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Cities

October 30, 2015

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a musical accompaniment to a post. Well, today’s post is heavily inspired by this Talking Heads track.

Oh, Albany. There is so much potential in this little city of ours. The good news is that we’re seeing more of it. I really wanted to make it to last weekend’s Half Moon Market. That was a huge step forward in doing something Troy-like in Albany.

I’m constantly amazed at the factions that have grown up in the Capital Region over time. People don’t cross rivers. They stay in their little hamlets. And they are fiercely loyal to their towns. This may not be entirely a bad thing. It creates lovely pockets in time, like Watervliet, where things seem to have stood still for quite a while.

It also means you get amazing places stuck in the past like the Schuyler Bakery, Deacon Blues, and Gus’s Hot Dogs.

Cities can do great things. They can also do awful things. And sometimes it’s hard to tell which things are awful and which things are great. Today I’ve got two developing stories to share, one from Troy and one from Albany. I’m going to present them to you with little comment, since I haven’t been following the issues all that closely.That said, it feels like these are both on the awful side of the spectrum.

Do you remember that Mexican market on Central Avenue in Albany? The one that used to have a little restaurant inside it? I heard that the sopes were amazing, but unfortunately I never got to try them. The restaurant closed shortly after I discovered what was likely the kitchen’s best dish.

One big cause of this was the bus shelter that was placed directly in front of the business, completely blocking its view from the street. I was shocked when the shelter went up. I love public transit, and think we should have more of it. But the neighboring florist, which is on the corner of the block, could have better absorbed the hit from the structure, as its storefront would still be clearly visible.

Well, the city is about to endanger another beloved independent restaurant. This time it’s Iron Gate Cafe. You should read what Chris Churchill wrote on the situation here.

Across the river, The Albany Business Review is reporting some shenanigans with the big Town Square building project. The article mentions the possibility of opening a chain restaurant in the heart of downtown Troy, and gives Applebee’s as an example of the type of place we might expect.

This is the group that is trying to stop it.

Although it begs the question which chain restaurants would be right for downtown Troy. Shake Shack would be at the top of my list. Houston’s might work. Moving to the fancier end of the chain spectrum, I could see a Smith & Wollensky fitting in reasonably well. But I would need to give that more thought.

I do like Troy the way it is, and I would rather have a hole in the ground than an Applebee’s downtown. Not that it would be an Applebee’s. That seems to have just used as a placeholder, and, perhaps, to be at least moderately provocative.

Anyway, I’m not terribly close to either of these issues. I live in Guilderland where we’re spending lots of money for sidewalks almost nobody uses, and I suspect will not be properly maintained over the winter.

Cities. They’ve got some good points. They’ve got some bad points.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2015 12:20 pm

    Your link to Chris’s story leads to TU’s most obnoxious effort to get subscribers to date, but not to Chris’s actual story.

    • October 30, 2015 1:56 pm

      Sorry about that. Now the link leads to a Google search which lists the story as the top result. Click through to that, and you’ll go around the TU paywall. It’s a trick I learned from Table Hopping. Thanks Steve.

      • October 31, 2015 8:44 am

        Many sites with pay walls will let you through via Google. The TU is not alone in this practice.

        If you hit a paywall, next move is to always search for the story on Google.

  2. albanylandlord permalink
    November 1, 2015 8:04 pm

    I am not a fan at all of most chain restaurants. But I am opposed to a city, neighborhood, or group stopping a permitted business from opening because they don’t like it. Let the chain open and let the people decide. Dinosaur BBQ is doing fine and I think most people would say it is an asset to the city. Of course giving it a lot of tax breaks is a different thing altogether than allowing it to open, and im not a fan of that and wasn’t with Dinosaur.

    And Daniel – I’m pretty confident it won’t be Smith & Wollensky…

  3. November 3, 2015 3:54 pm

    There are bus stops and subway stations in front of all types of buildings all around the world. There is a bus stop in front of the Waldorf Astoria. This is not about a bus shelter, because the bus shelter isn’t even proposed to be located in front of the IG, its 2 doors down. This is about “the people” that might have to wait for the bus a little too close for IG’s comfort, near them. The project actually proposed improving pedestrian safety and traffic flow through an already busy corridor. The petition and efforts against the CDTA project are being lead by completely misguided and unqualified people who think they understand transportation systems and where and where not infrastructure should be located. This is veiled classism. I am so disappointed in Albany over this issue. This is why we will never have light rail.

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