Rochester does incremental urbanism, fills in downtown without "maxing out" zoning

empire-theatre-main-and-clinton-1900From Rochester Subway writer Irene Allen: "I was thinking about our collective reactions to the proposed D&C building, and the completed Windstream building.  Clearly both buildings are more modest than what many of us hoped to see in this key downtown site (and what the zoning code spells out for downtown).  It’s an issue that I think applies to all infill development downtown, and the ideas behind Incremental Urbanism shed some interesting light on it. "If we look at old photos of Rochester in the early-mid 1900s, we see a mature streetscape, quality materials and design, with many buildings at least 5 stories tall.  And of course we want to get back to that.  But we have to consider that the streets and lots of downtown actually got laid out in the early-mid 1800s, it took a hundred years of incremental development to get from empty lots to those 'downtown-worthy' buildings we see in old photos.

"Well, now we are starting over with empty lots [and small parking lots] in much of downtown.  Is it realistic to expect these to go from empty lot to 5-story 'downtown-worthy building' in one iteration?  Maybe we need to accept that, for many of these infill lots, that isn’t what any developer can justify building.  Maybe we need to embrace Incremental Urbanism and its inherent messiness and look at proposals as 'does it move us in the right direction' rather than 'is it the desired end-state'.

"By the way, I am NOT advocating building throwaway crap that we’ll tear down in 20 years.  But perhaps accepting more modest infill is ok, as long as it moves us toward walkable mixed use."  Original post here.