Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Scotland Avenue: Then and Now

[Note:  I apologize for the delay in posting lately.  I have been incapacitated with a medical condition.  This is actually a post that I've saved for a rainy day, and I believe that this one counts.  This same street will be visited later in the week when I go back for my follow-up.]

New Scotland Avenue is the main street in a couple of neighborhoods, including Park South, just south of Madison Avenue and, you guess it, Washington Park.  Park South has seen the beginning of a planned revitalization.  Knox Street is especially impressive, and we'll visit there soon.

In the meantime, we'll take a trip to the area right around Albany Medical Center, where entire blocks along New Scotland Avenue have been demolished and redeveloped.  (With too much parking, of course.)  I'm pretty happy to have the Panera's cheddar broccoli soup so close to me now, and the new buildings are creating a pretty nice commercial/medical/office corridor.  It's mixed-use, which is the important part.  The buildings are right up against the sidewalk and 3-7 stories high.

The route, from the hotel across from Albany Medical Center to New Scotland and Dana Avenues.
Unfortunately, they were built by Columbia/BBL, which has built most of the large projects in Albany over the last 10-15 years.  Some of their buildings are okay.  Most are just bland and boring.  And that's the most common complaint about them in the blogosphere, especially at the Places and Spaces Times Union Blog.

The street looks very little as it did when I first moved to Albany three years ago.  However, Google Streetview hasn't caught up, so I "took some pictures" on there, and we can see how quickly a street can change drastically.

Taken from across the street from Albany Medical Center, looking toward Madison Avenue.  One of the downsides of putting this amount of parking into areas built in this way is that you create tons and tons of traffic.  Unfortunately, hospitals need a lot of parking...for now.
If it wasn't a parking garage lining one side and a surface parking lot as the only destination, this would be a neat little pedestrian area.  At the very least, it does connect to Myrtle Street.
Looking into the sun.  Maybe not the best image to display right behind a hospital.

The lost streetscape, replaced by the building above.
Construction of a new wing at Albany Medical Center.
Health care is a tragically growing sector of our economy.  Rather than address the fact that the way we live makes us sicker and sicker all the time, we are simply adapting to the change.  "Go into nursing school, you'll always have a job," we tell people, instead of "Put down the cheeseburger."

What used to be where the new wing is going.  Unhealthy populace or not, the new wing, up against the street, will be an improvement.
Another wasted opportunity to make this super cool.
New Scotland Avenue and Myrtle.
New Scotland and Myrtle, way back when.
Looking back the way we came.
The past version of looking back the way we came.  I like how the sun is setting in these pictures too.  Google Streetview and I are on the same page.

Stewart's.  There used to be houses next to this.  Maybe the offices are better in this case.  It's easier to work next to a parking lot than live next to one.  But who wants to do either?
The same shot as above, in 2009.
A more complete shot of the streetscape way back when.
That's all for our look at New Scotland Avenue, then vs. now.  Not only is the entirety of the new development, it is also the boundaries of Google Streetview for this stretch of New Scotland.  I like a lot of the older fabric and feel that the new stuff could have been done in a much more human-friendly way, though this isn't bad compared to most new projects, which is a sad enough fact in itself.  Those that like newer and more modern cities like the Sunbelt and even places like Saratoga will probably love this.

Either way, it's a radical change and one that is making its presence known.

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