Sunday, June 22, 2008

Urban News Vol. 21

As one more weekend unfolds in which the best entertainment (Batavia vs. Youngstown @ Frontier, The Soul Rebels @ the Jazz Fest, Bob Schneider's After Hours Jam Sessions) and community spirit is found downtown, I finally made a new purchase offer on a townhouse on Mt. Hope Avenue. Hopefully the journey is almost over.

I'd like to thank all of you who are new to the blog (thanks to Itchy for making a much wider audience aware of my existence) and have helped make the last two days my busiest two days in terms of web traffic. I hope you find my insight on point and useful. To 'celebrate,' I am not only going to do the first blog entry between the hours of 12AM and 8AM, but also will put forth two separate posts on the same calendar day for the first time in the blog's five month history.

This bonus story comes courtesy of City Newspaper, refreshing in the fact that I don't have to give any more attention to the D&C and the preposterous 'community forum.'

by Tim Louis Macaluso, Rochester City Newspaper

Article Key Points:
  • City attempting to beat developers to the punch on scarce southeast quadrant opportunities
  • State-owned parcel offered to city for $1 with stringent set of restrictions
  • Building originally a cavalry training facility built in 1916
  • Recommendation of one and two story housing for the western end of the parcel
To be honest, I had never even thought of the possibilities laying fallow in the area. Once again the charrette concept comes into play as recommendations mentioned in the article derive from the 2004 Upper Monroe Charrette where citizen input was taken seriously.

I'll start my critique of the news by blasting these antithetical restrictions included in the state's original 'land gift.' What function would fragmenting government offices serve? Is there not the 2nd largest park in the city with numerous ballfields, tennis and basketball courts, and bodies of water across the street?

Now let's address the less inane (in fact, critical) matter of the type of development. The story states that the charrette recommended the armory itself to become an adaptive re-use/restoration retail and office complex. The caveat here is the built-in limitation on building entry points. Ostensibly retail would occupy the first floor (not sure if there is a traditional 2nd floor, these armories usually resemble old basketball arenas inside). Requiring the taking of pedestrians away from the street in turning the focus inward is a self-fulfilling prophecy for retail failure as is seen in the Chase One concourse. Complete office use may be a more reasonable expectation for the structure. However, a closer look at Pages 27 and 37 of the above linked PDF state that the community consensus was to use the armory for community purposes such as a mix between a YMCA location and a community theater.

It is somewhat difficult for me to make out the new building (red) relationship in the embedded photos. The northern subset certainly looks like townhouses while the southern appears to be single family homes. This time the charrette document corroborates the story including details about new roads, useful alleys, and a pedestrian bridge linking an extended Rosedale St. to Canterbury near Berkeley. The only thing in the article that caught my eye negatively about the talk about the western portion of the parcel was the mention of one-story housing. Obviously this refers to the single family housing and I would say that ranches really don't fit the character of the existing Hinsdale Street neighborhood.

The rest of the article deals with the city and state playing political games with codes and sums of money so I'll stop at the built environment (the truly important thing to the residents) as usual. The first impressions of the New York State Rail Plan are due to land in about 12-15 hours. Time to get some sleep.

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