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Mark Miller

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Everything posted by Mark Miller

  1. I think that this building does indeed look like a school. The problem is that the school typology, for whatever reason, has digressed to take on the characteristics of a minimum security detention facility. So when someone says that it looks like a school, they are showing that they have been conditioned by this morphed typology. The only thing missing is the chain link fence that surrounds the yard (playground). Take a look at nearly every new school building, particularly those that have been built in small rural towns - they are prisonesque architecture. I was just admiring one a few weeks back in Manton, Michigan....a real gem, including the surrounding chain link fence. This has nothing to do with modernism nor materials and everything to do with execution, typology and details. If we are holding out hope that somehow the materials for this building are going to save it, then we have already failed.
  2. All this discussion was spurred by the less than visionary solution of putting tunnels in to connect one huge economic investment with another huge economic investment. Tunnels. Can we further minimize the pedestrian? Can we further tell the pedestrian that we just don't care about their mobility? Let them walk through undignified tubes from a great transit station to the urban market, while the automobiles get gold plated infrastructure. The bridge solution seems tenable, but again it it not addressing a true multi-modal city. It is a patch. It is simply saying that we are designing our city for cars first. When you design a city for cars you get cars. When you design a city for people you get people. We should start thinking of better ways to design our city for people. Tubes and tunnels and even bridges are less than hopeful solutions toward that goal. They are the default solution. The status quo. This discussion needs to address the bigger issue, which is the simple fact that this billion dollar highway rips through the city fabric so that we can do one simple thing.....move more cars. Everything else is subservient to that goal. The simple solution to the original problem is to walk up to Cherry, take it to Ionia and walk down Ionia. This requires little or no expenditure....except maybe having a sidewalk on the south side of Cherry! This is not as compelling as tubes or bridges, but it may be all that we get. The big idea solution is to remove that highway AND begin planning for that removal right now. Whether it is buried or turned into a surface street is inconsequential at this point in time - we just need to start talking about what it will take to get rid of it in its current form. How, when and why? Once that highway is removed, many of these issues will take care of themselves. We need to re-establish the street grid, reconnect to the river, make amends in the connection of the east and west sides of the city. This begins to happen with a reconfigured S-curve. And we get the ancillary benefits of having a city that actually designs for people first....not cars. We also get potential for new economic development. Oh and we can, in a more dignified way, address the pedestrian connection between the transit station and the market.
  3. There was an earlier post that I think hit the nail on the head. This is really not about homeless shelters in this area, it is about the concentration of homeless shelters in this area. Concentration of anything is detrimental to a neighborhood, whether it is $10 martini bars, upper class BMW driving traditional families, poverty or homeless folks. As a society we have compartmentalized nearly everything -- leading to segregation and concentration of either wealth or poverty. When low income housing is built, it is built in a pod, in isolation and there is little if any opportunity to integrate diversity (either social or economic)into it. This perpetuates a cycle which reinforces undesireable behavior because there is little or no example of desireable behavior to draw or learn from. When we end up with neighborhoods that embrace diversity and lessen these concentrated pods, we find ourselves drawn to them. But to create them, we have to learn from past mistakes and past triumps. We have to be willing to take some chances. Heartside is a richly unique and diverse neighborhood that could be better if there were not homeless shelters all concentrated within a few blocks of one another. They all do not have to be removed or relocated, but instead dispersed, or more appropriately, better integrated into the city. And yes, the homeless people are citizens of this city, even though frankly many of them do not act like it. They are citizens in only a very general definition. Many of them are indeed victims of economic failure, but many are also flat out nuts or drug addicts - and it is this fringe element which poses the problem to moving forward. A few years ago, my family and I were at a park, where a homeless women was sitting. After some conversation she ultimately started screaming and swearing - capped off by saying that "she hopes my kids die". Needless to say that my three kids (aged about 6, 4 and 2 at the time)were a bit traumatized by this crazy lady screaming at them. This park was not even in Heartside, but rather in Heritage Hill. Now, some might call this grit - and in fact, to some extent, it is. But the bottom line is, are you going to take your kids to this new park at Cherry and Division, or to the Heartside Park to enjoy some water features, if you run the risk of having some nut-job verbally accost them? I am not, so both of these parks are off limits to my family, even though they are "public" and paid for by citizens such as myself. You may say, "well that is your decision" - but the decision was made (not by me, but by policy makers) when the park was placed next to concentrated poverty and homelessness. And by policy makers who have concentrated the poverty and homelessness in the neighborhood in the first place. And as far as gentrification is concerned, we are a long, long way from worrying about that in Grand Rapids. There is a huge amount of affordable housing in this city, probably too much. My neighborhood in Heritage Hill, while thought of as somewhat gentrified, has people of all ages, races and incomes residing just in a one block stretch. There are people who have lived there for fifty years (who fought redlining in the 1950's), probably on fixed income because of their age. They are not being forced out by higher taxes or yuppies, they are integrated into a neighborhood and will probably be there until they die. Gentrification, as we sit today in GR, would be good for most of our neighborhoods, it would provide investment, economic diversty, economic development, stability and ultimately better neighborhoods. That may not be true in 20 years, if homes in Heritage Hill start approaching the $500k to $700k prices that similar neighborhoods would garner in other cities. Places like Manhatten and Boston and Capital Hill have gentrication issues, GR does not.
