Within the last year I have written a great deal about cities and the historic buildings they should be obligated to see maintained. Many cities cannot, will not, or do not want to penalize or fine the industrial and commercial property owners who fail to maintain the buildings within their care. Often what happens is that these neglected buildings are then demolished because they are supposedly beyond repair or structurally unsound.
It should be noted that buildings are rarely too far gone, even when roofs are missing and the “elements” have begun to reek havoc, and that often these very buildings are “structurally sound.”
Reconnect Rochester is a non-profit organization I founded a few years ago to advocate for transportation alternatives in Rochester. We work for pedestrian-friendly streets, and we push for improved public transportation. These things are important to me because I’ve seen firsthand what happens to places that focus too much attention on providing spaces for automobiles, and not enough on spaces for people.
If you don’t quite get what I’m talking about, you can listen to me blabber on . But if you’re already with me, please make plans to leave your car at home this Thursday; a day we’re calling “ROC Transit Day”…
Welcome back to our three part series on Charlotte. We’ve arrived at part three. This is it, the omega. If you recall, all the way back in part one, we said this part would be broken up into three sections:
1. Residential and Commercial Development;
2. Transportation; and
So without further adieu, let’s jump right in. Ok, one quick disclaimer, Charlotte as a whole is pretty big, too big for one little three part column. With that in mind, I’m cutting off Charlotte at Denise Road, similar to the other parts. Maybe someday I can write an addendum addressing the southern portion of the neighborhood. But enough of that – Onward!
Fellow Rochesterians, lend me your ears. I recently visited the reasonably pleasant city of Portland, OR. While I was there, I couldn’t help but notice a rather cleverly decorated, midcentury modern building. It was this one, actually…
Imagine you are the new owner of a giant, underutilized parking lot*. What would you do with it? Would you leave it as is? Tear out the pavement and start a community garden? What if there was an apartment building next to it. Would you tear it down and build a skyscraper? These are all excellent ideas. We here at filling in solicited input from a variety of fellow RochesterSubway.com contributors, and it’s clear that we all have different ideas about what to do…
*Disclaimer – I am a new part owner of a giant, underutilized parking lot. This one, in fact.
Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you with the alarming headline, but the traffic-calming project that was proposed for Lake Avenue (at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery) is dead. I received word yesterday from a friend in Charlotte that Mayor Lovely Warren has ordered City engineers to kill the planned lane reduction. Warren caved in to pressure from Charlotte residents & merchants who feared the lane reduction would cause traffic jams and hurt businesses in Charlotte.
In addition to reconstructing the 1 mile section of Lake Avenue, the plan would have reduced the lanes from four to three – with one lane in each direction plus a center turn lane. Why would the City take away traffic lanes?! Relax, you don’t have to worry about it anymore…
Welcome back, readers. It’s been a while. Today I’d like to look at a project that we could bring into the pipeline almost immediately. I say could, because there are almost assuredly zoning issues with what I’m proposing. That said, we could still get rolling on it immediately, because the site happens to already be on the market for $10,000! Let’s see what we’re getting for our money, what we’re building, and some numbers on the whole thing…
I was thinking about our collective reactions to the proposed D&C building, and the completed Windstream building. Clearly both buildings are more modest than what many of us hoped to see in this key downtown site (and what the zoning code spells out for downtown). It’s an issue that I think applies to all infill development downtown, and the ideas behind Incremental Urbanism shed some interesting light on it.
Recently, RochesterSubway.com asked Facebook fans who they were voting for in the upcoming race for Mayor. The results are in. Statistically speaking, no one should read too much into this crudely constructed poll. But it did attract some rather interesting results.
If this race were decided on Facebook likes, Tom Richards (Independent) wins hands down with 23. Alex White (Green) finished with 7. And Lovely Warren (Democrat) pulled in 2 (and one person voted for all three candidates). Richards also had the edge with the shear number of comments left.
If anything can be taken away from this, it’s that Lovely Warren supporters were missing in action. Not one positive comment was left for Warren. Either they don’t read RochesterSubway.com, or they are busy on the campaign trail. We’ll know for sure tomorrow night.
DO NOT miss your chance to voice your choice at the real polls tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the comments…
Recent commentary from the Green Party candidate for mayor made me realize that for many, there are simplistic black and white arguments regarding the value of investing in downtown versus investment in education and poverty alleviation.
The Green Party outrage over the sale of Midtown to Buckingham/Morgan developers for $2.00 is one example. I’d like to talk about how the economics work, and why I think there’s a bigger picture being overlooked…
Rochester is a city with a rich history that has experienced a steady decline in population, quality of life, and reputation. Despite this the city has many proud residents who are not satisfied with the status quo. Due to repeated failures we’re skeptical of large projects. This environment of pride mixed with skepticism has produced a generation of Rochester supporters who embrace progressive ideas, respect history, and proceed with caution. My personal contribution is a plan to establish a large State University in Downtown Rochester. We’ll call it SUNY Rochester.
