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Waterfront Linkage Committee Public Meeting

So I thought the meeting tonight was good. At least a hundred people were there. Lots of participation, some divergent views. The biggest points of contention seemed to be:

1. increasing the height of buildings. 4 stories, maybe even 5. lots of people for it and against it, mainly concerned about viewsheds of the mountain. The current mayor and the former mayor both weighed in on this issue, and a bunch of other people.

2. parking. The idea that there is too much parking. The idea that there is not enough parking. The idea there should be more walking.

3. infilling buildings towards the street, widening the street, or narrowing it, and middle of Main Street being much denser in general.

Just to recap, this is the area between Teller Avenue and Digger Phelps.

Then there is the linkage zone down to the train station, talk about development there, reducing the complex zoning regs currently in place, and talk about making it pedestrian friendly.

I spoke up about the need for people to get off the train, look up, and see the foot of Main Street, or at least be compelled to walk in that direction with some sort of pedestrian focused staircase or somesuch. A line of sight staircase is actually not possible: I was talking to Tom Church, there is an old Revolutionary War era graveyard behind the Dutch Reformed Church, oh well. But we need SOMETHING to compel pedestrians to walk up to Main Street, and this should be the backbone, the main focus, of whatever linkage plan is put through. Currently, you get off the train, you don't even know Main Street exists.

Another interesting part of the meeting was the historical component, the way Beacon used to be, pictures and reminisces from the audience and the presenters. And comparisons to other communities, from both the audience and the presenters, such as Saratoga Springs and Telluride.

Finally, June 14,Oliver and Lily of School of Jellyfish will be at the Beacon Institute on Dennings Point to present "Parametric City: Beacon The City as a Living Organism" which will deal with Beacon as a test case in the city as a self-sustaining entity. Sounds very cool. Be there:

http://schoolofjellyfish.com/blog/?p=563

Thank you presenters and thank you Beacon Main Street Linkage Committee for the excellent meeting!

Views: 1271

Tags: development, linkage, main street

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Comment by Ben Royce on May 31, 2012 at 12:54pm

Greg, in addition to your dojo, I take my kids to Kumon, at Dutchess County Airport.

There, amongst the TSA level security, razor wire topped chainlink fences, airplane fuel odor, and intermingling with heat packing deputies of the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office, are dozens of little kids doing math problems. The sheriff's office isn't near Kumon: it shares office space. You go inside Kumon, and you see a beefy deputy working at a computer and listening to a scanner.

I figure the deputies to be most annoyed with this arrangement. It's the most ridiculously inappropriate space I could possibly imagine for the kiddie business.

Probably a really great business rent rate though.

I guess all I'm saying is, perhaps you should look for larger space in the most ridiculous location possible, like a recycling plant or a toll booth! ;-)

Comment by Gregory Richards on May 30, 2012 at 10:21pm

How long has the DMV building been empty? The owner uses it as a tax write off. They have not lowered the priced in over 15 years plus. The rate for the other areas are no where near what they are asking. I know because I'm always looking for a bigger space in Beacon.

Comment by Abu KG on May 30, 2012 at 9:10pm

if it's unreasonably priced then 1) you can try to negotiate or 2) the market will bring it down. what's to say that prices for other comparable spaces wouldn't be the same if they opened up? what's to say that a brand new mixed development wouldn't also have high rents? i think it's a safe bet that it would, the same way the current space does... because that's what tends to happen with new developments. they come in asking the world and then come back to reality eventually.

Comment by Gregory Richards on May 30, 2012 at 12:52pm

The open space by 52 in the old DMV will remain so for a while. The price is waaay to high and they also have other fee's like maintenance. So yes, there is a large open space, but it is a space that is unreasonably priced. 

After the old DMV where are the other large open areas?

Comment by guy corleone on May 30, 2012 at 10:16am

How about bringing back the trolley one that makes frequent stops on Main st. Instead of the current stop schedule that only stops in front of the higher ups and new power brokers in the chamber of commerce. Have it pick up at the train station and then to different destinations on Main. st.

The city needs parking lot's of it try finding a parking spot on either end of Main st. during the day time hours or anytime after 5pm when the tenants get home.

I have to say I'm not a big fan of the car wash on Main st. but it's part of what Main st is. Someone also has to get on the theater project and get them moving that place should have been open already. I think the people running it are dragging their feet.

 

Comment by Abu KG on May 29, 2012 at 9:05pm

hey greg, i don't feel all that strongly about any of those buildings i mentioned. i shop at key food and i'm glad there's a full size grocery store on main street. my point was that, for all the complaining about central main being a dead zone, and for all the talk of replacing ugly, low density usage with nicer mixed-use buildings, there are relatively few realistic opportunities to actually do so.

i don't really buy the connection between bigger commercial spaces and mixed-use redevelopment, because most of the biggest available spaces are actually part of single story commercial buildings, and there is what, 10,000 square feet? of newly renovated, completely vacant commercial space down by 52 and main right now.

Comment by Gregory Richards on May 29, 2012 at 12:14pm

Abu KG, So I take it you REALLY don't like Key Food or the Car Wash. ;)

The buildings you mentioned like Yankee Clipper the Mosque, the Citizens Bank, what is so wrong with them?

