Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Footnotes: Nordstrom Project may Remove Anti-Pedestrian Skybridges, No Update on Union St at Council

Buried at the end of today's SJ piece on the Nordstrom redevelopment is a very interesting tidbit.

Maybe the skybridges will go away!

From the piece:

While the Salem Center is owned separately, [a developer representative] said developers will be working with the mall owners on demolition plans as it will require they remove the connecting sky bridges.

It's not clear whether this would be merely a temporary displacement, or whether the developers envision a more permanent removal.

But whatever it is, it bears watching!

The skybridges function as a Pedestrian Displacement System. For people in cars who would like not to have to deal with the pesky urban deer, the skybridges get people out of the way and allow for faster speed with more unimpeded zooming. They are a kind of approach to "safety."

But for people on foot and others who value the urban fabric, the skybridges contribute to blank walls at sidewalk level, to fewer people on the sidewalk, more zooming cars, and generally drain street life. They are anti-urban and anti-pedestrian.

They were part of a larger plan for downtown, which fortunately was only partially built, and which may now be coming down in bits and pieces. It was, in fact, a mistake.

The system was only partially built

Previously see:

Union Street Proposal

You may recall Councilor Stapleton's proposal to open parts of Union and Winter Streets to non-auto travel during the Saturday Market.

There was to be a report on Monday

The City Manager's May 21st update suggested the report would be on Council agenda for Monday. 

But it was not.

So that's an interesting delay and also bears watching. One possible reading is that the City is slow-walking the concept, not willing to say "no" explicitly, but not very interested in making something work, either. Or maybe they are working in good faith and have met some unforeseen complication. Time is shorter now for an effective pilot program. People will need time to adjust habits, and making any opening a one-off rather than recurring feature will mean that people do not use it as effectively as they might.

Councilor Phillips on Climate

At Council, Councilor Phillips added a statement, which he republished to social media:

After caring for people in our community with Heat Injury this past weekend, I have to say this. We are living through the consequences of climate disruption right now. People in our community died as a direct result of heat this weekend.

We've had forest fires in the fall, ice storms in the winter, and now this deadly head wave with all time highest temperatures of 113 and 117 degrees in Salem. This is exactly what climate disruption looks like. For me, these events are a warning siren that we have to act. There are ways to make a real difference. I'm grateful for the ongoing efforts from the Salem Climate Action Plan Task force, and I look forward to working with out entire community to make real differences.


Anonymous said...

At Monday's meeting, the builder stated that the walkway would not line up with the new floors, as designed. There was no suggestion that it would be replaced but it was said that they would keep it if they could so that there would be better access to the parking garage. I wonder how many residents will be using that garage.

While this seems to be an excellent project from a bicyclist's and environmentalist's perspective, the other project that was discussed and is going forward is a hotel with a floor and a half of parking.

More residential downtown is very desirable because the density would presumably translate into fewer vehicle miles traveled. Perhaps the Marion Street adjustments and the converted railroad bridge to West Salem could eventually form a basis for a downtown that includes the area on the other side of the river.

I suspect that someone would argue (an argument that should be examined critically) that some intractable barrier to building upward exists but, if not, I recommend making changes now while Our Salem is still in process. Those who will enjoy the rooftop terrace above the new residential complex could get a better view of the coast range.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Here's a few notes on the New Holman Hotel, including a little about that interior parking.)