Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bank and Drive-Through by Scott's at Hearings

Last Spring there was debate (see here and here) about allowing drive-throughs in the Downtown Historic District, and this fall Council approved the ordinance.

These were changes permitted in general, and therefore ostensibly theoretical, though everyone knew a single project was driving the change.

Now that project is here, and there are two hearings on it in particular.

On Wednesday the Hearings Officer will undertake a Conditional Use review (agenda here, staff report here).

Thursday night the Historic Landmarks Commission will hold its design review. The staff report is here.

The building is on the corner of State and Commercial, and you will recognize Pioneer Trust Bank as the tall building. On the surface the new structure will have a modern, neo-historical two-story brick-ish facade (can't tell if it actually will use brick facings), even broke up with cornice and window detailing into smaller units, that mostly looks like it fits into the neighborhood. It's smooth jazz here.

Here is the first plan, a slightly earlier iteration, superimposed on the gravel lots just north of Scott's Cycle.

And here is the most recent plan, revised in part after CAN-DO's comments regarding too much auto traffic exiting onto Commercial street with limited sightlines along the sidewalk. In this version, only cars with people banking at the drive-through will be permitted to exit onto Commercial, and cars exiting the parking lot will have to use the alley. State street here seems a little bucolic, and it's sad it can't proceed in a more walkable rather than drivable direction.

You'll notice the long strip between Scott's and the Bank. This is a separate lot, and its owners oppose the Bank as proposed. Their objections have not been entered into the record, and according to their attorney will be presented at the hearings.

As far as transportation goes, the moment for opposing the drive-through itself has pretty much passed. And with the rise of mobile banking, it seems unlikely that drive-through transactions will do anything other than decline with time. So it doesn't seem worthwhile to fuss too much.

It will be interesting to learn more about the objections raised by the owners of the strip lot to remain empty. Still, regardless of the way we argue on the details, surely we can agree the corner should be developed, though I suspect this particular building as proposed will not last the century that its companions on each corner have lasted.

Instead, I wonder if what I want to call "spandrels," the on-street areas too small for a car spot created by the bulb-out and the drive-way exit, would permit sufficient space for an on-street bike corral. I'm not sure this would be a huge high-demand area for bike parking, but at the same time if the space would otherwise be wasted, why not use it? Something to consider. (Corral Photo: Greg Raisman)

Also, many banks do not permit people on bike to use drive-throughs. Maybe this is an opportunity to insist that people on bike can use them?


Curt said...

In my view the city has suffocated this entire area between Front and Commercial. Look at the obstacles the Commercial/Liberty couplet presents for trips from Fairmont to downtown. First they have to traverse Commercial to Liberty. Then from Liberty they have to turn left on the Front St. bypass and cross Commercial (again!) before changing lanes at least once but likely twice (in heavy traffic) in order to make a right turn on State. And this is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city! Why wouldn't we want to make it as easy as possible for these folks to bring their business downtown! I realize this situation isn't specifically relevant to bikes but I find it astonishing that city planners have been permitted to do this to our downtown. Even if this area is primarily reached by car trips, I would rather see them here instead of another blighted suburban strip mall.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Efficiency! Sort-and-separate: Mixture isn't efficient!

The couplets appeared in the 1950s, coincident, I think, with the Marion Street Bridge (Center St has had several bridges over the years, with three or so antedating the Marion St. Bridge). It's all that post-war Eisenhower/Interstate Auto-Industrial Complex!

Then in the 70s we got the Pringle Creek Urban Renewal superblocks and Pringle Parkway and Front Street by-pass.

Planning and Progress and Advance!

However, it seems we might be taking baby steps to undo some of it:

I think that State Street between Liberty and Commercial is likely to go two-way soonish. And with the exception of Liberty/Commercial, and Marion/Center couplets, the Downtown Circulation Study is supposed to be looking at a wider return to two-way streets. So more of State Street could go two-way also.

But yeah, just as you say, Fairmount is stranded. It was dramatically apparent when, a couple of years ago, then-Governor Kulongoski was going to bike from Mahonia Hall to the Capitol to join us at Breakfast on Bikes - but B on B just meant "barrier on barrier."

Jeff McNamee said...

Really? Another bank? Who, under the age of 50 and does not operate some sort of business, actually goes to a bank any longer? When I do go to my bank to submit business deposits (OSU Credit Union), it allows me to roll through the drive-through on my bike. I often get a lollipop thank you very much!

Curt said...

Good news about State St. It has a similar business repelling effect on Willamette students and faculty that might be inclined to eat or shop downtown at lunchtime. Which is IMO why we have a reasonably healthy node of business activity on Court St. but the same block on the State side of the couplet is quiet by comparison. Thank you so much for your attention to these issues.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Don't know what the HLC will decide tonight, but last night the Hearings Officer kept the record open to Jan 11th in order to accept additional written testimony.

(And yay for OSU CU!)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And HLC also followed a parallel course: They closed the public hearing, but kept the record open to accept additional written testimony to the 11th. They expect to deliberate and make a decision on Jan 19th.