Jump to the intro.
It's important to note that renderings presented were just ideas for potential projects. They haven't been officially proposed and there isn't money lined up for them. In many cases, the some of the ideas shown would probably only happen many years into the future. Essentially, these renderings are just a way to talk about what might be possible.
Overall plan area
Many of the renderings presented included ideas for making Washington Ave both look better and work better for a wide range of users.
As Jason King mentioned during the presentation, the structure in the circle doesn't have to take that shape. The design is about marking the entrance to the neighborhood and making the intersection more friendly to pedestrians. (Also: It was designed with an eye toward making sure largest fire trucks could still make it through the intersection.)
Notice the building bordering the parking lot on the left side of the rendering. That idea of using buildings to line parking areas repeats itself through many of the designs.
Also a topic of discussion for Washington Ave: Reconfiguration in a way similar to the Madison Ave road diet. As it is now, the street handles a relatively low volume of traffic for its size.
King said they liked the idea of protected bike lanes, and were recommending a design that mostly rely on buffers of space to allow for easier snow clearing.
An advantage to parking perpendicular to the curb: Such a design offers double the amount of parking as parallel parking along the same stretch.
And back-in parking is said to be safer.
Connecting the Washington Ave and Central Ave corridors
Robin, which connects Washington and Central at a midpoint of the downtown UAlbany campus, was identified as key corridor for connecting to the two places.
Lake is another connector street.
Another consultancy -- Nelson Nygaard -- is currently conducting a parking study of the area around the downtown UAlbany campus to assess supply and demand for spots. This map identifies potential places for parking projects. Though, as King noted, only a few of these spots would probably end up seeing some sort of new project.
There's been some informal discussion that UAlbany might eventually building a parking garage somewhere in the neighborhood, and its Thurlow Terrace parking lot on Western Ave is a potential candidate. (Though we hear some sort of location closer to the Alumni Quad dorms might be preferred.) So that lot ended up serving as example of the ideas for implementing new parking or a garage.
Again, there's the idea of using a building as a buffer between the parking and the street. (That idea got high marks during crowd voting earlier in the week.)
A potential garage buffered by buildings on two sides.
A second garage, again buffered with a building.
The block bounded by Western, Ontario, State, and Quail has an unusually-large center. King speculated that there may have been some intent in the past to eventually break it up with another street. So there were some ideas presented using the space for parking.
Or maybe parking isn't the best use for the space.
UAlbany's Alumni Quad dorms currently house 800 UAlbany students and 300 Saint Rose students. UAlbany officials have indicated they're interested in upgrading the housing and making it more attractive to students. Here's an imagining of what that might look like:
One of the secondary issues with this neighborhood: It doesn't really have a name. (It's Pine Hills… more or less.) So the Dover Kohl team proposed a name based on public feedback during the week: Mid-City Education District, with some possible branding and signage:
A new gateway for the neighborhood?
The ReZone Albany project was focused on the neighborhood surrounding UAlbany's downtown campus last week, a process that culminated in a few "big ideas" for the neighborhood and a bunch of renderings imagining how the future could play out there.
The focus on the neighborhood at the heart of the city was prompted in part by UAlbany's planned $60 million renovation of the former Albany hight school building at Western and Lake into the home of its new engineering college. As Jason King of Dover, Kohl -- the consultancy heading up last week's program -- said in reference to the investment and its potential spillover effects: "That makes this one of the most promising parts of the city."
Let's have a look at those ideas and renderings...
Renderings -- look up
This whole post is basically just slides from the final presentation, and they're above in large format -- so click or scroll all the way up.
The proposed big ideas
Those five "big ideas" from the presentation:
Focus efforts, create a center and gateways
Identify opportunities to leverage institutional investment into private investment in the surrounding areas. Attract businesses that meet day-to-day needs of students, visitors, employees and residents.
Restore "great streets"
Safe, comfortable and interesting, "road diet," safe crossings, trees, protected bike lanes, street furniture (benches, trash), bulb-outs and planters
Add destinations and connections
Upgrade appearance of buildings and streets and sidewalk cafes, brew pub, hardware shop, grocery stores, public art, community gathering places, and institutional expansion that supports surrounding areas. Quail as the "Commercial Heart."
Prepare for more transit
Crate a "complete place" that will compete better for [bus rapid transit], streetcars, bus stations, shaded sidewalks, bike lanes, additional parking (as necessary).
Strengthen adjacent neighborhoods
Brand area, new light poles for banners and flower boxes, a management district, upgrade and rehab student housing and integrate with neighborhoods.
Earlier on AOA
+ Thinking about the future of the neighborhood around UAlbany's downtown campus
+ Looking at the future of UAlbany's downtown campus -- and the neighborhood around it
+ A few versions of the South End's potential future
+ Thinking about the direction of Central Ave
+ One early version of the next Warehouse District