Part 2: To the citizens of Roanoke, and the members of the Roanoke City Council - I post a reminder.

“Historic Resources:
The City has three Virginia and National Register Historic Districts, which are also protected locally: City Market District, the Warehouse Row, and the Southwest Historic District in the
neighborhoods of Old Southwest, Hurt Park, and Mountain View.
Historic designation has contributed to the City’s revitalization through improved property maintenance and economic incentives for rehabilitation. Roanoke is currently undertaking a survey to identify additional historic structures in the downtown to promote further economic development and historic preservation strategies. The Historic and Cultural Resources map (Map 3.2.2) identifies the three Virginia and National Register Historic Districts, National Register structures, and potentially significant archaeological sites.”


This paragraph is taken from the City of Roanoke’s “Vision 2020” plan. A plan they willingly adopted for the betterment and protection of Roanoke’s future.

There are sections upon sections of policies and actions, like any government document - everything is stated 3 times over. 2 of these policies in particular deal with the issue in question:
“EC P6. Cultural and historic resources. Roanoke will support, develop, and promote its cultural resources. Roanoke will identify, preserve, and protect its historic districts, landmark features, historic structures, and archaeological sites.
EC A26. Undertake a comprehensive inventory of historic and cultural properties and districts in the City and consider historic districts, where applicable. Solicit neighborhood and stakeholder input in the inventory, where applicable.”
“Roanoke will identify, preserve, and protect its historic districts, landmark features, historic structures, and archaeological sites.”
I wanted to pull that out to make sure it was read, clear and understood.
On building downtown, both new and revitalizing old buildings:
“Design principles:
• Downtown should have a recognizable skyline; tall buildings and maximum site
development should be permitted. Buildings should be set close to the street with groundfloor
facades that emphasize pedestrian activity.
Buildings should be designed to accommodate a mixture of uses. Downtown’s historic
character should be preserved and used to guide new development with the assistance of
the Architectural Review Board guidelines
• Access to and circulation within the downtown should be efficient, convenient, and
attractive. Streets should be designed to accommodate multiple modes of traffic: pedestrian,
bicycles, transit, automobiles. Encourage two-way streets to the maximum extent feasible.
• On-street parking should be reserved for shoppers and short-term visitors. Long-term
parking should be concentrated in parking structures or to the side or rear of principal
buildings. Surface parking should be minimized.”
(http://tinyurl.com/dx7fy)(emphasis added - kmc)

To preserve and protect downtown, and downtowns history, the ARB needs to hold fast to its principals. It is charged with protecting our history, our heritage. We have lost quite a bit through the years, but we persevered. The Hotel Roanoke was a victory, the Higher Education center was a victory, and now the Culinary School (Gainsboro) and the Dumas Center are victories. The past triumphing in the present to have a place in the future.

Yes, the location of the AMWV is historically protected, as they themselves admit.

“The City has three Virginia and National Register Historic Districts, which are also protected
locally: City Market District, the Warehouse Row, and the Southwest Historic District in the
neighborhoods of Old Southwest, Hurt Park, and Mountain View.”
The city market district is shown in Map 3.2.2 in blue - which indicates a “Sensitive Cultural/Archaeological Resource.”

This is not the first time I have seen the Market Area listed as a “preservation” site. As of 9-16-82 and 4-20-83 the Roanoke City Market area has been listed with both the Virginia and National Register of Historic Places respectively. On the Virginia Register site, there is a map of threatened sites to be protected throughout the state. All of Roanoke City is highlighted on that map.

“Roanoke is fortunate to have at least three architectural gems lying in close proximity: the City Market itself, Hotel Roanoke and St. Andrew's Church. Many would add the old Norfolk and Western general office buildings and the Link Museum to the list. “ (James G. Cosby, “AMWV: Love the design, hate the location.” Roanoke Times, 5-10-05, via. www.architechmag.com)

Randall Stout’s own website, http://tinyurl.com/8fu78, provides images of his vision for the museum, with one image of an interior gallery. Mr. Stout is apparently well known for his skill at laying out gallery space, yet this looks like an after thought. The lobby of Roanoke Regional Airport seems a better space to view artwork than this one example.

