We at The Good City are all for downtown development, but I wonder if the improvements happening on Barr Street will have anything more than a cosmetic effect.
Above is the artist’s rendition of what the area will look like. The Journal Gazette said this:
Over the next three months, the city will fulfill a plan to make Barr Street more attractive with new trees, sidewalks, streetlights and curbs.
The streetscape project is part of downtown improvement plans and will enhance the Cultural District on the east side of downtown.
The city of Fort Wayne says this was a good street to develop:
City officials selected this area for investment because of the buildings already in place — Fourth Wave, the History Center and Barr Street Market, Renaissance Square and the First Source building.
“We don’t want to put in new trees and sidewalks in an area that could soon be under construction,” said Redevelopment Director Greg Leatherman. “Since this section of Barr Street is already developed, it was a perfect place for us to put these ideas into action.”
The street is developed, but consider how it’s developed. Below is a photo:
The street is not much more than parking lots and blank walls. On one side, the First Source building offers the street enormous garage doors. On the other side is a blank brick wall.
A block south, the Renaissance Plaza building is no better with its mirrored windows.
As David Sucher writes in City Comforts, a pedestrian friendly street is lined with buildings with permeable walls — this connects the inside of the building to the sidewalk.
In the artist’s rendition at the top, the white pavilion with tables and people is now a parking lot — but there are no real plans for anything but a parking lot.
And without on-street parking, Barr Street remains very wide. That encourages drivers to speed and discourages pedestrian traffic.
Hopefully, the trees and curbs will help. But with buildings and parking lots that discourage pedestrians, the Barr Street experiment won’t bring a lot of pedestrians to the street.