Friday, January 26, 2018

Prospects for State Street look a Little Dim

The Presentation to the State Street Corridor Committee has been published, and it doesn't look very promising.

More than anything, by themselves rents are not high enough to induce the desired redevelopment.

Four stories of retail and housing: Ideal

Doesn't pencil out
So we are in a terrible "between" state: Rents aren't high enough to attract new development and we don't actually want rents to go up because they're too high already. This is messed up.

A Digression...

Summary sheet on Sites A, B, & C on North Broadway
(detail, via City of Salem, now hidden on old site)
Why didn't they drill more into this analysis and include more in the way of comparison? This clip, for example, is part of a brief discussion of three sites on North Broadway that were redeveloped as part of an urban renewal project (Site A, Site B, Site C, all on the City's old website still). A more detailed comparison of the finances on these projects would be helpful.

And what about 295 Church Street (also old site)?

295 Church Street - via LRS Architects
These are projects that the City and its advisory committee should be willing to look at more closely and use to model both successful and unsuccessful elements in shaping the right policies for State Street.

Significantly, they are all in Urban Renewal Areas, and it may be that tax increment support is necessary on State Street. What is the impact of parking lots? If surface area devoted to "free" car storage were deleted, could the projects pencil out?

Equally, how do these compare to big box greenfield development on the edges of the city?

Big Box greenfield development
And not so much from a developer's standpoint, but from the City's standpoint of municipal finance, how do these modes of development stack up?

Via Strongtowns and CNU Public Square
There is a great deal of context missing in a simple drive-by that shows the current property valuation is too low to support desired "ideal" redevelopment on State Street. And if we want to reason our way to the desired outcomes, we should spend more time on the question of "what would get us there?"

Back to the Presentation...

The project team also posted a helpful illustration of the height maximum.

Examples on building height are helpful
The idea that parallel bike routes on Chemeketa and Mill are adequate remains ridiculous, though.

State Street needs bike lanes
The reason we we have bike lanes on busy streets, even when they are awful, is because the destinations are on the busy streets. People bike to the same places people drive! Walmart is here. The fancy liquor store is here. Goodwill, Winco, and Trader Joe's are up the street. Busy streets are rich with useful destinations.

Walmart is here
There's nothing "preferred" about sidelining people on bikes to the side streets.

So the City's refusal on a full 4/3 Safety Conversion is still dumb.

That's just delaying
A parking study might be able to head towards a local parking benefit district, which might then fund some projects and ensure that we don't create too much surface parking or mandate so much in the zoning that this also kills development or raises rents.

A parking study might be useful
Such a district was a long-term concept for the North Broadway Parking Study.

The North Broadway Parking Study (2012) on a parking district
Maybe those who were at the meeting will have a different sense of things, but from the presentation as it is, realizing any vision from the State Street Study looks like something deferred quite a ways out.

(Previous notes on the State Street Corridor Study are here.)

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And here is the summary to the meeting. The City is firm on rejecting a full 4/3 safety conversion.

"Eunice also presented staff’s recommendation to evaluate the proposed street design 1.5 years after it is implemented. The purpose would be to see if changes should be made to the hybrid design, particularly if the road diet could be extended to 25th Street. Eunice presented potential criteria that would be used to evaluate the proposed street design, including traffic volume, diversion, safety, speed, intersection operations, property values, and investment and redevelopment....

[T]raffic models assumed that roughly a third of traffic on State Street would divert off of State Street under a full road diet. A full road diet would likely result in increased congestion on State Street and cut-through traffic in the neighborhoods.

The confidence in 33% traffic diversion is remarkable. There is so much uncertainty in future traffic projections right now, this is pseudo-science for sure.