“…it represents Roanoke’s metaphorical gateway to the future for a city transforming its industrial and manufacturing based economy to one driven by technology information and services.” (R. Stout’s website, text author unknown.)

No, no it doesn’t - and this metaphorical gateway mantra is repeated by everyone involved in the AMWV at this point. No, its not a metaphor, its not a gateway when its past the exit for Downtown coming south, or beyond the exit if you are going north.
And I really don’t think we need a reminder that the nature of jobs in Roanoke is changing.

Again, back to the Vision 2020 plan: “Historic designation has contributed to the City’s revitalization through improved property maintenance and economic incentives for rehabilitation.”

There is no incentive when the city is willing to hand a $1.046 million dollar lot over to a non-profit group so they can convert it into a void.
I have no doubt the AMWV can run, possibly even turn a profit. But in a $46 million dollar building, not including overhead - you start at a loss and keep digging a hole. It would be more tasteful, appreciated, and possibly supported if they built on the site, with a completely different design. One which compliments the surrounding architecture. I personally would be more impressed with the interior space layout than the exterior “conception moderne.” Show me what you can do with an existing space to make it more future thinking, give me a base to work with. If you renovate and rehabilitate an existing structure to bring it to the 21st century and beyond, and show it works, others will follow the lead. Building a specific-style, site-specific, “La Belle Epoque” building, it will be alone. It will not spur development, it will not broaden horizons. I will stand alone as the sole example of its kind in Roanoke. And it will be to its detriment for that to happen. The Art Museum can survive. The art will always have a home for display. The Museum is a building which can come and go. Stainless Steel stains, concrete crumbles, stone will fail, polycarbonate panels will cloud with time. Brick, concrete, steel, and iron last, and are easily repaired. Easily cleaned.

Build it if you must, but build it appropriately. In an appropriate location. Save the modern-isim for stand-alone sites.

The corner lot of little importance (Part 1)

What would ostensibly be 118-131 Salem Ave. SE, the site chosen for the AMWV, is much more than a parking lot, and once that asphalt tarmac is broken up - Im sure rubble from its past will be revealed.

A brief history of the AMWV site:

1886 - A few dwellings, a few dry goods shops, a shanty, barber, and a restaurant comprise the half of the block which is to become the AMWV.

1889 - 3 Tenements, 2 Restaurants, a house and a bowling alley have taken up residence on the site. The bowling alley being one of the vanguard alleys in Roanoke. In the following 5 years, nearly every street downtown would have at least one bowling alley - although in some cases, 3 was not uncommon.

1893 - 3 houses, 2 vacant stores, and 2 shops exist on the site.

1898 - A home, a restaurant, several storefronts, and a barber occupied most of the site.

1903- The north side of Salem Ave. near what is now Williamson was graced with a stone retaining wall. Behind this was a home. The Norfolk Ave. side was home to a tenement, a junk shop, a barber, and a vacant storefront.

1907 - Progress takes hold, the Hotel Randolph occupies a good 2/3rds the site. Numerous storefronts line the ground floor. There is ample parking for your horse and buggy, along with a restaurant or two. Across Williamson was the Randolph Market.

1919- The Hotel Ritz occupies the space which we now know as Billy's Ritz. At the opposite end of the block, there was the Hotel Anderson. 2 restaurants, 16 stalls for buggy parking, a filling station with another restaurant nextdoor (what seems to be the Lonesome Dove/Tony's Place) which was erected just the year before. And on the block, another big loss for Roanoke, was the pedestrian bridge to the N&W Railway Station - a ornate glass and steel affair.

The name of the Hotel Anderson changed several times through the years, serving as the Hotel Lee for a time. Unfortunately, all traces of these hotels have been lost to time. And now we are going to lose again.

The revenue created by this location historically, will never be matched by sanitizing it. Were the AMWV going to have retail space (other than the gift shop/cafe) lining the ground floor - then I would say it is an appropriate use, but its not going to. Add to that the empty space within the building, and you are looking at a major loss in revenue.