There’s a new development called I-Square being built right now in Irondequoit. It’s one of those “new urban” designs with mixed-use buildings placed along the sidewalk and a little public space in the center of it all. Where’s the parking? Right where it should be, behind the buildings, hidden from the street. The end result will be an attractive street front and a destination for people to come and walk around – maybe spend a little time and money. Very exciting.
But right around the corner, on Hudson Avenue, is a proposal for a new Aldi grocery store. It’s the exact opposite of I-Square – a more typical, drive in & drive out, sub-urban design. This got me thinking…
I stopped by Iola on Sunday to check on what’s left, and I snapped these pics. In front of the main building there was once a circle with concrete benches and lamp posts. To be perfectly honest I coveted the abandoned lamp posts and thought of ways I could possibly “reclaim” them, but my conscience always prevented me from doing so. Well, I should have because the picture above shows the careful attention the deconstruction crew is taking to features that could be re-used. That’s the base and the flattened steel post is above it. I think my reclamation would have been better than this treatment. Damn conscience.
Within a 30 minute drive of downtown Rochester, beyond the suburban development surrounding the city, is the Village of Honeoye Falls. Honeoye Falls is not a typical crossroads village though. Like Rochester, it was settled due to the location of the waterfalls to provide power to mills in the early 1800s. Unlike Rochester though, it never grew large enough to lose the majority of its Main Street to large suburban plazas, malls, and ‘big boxes’.
Dunkin’ Donuts is interested in constructing a new location with a drive-thru, in a section of the village which currently has a small concentration of commercial development, but the village code currently disallows drive-thru restaurants. The Mayor and some members of the Village Board are supporting a proposal to change the code to allow Dunkin’ Donuts to build a drive-thru even though the village is in the midst of updating the Comprehensive Plan. Convenience and an additional source of revenue for the village government may come at a high cost though if a drive-thru is allowed…
Reconnect Rochester has alerted us to an important informational meeting tonight about the Inner Loop’s future (or lack thereof). As we wait to find out whether or not this project will be a recipient of a USDOT TIGER grant, the City is moving forward with plans to scale down a large portion the underutilized 12-lane highway. Ultimately that will mean greater connectivity between downtown and the neighborhoods to the east, and lower road maintenance costs in the long run. If there was ever a big road project to support, this is it.
One of the sites that the city has, let’s say aspirationally, earmarked for development is the site of the former Sherwood Shoe Company. The shoe company itself was incorporated in 1905 by Frederick A. Sherwood, and the factory for it was built on this site at roughly the same time. I’m less sure when it was torn down, but it is on the 1935 plat maps, so it was certainly there through the depression. (UPDATE: the photo above is from 1956)
As for what to do here, I think there are a million great ideas, and I am hoping that we are able to get a good conversation of the various uses: lofts where the factory used to be? More houses? All of these things and more? All great ideas, and I’m not one to come to the table empty handed, so let’s take a look at what I think should go here.
A couple of weeks ago photographer Clarke Conde shared some dirty photos of Rochester’s riverfront on Facebook. Those photos made me sad. Dead trees, algae and trash had been collecting in this section of the river for over well over year. Smelly algae and logs are one thing. But add piles of plastic bottles, clothing, styrofoam, truck tires, other undesirables, and let stew for a year or more? To me, that’s more than a cosmetic problem. If I’m from out of town, I’d probably think Rochesterians just don’t give a hoot.
Thankfully, we all know that isn’t true. We pulled together. And we made a difference…
I went to a big expensive university to study art for four years. I’ve traveled to Italy and marveled at the work of the great masters. I’ve gone out of my way to tip-toe through all the fancy art museums and galleries in New York and Toronto.
Earlier in the week I rode my bike down Rochester’s El Camino Trail. I’m not sure why, but art has never taken my breath away quite like this…
If you’ve been following along, you know how we’ve been trying to apply a little design for the betterment of our transit system. First we took a shot at designing a better bus stop sign for Rochester. RGRTA is currently studying that concept in anticipation of one day replacing their existing signs. Next we designed a better bus pass for which RGRTA gave a nod of approval. The new passes will be rolled out very soon!
But wait, there’s more! RGRTA has now asked for help redesigning one of the most important transit tools of all; their big, bad, bus schedules…
WHOA! Not so fast.
It appears RocSubway jumped the gun and accidentally published some information that wasn’t ready for primetime. New bus schedule designs are being worked on, but it will be some time before they are finalized and ready to be shared. If you caught the sneak peek, congrats. And thanks for providing your feedback!
The City of Rochester recently put the finishing touches on some beautiful hardscaping and pathways connecting Mount Hope Avenue to the Genesee River Trail. Doesn’t a stroll along the river on a warm summer evening sound divine?
Umm, nah… I’ll take a rain check maybe. Have you seen our river lately?! LOOK at this…
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.