Last summer, I posted on the “initial streetscape phase” of the Allen Street Improvement Project. At the time, the corner of Allen and Pearl had just wrapped up, which offered up a sense of what the commercial street would look like once complete. We also had plenty of renderings to ogle, helping to paint a pretty picture of what was to come.
Now, we are seeing further advancements on the street, at a time when life as we knew it is much, much different. This morning, Allentown shop owner Giovanni Centurione sent along a couple of photos that he took in front of his business. Knowing all too well what this section of the street once looked like, I was jazzed to see a sidewalk with no cracks, a street with no potholes, and a more urbanist layout that is conducive to walking and biking. Well, maybe not so much for biking, as there are only sharrows (share the street markings – bike graphic with chevrons) on the street, but heck, compared to what was there, this is all very exciting.
Examining the images, it looks to me as if the way this will work is that we will see cyclists riding on one of the sidewalk pathways (street-side), while pedestrians will use the other. At least, that’s the way I think people will view it – even though riding a bike on the sidewalks is considered a “no no”. But with the gradient curbs, it’s going to be very tempting to get off the busy street (once again, with sharrows) and onto a much safer cycling route. Who knows, maybe this was one of the underlying intentions – at least that’s the signal that I’m getting from the new sidewalk design that features alternate paths for travel.
Taking a closer look at the original rendering (above left), and then seeing the final result (above right), I am wondering what ever happened to the organic-looking granite seating? The rigid, manmade-looking concrete block seats (with spacing for forklift prongs underneath) is a far cry from what was shown in the rendering. The linear configuration of all of the elements is also a bit rudimentary.
I do like the warm earthen look of the light-terracotta sidewalk closer to the shops; it’s very appealing and adds some color to the streetscape. It would have been nice to see “both sidewalks” laid down with that same inviting color. In the original renderings, that terracotta color appeared to be much darker. The end result is much nicer, in my opinion.
“I love the new look,” said Centurione, who owns Trend Up!. “It’s a big improvement from how it looked before. The bike racks and garbage bins are also a big plus.”
He’s right. It’s a drastic improvement from what was there. That said, I’m a bigger fan of this initial sidewalk configuration that was laid down closer to Main Street. It doesn’t seem to translate as well further down the block.
Before signing off with Centurione a few minutes ago (we were discussing the new streetscape via text), I asked him how he has been handling the retail shutdown, and what he was expecting moving forward.
“I’m not sure what to expect Allentown to be like this summer, with pretty much all the events cancelled or moved to digital,” he told me. “We are currently open for pickup and curbside pickup by appointment – customers can call 347-962-6162 or direct message the shop on social media @TrendUpStore. I’m looking forward to opening our doors again for walk-ins when it’s safe.”