I get the feeling that you do not want any building that breaks from the form of the "older" buildings. The so called "historical" buildings are fine, but they have a real downside, they are too small to house most businesses. I have a business on main street and due to my needs I have next to no options due to how small the store fronts are. Those small store fronts make expansion impossible and really limit the business's that can be on main street.

Those taller buildings could house business's too, not just apartments.

 

Comment by Abu KG on May 28, 2012 at 5:16pm

david, i understand that zoning is not a mandate or guarantee that certain things will be built. i'm responding to what i see as an inconsistency in some of the arguments in favor of this change... i've said myself that the proposed changes would not directly cause the buildings that people are complaining about (such as the car wash or key food) to disappear. so we are on the same page there. there are people in this thread who have a poor grasp of zoning, planning, cause and effect, but i'm not one of them.

re: mixed use and central main. i'm totally in favor of mixed use and if somebody wants to knock over that key food or that car wash and turn it into something more like the buildings that house open space or the trattoria, great. what i am saying is that i don't agree with lifting the height cap. that's all.

although that central main area seems kind of desolate, there are actually very few buildings that seem like real candidates for redevelopment to me at this point. key food, yankee clipper, the mosque, the bank branch, the DMV building, the large, newly renovated commercial space just west of 52, the gas stations... i don't see any of those changing hands, for one reason or another. i don't know about the car wash or some of those commercial spaces that house the dry cleaner / barber shop / pizza combo, or maybe the rite aid building (wasn't that up for sale?), but when you actually pare it down to real estate that could realistically become available, and also be a good target for new building, it makes it clear that converting that entire stretch into multi-story mixed use may not be a realistic goal.

having a continuous, thriving stretch all the way up and down main street would be great, but NOT having it does not mean beacon won't see desirable growth. again, i point to some of the projects already underway, and the fact that there are still plenty of residential and commercial vacancies and turnover in the existing spaces. and i point to the fact that many successful, resurgent small towns and cities have some relatively quiet spots. yes beacon is growing, but it is not bursting at the seams or exceeding its existing infrastructure. i'm not a city planner by training, but i don't think it's even particularly close to that point.

i'm all for being proactive on this issue, and i think your point about mixed use set close to the street with parking in the rear is well taken. i am just against raising the current height limit.

Comment by David Balogh on May 25, 2012 at 9:48am

I pointed out Boulder because of the Burlington/Boulder Pearl St. reference, but doesn't really matter. Biggest point is, in case you haven't noticed, Beacon is growing. While we can continue to expand by adding more housing developments or filling in empty lots (looks like they're selling some off down the road), don't you think it would make a bit more sense to take advantage of Main St. that is teetering between being great and being mediocre?

So we're spending a lot of time debating the 4/5 story thing, and quite frankly I don't care if we stay low at 3 or 4 depending on the situation, but I think the form-based zoning of pulling things closer to main and pushing parking to the back (again, PLENTY of places to improve parking behind Main or the buildings) still stands.

I'm curious of why the center 'mixed-use' area is so amazing causing such divisiveness. A Key Food and some gas stations are the only thing I'm seeing that are useful, along with the DMV which could improved anyway. Maybe I'm missing something, but I think a lot of people end up on route 9 simply because there are more useful general purpose businesses there.

And Abu, I think you're not catching on to what zoning is, when we say it won't CHANGE anything, it's because it's only setting the RULES for change, the rest is up to whoever wants to build on Main. This just loosens up the zoning making it more attractive to changing.

My wife's uncle is the town supervisor in Lake George, and he was telling me about the re-zoning they're planning. Generally speaking the zoning can deter new ideas. For instance, they have strip zoning for commercial buildings along Route 9 and residential behind. A company wanted to put in a zip line business, which would be fine for the main office but the zip line itself would be behind the building, which is residential. This means getting variances and spending a lot of time, and in the end loosing money by delaying the opening of said business in an area that depends on the summer tourism months. While maybe not an ideal example, what I'm trying to point out is the changing the rules can make a difference.

Comment by Abu KG on May 25, 2012 at 1:33am

of course main street isn't suddenly going to be all five story buildings. my point is i don't want ANY five story buildings, and that once you put the exception in the code, you lose a certain degree of control over which ones are granted and what the final product is like.

this is the classic situation of a solution looking for a problem. if it won't cause significant change in usage on even a "part" of main street - in your own words - then why do it? isn't the whole issue that we want more mixed use in the area of central main, and we think this is necessary to facilitate it? if no buildings are being torn down, where exactly are these five story buildings going? in the parking lot of key food? or do you think we can just plunk an extra two stories down on top of the existing row houses? why change the code and give the zoning board more power if you can't even describe the scenario where it might be used?

stop and think for a second: what is the proposed reason for doing this? what is the benefit? and what are you saying about the actual consequences of adopting this change? none of what you are saying adds up. if you look at your points from one post to the next, you're contradicting your own reasoning. first you say it will increase the tax base and make main street seem busy. then you say it won't actually create any change at all. which is it?

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