A bit more about the Park South redevelopment and that big parking garage

park south parking garage rendering 2013 Robin

A rendering of the proposed parking garage and adjacent residential units, from Robin Street.

Some follow up on the Park South redevelopment in Albany, and the rather large parking garage that's raised a few eyebrows...

The city planning board gave the three amendments to the plan -- taller buildings along New Scotland, more residential units, the siting of the parking garage -- its "qualified" approval last week. The qualified part of that: the planning board noted the approval was "subject to further review of the elevations for the parking structure" (link added).

Also: The city's planning staff issued a memo on the parking garage, which highlights many of the concerns that have been raised about the size of the garage and how it relates to the other buildings around it. A clip:

The height of the parking structure should ideally not exceed that of the liner buildings proposed to buffer its presence on adjacent residential streets. The distribution of residential, office and commercial could be redesigned to allow for appropriately-sized liner buildings and/or below-grade levels could be incorporated into the design. In the event that any portions of the garage fa├žade is visible beyond the buildings or from the street, it must be treated appropriately so as to not visibly detract from the surrounding areas.

The full memo is after the jump. It addresses not only the garage itself, but also the whole parking picture for this part of the project. The memo was flagged on Twitter this week by Common Council member Leah Golby, who's part of the council's ad hoc committee reviewing the amendments to the project.

The parking issue is shaping up to be the focal point of the debate over the amendments to this project, which aims to clear two whole blocks of the Park South neighborhood for new retail, office, and residential development. The companies involved with the development -- Columbia Development and Tri-City Rentals -- have asserted that without the parking spaces provided by the proposed garage, the project is not feasible.


A "fly around" rendering of the proposed total redevelopment of the two blocks in Park South.

As it happens, the project amendment (page 6) that would open the way for the parking garage doesn't cover the structure's size, height, capacity, or appearance. Instead, it's focused on the footprint of the garage, specifically whether it should be allowed to be built on land currently occupied by a building at 407 Myrtle Ave (Bolton Hall). If the Common Council approves the parking garage amendment, the specific plans for the garage would head back to the city planning board for review and possible modification and approval.

So here's how the timeline for this process shapes up over the next month, as explained to us by Common Council president pro tem Richard Conti, who's also part of the ad hoc committee:

+ There's a public hearing before the Common Council on the project amendments December 2 at 7 pm.

+ The council's ad hoc committee will then meet to review the amendments again, and issue an recommendation to the full council. The date for this meeting has not yet been determined.

+ The full Common Council will take up the amendments for a vote. The council's last scheduled meeting of the year is December 16. And if the council doesn't act on the amendments before the end of the year -- when its current term expires -- the whole process will have to start over. So there's a lot of incentive to work through these amendments during the next month.

+ If the Common Council approves the amendments, the project would be submitted to the city planning board for review and approval.

+ If the planning board approves the project, demolition and construction can then begin.

Planning board staff memo

As posted by Councilwoman Leah Golby on Twitter:

Park South Planning Bd Staff Memo by lgolby

Comments

The reason this is not feasible without the parking deck is because the design depends on parking! This is a plan that contributes nothing to the fabric of the city. It lacks imagination, vision and consideration for the people who do (and will) live here. The "developers" want to build a mini-city without any concern for sustainability, impact or long-term viability. Shoot the whole thing down and let the new administration force a complete redesign that comports with a longer-term vision for Albany's future.

We should make it easier and better for people to live in the City of Albany and use mass transit to travel to work in the City of Albany. Use of public funds, including tax incentives or exemptions, to support that goal should be considered.

Making it easier for people to live outside the City of Albany and commute to work in private automobiles undermines that goal and using public funds to do so is wrong-headed.

Further, anything we do that makes it easier for more people to bring more cars into Albany's neighborhoods contributes to air pollution and global warming, fosters increased dependence on foriegn oil, and diminishes our own ability to travel within the city.

We can be the city that says there is a better way.

Sincerely,

Sandor Schuman
29 Magnolia Terrace
Albany NY 12209
sschuman@exedes.com

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