Architecture (or what passes as...) aside, that high-visibility, high traffic, well traveled area is not appropriate for a venture like this. Again, this is what zoning laws are for. Identify the commercially viable zones, preserve the historic use of an area, and find homes for artistic endevours. With Opera Roanoke moving to the Dumas Center, the ongoing program at the Jefferson Center, the O Winston Link museum, and The RSO performing at the Civic Center - Roanoke is spreading its arts thin. Two Artistic Zones should be created, centered around both the Jefferson Center and the Dumas Center.

Which would mean, in order to be effective, the AMWV should be moved to the north side of the railroad tracks. Allow incentives for artists to set up shop around the Jefferson Center, and keep the big, bold arts in the same general area.

"Part 2, the City's Responsibility" will be posted soon.

A $46 million dollar novelty

You all might want to duck come the morning. This whole Art Museum and Solar Reflector thing just went from asinine to downright wrong.

Move an existing phasod, which is roughly a century old, around the corner. What about the rest of the building, which is also the same age?

That parking lot alone is worth $1,046,500.00

So we get an attractive wall.

And an ugly, unused art museum.

What a trade.

And I wish these "starbucks elite" would stop saying its going to bring in money to the local economy. Its not, ok? People dont travel somewhere for one thing, then spend money at others. They travel somewhere for multiple things, and spend money only at those places. This is not something where we can say "Oh well, we tried" if it fails. This is a huge gamble with the very life of this city.

And since Mr. Randall Stout is in town apparently, I ask him to walk the site - and really give it a good hard look, imagining what his building will look like in the place they want it to be.

No offence to the fine people at Billy's Ritz, but if they havent put money into fixing up the "shabby chic" building they have now, whats the promise they will? Those 2nd and 3rd floor boarded up windows will look great next to a world-class art museum. Allegedly world class.

I've been to the Museum of Transportation, Ive been to Explore Park, Ive been to the Zoo atop Mill Mountain many a time. These are worthwhile causes and should be supported by Roanoke. Im not big on art, but I do keep meaning to get to the Art Museum and O Winston Link museum. However, a building of that scale and design - and I would probably stay home. I didnt support the garish designs in NYC, and Im not supporting them here. Build to the area, not build of the area. Not that this is going to do either.

You want to create an artistic triangle, where it can be easily reached yet still stand out? I give you the Yellow Cab site, 200 Shenendoah Ave. Right down the block from both the O Winston Link Museum, and the Hotel Roanoke. Right on 581, easy to get to. Highly visible.

And doesnt wreck the area.

More to come in the morning, lots more. Including the history of the site, and why the Roanoke City Council should rethink its actions.


I've been tagged!

News Without Paper

Boy, I feel almost honored. Thanks to Kerry Sipe for the plug.

If a train aint movin, its useless....

Wonderful weather, aint it? God Im rarely this un-motivated. Even my train of thought is dead in the station. I scanned todays Times, meh.

With the exception of the Purple Heart story, which we all saw last night on the news anyway, its a slow news day. National news? Feds bust Al-Kinda cell in Cali. OOh.. shock. We know they are here, were just picking them off as we see fit.

Theres an op/ed piece written by Ed Hall from Hall Assoc. on the Art Museum and Solar Reflector thing. I understand his point, and its valid - but another op/ed written from the wrong angle.

Most talk about the uplifting nature of having the art museum open downtown in a giant solar reflector. How such a cultural attraction will SURELY not only attract, but keep a younger crowd in Roanoke. Those who leave Roanoke because its not like New York City, they should stay now! Its not going to happen. Those who are unsatisfied with the place they were born, are going to view any attempt to get them to stay as entrapment. They will be jaded to it, they are the kind who dont go to the Farmers Market because its "stupid." They never realize what they have till they leave it. The Art Museum is not going to convince them otherwise.

Trust me on this one, Im extremely jaded to the charms of NYC. Except at Christmas, thats really the only time I ever truly cared about being there. And even that was shot out the window after I saw "Dickens of a Christmas" last year. Discontent is born in the soul, and not the street. As Ive said - people allready have access to the arts here in Roanoke, and they dont go.

But thats old news anyway - how many times will we have to keep rehashing the same old story. I guess everything has the potential to become the Warhorse story that Victory Staduim is, given enough time and general inaction. Again I point to the Vision 2020 program the city itself laid out a few years back. If we, the people, just held them to it - we wouldnt have these debates. Wouldn't need to.