  4. So the justification seems that since we have already misinvested in this sort of thing for the last 50 years, then inertia just should continue it. After all, how can we let the billions of dollars already spent go to waste? At some point we need to collectively re-access and ultimately come up with a different solution, because someone will be having this same discussion in 30 years when these improvements are too bumpy and too narrow and obsolete...and not just here, but on M6 too. And I will bet that we will be a poorer nation then, than we are right now. All the arguments are sound from a certain point of view. Sure it is crumbling. But that alone does not justify not changing the way we are thinking about this. Instead of further creating an autocentric chasm, plans should be to turn this into a multifunctional thoroughfare...at the very least. Highway standards are not calibrated to context, despite whatever smoke MDOT wants to blow up our asses and using the same design parameters and solutions that are used for the rural and suburban highway for the urban highway just plain does not work. These gashes into the urban fabric have done nothing but damn the city and its residents. "Though I'm sure your next question will be whether we should even bother maintaining it. We could always rip it out and try to restore the damage its construction caused. Actually, I'd like that, but it's probably not realistic." And yes, I would propose to let it rot...if this is the only solution (and I suspect it is, from MDOT's point of view). We could indeed rip it out and at least make it more contextual. And why precisely would that not be realistic? We are already throwing substantial gobs of money at this and closing it for a substantial amount of time. The short answer is that doing this would not meet their one size fits all design solution. As far as becoming part of the process, let's get real. That only works when all parties are willing to collaborate and they are not willing. I have been there, done that, and it doesn't work with MDOT and it doesn't even work with the city traffic machine.
  5. I am unclear as to what the problems are with that stretch of road. Is it an access problem which necessitates the "weave lanes"? Is it a traffic flow (congestion) problem which necessitates making things wider by adding more lanes? I am not convinced that there are problems that need fixing, and IF there are problems I am certainly not convinced that wasting $40 million dollars of the future generation's money on the current solution is the correct path. If there are congestion issues, we were all told that the "investment" on M6 would help to alleviate them. Now we are told that widening this road will help alleviate them. Along with last year's widening of the College ramp and the future widening of the Beltline, their only solution is to widen. To build more single-use infrastructure. The problem is that the neanderthals who run MDOT are working within the same set of principles that Robert Moses was operating in the 1940's and 1950's, when his NY highways (built in the 1920's and 30's) experienced significant conjestion....his solution was to widen. And continue to widen. The problem is that widening never worked it just created more conjestion. This has happened nearly everywhere that DOT's follow this policy - from Long Island to Los Angeles. It is a failed policy. But a policy that they continue, without any regard for what the future holds. And now that they have successfully gone through a money grab by swallowing up much needed stimulus dollars, they can continue chugging along with blinders on. We have too much auto infrastructure. Parking lots, parking ramps, wide swaths of highways, wide surface streets, clear vision angles at urban intersections, etc, etc. We do not need anymore. This money should be spent on transit. The T in MDOT is for transportion, which needs to be more than single use infrastructure.
