Birthday present: Complexions Spa


We'd like to makeover the AOA offices to look more like this.

Well, the party is over, but there are still more presents to be had. We've got one prize left in the AOA birthday bag. The winners of today's drawing will get $100 gift certificates for Complexions Spa and Salon or their new barber shop and hair salon. There will be 3 winners.

So here's today's question:

What -- and how -- would you makeover in the Capital Region?

We're looking for constructive ideas about how to make over something that already exists here. Think broadly -- it could be a street, a neighborhood, a building, an event, an attitude, anything.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 pm Friday (Feb 26, 2010) to be entered in the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address with your comment. The winners will be notified via email by 5 pm on Monday and must respond by 5 pm on Tuesday.


I would make all of the elementary schools in the Albany City School District neighborhood schools and save the magnet curriculums for the secondary level.

I would go over to WGY, rip out all the connections that allow that station to broadcast Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Art Bell, and turn it back into a local talk radio station. I'm not saying it should go back to the days of Harry Downie and Martha Brooks and Earle Pudney, but at least I should be able to listen to the station without having to use barnyard invectives directed at the host.

The region needs a new name. No one outside of the area has any idea what the Capital District is. With a new name, a new logo, a new motto and and a calculated effort to bring more people in. Do I have the new name? No, but someone must!

I would make over the summers. We're due more hot, sunny days.

I would put in new streetlights. A large number of the lights in Albany turn red on one side and IMMEDIATELY turn green the other way (with no 2 second delay). Seems like an easy fix to make the roads a touch safer.

I would do a squiggly Wayne's World flashback thingy and end up in the 70s. Instead of putting in a major expressway against one of our BEST assets: the Hudson River, I would have developed that into mixed use retail, housing, offices etc. to showcase the river and let citizens and visitors enjoy it to the fullest, not hide it with cement supports, steel beams and concrete roadways.

Develop more along the river! There is so much potential there . . .

A la The Big Dig, 787 needs to go underground and the waterfront on the Hudson needs to be developed.

Over at "Albany 2030: Your City. Your Future." whatever you want to make over is what we want to make over.

Once you've posted here, get these suggestions on the record over at - you can also text them, email them and use Facebook or Twitter. And, of course, come to our next workshops April 22nd, 23rd & 24th. This is the City of Albany's first-ever comprehensive plan. Our goal is to come up with community-wide priorities and develop strategies to make them a reality.

i would fix up some of the housing in the area. i really do feel like people mess the place up because they have no pride in where they live in the first place. giving people a leg up by helping them be proud about their street/block/house/apartment/neighborhood might be part of the solution to keeping nice.

Ugh, please, for your next contest question, pick something that isn't going to be answered by 1000 people "Trader Joes!!!!!"

@Uyewi: Can't make over something that doesn't exist here ; )

Knock down the highway monstrosity 787 that runs in between downtown Albany and the River and develop the waterfront.

Adaptive reuse of a building or two or three would be a wonderful makeover. How about the Albany Central Warehouse or the building next to the Fuze Box on Central.

The Capital Region politicians need a makeover.

I'm going to borrow from yesterday's answer and say light rail, along with a good healthy dose of fixing all the roads (frickin potholes!) and demolishing some of the crappier abandoned buildings so something new can go where they are.

Central Avenue. There's so much potential for these businesses - yet the storefronts seem to be a revolving door. Maybe if the area was taken care of better Albany residents wouldn't be so hesitant to frequent the establishments.

I think making over the city's abandoned buildings with a wrecking ball would be excellent.

I also agree that we don't highlight the Hudson nearly enough.

In light of the proposed cuts to our parks, lets make over the remaining public land and parks available to all of us to enjoy. Let's all do our part to pitch in and collect trash, maintain, and beautify our natural surroundings.

The downtown area warehouse district is in need of some attention. Many of these buildings are empty, and there has been talk of renovations to make them apartments/lofts, but nothing has really been done. I'd at least like to see the owners do upkeep on the facades so they aren't such an eyesore. It's just sad to see, and doesn't make the neighborhood look any better either.

ohhhh boy: I would makeover people's attitudes towards city living, kicking folks out of their cars and into the streets, in the hopes of giving business and city leaders a little faith in developing downtown Albany and Troy into viable places to live, shop, play...

