His first two points are:
- Implement the ULI Plan in next two decades
- Extend Riverfront Park south to encompass mouth of Pringle Creek
|Urban Land Institute Report, 2006|
(click to see notes in red)
The panel believes one of the most exciting opportunities for both commercial and public space development may be presented by the Boise truck parking lot...Not getting much attention, perhaps justly so since using the Oregon Electric lines for commuter rail has not seemed like a preferred alignment in the current rail planning process, is a proposed train station and plaza with connections to the Conference Center:
The panel suggests that perhaps the most effective way to activate Riverfront Park and to provide economic stimulus to downtown Salem is to extend the central commercial spine along State Street into Riverfront Park. As conceived by the panel, the new South State Street extension would begin at the intersection of State and Front streets, with an enhanced signal and public safety system provided at that busy spot. The extension would continue across city owned land past the carousel through the existing public parking lot and the Boise site to terminate at a roundabout in a new Great Lawn at Pringle Creek. Twin pedestrian pathways would extend across the lawn to pedestrian bridges, one crossing Pringle Creek parallel to the Portland & West-ern railroad tracks, and the other passing around the Eco Earth Globe to the long-proposed bridge to Minto Island.
Along the new South State extension would be twin four-story structures lined with 18,000 square feet of small shops, restaurants, and entrepreneurial business spaces, with 50 residences located on the upper floors of each building. The retail space could offer perhaps two or three signature waterview restaurants with outdoor seating during nice weather, with the remainder devoted to small owner-operated businesses sized so as not to compete with the established downtown retail district. Parking for 250 cars would provided underground, with an additional 60 spaces provided inside each residential building.
The new South State extension itself could provide vehicular access to the Great Lawn during less busy periods, and, when closed to traffic, used as a new home for the Salem Farmers Market. Each of the new residential units, averaging 1,200 square feet, would offer city, park, or water views, and have the amenities of downtown Salem and three exceptional city parks right at their doorstep.
The triangular parcel on the north side of the Boise property, currently home to the multistory concrete Fry Warehouse [now demolished], is proposed by the panel as the site of a future commuter rail station.Not in the final report, but in a briefing, is a frank acknowledgement of the moat that separates downtown from the park - a moat formed by transportation corridors, including a state highway!
The existing curb cuts could be used to provide access to a driveway for passenger drop-off, shuttle bus service connecting to other downtown points, and taxi services. A linear pedestrian plaza could connect the proposed station to the Commercial and Front Street intersection, with the Old Mill Building offering the potential for development of shops and small cafés that spill out onto the plaza in good weather. At the railroad tracks, an elevated pedestrian bridge could connect the station to a northbound station platform and to Riverfront Park beyond.
|Front Street Highway and RR make Moat (slide deck here)|
Even if the rail station is abandoned, the plaza in alignment with Trade Street offers much stronger connections to downtown than does the greenway path along Pringle Creek, which goes too far south and skirts downtown.
So the question here is, if you abandon any development on the west side of the railroad, and make that into an extension of Riverfront Park, what does it mean to "Implement the ULI Plan in next two decades"? Even if you think that "two or three signature waterview restaurants" would be overkill, and that we should hope for one only - that Salem wouldn't support more than one - where do you put such a restaurant on the east side of the tracks?
And how does that change the rest of the ULI recommendations?
It seems to me that once you abandon the development on the west side of the tracks, there's not much of the ULI recommendations left.
At any rate, at this stage it's not important for someone to have all the answers. What is important is that there's more conversation - even just spit-balling - to see if some group of ideas will crystallize into a compelling and feasible vision.
And in addition to thinking about "what" goes there, we need to think more about "how" connections are made across the moat to downtown - Front Street has to be included, not just the railroad. If it's not easy and attractive to walk between downtown and the park and development, the development will not fully flourish.
A commenter references the "old mill building," and I think I have a photo of it from Front street during the demolition phase.
|Trusses from the "old mill building"?|
Update - July 23rd, 2014
The paper yesterday had a photo of an "old mill building" that I saw a few years ago and have been trying to find! I swear Mission Mill did a "can you identify this?" game on their blog, but I could never find it.
There's actually a small sign on the corner-facing door on the single-story office, but the photo here is not scanned at high enough resolution to say if it is reversed.
If this is true, the exposed truss from the demolition comes from the back, far end of the building in the vintage photo.
|Flouring Mill and office from 1895 Sanborn Fire Map|
This identification of the warehouse and truss system is not determinative, but it is certainly very possible and even likely. Perhaps more in another update.
Update 2, July 23rd
Here you go, thanks to D. Davis and Anon in the comments!
|Sign reads "Oregon Pulp & Paper Co."|
See also this Salem Library Historic Photo