  6. That is what passes for context sensitive design in the world of MDOT. This organization continues to disappoint in almost every aspect of their existence. This is a $40 million dollar waste of money, and stimulus money to boot. When this project is all done and the new weave lanes, extra travel lanes and pedestrian designed bridges are all complete it will not make one damn bit of difference in regards to whatever esoteric outdated criteria they use to judge this sort of stuff. With a federal government, state government and city government that are all nearly bankrupt, MDOT continues to hum along as if it was 1965, using the same BS arguments and justifications that they used back then.
  7. Drivers needed to be extra careful and patient, not because they were in Heartside, but because the street grid forced them to be - and I think that is exactly the point. It was difficult for motorist to move through this intersection but now they can just zip right through because they are much more comfotable with the queues that have been presented to them. This whole realignment seems as nothing more than an extension of the 131 on-ramp, built to traffic engineer standards for efficiently moving cars from point a to point b. That alone compromises the urbansim. As far as the previous interesection not being safe for pedestrians, I walked it many times on my way to work prior to the realignment and a couple of times since. I think ultimately I felt safer prior to the realignment if only because the drivers felt a bit more tentative and drove slower. Traffic now moves too fast to be compatible with someone on foot. This is the same problem with the round-a-bouts on Wealthy. They are infrastructure for the auto first, built to make it easier for distracted drivers to move about the city without thinking. Both of these "improvements" have made the public realm more difficult for pedestrians to use and thus made the urbanism more single-use, which is the opposite of good urbanism. Good points have already been made about the park being a magnate for the homeless, I think the shear fact that there are armrests on the benches every 18" prove that the designers felt a concern for people sleeping on these benches. Maybe someday that will change, but as far as this being an asset is questionable. Sure, parks in general give us all a warm fuzzy feeling... at least in concept, but in practicality they are not always the best solution. A mixed-use building in a location such as this will always be the best use of land and resources, both financially and urbanistically. To remove or compromise the ability to place one here - even if the lot was empty for 50 years and there are twenty other empty buildings does not justify what was done here. Gaps in the urbanism, whether they are represented by empty lots, parking lots, misplaced parks or "plazas" are problematic in a location such as this, where commerce in the form of activated mixed-use buildings should be paramount.
  8. I don't see why the would not work as viable terminals, linked to downtown. Woodland and Knapp Corner could be terminals or they could be stops on a link from DT to the airport. There is a large swath of ROW (the beltline) that could be commandeered for rail. Besides just dreaming about that scenario, these make sense because there are a lot of people living in these general areas, some of who commute DT, so it could, in theory, connect people to services and goods and jobs while allowing us to get rid of all the parking infrastructure in our core. The other thing to consider is trying to utilize existing ROW and infrastructure (where ever possible) for just plain old rail, rather than high speed or light rail which could fill in some of the blanks. In any case, it is imperative that thinking along these lines start occuring locally, regionally, statewide and nationally if we expect to weather future issues and mitigate some of our climate change issues. The US rail service was once the envy of the world, now it is at third-world standards. We need to change that. It is going to require sacrifice in regards to taxes or throwing away some of the misinvestments made in road construction, but we can not currently sustain what we have and we certainly can not go on the way we are indefinately, waiting for magic technology or the easy credit economy to return.
  9. The Salt Lake City area is years ahead of this region in its planning. The people there have been educated on the ramifications of different growth patterns and what a continued conventional pattern will get them. They understand that they can not sustain the auto-centric system of development and as a result they have tried to make changes. We just are not there yet. We are not thinking big enough. Many people just do not see this connection between sustainability and the current pattern of growth. If our economy had not tanked, we would still be going gangbusters on suburban sprawl, strip malls, and exurban housing pods. But it is good to ask if Salt Lake can do it, why can't we or if Minneapolis can do it, why can't we. Minneapolis has a wonderful rail line running from the airport to the downtown and it is an excellent way to come into the city without a car. Far more civilized ...and I honestly believe that anyone who rides one of these systems could see the potential for GR. I think we need to look at connections between cities first: Holland to GR, or connections from the airport to DT. Or connections between two someplaces. We do need to have two currently viable ends of the line, otherwise it is akin to building a bridge to nowhere. I don't see Division Ave necessarily in that way. Maybe someday. Every great city has a form of transit. Transit that people ride everyday to work or to the store or to wherever. Transit that may be supported by buses, but has something more as a base component. A subway, light rail, or rail. It is used everyday by residents - not as a tourist attraction but as a way they live. Everytime I go somewhere and ride the transit I come back here feeling liberated and then I have to come back to reality and ask why not here. Why do we have a substandard system, that is not efficient for me personally. I can walk home from work quicker than I can get there via bus. If we want to become a great place and a sustainable place we need to have viable transit.