[ok, so this also requires a CDTA makeover and a smackdown of the convention center boosters, but a girl can dream?!]

City public schools (Albany, Schenectady, and Troy) -- all need complete makeovers to make the cities attractive places to raise a family.

I'm cheating from yesterday too. I would cut off the roads in Washington Park, and add chairs/tables to encourage more social gatherings! Imagine a pedestrian friendly green space in the heart of the city!

Improve train service and better pricing between here and NYC. It also would be great to have a nice way to get to Boston from here via rail without having to go down to NYC first.

I think that one step would be for the cities around here (I am thinking specifically of Troy, but the same applies to Albany and Schenectady) would be to identify a part of their downtown that is working, support it, and move out from there in terms of renovations, courting businesses, etc. It seems like there is a lot of flailing around instead of planning, which results in a nice block marred with a few empty (or worse) buildings.

i would make over the politicians into classy, civilized, intelligent beings who WORK TOGETHER for the common good of the people who elected them, make over the police into law-abiding citizens who are concerned about real crimes instead of issuing tickets, and i would make over jerry jennings to be less orange.

This is an easy one. I would love to see the Times Union Center get a huge makeover. Having no parking spaces for the box office is a continued problem. Making people wait outside in line for the doors to open for an event and take tickets is quite ridiculous. All the stair wells and ceilings in the place are just plain dangerous. I'm surprised the place has not been condemned at this point, they have done a horrible job with up keep. The solution: possible demolition and hire an architecture/developing firm that can make it updated, esthetically pleasing to the eye and "green" friendly, kind of like what Complexions Spa brings to the area.

I'm going to have to go with making the City of Albany more pedestrian/bike friendly. Some of the sidewalks need a serious makeover, as well as the inclusion of bike lanes. I'm more of a walker, but when I see a guy clearly commuting downtown on a bike at this time of year, I think, "Wow, that guy needs a better stretch of road coming down Western/Madison..."

I can't say it often enough: revitalize downtown. I would put a lot of effort into bringing commerce back into the area. We had ONE cute home store, Antara, that sadly closed this year. We need more permanent residents. I want downtown Albany to be hopping, like Saratoga's downtown.

Next, establish an affordable municipal garage for downtown/center square residents only, so the people that are willing to spend the money don't have to deal with the car wars.

i would make over the roads. less potholes more road maintenance. i would like to see more trees around. and maybe add more sensible parking solutions.

Remodel or move the Albany Public Library Main Branch! That building needs a serious overhaul. Currently it has all the charm of a DMV office.

Maybe convert the Main Branch into a center for homeless (I'm not trying to be facetious but it's obvious that it's already a hangout for vagrants and those with addiction problems), and move the library to one of the vacant downtown buildings.

I would makeover the school lunches, they are ridiculously unhealthy!

This bridge on Henry Johnson Boulevard, is just... kinda offending, the way it steps over this part of Harbor Hill like it had the plague. I know there is traffic there, and maybe it's for the best for the inhabitants below, but it just seems sinister to have that on your head.

And +1 for that strange building next to the Fuze Box. So many windows...

What I would makeover: Albany needs better night-time lighting on sidewalks to reduce crime. Flowers and green spaces (especially on Central Ave.) would be a nice "face-lift" as well. Making Albany more bike-friendly with more to offer at the Hudson Riverfront would dramatically change our image as well.

Albany could really use a road makeover: For a state capital, you would think we could be ahead of the potholes, have new lights with correct timing, and yes - plenty of room for bikes!

Also, I could use one! Pick me!

I'd probably have the city roads repaved.

