Among critics of the Third Bridge and worries about the Highland and Edgewater neighborhoods, there's been recent talk about the Hollywood district.
One of the sad losses in Salem is the destruction of the Hollywood neighborhood and theater in our first urban renewal mess.
|Demolition of Hollywood Theater, 1971: Salem Library|
|Hollywood Theater in better days: Salem Library|
|North Capitol and Hunt: Salem Library|
|Hollywood District, 1960s: Salem Library|
And this is exactly the way the need for the Third Bridge is framed today. The outdated bridges no longer serve the needs of a growing city. Progress! Growth!
It is, however, hard to see how the urban renewal projects actually renewed the area. Today the square footage of taxable buildings is surely much, much less than it was, and the area is clearly less dense. It would be interesting to know the delta in assessed value. It is almost certain the public value, the taxable base, of the district, and the City's finances, have taken a hit above and beyond the years of the "tax increment." The amount of commercial activity is also much less, and so renewal failed to generate private value in this way. Finally, the aesthetics of the concrete and asphalt represent a diminution or degradation of experience for those who live and visit the area.
It is difficult to walk or bike, and the barren triangle of Erixon, Fairgrounds, and Capitol captures the soulless and wasted potential in a nutshell.
The verdicts of history and of empirical data must be that this instance of urban renewal did not create a net increase in growth or value! It failed to create public value, it failed to create private value, and it failed to create aesthetic value.
At the last hearing one person called the prospect of a big new bridge an "attractive nuisance." We should pay more attention to the lessons of history and those former "attractions" that never quite panned out.
The next Council Work Session tentatively appears to be on Monday, December 17th.
If you haven't done so, consider emailing Citycouncil@cityofsalem.net to urge Councilors to refocus efforts on better and much less costly ways to improve mobility and manage congestion. If writing a letter or email's not your style, a petition is circulating, and you can sign on here.
For more on the River Crossing / Third Bridge see a summary critique and all breakfast blog notes tagged River Crossing. The No Third Bridge advocates also have lots of useful information.