Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Urban News Vol. 69

I felt the need to comment on this news piece as I'd just had a conversation with some colleagues about fallacies in the design thought process of 60's and 70's housing projects.

by Brian Sharp, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Some credit is due here to the much-maligned Bret Garwood of 72 Conkey Avenue fame, officially the city's director of business and housing development.  It seems that the minds of some members of council are firmly planted in the superblock approach to housing development, the dangers of which can be seen below.

The consequences of wholesale neighborhood clearance in order to impose the suburban ideal include:

Complete loss of the small-scale commercial spine on Clinton, Joseph, and Hudson Avenues

Pedestrian connectivity between neighborhoods north of Upper Falls Blvd (a contrived car-mover itself) and downtown is effectively obliterated by this single-use zoning bonanza.

Concentration of Poverty

While the design is despotic, it is repeated all over the Town of Brighton to less deleterious effect.  The stigma attached to the city versions of housing projects is class driven and the crime associated with it a result of more desperate circumstances.

Car Ownership Mandate

It was established in my first point that even residents of the neighborhood may now live so far from the segregated commercial agglomeration that car ownership is seen as necessary.  My second point established that these are the people who can least afford it.  This is a recipe for continued financial struggle, disenfranchisement from society of the elderly, and a wasteful squandering of additional energy resources.

In conclusion, the Voters Block project (a 3-story, a renovation, some singles, some doubles) is EXACTLY the pattern of development that the West Side should be employing.  There is already a car centric barrier to activity across the street on the old State Hospital site.  Those days are over!

I wanted to comment on another story weeks ago and since I can't guarantee any sort of posting timeframe anymore, I'll just tack this on.

by Brian Sharp, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

All I want to say here is that these would be an extremely excellent addition...if they were on Washington Street, the next block to the West.  I fear they lack the scale for a major downtown street such as Plymouth as well as the attendant commercial vitality that makes streets like Toronto's Bloor Street West popular.

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