Other than that, nothing really new in the news today. Although that can always change at a moments notice. Yesterday I know while I was at the hospital - I heard of 2 children being hit by cars. 2 seperate incidents.

Newsworthy? As an illustration to those amazingly distracted drivers, yes. For the familys, probably not. Most times you really dont want your familys personal time of crisis writ large on the main page.

But heres the kicker to the story. The kids were both ok. Aside from bruising, maybe a broken bone, some bleeding - they were going to be ok.

Not often you hear a happy ending like that.

And thats where Im going to leave this.. maybe more to come.. if this train gets rollin again.


So it was an interesting day

I learned my wife really does not like waiting in emergency rooms. She always said so, but we never had opportunity to test it out. Then came the phantom pain.

We went swimming in the complex pool on Monday (which apparently is some form of sin around here. Heck, the guy opened the pool for us, I didn't know it was supposed to be closed on Monday.) swam for about 2 hours, so nice.. forgot how good it was to get in the water. Been over a year and a half. Next morning, about an hour after waking up, she had this awful pain in her right foot. Right around the ankle. Its been bothering her badly for 2 days now, and today we go to the hospital (no, Im not saying which one - mainly because I like this one).

So we are waiting in the ER waiting room to be called back. They said about 45 minutes, fine - as long as we can get an x-ray and a solution - its all good. Well 45 mins comes and goes - next were onto an hour and a half. Apparently they were heavily booked solid in the back. Wonderful, but still no real information and no sign of any coming.

2 hours in, we still were warming seats, watching the annoying pacing guy pace annoyingly. (redundant, as was his pacing) Watching about 5 of the 20 people get called back, people with serious health issues far above a injured ankle. We could accept that.. she was getting antsy.

Not that I blame her in the least, especially hurting as she was. And considering there was no medical staff present to ask questions to. I would have been asking to see a doctor or nurse by then. But then again, I've never had a sprain of any sort. My one real medical emergency required instant admission. (Yes I am hinting at what's coming in the near future.)

3 hours later, we cant get a straight answer from anyone, she finally packs it in and decided we head home. Fine by me, as I was ready to nap in the waiting room. So that's where it stands - bad communication, no communication, and the annoyingly redundant pacing guy. He was a patient, he had his shirt on backwards, he smiled a whole lot, and he had a strange unnerving bulge under his shirt.

She had enough, and for all the pain she was in - I've never seen anyone gimp faster than she did to get out of there.

Me - I have a strange affinity for hospitals. But I've only been in 1 that I remember clearly.

So heres the deal today

Im probably going to be irked picking up a copy of the Times for 2 reasons. 1) its not going to be as clean and crisp as it was yesterday. Other than the colors being off, yesterdays copy which was printed in Greensboro was a true power broadsheet. Normally by the time I get my hands on a copy Im looking at an overinflated tabloid.
2) Boones Mill... Lynn Frith. They want to extend the Boones Mill water supply outward, which means a new plumbing contract for Lynn. They want to build a new town hall, which is yet another contract for Lynn. They are going ahead with bottling "Watershine" Boones Mill Bottled Water. Which means, you guessed it -Another contract for Lynn.

At some point in my life here - and Im not intending leaving anytime soon, I will open the paper one day, and see Lynn being brought up on a host of charges. Federal (possibly), State (definately - theyre sick of him), and local (if Franklin County ever gets its act together).

But thats not all that important. What is important is ground was broken yesterday on the Carilion Bio-Medical park. Having seen some of the sketches of buildings being raised there - I can honestly say, this is great.
The buildings have a style which does not go against the tide, but rather will almost look collegiate when in service. Reminicent of the outbuildings just off 29 that UVA has erected for medical and other purposes. Very classic styling, but with a modern edge and functionality. The tennants that have been announced so far are some of the top bio-engineering firms around.

Luna Innovations, from Blacksburg, is a serious competitor for high-tech military contracts. They have designed a hollow carbon atom, which carries metals and rare earth materials designed for use in detection of physiological problems. Possibly even treating them, considering if you swarm the site - say a tumor - with these, expose to low low low radiation, they all act as mini-magnifying glasses, focusing the radiation on the tumor and eradicating it, without damaging surrounding tissues.

