...So how does that relate to a Walgreens drugstore, and the long struggle by so many neighbors - including some prominent architects and planners - to guarantee the final plan put as much emphasis on their neighborhood as it did on drive-through traffic?
Let me answer with a few more questions:
Why is it that so many people will park in odd places and stand in line to get bread from the Columbus Baking Co. on Pearl Street, when they could stop more quickly at P&C or Wegmans?
Why is it that so many people will drive in circles for 20 minutes to find a parking spot near the Dinosaur, and will then wait - sometimes in the bitter cold - for a table in a restaurant that's jammed wall-to-wall?
Why is itthat so many people will hunt down a parking spot and then walk a few blocks on chilly winter nights to go from tavern to tavern in Armory Square, when they could find a spot so easily in some big open lot outside nightclubs on Erie Boulevard or Old Liverpool Road?
The answer boils down to something tricky to define. All these Syracuse businesses, in their own fashion, deliver exquisite goods. But those goods are coupled with an atmosphere associated with vitality, with human beings . . .
With being in the city.
The critical question is whether Walgreens will be remembered as an isolated fight. From now on, will City Hall have the wisdom to demand similar standards for any chain store built at a neighborhood crossroads? From now on, will big chain developers coming into Syracuse - the kind of developers who demolished a precious Underground Railroad landmark on Pine Street to make room for a Rite-Aid - understand that it's no longer business as usual?
Or do our city leaderssecretly hope the Walgreens fight was an aberration, meaning our neighborhoods should get used to windowless, car-oriented boxes with no soul?
I surely hope not. Sean Kirst is a voice for all of us who want more out of our city than a 690-81 interchange to get to CaroselDestinyUSAMall*. It is sure nice to hear someone with a bigger audience than mine, echoing many of my thoughts.
I am glad to see that Walkable Eastwood kept up the pressure and won many of the concessions that they were looking for.
I'll finish with a quote I found on Walkable Eastwood:
"Eat in diners.
Shop on Main Street.
Put a porch on your house.
Live in a walkable community."
- Roadside Online
*for the record, I am not against the DestinyUSA expansion. I believe that the R&D park will bring much needed technology based jobs and make Syracuse a national hub for sustainable development. I do not believe however that this land needs to be taken by eminent domain. I also believe that city and state officials should be pressing Congel to tie his development with the revitalization of the city. Why fill in swamp land and raze buildings in Northern sections of the city? Develop in existing spaces in downtown. Follow SU's lead.