Progress or a Parking Lot?
If you’ve been on the strip lately I’m sure you’ve seen this sign at the site of the former Animal Crackers building. The city tore the building down in August. Apparently we’re making way for progress, but I haven’t seen much information on the plans for the site.
Brad Cole had a letter to the editor in the Southern earlier this month in which he wrote:
The city just finished demolition of the former Animal Crackers building at 315 S. Illinois Ave., to make way for the future development of an inter-modal transportation center that will accommodate an expanded Amtrak rail station and other services.
Local blogger and businessman Scott Thorne posted in the Carbondaze Gazette that the city is going to put in “…more parking lots to service a planned intermodal transportation center…”
I couldn’t find an article directly about the city’s plans for the lot on the Southern Illinoisan website, though there are two pictures of the demolition in progress. The Southern did have an article about Amtrak in August that mentioned a station expansion, but it wasn’t really clear:
And Amtrak is looking at ways to keep growing its presence in Southern Illinois. Baity said the city has a proposal from the country to renovate and expand the station on South Illinois Avenue – a move Baity said is necessary.
I assume “country” is a typo, but was it meant to be “company,” or “county” or something else? The article doesn’t mention a timeline and no site or building design plans have been released as far as I can tell.
If it is done well, an intermodal transportation center would be a good thing for Carbondale and for the strip. 107,000 people came through the Amtrak Station in FY 2009, and a nice station would make a good impression. It would also be nice if the space was shared with Greyhound.
Site and building design would be critical. I’d like to see a brick building with lots of windows built at the front lot line with any additional parking behind the building. I’m not sure that new parking in really necessary. The city operates a large lot along the tracks to College Street. If anything, the strip has too much surface parking and too few buildings.
The worst thing they could do would be to put up a shabby windowless building at the back of the lot with parking in front. If we want the strip to be attractive and pedestrian friendly, we need to employ good principles of urban design. We can accommodate cars without turning over all of our public space to them.
At least on the strip, parking lots aren’t progress.
Comments are welcome.