Tag Archives: Businesses

Meeting about design for James/Midler corner

Sent in by Babette Baker regarding the development of the southwest corner of James and Midler (where the Sport Center once stood, where Fifi’s Ice Cream is now):

Information Meeting On the Proposed Kinney Drug Store Project

Monday, August 15th -7pm
James St Methodist Church
3027 James St.
Syracuse, NY

Representatives from the Development and Design Team will be present to answer questions.

Babette Baker
City of Syracuse
Department of Neighborhood and Business Development
(v)  315.448-8173
(c) 315.935-3773
(f) 315.448.8036

It’s very hard, after over 10 years of looking at a pile of rubble at a major intersection in our neighborhood, to project five or ten years down the road and try to imagine what we will have wished we’d done in 2011.  We’re desperate for something clean, nice, and shop-able in that spot. And to be frank, given the number of years that have gone by without a solution, I’m not so sure there really is another solution besides another convenience store (Kinney’s). It’s basically a repetition of stores we already have, and apparently we don’t have enough people in this neighborhood who want anything but their medications and the stuff China ships us. I get that.

But, because I just can’t leave a thought unexpressed, I’d like to go back to this pattern of development that has plagued Syracuse and, apparently, still plagues it: pave paradise and put a parking lot. In a walkable community with lots of free parking along the streets (the side streets, anyway, but that’s another can of worms), why would we need the usual sea of asphalt that these convenience stores demand?  Perhaps you, dear reader, have seen the Walgreens parking lot filled to capacity, and do let me know if you have, but I have not.

So I’d ask that you re-read this article: Other cities series: historic fabric. Ask yourself if it’s true that there is nothing we can do to preserve the historic fabric – the built history – of James Street. Maybe this design will surprise us. Maybe it will adhere to our overlay district guidelines while leaving existing buildings intact.

I deeply appreciate all the hard work that Mr. Marcoccia has put into the development of this corner. He came to us once with a design – for a gas station – that really did not work for us. And he didn’t put us through the years of hell that we experienced with a certain other developer. Instead, he went back to the drawing board, and for that I am deeply grateful.

I am hoping that this new design will be at least closer to what will benefit Eastwood. And if there’s any way, please let not too much more asphalt mar the fabric of our business district. In ten years, when gas is at $7/gallon and we’re walking a lot more, we might wish we’d kept it after all.

Those Eastwood people are at it again

There’s nothing that gets an Eastwood person more hoppin’ mad than a threat to the always-on-the-brink James Street business district. Similarly, there’s always much rejoicing when something – anything – goes right there. We’ve fought to keep gas stations from popping up all over the place. We’ve lived through the years of the Walgreens battles, which ended up securing Eastwood’s fame for protecting its overlay district guidelines. We’ve expressed deep, deep concern about what might happen to the James and Midler intersection. And we’ve also celebrated the successes: excellent streetscape improvements, the renovation of the Palace Theater, the facade improvements at Pomco, the continued success of the Burger Joint and our two independent book stores, Books End and Books and Memories.

Now, oddly enough, there’s a threat coming from the mother ship itself, City Hall, and Eastwood residents and business people have responded with what I believe is a first: an online petition (and I’m not the one who created it!). The threat comes in the form of an increase in the aggressive enforcement of parking rules, made all the more onerous by the installation of parking machines. These machines are confusing to some, difficult to use for others, and, during a winter like this one, sometimes impossible to get at. And that’s just for starters. As it turns out, Eastwood is not like, say, downtown Manhattan, or downtown Syracuse for that matter, where there’s enough density to put parking spots at a premium. In fact, Eastwood is surrounded by businesses where parking is free – in Shop City, along Teall Ave and Erie Blvd, in East Syracuse, even at the Eastwood Plaza. It’s no wonder people think that, if parking might cause them to risk a $35 fine, it just makes more sense to completely avoid doing business in Eastwood.

I have heard from several James Street business owners who have said that those parking meters chase business away. One of our most dedicated business people, the owner of Books and Memories, is concerned that his business will fail if the machines aren’t removed. After all our hard work making Walgreens conform to guidelines, it is greatly disquieting to see the city punish businesses on James – the kind we want there, the kind that attract people into Eastwood like Books and Memories does. Walgreens was allowed to lay down a sea of asphalt at the gateway of our neighborhood, but the businesses that were already there on James Street are made to suffer. Where is the logic in this?

If it made sense to have meters there, you’d see James Street packed with parked cars all the time. But the meters have driven away those people who would have come here, so now whatever revenue might have been obtained from them has dried up. The city loses, our struggling businesses lose, and the property values of the residents necessarily start to drop as James Street teeters once again at the brink.

I’ve been thrilled with the transparency and responsiveness of the current administration. This makes it all the more astounding that our business district is not getting the tender loving care that it needs. Instead, it’s been roped into some kind of blanket “solution” to the fiscal nightmare the city faces. Making life difficult for businesses doesn’t solve a thing.  If you put business out of business with parking meters that don’t even collect quarters any more, you have created a lose-lose situation.

Please, let’s sell those machines to Manhattan. They need ’em a lot more than we do. Let’s keep these businesses on the tax rolls. Let’s keep our home values and assessments up. The city cannot afford to let tumbleweed go rolling through our business district.

To learn more about this issue and to sign a petition to pull the parking machines, please go to this site: Eastwood Renaissance Association

Lone car that dared to park gets ticket. $35 goes into city coffers. Business loses yet another hard-won customer for good.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.