Sunday, March 19, 2006

Waiting for a Makeover

Old neighborhoods that have fallen on hard times can be brought back to life, sometimes with tremendous success. A great example is Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Browse through the Forever Elmwood website for some inspiration and instruction. A respect for history, design, and detail is the key.
Utica has a lot of interesting buildings and neighborhoods that have been ignored. Many are true "diamonds in the rough" that only need some well thought-out TLC to be brought back. Unfortunately, too many places get overlooked for so long that they ultimately succumb to the wrecking ball -- only to be replaced (if at all) with something modern, ordinary, and at odds with the surroundings. With some imagination, it does not have to be that way.
With the presence of MWPAI, Pratt, Sculpture Space, and design programs at MVCC, among others, there is no shortage of imagination and creativity in Utica. There are others who are are expert in business. To make renewal happen, perhaps we only need to mobilize these talents by focusing on some possibilities.
From time to time I am going to highlight some the places which (to my untrained eye) seem to offer possibilities. Maybe someone out there with some ideas or some money to invest will see the possibilities, and begin the process of renewal.
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Utica's Union Station is truly an architectural gem.
Union Station Exterior (1998) Union Station Interior (1998) Union Station ClockUnion Station Exterior Union Station Benches © All rights reserved
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Sitting just east of the station and adjoining it is a building that appears unused or at least underutilized .

With Union Station, the Trackside Tavern and the Children's Museum nearby, this building and area could be a hub of activity and seem to be just begging for a makeover. Add some money and an imagination, maybe this could be a ... market place? Anyone have any ideas ? (serious ones only, please)
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Rebecca Mecomber said...

A marketplace is a wonderful idea! A few summers ago, I regularly took my kids on a little trip into Utica to buy vegetables at the Farmer's Market. One day we got to see Governor Pataki speak-- which was a great thrill for my kids.

I don't go anymore because driving and parking is such a hassle. Vehicles are wider these days, and Utica's bitty two-lane streets sometimes become one-lane streets. Parking is very hard to find, even if I look several blocks away. I think it would be useless to build marketplaces and etc if Utica does not first have the infrastructure to handle the extra traffic.

Perhaps that is why the more modern developments have turned to New Hartford than Utica-- driving and parking is a nightmare for those o us who do not live within walking distance of the city limits. I am not averse to shopping in Utica. I like my kids to see the beautiful architecture and experience city life a little. But it is a hassle to do so. Maybe I expect too much, since I am used to wide-open spaces, but I know this is why I avoid the city.

Chris Van Patten said...

This is something I've wanted to see happen for the longest time, unfortunately I don't have the power to make it happen (yet!).

That whole downtown Utica area is ripe for a boom... there is beautiful architecture that screams "develop me". It's just a matter of getting it carried out!