  10. This is a good question. But the concept of sustainability is really a hard thing to grasp. What is sustainability? What does it mean for a city to be sustainable? Is a city sustainable if it has the most LEED buildings per capita? Is it sustainable if everyone living in it changes their light bulbs? Is it sustainable if everyone rides transit? I have no idea, but I would say that the number of LEED buildings means very little, except maybe for stroking an ego. Making a LEED building is easy. It is low hanging fruit. Changing a light bulb, likewise, is low hanging fruit. It is easy. It requires no sacrifice. It is not enough, however. But chaning the way we live, via dumping our cars and lowering our VMTs is a harder, more systemic change. We are not currently as sustainable as we think despite all the green smoke and mirrors .......and we are doing too little and we are too late. Transit will make us more sustainable and this would have been a big step in the right direction. But realistically, many of the people that voted "no" have valid points and I think that bringing these folks over to the "yes" column can be accomplished, but not by attacking them or ridiculing them. I voted yes and am willing to be taxed to have a better future for my kids, but this BRT was not conveyed as the solution very well and I honestly think that the commercials reinforced that. They had very vague cartoony images that frankly may have appealed to young people, but anyone questioning the nuts and bolts of this was left wanting something else - more hard information - and less cartoon busses running along a cartoon street. Andy, your video was far more compelling, at least to me. But there needs to be more compelling information. And why is BRT better than light rail? Why was this being pushed instead of light rail? When I had dinner with John Norquist (president of CNU) and we talked about BRT - his response was to not build it. Build rail instead. I think we were pushing BRT because that is what the feds would fund. I think this corridor was chosen because that is what the feds would fund. Is that the right way to make this decision? Because that is what the feds would fund and that if we don't get this funding, someone else will? We need to be better than that. Again, I am a supporter of this, but I do think there are better solutions and we should be seeking them and doing some hard planning, some hard compromises and some real scenarios about what the route is, where the route is and why that is sustainable. This no vote is an opportunity for both sides to work together for the future and to come together to make the right transit project, in the right place, for the right reasons. We need transit. We need transit now. If we don't start thinking about it and getting some of it built, all the LEED buildings in the world are not going to save us.
  11. So the argrument for freeways is to move goods? And the benefit of M-6 has been to take trucks moving these goods further out...off the other pre-existing highways? Then why do we need the other highways that rip through the city? Why are we spending millions on a new overpass on a highway we don't need? How many automobiles with single riders are driving on M6 daily and how many VMTs are they driving per day? per year? How much sprawl was built on the interchanges of M6 in an autocentric environment? How long will M6 be viable, before these punks at MDOT have their hands in the public trough looking for more money to subsidize repair or rebuild? 20 years? How long before all the expenditure on roads, tract homes and strip centers within this corridor is realized to be a lost investment and written off? The only sustainable method to move goods will be rail and via waterways. We can not continue to transport goods 3000 miles in semi-trucks - it is not sustainable. And certainly building more roads to carry these goods is a huge misinvestment, which we are saddling future generations with. We should divert funds from road building and rebuild our rail above third world standards - both passenger and freight. We should disband DOT's and reconstitute them as real (multi transportation) entities, which care about something other than car and truck traffic. As we debate this and as people debate whether we should spend an insultingly low amount of money on a small corridor of transit along Divsion Avenue we progress further down a path of unsustainable patterns that will ultimately fail. This is too little of an investment.......and one can hope that it is not too late. The real debate here is why we are not asking for more money - not through a millage, but through MDOT in order to build more transit. More BRT, more light rail, more street cars - in other words more sustainable transportation options.
