Thursday, July 24, 2014

Greenbaums Early Bulwark Against Parking Lot Expansion and Demolition

If you're not into quilting, it might seem like just a quilt shop but Greenbaums and the stub end of the Eldridge block in which it resides is no small part of Salem history, and the news it's for sale totally worth the front page space.

Much more could be written about it and its place in our urban history and urban fabric. The building dates from 1889 and is associated with building/designer Wilbur Boothby. By marriage the Greenbaum family related to brewer Sam Adolph, owner of the Adolph Block, where Wild Pear is located. The quilt is ornate and has many pieces!

SE Corner of Chemeketa and Commercial, then and now
Then: Eldridge Block circa 1940, Salem Library
Inset, today: Chemeketa Parkade
(Click to enlarge)
Here's one piece related to transportation.

The last section of the Eldridge block can be seen in this photo circa 1940.  It extended all the way from Greenbaum's to the corner. Two of the central stairs also had towers over them. (The seven-window unit with the tower on the right side, the south end, is the only part that remains.)

Today most of the building's former footprint is the Chemeketa Parkade. Before that garage was completed in 1978, a department store wanted it for a surface lot.

Marion Car Park Demolition Hearing May Be Continued to Plan Next Steps

Remember the Hearing Notice for an application to demolish the Marion Car Park at Ferry and Commercial?

Holman Building demolished for
Marion Car Park (bottom)
SHINE: 1950
Tonight the Historic Landmarks Commission will hold the Public Hearing on it, and it doesn't look so very interesting or complicated after all.

When the Hearing notice first came out, it seemed like there was a good chance a demolition would meet the requirements and even be a positive development for downtown. It seemed to have a weak case for preservation.

It turned out the application arose out of a foreclosure and the new owners want to leave a gravel lot in its place. There is no plan for redevelopment.

This is a terrible idea! Not in any way strong enough to overcome a weak case for preservation.

And the Staff Report recommended, as it should, "denial" of the permit.

Since that report came out, there has been more conversation and negotiation. In a Supplemental Staff Report there is talk of one or more third parties interested in redeveloping the site.

Now, City Staff recommend continuing the Public Hearing for nine months to March 2015, giving the new owners time to sell, time to negotiate an agreement with a third party developer, or time to develop some other plan that would put the site to higher use.

It's hard to see a downside to that - and maybe something good would come of it. If nothing comes together, then the Commission can still vote for a straight-up denial.

Also on the agenda is the Virginia Green Award.

The Commission meets Thursday the 24th at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, Salem Civic Center (City Hall), 555 Liberty St. SE.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mysterious Image of Mill Warehouse Identified!

Third Bridge, blah, blah, blah...it's important but boy is it tiresome these days. So here's something much more interesting.

This photo was in the paper yesterday, captioned vaguely as "IT’S MILL TIME: An image from a series of slides..."

A while ago, perhaps a few years ago even, I think Mission Mill did a "can you identify it?" game with this image. The game's disappeared into the mists, however, and no amount of my googling was able to turn that up. (Maybe you can find it?)

Presumably the building and image still hasn't been identified, and that's why things remain vague.

But I think I have in ID for it. I think the image is reversed, and that may be why it has not been easy to identify. Details are at this updated post, so discuss it over there if you have comments or criticism!

Overlooked Details Should Doom Third Bridge

In an editorial today, the paper responds to the National Transportation Safety Board findings that a "cascading series of bad decisions led to last year’s collapse of an Interstate 5 bridge north of Seattle."

Well, we're well on our way with our own "cascading series of bad decisions" about a bridge and there's little or no self-awareness about the irony.

The Marion and Center Street Bridges are not reinforced to withstand a big quake, and the proposed Salem Alternative is at the moment conceptually outlined to withstand only a medium quake.

There is no plan right now for connectivity across the river after the Big Bad Cascadian Subduction Zone quake.

If you survive, you'll be wanting a kayak!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Local MPO to Consider Road Classification Scheme

Our local MPO meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 22nd. On the agenda (includes full meeting packet) for the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study is a "Review of the Functional Classification and National Highway System (NHS) in the SKATS Area."

The functional classification is that whole local-collector-arterial heirarchy. It's a small-medium-large typology that maps essentially to a twig-branch-trunk model of a tree.

It turns out that the feds, counties, and cities don't necessarily use the same exact terms or classify the roads in the same exact way.

Talk about a headache!

So the review is at least superficially a clean up.

One of several pages of "change request form"
A segment of Chemeketa is highlighted
For example, the feds apparently still classify Chemeketa as a "major collector" in some places, and the section between 12th and 14th now has two dead-ends/diverters, and it is most certainly NOT a collector. So the review proposes a federal reclassification of it as a "local" street.

Makes perfect sense.

There are many pages of street segments like this, some proposed to be reclassify upwards as "bigger" streets, others downwards, like Chemeketa was, as "smaller" streets.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Uber Visit: Eisenhower-Era Assumptions Won't Guide Future Mobility

Almost three weeks ago now in an editorial about the third bridge, the paper alluded to what looks to be a substantial shift in our travel and mobility patterns.

"No one can predict how travel will change in the years before the third bridge is built. Neither do we know whether the project will prove financially feasible. But it would be foolish to sit still instead of planning as best we can."

Uber was in town yesterday offering a taste of some of that change.

It was promoting its "sharing economy" taxi service. Folks who registered and used the app could get free ice cream delivered to them.

Salem's not probably going to be early in any way on the adoption curve for things like this. But since there are regulatory hurdles and legal frameworks still to develop, it makes sense to advertise in the State Capital. Statewide acceptance will help in places like Portland, where there is surely a greater demand.

From here, it is telling that in the background of the Uber ice cream truck is Cherriots and the transit center.

As Cherriots explores "flexible transit" for Keizer, West Salem, and South Salem, the Uber model leapfrogs the "rideshare" matching software and in just a few short years, it seems likely that there could be a suite of smart-phone enabled applications for things ranging from car pools, bus service, jitneys, full-on taxis. It will be easy, too, to price things with great variability: automate gas and insurance sharing for car pools all the way to deluxe white glove taxi curbside service.

I don't know that Uber is going to replace a lot of transit, but surely its model will exert a gravitational pull to reshape the way transit delivers its services. LoveSalem has mentioned this on more than one occasion.

Other technology and patterns aren't far off, either. The google car is approaching. Though they haven't taken off in the US, eBikes are super popular elsewhere in the world.

Modeling our future infrastructure needs on the Moses-Eisenhower School of Mid-Century Autoism is full of Peril and Wrong and Fail!

We don't know how many individual cars people are going to want or need, there's clear evidence that the number of car trips is flat and even decreasing, and it seems likely there will be increasing taxes or other costs associated with carbon and energy.

Using 1950s assumptions to plan for 2050 is a bad idea all the way around.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Union Gospel Mission Considers Move North out of Downtown Location

You probably read about the fire at the Union Gospel Mission thrift store at the corner of Commercial and D Streets.

But you might not have heard that the shelter is considering moving from the downtown location at Center and Commercial a few blocks north to a half-block site that includes the store property.

At the Planning Commission on Tuesday there was a proposed zoning change to permit a shelter in the Riverfront Overlay Zone.

Letter requesting zone change

The shelter could be the whole half block;
addresses correspond to those in letter.
The thrift store is in the NE corner at 885
There's a lot of parking lot there right now, and across the street is the cluster of O'Brien car dealerships, so it's not like the area is well used at the moment.