. I personally have used the Midtown Post Office twice in the past week during bus transfers.

Downtown Might Draw a Law School
by Bennett J. Loudon and Jill Terreri, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Article Key Points:

  • St. John Fisher College expected to get $2.5M in state budget to pursue project
  • School officials hope to persuade private investment to move forward
  • Fisher would need to raise between $7-9 million in capital
  • State Senator Robach, who secured funding, in favor of using existing space

Any time you can add a post graduate program to a city core, you are bringing in an indirect economic generator. The haters would have you believe that focusing on downtown is a waste of time, that neighborhoods are more worthy of focus. Here is my rebuttal. A strong downtown creates a market for skilled employees, if these employees are smart about market forces going forward, they'll prefer to live close to work. At some point this housing market becomes saturated to the point where some choose to live in adjoining neighborhoods like Park/East or Corn Hill. Finding these largely full, the movement spreads to the South Wedge and the Public Market. What's the next logical conclusion? An improvement of the city from the inside out, much like the fearful exodus of the 60's, 70's, and 80's gutted the city in the same manner.

Done preaching for today (sorry, the haters really get me worked up...), I'd like to ask my regular readers if there are any particular re-use projects they'd like to see included in my New Urbanism presentation. I have profiled one in Rochester and one in Scranton and am looking for three more. Preferably, the first would be in Detroit and the other two from two other cities not covered. Also, it would be helpful if there are before and after pictures easily available on the internet. Please comment even if you don't have a suggestion. I'd love to get a feel for who is reading this on a daily or weekly basis.

1 comment:

tom sheepandgoats said...

For a short time, I carried mail out of the Cumberland station and Midtown. The facilities are both archaec beyond belief....dungeons, really.

Cumberland is large enough in square feet to be forgiving, but Midtown in tiny and jammed. Still, somehow it seemed to work.

Mail carriers transfer to Midtown as their last step before retirement. Postal authorities work very hard to make sure veteran carriers have plenty to do right up until quitting time, and even over. Substitute carriers, unfamiliar with the routes, don't have a prayer, but knowing the disadvantage, they are usually afforded help.

Midtown is the only station in which a carrier might finish his/her route while it is yet morning. Businesses MUST get their mail early, and they get such a huge volume that sorting it takes too long to also tack on an afternoon residential route.

Perhaps the new station will address this "problem," though I assure you, it is not a problem from the carrier's standpoint.