Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Ghetto for West Utica!

Utica considers brownstone apartments on Lincoln Ave. According to this story, the "city" wants to build a 15-20 unit residential unit building on Lincoln Avenue for sale to low to moderate income tenants.

Who speaks for the city? How did this project get so far that "The process of vetting firms to do the architectural drawings will begin in the next few weeks . . ."?
“We felt the housing would fit in the neighborhood and help with the ongoing process of revitalization,” [Urban and Econ. Dev. Commr.] Soggs said.
Does Mr. Soggs really believe that housing next to an expressway will attract buyers?

As it stands now, NYSDOT is proposing to turn the Arterial into an expressway at this location. A "sculpture trail" along the route will not make up for the noise, lights, fumes and grime that come with an expressway. Just imagine the sounds of tractor trailers changing gears as they approach the ramp to the new Court Street overpass heading north. Yes . . . the sweet sounds of trucks will rock you to sleep! Put that in the "city's" marketing brochure.

Just because someone is "low income" does not mean they are dumb. People want their investments to grow. Housing next to an expressway is not likely to appreciate in value and not likely to sell.

High density housing (contrary to some councilperson's beliefs) has an appropriate place in urban design. Successful projects (i.e., where people would want to live and invest) would be associated with a Walkable Neighborhood where people can walk to services such as grocers and drugstores, and even to work.  The mix of uses, the infrastructure to support them, and the surrounding environment, however, need to be planned.

Where's the Plan?

Conspicuously absent from this story is any mention of the Utica Master Plan . . . probably because there IS NO PLAN.  There is nothing in the Master Plan which identifies this location as being appropriate for high density housing. Without an overarching plan for a walkable neighborhood, this project makes no sense.

Mr. Soggs claims there is a "demand" for this housing, but, if so, why are not private developers jumping to fill this niche? The apparent competition between Utica Economic Development and the Utica MHA is a strange twist.  Government distorts economic reality.

All this seems to do is enable certain people to dip into federal funds (which hopefully will be cut off soon). The project will turn into a New Washington Courts.

Utica deserves better.


Anonymous said...

This project is just another in the line of government entering the development game. Urban renewal, public housing, hotel financing all financial and development failures. We seem to never learn.

Anonymous said...

I had to agree when I read that. Who would want that traffic whizzing by your windows at all hours of the night. Just not a good spot for the low income or elderly. Just another empty lot someone owns and fast money is available.

Anonymous said...

Great phrase, fast money. That is precisely what drives bad projects, fast government money. It's end result is to usually cause more problems and spending than existed prior to the fast money.

Keith F said...

Perhaps we could save some money by buying Mayor Roefaro & Mr. Soggs a copy of Sim City.

I've driven by that parcel hundreds of times but on my last trip I tried to picture it as desirable residential ... nothing came. Who would want to live with a (possibly) elevated freeway in their back yard?

If there were a plan underway for a medium density residential development a couple blocks away, that parcel might serve as small retail strip (Fastrac, Walgreens, Tony's pizza & a Chinese takeout)

Until then it will best serve a greenspace.