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Southron

Montgomery Downtown Master Plan

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^ GREAT! Ideas. I can't wait. After I get my degree, I may have to think more about living in Montgomery. All this stuff just seems to get better and better. What sort of financial shape is Montgomery in right now. I hope all the funding for these things is coming from outside sources. It seems like an awful amount of money.

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A few components of the plan:

Court Square Plaza redevelopment

CtSquare_old.jpg

CtSquare_new.jpg

Complete! The classic cobblestone plaza reopened on April 24th -- the first project implemented from the Downtown Master Plan.

Redevelop Five Points as a demonstration area

fivepoints.jpg

A new roundabout would safely direct traffic flow, while tree planting and infill development would beautify this gateway into the city.

State Capitol park proposal

Capitol_grounds.jpg

The Alabama Capitol grounds are reconfigured as a pedestrian oriented park, influenced by the vision of the 1930 Olmsted Brothers Plan.

Create an arts and entertainment district

warehouse_district.jpg

The pedestrian level perspective above imagines a vibrant Warehouse District bordering Riverwalk Stadium. Loft style residences in close proximity to entertainment and nightlife make this area attractive to those seeking an urban lifestyle.

Rethink existing parking structures

RSA_garage.jpg

dexter_ave_street_level.gif

The blank walls of the parking garage fronting Dexter Ave. should be wrapped with habitable space. In doing so, the urban fabric of this portion of Dexter Avenue is repaired and a pedestrian-friendly environment is formed. The second image also explores the restoration of the historic trolley line, the Lightning Route.

Infill along Bell Street

bell_street.jpg

New mixed-use buildings fronting Bell Street would take advantage of dramatic views to the Alabama River.

Proposal to restore the historic Lightning Route

LightningRoute.jpg

Montgomery's Lightning Route was the first city-wide electric streetcar service in the US.

More to come...

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Looks good!

Montgomery seems to have a lot to work with in terms of its urban fabric. I hope they can get this off the ground!

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Montgomery seems to have a lot to work with in terms of its urban fabric. I hope they can get this off the ground!

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Looks good!

Montgomery seems to have a lot to work with in terms of its urban fabric. I hope they can get this off the ground!

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drove over this morning around 2 a.m. and just now got back. just messing around; driving and walking the streets in the capitol / downtown area.

the one-way streets have to go. good to see that's on the master plan - a city with street patterns as old and ungridded as central montgomery (and i like street patterns like that) has to better accommodate auto traffic. that 5-way intersection a block east of the embassy suites (i forget the street names) is a nightmare - i pity de fool who doesn't look up at the right moment and realizes too late that, simply by driving straight ahead and staying in his lane, he is suddenly heading into oncoming one-way traffic.

much of the renewal is still on paper, as any resident will tell you. the cobbled fountain roundabout is really pretty - a nice change.

getting to the river, at least late at night, is pretty much impossible. most riverfront areas are event-only (the baseball field) or are off-limits at night (the observation pullouts west of the montgomery advertiser building; the pedestrian underpass east of embassy suites, which evidently doesn't get one all the way to the river in any case).

the organic, twisty street pattern is a blessing; the way the state has plunked buildings on the spaces between is a curse. the government buildings are of course monumental, and thus occupy their lots in chunks, usually chunks set well away from the street. ped friendliness is not this area's strong suit - although non-gov't blocks very close by are the opposite, with lots of restored buildings (or buildings ripe for restoration) lining pretty sidewalks, many with fairly mature trees. good lighting at night. wide sidewalks. interesting variety of textures / materials. much architectural diversity.

i wish dexter ave. continued on its east-west axis west of the capitol. that's not gonna happen due to the presence of the massive state buildings across the street. the layout of the west side is disorienting after spending time on the east side, with its grandiose, stick-straight promenade. the vista along dexter ave. from the jeff davis star marker (at the top of the east capitol steps) is grand montgomery. in all, the orientation of the gov't buildings on their lots, coupled with setbacks that leave too much lawn or sterile plaza space, doesn't mesh well with the directional feel of the streets that front them. i understand that a lawn 'frames' a symmetrical, neoclassical building, and makes it seem like sculpture, but i don't think it's necessary except for the existing areas immediately surrounding the captiol. really just the south end, with the archives building sitting nicely across from the capitol, and separated by a pretty and very usable lawn. the RSA buildings' various plazas in particular are over the top and unnecessary.

one thing that puzzles me is montgomery's apparent defiance of the old sociological maxim that a city's topographically high places are for the rich and its low places for the poor. one of montgomery's greatest assets is its hilliness. it's strange, then, to see a lot of lower-middle class style housing at or near the crest of many of the hills. maybe that owes to my limited observation - there are probably high places i haven't seen (or that i've forgotten) where the champaigne set lives. at any rate, it's not a bad thing; it's just different and probably has a very interesting explanation. does anyone know where the older, in-town wealthy neighborhoods are?

