Workshop’s First Day Sets the Stage for Busy Week Ahead

At Tuesday night’s opening session of the Central Avenue Corridor workshop week, PlaceMakers project manager Susan Henderson followed up her introduction from Gary Oppedahl, the city’s director of economic development, with a context-setter for the next six days of discussion and design testing.

 

 


DOWNLOAD the evening’s presentation here (.pdf)


Now comes an intensive process of evaluating strategies for redevelopment using the tool of design, visualizing how familiar neighborhoods near future transit stops might look and feel if certain redevelopment strategies were implemented. It’s a process that welcomes critiques of work in progress and encourages a steady progression of refinements until the best ideas emerge.

Today, Wednesday, the idea refinement begins in earnest, with meetings scheduled throughout the day with neighborhood and business leaders and a presentation by a national expert in connecting land use planning with economic development.

For the complete schedule for today and for the remainder of the week, go here. And remember you can always follow along, or submit your comments and questions, here on this website.

This particular process builds upon others undertaken over the last couple years to understand community preferences and concerns about an historic investment in transit infrastructure along Central Avenue and the changes likely to come to many of its neighborhoods. As has been the case in most meetings, attendees at the Tuesday night session registered both their hopes and their reservations. Some made note that attendance — by their estimation — included an insufficient cross section of community members, especially those too often underserved in government policy-making. It’s a fair criticism of any process as geographically complex and ambitious as this one, but Henderson pointed out that participation in proactive master planning efforts often pales compared to meetings where potentially disruptive change is on the table — particularly change viewed as threatening to neighborhood quality of life.

The advantage of this process is its show-and-tell strategy. The week is designed to move from more general and abstract notions, the kind that allow for worst-case imaginings, to more specific illustrations of real possibilities in real places. If the designs refined during the week’s collaboration address issues that most concern community members and recognize the full range of neighborhood priorities, chances for overcoming skepticism about the process are likely to improve.

The drilling down to specifics began Tuesday night with a simple survey form filled out by attendees. In just about all the public meetings that have led up to this point, three categories of concerns emerged: neighborhood character, density and parking. So the team asked three questions under each of the three headings to determine the intensity of feelings about the trade-offs inherent in those topics.

 

 
In all three categories, most of the 42 respondents indicated they could live with changes in the status quo so long as they could be convinced that good design and policy management could lead to new benefits or, at the very least, not significantly compromise what they like most about their neighborhoods.

Percentage responses (subject to rounding) are shown in the photo.

So the week ahead is organized to identify the conditions under which those kinds of tradeoffs are acceptable. Maybe even desirable. Designers will explore the range of options in Corridor station areas chosen to represent different neighborhood types and degrees of potential development intensity, from the very urban to the suburban/rural edge. We’ll be displaying those designs as they’re evaluated.

Another big step in the drill-down to details begins tonight with Joe Minicozzi’s presentation, “Mapping the Dollars and Cents of Albuquerque’s Revitalization.” He demonstrates in easy-to-grasp graphics where the action is in cities and suburbs when it comes to tax revenue, jobs and other contributors to community health and opportunity. Listen to him explain his approach:
 


 

Joe Minicozzi’s presentation begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8, at the Hotel Andaluz, 125 2nd Street NW. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. You won’t want to miss it.


Got comments on what you’ve experienced so far? Direct them here.