  12. I will preface what I am about to say with the following: I believe in transit I will be voting for this millage today Transit is a key component for the future. But we have to realize it is only a component and to think that if this doesn't pass that our cities will spiral into cataclysmic failure is just an alarmist reaction. We should not think that this alone is a magic bullet. Likewise, if the millage passes, we will still have issues to resolve at the urban scale, issues that this alone will not solve. "He is an idiot and should get into local politics before shouting out his big &&& mouth about stuff he has no clue about. If this fails because of him I am going to get very angry at him. This is a do or die situation for our cities. We have a great philanthogists but they can not spend the amount of money that is required to make this happen. They may even turn away from our people and decide Cleveland or Orlando would be a better place to spend their wealth. I for one do want to see that happen. I feel this being our last hope to keep them interested in our city. We turned down a HUGE gift in the form of the zoo from F&L Meijer. We better not screw up this time." In fact, I am not sure what all the fuss is about. This millage is hardly more than what we have now and it is just some buses and a few stations - it is not like we are going through a huge paradigm shift here!! What we really need to be addressing - if we really want systemic change- is light rail or rail. I know the argument....that light rail would cost a whole lot more than this and that BRT can someday lay the ground work for the light rail, but realistically it may never happen if you build this first. Anyway we have come this far and it is time to get this thing built and see what happens. And maybe someday we will see light rail running in this corridor. So get out and vote. **************************************************** Another item regarding this. Someone mentioned 28th Street being widened to accomodate something like Cleveland did. 28th street does not have to be widened to accomodate this. It has plenty of ROW. Until transit is set up on that corridor and the corridor itself is made more humane, either as a boulevard or as something else, 28th street will ultimately never succeed in the future. As far as residential on 28th street - again that is probably the only way to make it someplace, by adding some hearty mixed-use. It will ultimately die otherwise. **************************************************** Finally, all these opponents clamoring about taxes and subisidizing this transit need to realize how the auto and sprawl is subsidized and has been for over 50 years. Even with this minute expenditure, the road building military-industrial complex in this country (and in this state) will continue to build more roads and wider roads with no net benefit to our sustainability or our future. I point to M-6 and the College overpass as examples of subsidized waste with no net benefit. Where were these tax advocates on this?
  13. Hot off the presses.... A vision of the 54th and Division intersection looking North to downtown from the charrette presentation tonight. There are many more images that should be posted in the coming hours, even a wonderful plan for the area from 54th to 60th Streets. Enjoy
  14. The tall portion of this building, facing south, is a blank wall (with the exception of some small windows right on the western edge). The reason for this is that it sits right on the property line and is required to have a fire rated construction, in the event that another building ever gets built adjacent to it. So this is a very large blank wall. As far as the pedestrian experience, I do not disagree with you on the whole thing about the blank walls being part of the experience as one approaches the building. For the most part the connection between the street and the building is transparent, (although there are overhead doors and some minor occurances of blank walls) -this ground floor transparency is far more important than what is going on above. I don't think that justifies it, but the reality is that parking is needed and required and it is far better to put it at an upper level than at the street, in this case. Blank space is not necessarily a bad thing when articulated properly and when it is not at the street level, particularly on an object building (if that is what this is). Is this space articulated properly? Not sure, but these blank upper walls will not be one large mass of brick or block, I think that they will have some compelling detail - just like (but better than) the "articulated" concrete of the art museum. This project still has to go before planning commission and back before HPC. Nothing as been decided. I would urge anyone who wants to speak to this to come to these meetings and address the issue in the public comment portion of the meetings. The debate and questions that arise here are well founded and deserve consideration.