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....getting to the river, at least late at night, is pretty much impossible. most riverfront areas are event-only (the baseball field) or are off-limits at night (the observation pullouts west of the montgomery advertiser building; the pedestrian underpass east of embassy suites, which evidently doesn't get one all the way to the river in any case)....

one thing that puzzles me is montgomery's apparent defiance of the old sociological maxim that a city's topographically high places are for the rich and its low places for the poor. one of montgomery's greatest assets is its hilliness. it's strange, then, to see a lot of lower-middle class style housing at or near the crest of many of the hills. maybe that owes to my limited observation - there are probably high places i haven't seen (or that i've forgotten) where the champaigne set lives. at any rate, it's not a bad thing; it's just different and probably has a very interesting explanation. does anyone know where the older, in-town wealthy neighborhoods are?

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Thanks for all of your hard work Southron. You are part of the reason people visit UP to see the latest! Great looking plan for downtown Montgomery's revitalization. The plan covers the vital componets to make this a huge sucess! I like the before and after slides; it makes a big difference and great visuals too. Downtown covers a large area.

I like the way the street grid becomes angular grid on the map in downtown Montgomery.

A similar plan started in the late 90's for my hometown(another southern capital city) has made a big difference in our downtown that was left for dead. While these things don't happen overnight; 5 to 10 years is realistic, and even a little longer.

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Lots of good points in your post, convulso. The old tunnel under the train tracks (east of the Embassy Suites) actually does go all the way to the riverwalk. The gates are closed in the evening (not sure what time), but it's open daily now, including weekends.

Some of the older in-town wealthy residential areas were hit hard by commercial encroachment. You can still see some fine houses, but many of them are zoned for business and/or are surrounded by commercial junk, unfortunately. The older upscale suburbs south of I-85 are more intact, like the the Garden District (home of the Governor's Mansion on S. Perry St.) and Old Cloverdale. The Cottage Hill neighborhood overlooks the river and the downtown business district, and was built for prosperous middle class merchants. It has a number of restored houses, along with vacant lots, and should see significant quality infill as the redevelopment of Five Points progresses.

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^ interesting background info on the shifting housing demographics from both you guys, southron & exbubba.

the ascendance of car culture is surely as crucial as the other points you mention above, exbubba. like color TV or microwave ovens, cars have become a presumed necessity for anyone with a job - no matter how little it pays. and once even the poor guy who cuts your hair at the downtown barber shop has a car, the efficacy of street cars and bus lines dissolves. those modes of transit can be efficient (why else would we be clamoring for them now?), but they are most effective when their ridership is densely clustered withing reasonable distance of the urban center, where the jobs are similarly clustered. when even lower middle-class downtown workers can live a 10-15 minute drive away from their downtown jobs, there's no hope for urban housing. residential areas formerly inhabited by the majority of the wage earners are given over to the abject poor - those relative few who cannot afford a car and may not even have jobs. that, in turn, makes the whole area undesirable to everyone else, from the wealthy down to the wage slave in his beat-up cavalier.

i'm not suggesting that the appropriate order of things is for a homogenous group of lower-middle-class types to segregate themselves in modest downtown housing again; rather, i'm suggesting that if the reliance on car culture ever diminishes, the natural return of city workers and small business owners will reinvigorate both the commercial and residential climate in the heart of town. that will make the area appealing once again to a small segment of more affluent types who have perhaps longed for the opportunity to live in an active, self-policing, clean and less homogenized urban area - an area that has lain fallow as a residential afterthought for several decades now.

btw, i don't disagree with anything you said up there - i would be in no position to anyway, since my knowledge of montgomery's past is superficial to say the least. i'm just trying to reconcile the problems that have been unique to montgomery (the problems both you guys pointed out) with those problems that depopulated cities everywhere have had in common since cars began obviating mass transit.

thanks for all this info, fellas. judging from all you've said, montgomery makes a singular case study of urban decline and rebirth. a planning or landscape architecture student could get a nice thesis out of montgomery's former woes (and their present effects).