To make the Albany waterfront accessible I would have an underground tunnel in place of 787 and make greenspaces and perhaps necessary buildings for what was once 787

More public art! And not just for the state workers, please. Murals on Clinton Ave! Sculpture in Washington Park! More buskers on Lark St! (Okay, so that's not art, and may be out of the city's control.) And whatever happened to the CDTA's bus stop make-overs? No one likes standing in dirty plastic booth on a cold Monday looking at lame graffiti. Maybe I'll stick art up in mine, myself.

Proctors in Troy and I don't see why RPI can't help out with this one.

Lark Street could be much cooler than it is!

Broadway, from the Palace to Wolff's, including the Pump Station, Miss Albany Diner and going all the way down to the river. Just scatter Crossgates into all those warehouses and it would be a nice big walkable Saratoga-esque street right on the river...

some sort of solution to the awful parking...

Albany is a good city. It could very easily be a GREAT city. Downtown Albany is easily accessible, pedestrian friendly and architecturally beautiful - the foundation for great city living.

Unfortunately, everyday at 5pm, downtown essentially shuts down and there is a mass exodus to the suburbs. We need to give people a reason to stay, a reason to come INTO the city: retail shops, more restaurants, more service oriented businesses and specialty shops. This is big thinking.. but imagine State Street, or the Pastures lined with a bookstore, a specialty kitchen shop, bigger retail stores, like a JCrew/GAP/Ann Taylor, a coffee shop – think of putting everything Stuyvesant Plaza offers.. but in a downtown setting.

Give people a reason to want to stay, and more importantly, give people a reason to want to move back to downtown. It’s VERY possible. Take a look at Saratoga Springs.. or the transformation in Hudson.

The school district system, so parents can send their kids to any school they want with no hassles.

I posted this for yesterday's contest, but I think it is also apt for today's question.

I think part of the reason capital district residents are clamoring for a Trader Joes or Wegmens is that the existing grocery stores simple do not deliver. I would really like to see area Price Choppers give themselves a little facelift and offer more selections and services like what you might find in those other stores, instead of just trying to keep them out.

I would have the Tivoli Nature Preserve in Arbor Hill cleaned up. It looks like an abandoned lot and when we tried to go for a hike in it, we couldn't tell where we were going. It's beautiful but potentially dangerous. And no one knows it's there.

I would attempt to remake the riverfront in downtown Albany and put in a nice area for shops, a park, and some nice restaurants. It would be a great place during the summer to get out and have fun

Repave all of Troy's roads and clean up all of the bird crap on the sidewalks.

Fix the potholes on State Street and spruce up the area between Hudson Ave. and Madison between Pearl and Broadway (near the bus station). That area is falling to pieces and is really unattractive especially considering a lot of out-of-towners park there when visiting the Times Union center.

Troy government (and snow removal/city maintenance) needs a makeover.

Stop renaming the Knickerbocker Arena, big ugly signs on a big ugly building.
I know it has to be big, but can we go back to calling it the Knick and dress it up a bit.
Even a fat girl looks good if dressed right

I would love to see the Latham Mall make a comeback. Lets start with a whole new design. Whatever they are doing in Clifton Country Mall seems to be working very well. Let's get those developers to Latham and bring in a Barnes N Noble or Borders to that Location. I miss Waldens. (Does anyone remember them?)

@jae - hey albany could have it's own BIG DIG! -boston took the southeast expressway and put that underground. The politicians would LOVE this project. Its just so RIPE!

Less concrete (buildings), more brick.

Why do we have "bad schools?" I suspect it's the rapid evaporation of the middle class in this city, and the fact wealthy people dont send thier kids to private school - thus public schools are increasingly filled with kids that are on the brink. Many succeed uncelebrated. Many fail unnoticed. One or two lash out and Channel 6 will have it as their top story.

People need to remember
1. Drug dealers and gang members don't go to school - they are on the street where the marketplace it.
2. Where are the drug problems, kids killed in car accidents, and school shootings? The 'burbs.

Yet people still have this unfounded fear of public schools. good parents will raise good kids no matter where they go to school. If those kids are provided with opportunities to excel (and they are at places like Albany High) those kids will acheive.

It's almost as if you can hear people saying "school 19 is great... but albany high... oh... poor people send their kids to school there." Get over it. We're in this together.

