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.