|Entry and view from Carousel Parking Lot and Access Drive|
One of the biggest is the element of rail (and inflexible approaches to "rail safety") and more general questions about our transportation and street system in this corner of downtown. It may, in fact, be that the biggest constraint on developing the site is how mobility for people on foot, on bike, and in cars is managed.
|Editorial against entry |
The entry was to have included a new access off of Front Street going south, into and out of which you could only turn right.
|Former access plan with rail crossing and State St. closure|
This was a lot of out-of-direction travel, and also created a dead-zone on State Street where it dead-ended into Front. Access to the Minto Bridge would have become more complicated as well. Walking or driving down State Street to reach the Carousel is direct and intuitive, and the access plan was a labyrinthine instead.
The Carousel group was originally in favor of this, as I recall, but hopefully as plans for the Minto bridge have matured, they have seen that closing State Street would be a mistake.
And fortunately that plan went on hiatus and then died. Now we have this new plan.
|Site Plan Overview: No new RR crossing|
But the site, hemmed in by the railroad, the park, hamstrung by onerous restrictions on at-grade crossings of railroads, and awkwardly pinched by our one-way street system here is quite problematic.
It's a pickle! And you can't just blame it all on the developer and architect.
Now, hopefully there are better design solutions out there. Maybe a different design team could have or will come up with one. The current architect's strengths seems to be resort communities, and this may not be the best match for an urban mixed-use redevelopment project.
But this is also an example of the way our current approach to rail safety and our commitment to a one-way grid downtown really makes things difficult on a developer who is trying to do something most of the community wants. (Even if we might disagree on some of the details, there is a general consensus that the Boise shell should be redeveloped, isn't there?)
There are lots of kids at the Park and Carousel, and our transportation scheme for the development should prioritize safety and comfort for the little ones on foot. Inflexible rail standards and our street grid make this difficult. (Not to mention adults on foot - our commitment to autoism is a factor as well!)
Some folks have said that this plot should be sold back to the City and folded into Riverfront Park. That might indeed be the best and highest use of the land.
At the same time, it seems quite possible that these apartments are necessary to provide the revenue that makes the redevelopment of the Boise warehouse shell itself happen. If you cut out development here, the whole package may not pencil out.
It's a pickle. In multiple ways.
Raising questions about the State Street extension and the relation of the proposed development to the Park and Carousel is important. But critics should also remember that the first alternative required closing State Street, and this was a terrible solution.
If there were an obvious solution, it would have come out by now. So hopefully there are folks who see a compelling design problem and will be able creatively to think of an unexpected design solution. In the mean time, if it should be easy to simplify and say "no third bridge," here it's all complication and nuance.