Friday, October 2, 2015

Baggage Depot Restoration looks to get Moving Again

Yesterday was a terrible day for news. Here's something more pleasant.

After some delays, the City is saying that the baggage depot project is getting going again.

Baggage Depot, looking north, 2000
Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey
HABS OR-184-16
According to a Daily Journal of Commerce article,
After two years of delay, the Salem railroad baggage depot, built in 1889 and salvaged from a fire in 1917, will be given a new life as a Greyhound station when construction begins in December.
The station is just a block south of Mission Mill and of course an important reason the mill is sited there is because of the access to rail. Both water and rail were key infrastructure, power and transportation for it.

1905 Birdseye map, Library of Congress
Thos. Kay Woolen Mill, Depot, Yew School (L to R)
And it happens in a wonderful coincidence that the wife of the new Executive Director for the Mill is also the lead architect on the baggage depot project. In addition to seeing them biking around town, you may also have seen their photos in the paper yesterday. That's great they get to put their positive imprint on this little historic quarter of Salem.

Bob Reinhardt (C) and Leah McMillan (R)

From the DJC:
Nathan Good Architects of Portland is in charge of design for the baggage depot, under the direction of lead architect Leah McMillan.

“The design idea was to improve on what was still remaining," she said.

Plans call for three restrooms, a ticket counter, new flooring over the existing concrete floor, new lighting and accessibility for disabled persons.

“Seismic loads and wind loads had to be evaluated, and new walls will have new materials, but we will use the original material as much as possible, McMillan said. “We just have to make sure all the lead paint has been removed."

McMillan said that many design aspects are still being hashed out, such as whether to use old fashioned looking light fixtures; plans won’t be complete until the end of the year. ODOT will then put the project out to bid, she said.

“It’s a very interesting project because it’s very complex because some things need to be historic and some things need to be new," she said. “And there are a lot of parties involved."
Yeah, it's complex. Apart from the building and other improvements themselves, there are also tricky siting elements with internal and external circulation.

The main driveway would be just past the railing - very tight!
Have they really thought about turning radius and the bike lane?
With the way OR-22 has reconfigured Mission, 12th, 13th, and Bellevue Streets, this area is difficult for travelers by any mode: People on foot, on bike, and even in cars find much to dislike!

And it remains unclear just how much of a true multi-modal hub this project will be able to be. Right now things for people on foot and on bike are relegated to a third phase, and it's not clear how deeply integrated sidewalks, bike lanes, and bike parking, as well as the safe and comfortable circulation for those on foot and on bike, will be in the final outcome. There's a real danger they will be cosmetic overlays, nice to look at, but not so easy and inviting to use. The ramp spaghetti and associated car circulation is massive and looms over all the other details.

Still, it's great the building will find a new life in adaptive reuse and together it's an exciting conjunction of projects - and partners! - on each side of Mill Street.

For more on the historic baggage depot renovations, see notes here.

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