People who moan about the state of the schools here have no idea what they're talking about. You can't demand that a ship rights itself while you stand on the shore. People need to move here, get their kids in public school, balance the tax base, and practice what they preach. The makeover we need? People need to stop whining and start geting involved. Move here. Vote. Come to common council meetings. Come to school board meetings. Volunteer. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

The Empire State Plaza concourse is antiquated & downright creepy. Redesign the parking & make the Plaza more inviting to the community. Our family would like to attend more events but we don't because it's so dingy & depressing. I say, "Let there be Light" !!! There's got to be a way to renovate & update it to allow natural light to flow down into the tunnels.

Ha the first thing I though has beaten like a dead horse---river access. Sooooo I will have to say the blighted buildings all over town and particularly in the west hill. Plenty of folks hang their hat there and it needs a serious facelift. This IS a strong community but the blight adds to a crime problem.

I would makeover some of the intersections in the City of Albany. And I don't mean adding rotaries! There are a couple places that I can think of that could really use a left turn signal. I would also re-stripe the two-lane city streets.

I would make over all the Price Choppers into Trader Joes! Oh yeah.... Knew we could work it on somewhere.

I would makeover the current MHRHS. Terminating contracts with local ACOs (who hence have to contract with local animal hospitals to provide for stray animals or, worse yet, house animals within their own homes/garages), turning away people looking to surrender animals (because the animal is "too old", "too nervous", "food aggression") without offering the owners any other recourse (this is INCLUDING people who have looked to surrender animals due to violence in the home), and alienating themselves from local rescue groups do not make for an effective shelter. The fact that many people do not know this about the shelter - that media refuse to examine this - makes it an even bigger shame.

I'd love to see any large unused warehouse space converted into an indoor park... with various indoor playground areas for kids (NOT a chuckie cheese/jeepers kind of place) but like real playground equipment, swings, slides etc. And then some walking/hiking/running "trails" throughout the space for adult use.
There's a few indoor play spaces for younger children, but once your kid is older than like 5 there is no where to take them to play on long winter days that's not a germy, crazy, cracked-out, overstimulating noise fest like Chuckie Cheese. We have such long and cold winters here and there's not really anywhere to go for a nice walk when the weather's freezing and the sidewalks are icy.

I would take Saratoga's downtown back in time to the days of quaint, locally owned shops and freedom from million dollar condos.

All great ideas! but just for something new......The Pastures!!!!
The beautiful cathedrals and classic Albany architecture down there are amazing. Why is this neighborhood redused to have condemned public housing and streets full of the homeless. This is PRIME PRIME PRIME downtown Albany residential real estate that is almost entirley ignored and forgotten about. Oh yeah, there is a matrix of highway overpasses (787) looming above half of the neighborhood. Let's just get rid of &*& altogether, why pay to move it underground and spend years (decades) staring at a constructio site when we can have a redeveluoped water front now? There is plenty of access to downtown via 87 and 90. My original point, the Pastures....check it out!

I would like to see our neighborhoods get a facelift- what they should have gone through with on Lark St.- by burying the power lines. To do so would serve both form and function. For one thing it would just look prettier and for another there would be less risk of falling tree limbs knocking out the powerlines, which can cause a laundry list of safety concerns.

I'd love a makeover of all skeptical attitudes. Toward community initiatives, toward state government, toward "outsiders," toward certain neighborhoods and villages...

I would love to put 787 somewhere else and make a fantastic waterfront with restaurants, bars, outdoor walking / running spaces and a marina. The Hudson is why Albany is here in the first place, we need to embrace it.

Add residential units to the downtown area so it is not a dead zone after 5pm

I would make over the state legislature so that they would actually come to Albany to work for the people who elected them. It seems that when they come to Albany, they try to line their pockets and sell out their constituents.

