North District Council Member Joseph Golombek has an interesting idea. He has proposed zoning legislation that would create a Pan American Exposition District, which would encompass the area bounded by Delaware, Elmwood, Great Arrow and the Scajaquada Expressway.
If done properly, this would certainly help a district that has never been able to establish much of an identity. At the same time, it plays on the importance (or tragedy depending on how you look at it) of an event that could have done so much more for our city if it had not been blemished by such tragedy. The zoning legislation, which has been adopted by Common Council, would help to control future development in an area that has seen some astounding plop architecture constructed. The surrounding neighborhoods are in good shape and deserve a stronger commercial presence.
I hope that the legislation addresses the deplorable Scajaquada bridge that acts as the gateway to the museum district. The corner of Amherst and Elmwood could stand to get an overhaul. Have you ever seen the horrific flat building that resides next to the old fire station at Great Arrow? What were they thinking when they allowed someone to build that? I am very hopeful that many of the past mistakes can be remedied someday (one can only hope). In the meantime maybe the resolution can start by placing an order for as many trees and bushes that they can muster, in order to hide some of the blank walls and barren corner lots.
Fortunately, this district also has great bones. Voelker’s could actually be turned into an attractive building with a little bit of work – how ’bout a cool neon bowling-themed sculpture on the side of the building instead of a blank wall? Vino’s is one of the most popular restaurants in the city, and has done a good job keeping up appearances, along with Carriage Trade Pastries. Oh, and if only a landscape architect could take a look at the four corners of Delaware and Amherst Street… that could be a fulltime job in itself.