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Thanks for all of your hard work Southron. You are part of the reason people visit UP to see the latest! Great looking plan for downtown Montgomery's revitalization. The plan covers the vital componets to make this a huge sucess! I like the before and after slides; it makes a big difference and great visuals too. Downtown covers a large area.

I like the way the street grid becomes angular grid on the map in downtown Montgomery.

A similar plan started in the late 90's for my hometown(another southern capital city) has made a big difference in our downtown that was left for dead. While these things don't happen overnight; 5 to 10 years is realistic, and even a little longer.

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When I was a kid all of Adams Ave paralleling what would have been Dexter to High Street was rooming houses that served lunch to the state workers, as well as lawyers. These were once stately homes built in 1800s. Cottage Hill or Five Points/Hamner Hall was run down before the seventies basically because none of the descendants picture downtown as a place to be after WW II. Many of the homes became rentals or just fell down. Areas around Oak Park and out Highland Avenue were very fashionalbe in early 1900s with an electric street car line running down the middle of Highland Ave.

Montgomery has been about the same size for 50 or so years until the last decade when new growth began with Bobby Bright. Rightly or wrongly he as an outside Montgomery person has done more for the town than anyone since the Wright Bros.

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EXBubba, your historical perspective is invaluable for our discussion here. I'm really looking forward to your future comments about the revitalization our much-maligned capital city.

I agree 100% with your assessment of Bobby Bright. He has worked wonders over the last 8 years and hopefully will get four more later this year.

Maybe young families will begin to move in and renovate the old homes in the Highland Park area, and bring that neighborhood back to what it should be. I think the housing stock there is fairly intact.

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A couple of future projects:

This parking lot will become a public park (#17 in the plan map above). It's right across the street from the new hotel and the visitor's center at Union Station, and right next to the tunnel entrance to the riverwalk.

Rvrfrt_green.jpg

A new parking deck is planned for this parking lot on Coosa St (between #11 and #14 on the map). It's across the street from the baseball stadium and across the railroad tracks from the riverwalk. It's supposed to be wrapped with retail on the ground floor and built to be topped with up to four levels of condos, which would be added by a private developer.

CoosaDeck1.jpg

CoosaDeck2.jpg

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^ Thanks for the interesting history lesson of the two towns. :thumbsup:

And for the continued updates too.

The hotel is coming along good and looking nice . I'm guessing Montgomery has a minor league baseball team? I think it's great when baseball stadiums are located in downtowns or near waterfronts. It's always good to see the private sector involved. They are the ones that can fil-in the missing pieces of the puzzle. Loft living in the urban core seems to be gaining popularity in so many places across the South.

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^ Thanks for the interesting history lesson of the two towns. :thumbsup:

And for the continued updates too.

The hotel is coming along good and looking nice . I'm guessing Montgomery has a minor league baseball team? I think it's great when baseball stadiums are located in downtowns or near waterfronts. It's always good to see the private sector involved. They are the ones that can fil-in the missing pieces of the puzzle. Loft living in the urban core seems to be gaining popularity in so many places across the South.

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Another element of the downtown master plan that has been completed is the adoption of the SmartCode, which was achieved in May 2007. The SmartCode is mandatory for the downtown area and optional for the rest of the city.

For readers unfamiliar with the SmartCode, there's a good description here.

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^That's a pretty progressive move and will lay the groundwork for an active, pedestrian-oriented downtown overall.

Thanks for the hard work in the various threads in the Montgomery subforum, Southron. It is much appreciated. :thumbsup:

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^ You're welcome, krazeeboi, I'm way behind in keeping this thread updated. I'm putting together an update on some of the plan components and should have it posted soon.

---

The city recently approved a new KPS Group-drafted Strategic Development Concept, which I believe is a step toward a new comprehensive plan for the entire city. There are some interesting things in there, including redevelopment concepts for Montgomery Mall, Bell Street/Riverside Heights, and a portion of the Atlanta Highway corridor.

Download link: Strategic Development Concept (.pdf)

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