That decrepit building, known as the “Steak & Sundae building,” hugs the northeast corner of James and Midler. And we want to keep it because it follows the guidelines a lot better than an empty lot. In Eastwood you need a plan before you can just tear a building down.
Below you can see an aerial view of the corner of James and Midler. The “Steak & Sundae” building is indicated by an asterisk: *. That building is inviting for people to walk into, as long as it’s maintained and occupied, of course. Most important, it holds the corner and its parking lot is mostly in the rear. “Urbanism starts with the location of the parking lot.”
Look at the southwest corner. This is where the Sports Center was (#3). It’s been a large, empty eyesore since it was demolished with no plan for redevelopment. The Dunkin Donuts is a suburban-style building in a sea of asphalt. It’s appropriate for spots just off the Interstates, not an urban neighborhood. The Byrne Dairy (#4) gives us asphalt instead of an interesting building at the corner. So with large expanses of asphalt on three corners, why would we want to complete this vile picture?
Key Bank, #1, doesn’t follow this guideline: “All buildings facing James Street shall be placed so that their facades are parallel to the street line of James Street.” It’s possible to have new buildings that follow the dictums of smart urban development.
What yesterday may have been a harebrained scheme is increasingly understood as a huge money saver. Oh, and it also builds community and real estate value. At the Highways to Boulevards web page of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), you can see photos, read more about this option, and see what Buffalo is doing about its outdated highway. I quote:
“Reclaiming Urbanism and Revitalizing Cities
“America’s twentieth century highway building era included elevated freeways which cut huge swaths across our cities, decimating neighborhoods and reducing quality of life for city residents. This massive concrete infrastructure had devastating effects on urban economies. It blighted adjacent property and pushed access to basic amenities further out. With the Federal and State Departments of Transportation confronting shrinking budgets and cities looking for ways to increase their revenues, it is an ideal time to offer less expensive, urban alternatives to the reconstruction of urban expressways.
“New York City, Portland, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Seoul, South Korea have confronted this problem by replacing elevated highways with boulevards, saving billions of dollars and increasing real estate values and economic development on adjacent land. The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) believe that teardowns offer an attractive option for cities struggling with aging highway infrastructure. The strategies are proving themselves in adding value and restoring urban neighborhoods decimated by highway construction.”
If these cities are taking this idea seriously, is there any reason why Syracuse shouldn’t?