  15. Why was Eastbrook given so much heat on their plan and this one passed right on through? The Fulton and Division development was simply an adivsory opinion, whereas the Eastbrook project is going through not only a public hearing, but also a binding decision. Also, the Eastbrook project is being placed into a neighborhood where context is always scrutinized much heavier than in downtown locations. If there ever was a building that needs to be an object building (rather than a fabric building), this may be a good location for it. For that reason, I think they have done a good job with a mix of materials, both old and new, that really speak to the different zones of the city that this building is within context to. I think that they have a little bit more lattitude to experiment here, than at other sites downtown and certainly more so than in residential neighborhoods. Is this a perfect building? Probably not. But it is on a tough site in both size and grade differentials. It also needs to have parking, which is being placed somewhere other than at the street level. From a pedestrian point of view it should be pretty good. It has a lot of storefront windows along most of the street level and very few blank walls. Most of the upper level blank walls will not be experienced at the pedestrian level. Does that make it OK? No. They could probably have some punched openings in these levels, to mimic windows and break up the facade. Overall, I think they have done a good job with the building, the context analysis (without being too cute about it, by adding a bunch of frills and doo-dads) was sound and helped to inform some of their decisions. I find this building a bit more palatable than the art museum, at least at this point in time.
  16. Here are two recent images of what is being proposed at this corner. The project will be before the historic preservation commission tonight for an advisory opinion. Fulton Side Division Side Facades have combinations of brick, metal panel rain screens, curtainwalls, and perforated metal panels.
  17. Interestingly enough, the historic preservation commission voted 4-2 last night to allow the temporary parking lot, after about a 30 minute discussion.
  18. Is a fight with MDOT winnable? Recently we tried to get MDOT officials to buy into a tamer street section of a highway that went through a town. Most of what we were proposing was shot down. For instance if you want to put parking on the street, then their response is that this is not safe for drivers who might not be paying attention to these cars and the people getting in and out of them. It is all about the smooth, easy, movement of traffic AND limiting what a driver has to think about. In Three Rivers the MDOT Context Sensitive Design department did a dog and pony show about how they were really really trying to make streets that were appropriate to downtowns. When the local business owners asked about diagonal parking at the street, it was shot down as not being one of their standard solutions. There has been a ton of publicity about Context Sensitive Design of streets and at this point it is all lip service. There is a mindset that is institutionally ingrained, it will not change over night, but it must change or we will not make the kind of places that the majority of the populace desires (whether they know it or not). This is similar to the mindset that says they (MDOT) can not spend very much on transit. Act 51, is just a legislative act. It can be changed, politically. Whether the desire to do so is there or not is the question. This is indeed a paramount issue that affects quality of life, livability of our community, public safety, health and welfare and of course a great number of special interests - many of whom are stacked against transit (or more appropriately, for more road building). The desire to create viable transit in the form of some kind of light rail is going to be an absolute major implementation project and I can not see it happening without dollars from somewhere besides private funding and tax increases. Tax increases will help, but funding needs to happen from the state - and the transportation department is where it should come from. Am I willing to pay more in taxes for transit funding? - yes, but certainly within reason. I am not however interested in paying more taxes for more road construction - particularly boondoggles like M-6. The money that was spent on that should have been sunk into transit. I have never driven on that highway and most likely never will. However, I would be interested in riding transit. So to answer the original question, is it winnable? Probably not in the current system. Probably not coming at them head on. But pressuring legislators to step up and begin to prepare for the future is a method of going through the back door. Just dissolve MDOT and reorder it with a new mission. Get rid of all these traffic engineers. In regards to the viability of transit....what is going on with the closure of the main transit station in the afternoon? How can we have viable transit systems when we are shutting down the main terminal at peak times!?
  19. Those are great graphics GRDad. I have always contended that the real parking problem is the space devoted to car strorage and not the lack of spaces. These maps prove that. You can not have an urban core with this many surface lots and this much space devoted to auto storage. The core will never form into anything meaningful if there are so many blank areas. This is not a new problem. Car storage in DTGR has been a problem since the car was introduced. Look at old Sanborn maps and you will see nearly every vacant piece of land labeled auto storage. The problem has always been "solved" by building more. This is the same solution for congested roadways - make them wider, add a lane, or build a brand new south beltline. Congestion is not solved this way and parking will not be solved this way. There is nothing wrong with building parking decks that are lined with mixed use buildings. But adding or maintaining surface lots or adding unlined parking decks should not be happening in the core. The solution is exactly has GRDad and others have discussed. Transit. This will be the only way to build the real kind of core density that we need. It is the only way to maintain or create sustainability of the urban core. This can be accomplished with no real increase (or very little increase) in taxes. Reallocate the billions spent on road construction and build light rail - now. Not 10 years from now. The T in MDOT stands for transportation, NOT AUTO transportation and as such as long as MDOT continues to be biased in their funding, they are being negligent to their constituents.