I would gentrify the abandoned warehouse portion of Albany north up Broadway. The area has so much potential, but is just lacking in developer investment. Props to Wolff's for using the space creatively.

well, mine is sort of lacking in thoughts of posterity, but i really want someone to buy and/or fix up that gorgeous mansion on albany shaker rd past the crossings. second, on my most wanted buildings to save, is the beautiful monster on the corner of clinton ave across from the arbor hill salvation army. third was the woodside church and chapel in troy, but that wish was already granted by the cac. the building nex to fuze box is an interesting one, too.
while cutting off the roads in washington park sounds nice, wouldn't it just mean a scarier place in evening times and an increase in parking hell in center square?

get rid of the paved roads/streets in Washington Park. it's A PARK.

Bury 787 and bring the river through Albany!

I've gotta reiterate the idea of burying 787, or perhaps making it a ground level promenade, much like Milwaukee has been doing. If they can do it with an even larger, more frequently traveled highway, we can too.

And I'd do something very cool with the HJB bridge over Sheridan Hollow. Perhaps a huge art installation or a display of flags lining the sides.

I would make 787 two lanes wider on both sides!

I would love to see the First Prize Center near Everett Road be made into something other than an eyesore. I would also like to see Latham mall be made over!

The answer is simple you see... make Albany more pleasurable for you and me... Rid our streets of the violence and gangs... elect new politicians, preferably ones without fangs... tell state employees it's not that bad, cheer up... sell beer at Alive at 5 for $3 a cup... Trader Joes and Wegman's please come... your groceries and goods we would love some... but really there's not much to change make over... because deep down we know in Albany we are really in clover!

This is needed in many communities, but Albany would surely benefit: more centers for teens! Equinox drop-in center is one place that's pretty great, but we need these throughout the city and with night and weekend hours, offering services and programming that teens need and like!

The public transport and parking situation needs an overhaul. If you give people an easy way to get around they will come (and stay and spend and tell their friends).

repaving every single road in the entire capital district would make life here so much more pleasant for so many people for so many reasons! it may not be a fancy makeover but it would be the one most beneficial to the quality of life here!

I would make Colvin Avenue in Albany the "Main Street" of west Albany. The street has great bones to be a Main Street; it's near bus lines, neighborhoods (ergo walkable), Westland Hills Park, grocery stores, a bar / eatery, and other retail. I would propose changing the zoning to allow for mixed-use development (apartments / offices above, retail below) and slightly taller buildings; ensure parking lots are behind buildings, and create a more cohesive streetscape (through colors, signage and design that is architecturally appropriate, yet interesting). Combine the above with some traffic calming measures and voila, the Main Street of West Albany!

I'd make over Shirley Jackson's house. Put her in a dorm room!

Seriously though, Troy has been talking about developing the waterfront in South Troy since 2001, so I really would like to see that move forward!

Albany would benefit from renovating &/or tearing down all of the dilapidated buildings in downtown. Otherwise, it is such an aesthetically pleasing place, architecturally. But you go by the New York State Education building, modeled after the Parthenon, and then a few blocks down there are buildings that need some serious help. This city could make itself so much more beautiful.

Get rid of the slum-lords and fix up the boarded up houses and run down buildings - especially in Arbor Hill. It's heartbreaking when every other building is boarded up. Get the community involved, plant some flowers..whatever has to be done to get rid of the run down decrepit look.

Easy answer - Proctor's Theater in downtown Troy. Lets make that baby over like the Proctor's in Schenectady!

I'm being a copycat here... but I would also love to see the Troy Proctor's Theatre renovated and brought back to its former glory.

I would incorporate a Greenway into the Capital District. How wonderful it would be to be able to safely run / bike between Albany, Schenectady, and Troy as well as surrounding neighborhoods. Their are currently pieces of bike paths / nature trails that could lay the foundation for such an idea. It could communities with parks and open spaces. I used to live in Clifton Park and felt stranded on my dead end road. The road it connected with had barely any shoulder, tight turns, and always-speeding traffic. Greenways have the ability to lower vehicular traffic on roads, increase physical activity, increase family time, lower toxic emissions, and much, much more.

Public transportation. Real cities have subways.

I'd like albany to realized that people make left turns, and thus put in left turn signals at the major intersections.

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The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

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