Monday, January 19, 2009

Urban News Vol. 36

I've got a couple of stories that could be filed under the urban development umbrella. One, a mass transit expansion progress report out of Pittsburgh, and another, a decision to re-evaluate earlier conceived plans for an interior business district within the City of Rochester make up the meat and potatoes of today's post.

by Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Article Key Points:
  • Second of two tunnels beneath Allegheny River complete
  • Special boring machine built by Herrenknecht AG headed back to Germany
  • About 69,000 cubic yards of material removed
  • Tunnel will connect downtown via rail to the North Side attractions

Pittsburgh's subway is really a light rail that runs underground in the densest urban areas and through the steepest mountains. One of the perks is free travel between downtown stations on 1st Avenue, Steel Plaza, Wood Street, and Gateway center. Now people will be able to access PNC Park, Heinz Field, the Carnegie Science Center, and a planned riverfront Casino on what has been coined the North Shore in recent years.

Clinton Avenue Project Back to Square One
by Brian Sharp, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Article Key Points:

  • City planners starting over on N. Clinton Avenue project previously known as La Avenida
  • Mayor Duffy hoping for a more dramatic change to take place between Upper Falls Blvd. and Clifford Avenue
  • La Avenida is one of the 'shovel ready' projects seeking funding under national economic stimulus bills

It's good to see quotes such as, "If we're going to do it, let's do it right" from the mayor. I hope that what he is referring to is that La Avenida in its original conception was simply a strip mall (the kind term used in the article is shopping center) with Puerto Rican themed window dressing. Looking it at thru hardcore urbanist-colored glasses, its easy to see what's wrong with this picture. The first is that if you are trying to create a hub for a community (despite the fact that it once already had a hub which was summarily discarded by those with financial means), catering to the automobile is not the way to go about it (The two entrance argument doesn't hold water with me. Most classic businesses have once entrance on the street. The business should be selected to serve the neighborhood first and foremost, not suburban tourists.).

There is no reason that the ever elusive and abstract 'diversity' cannot be catered to on a traditional neighborhood development platter. It is this very denseness that creates excitement in city districts deemed worth caring about like Park Avenue and the awakening South Wedge. I posit much like Jane Jacobs that disadvantaged citizenry does not make an area 'dangerous' or crime-ridden by itself. It is gaps in the built environment in the neighborhood that provide additional haven to undesirable activity by reducing the innate monitoring ability of eyes on the street. I wish the North Clinton Business Association and affiliated neighborhood associations the best in not settling for the quick buck, easy way out, suburban development pattern.

1 comment:

thethirdcoast said...

Damn son, you're a lot more dedicated than I am.

I need to post up about skiing, ski tuning, etc.