I've had this very procedure done to me, but without the mini-magnifyers. I would have been very happy with them, but instead I had this: the Gamma Knife not so much not fun, but they hold the frame for the thing on your head with screws (tiny, but still screws) that are set into your skull.

In the next 2 months there will be more stories about my experiences with this, as I reach my 3 year anniversary of the destruction of the BST.

Well, wrapping up - Im dismayed by the Boones Mill nonsense, hopeful with the Bio-Med stuff, and elated that theres still a chance.. STILL A HOPE that the Art Museum will not go forth. Look here

Updates as warranted today, Ive got something in the works.


No Roanoke Times Tuesday morning

No Roanoke Times Tuesday morning

Roanoke Times statement on the delay

One of the reasons blogging/Radio is so important. Paper is still transient. Its there one minute, but can be gone just as easy. As long as you have power, phones - you have news. People can call in reports of whatever, the broadcasters can then read those reports.

Friends call friends to tell them whats going on by them, friends put friends reports on the blog - suddenly you have a variety of sources to choose from for your up-to-the-minute reporting. National Weather Service does it with the Spotters, nothing more than an extended reporting network.

I think thats really where newspapers are running into trouble these days. Newspapers are static - they are a timeslice of events from the time of printing. There is no running reporting, no constant commentary. Don't get me wrong - I love my morning paper, but by 10am Im wondering what else is going on... The websites for most newspapers are still struggling with the static idea. I mean, the printed word has been around what, centuries now. Thats along time to be doing the same thing. It gets encoded into the genetic makeup of the newspaper. This is how its laid out, this is its sections. Until the "digital paper" (not far off, IBM and a few others are finishing up on it) hits the market - there has been no real change in newspapers in decades. Sure with the computer, layout and publishing has gotten easier. No more typesetting challenges, no more image issues.

What would Walt Whitman, Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle so many years ago think of all this. He would probably be amazed at the new technology in the newspaper press itself, but he would still recognize the newspaper. For a good while, in NY - we had 3 papers. 3 papers for the masses, not counting the NY Times. The Daily News and The NY Post - both morning editions, and Newsday - a Long Island based paper which up until 1987(ish) was still an evening edition. I had a paper route as a kid. For a while, I was doing the Daily News in the morning, and Newsday in the evening. Probably 110 papers a day, and my routes didn't overlap.

That was probably the last time in my life before the rise of the Internet as a reporting tool that I can remember getting updated stories, in print, same day. Im not a big TV fan. I'll watch the news off and on at night, but I personally prefer to get local news online - its a cleaner, faster way to get to the stories that interest me. Now I realize that the Roanoke Times, DBJ, SLS - they all do news updates if the stories warrant one. But thats seldom it seems compared to what Ive seen the Blogging community do. For example - go to Rhett's Roanke Firefighters page. He has a story about a fire at Loudon Ave. that I have not seen anywhere else.

This is not the first time either. Just a week ago, he had pictures of an accident on Franklin and Reserve. And prior to that, trumping anyones coverage, he had photos from the scene (maybe 10 feet away) from the big accident on 581 by Valley View.

Its one thing to be a reporter and gain access to a scene, its another to be on-scene and report it later. Theres a fundamental difference in mindset.

Well, I guess I've kicked this horse enough.


LILEKS (James) Matchbooks (well, not really)

James is BACK!

Damn Ive been waiting for this. Ive been reading Mr. Lileks for a while now, then found out after I moved down here that his column was carried in the Roanoke TImes, something I never had in NY. I was jazzed. Then they bumped him. Its their choice - it's a bad choice, but not mine to make. Demographics or something like that. Whatever.

But now, the Lileks most people don't know unless they have dug through the archives on lileks.com. The Screeds.

James is an angry angry man, he just hides it well behind a mask of bad 70's design, worse 50's and 60's recipies, and perfectly horrid trips to Chuck E Cheese.

Read at your own risk. But do read.

The National D-Day Memorial

The National D-Day Memorial

Come on, its not even a full 45 minutes away...

jeez, ungrateful... *shakes fist angrily*