  20. 240 Ionia is on the HPC agenda for next week. Twelve stories, mixed use.
  21. I don't think that this is any kind of posturing on the city's part. The people pushing for a parking lot truly believe that it will make the neighborhood better and help the business atmosphere - even if it is short term. Some questions to think about: Would a 100 space, metered surface parking lot (even temporary) be appropriate at this location? And if so, why? Would the parking lot prove to be a detriment to development in the event that the current developer pulls his deal off the table? In the event that the development does not take off, how long is it appropriate to have a temporary lot? In other words, what is temporary? The lot will allegedly be built with temporary construction..... that could have a life span of in excess of 10 years. Are we all ready to accept a parking lot at the gates of the city for a decade? If the parking lot is built, temporarily of course, and then a few months later the developer wants to break ground, what happens? Who pays for the short fall? Is it appropriate for the city to be spending its VERY limited funds in this manner? Basically taking on risks of development. Is the current empty lot better than a constructed parking lot? These decisions will be made shortly and we will all have to live with them.
  22. Ridiculous. I love it. Parking again. Can these people do anything except blame all of their shortcomings on parking spaces!!! We are not even talking about a lot of parking. And this quote makes me absolutely sick. How long did these poor mothers look for parking and how far away from the museum did the venture. Again, give them a pamphlet on how to use a city or tell them to stay in their suburban bunker. I am so sick of this kind of BS!! "Teresa Thome, director of the nearby Grand Rapids Children's Museum, said she would welcome a parking lot on the corner, even if it was temporary. The loss of the City Centre Parking Ramp and the lack of nearby parking has hurt attendance, Thome said. Mothers with kids in the car have gone home when they could not find parking near the museum's front door, she said. " And then we have this gem. "Unconscionable". What a drama queen!!!! "It's unconscionable," Downtown Alliance Chairman Kurt Hassberger told the city's Parking Commission on Thursday. "There is nothing historic about a grass lot." Jack Hoffman seems to be, once again, the voice of reason with these extremists. If they focused half as much of their time trying to actually get retail tenants downtown, we might not be having to deal with this discussion for 120 parking spaces (or whatever marginal amount we are talking about). The sooner Heartwell is gone the better. I long for the days of John Logie.
  23. I do not see any reason why they should not get the extension. This is an important corner, and as such, making sure that it doesn't go off half-cocked is a priority. Deals like this take a long time to come together and frankly Second Story has earned the benefit of the doubt on this one. We are not talking about Tol or Molk here.
  24. Beginning next summer, there are going to be major changes to Wealthy, east of Division, including two roundabouts and some tree-lined medians. All of these improvements will be adjacent to alot of vacant property composed primarily of surface parking lots. St. Marys owns most of this property. This is purely speculation but all of this could be the ground work for a large project that will begin to front on this vastly improved street. Would they really be doing all of this, just to have it be adjacent to surface parking lots?
  25. This is the first time that I have visited this thread, the historical images that are being dug up are wonderful. The aerial photo from GRDad shows just what the mantra of the 1960s did to the city of Grand Rapids. Such a great looking block structure and collection of neighborhoods existed before the S-Curve snaked its way through. The Daverman photo shows the utter incredible scale of the urban renewal of that era and the total disregard for what was there. We are talking about a large number of fine-grained blocks being consolidated into a few super blocks. Cleaning the palatte, simplifying the system. These photos never cease to amaze me. This oversimplification of a system in an attempt to make it more efficient continues today, in almost everything, including factory farming (food production) and big box retail, most likely with the same poor results. Interesting that when we speak of urban renewal today, we are talking about much smaller instances, removing a building here or there and sometimes single blocks, but very seldom at a mutiple block level or at a neighborhood level. At least we have returned from the edge.
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