6/23/2010

Mixed Use Canal St.

Posted by MJ

It seems there are others out there share the ideas of some of my recent posts on Canal St.. As reported by the LUSJ:

...The block of four city-owned buildings, overlooking parallel old and modern sets of locks near the Pine Street bridge, seems like the logical center of a heritage tourism district, they say; but the fact the touring season only lasts six months a year means the block should not be reserved exclusively for tourism-related uses.

Mixed-use development — first-floor retail appealing to visitors and locals, and guaranteed year-round users of upper floors, say offices and/or residential lofts — would be the best strategy for Greater Lockport Development Corp. to pursue as it is soliciting building tenants and/or buyers, business owner Mike Murphy and Canal Task Force volunteer Jane Whitmore both suggested...
Now only if the city would present what its ultimate vision is we could probably move forward in a more orderly fashion. And I will ask the question: what is considered "tourist related"?

As a tourist myself, I may seek out a local attraction or two to highlight the day but the rest of the time I look for the amenities that any local resident would look for. Diverse shops, places to eat, people watching etc are part of the background that makes a trip fun but that may also go unnoticed. I do not seek out T-shirt shops, cheap tacky gift shops, etc. I do not look forward to hopping in my car traveling parking lot to parking lot or conversely walking past a bunch of nothing for long stretches.

From my point of view, the best street to offer to tourists is the same street that would be best for residents: diverse, full of mixed use buildings and thus ultimately full of people. Make the smallest building near Pine St a small welcome center and fill the rest of the street with places that people are drawn to in general. Throw in some residents to have lights on and bodies around 24-7 and off we go on a journey from just being a place to visit to also being a place that worth seriously considering living in.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

How many people really think that we can possibly be a tourist destination? I'm sorry but spending $10M on the old locks and however much on this street seems like a HUGE waste of tax dollars.
I am definitely for saving old buildings, but lets not get crazy that all of a sudden we will have tourists flocking here. The building are 'saved', not lets put something long term in them not necessarily tourist related.

Rocketboy said...

It's hard to imagine how much 'tourists' we get until you actually take a look at the tourist businesses already in Lockport. I for one know that the Canal Cruises is busier than you'd ever imagine. (Jeff, I'm sure you can attest to this, being part of the tourist industry yourself.) Besides the day trippers, you'd be shocked at the number of tour buses that are in front of the building.

Really, as far as I'm concerned, almost anything would be good for Canal Street. It was a good idea with a terrible plan.

LoneWolf said...

Rocketboy~

This is true, although I don't work at the Canal Cruises, I have however, seen the boats(both of them) many times filled almost if not to capacity,and both running a tour at the same time, when im walking along the towpath doing my cave tours. Sometimes it's actually amazing the ammount of people that do show up on a given day. It still "boggles" my mind after 12 years working for the Cave tours how many people show up.

Mind you, ALOT of it depends on the day, wether its a holiday or not, or how the weather is. However that being said many times rainy or inclemant days, many times, are our busiest days. Traditionally mid week(Tues.-Thurs.) are "light". The rest (Fri.- Mon.) are quite busy, to the point we run tours about every 1/2 hour with three tour guids on duty to handle the load.

Then as quickly as we get busy, many times it "dies" and we get a bit of a "breather". Then we can start all over again about an hour later .

We have found that when we run a tour at around the same time that Canal Cruises (which is inevitable) thier boat is PACKED and our visitor rate declines. Then when his tour is done, our visitor rate soars.

I too have seen on more than on occasion, the myriad of tour busses lined up along Market Street for the Canal Cruises. We get them from time ot time as well , and many thimes they fill up the Pine street Bridge for our tours.

Given the above fact with the tour busses, the Trolly many ties is an abosulte godsend. Especially if thepatrons pick up the Trolly at the Cruises, they can leave the busses there and take the Trolly to our place, and also take a trip around the City while they wait, if for some resaon we have to delay thier tour for a bit.

To Anon~
The figured ammount for the Lock restoration, has been "juggeld around" quite a few times. They hacctually have found a way (last i heard) to lower the price tag a few times. Personally i think it would be Great for the City to have that done. There ARE already grants in place to have this work done. As well , or so i have heard, a few fundraisers planned to make sup the diffrence that is not covered under Historical grants.

I for one presonally can't wait to see it done I think it woudl be a great add on to an already rather sucessful "tourism city".

~Jeff

MJ said...

There is no doubt that we get a notable amount of visitors.

I see our options as these (lowest to highest)
1) Notable Reconstructed Flight of Five – Un-notable city
2) Notable City - Less notable current Flight of Five
3) Notable City - Notable Reconstructed Flight of Five.

I think it is great that we are pushing for a reconstructed Flight of Five. It would make a great cherry on top of the city sundae. But in and of itself, it only creates a small bump in seasonal retail spending.

Whereas an actual diverse functioning city would create year round spending and tax base in residents, non-retail jobs and the stable retail that they support.

The tourism is nice to have as is one of the engineering wonders of the early 19th century right in the middle of downtown. But like most silver bullet projects of the past 50 years in this area, it will not come close to providing for us like sound planning, development and marketing would.

I'd be much more enthusiastic about the FoF if the city had a master plan, updated codes, and marketing of them to produce a lively city. Without it the FoF will most likely remain a drive in drive out attraction; although with a slightly higher draw.

I'm anxious to see what is being kicked around for Canal St. Will it be tacky cheap tourist stores or the start of building a better foundation for downtown?

LoneWolf said...

MJ~

I kinda see your point about it being a "drive in , drive out attraction" .

However, from what I have heard , if all goes as planned, they MAY habe a "mini lock through" of at least one of original locks. We'll just have to wait and see.

Regarding tourism, Lockport as well as many of the Towns and Cities Located along the canal, all suffer fromt he same thing .. SEASONAL TRAFFIC.

Main reason beaing they drain the canal in the winter, and I don't know of many people that would be willing to venture out in the middle of a NYS blizzard. Especially those that know how our winters CAN get. Our communities algo the canal depend ON the canal for the traffic they/we get.

Granted, there ARE ways to keep the tourism going year round.

But again you have the seasons we get. As well as being able to spend the money to advertise about the GOOD THINGS there are to do.

Heck 45 mins (approximately) away from us we HAD the Festival of Lights during Christmas time, and the Gardens in Niag. Falls, where did all that go ??

It's not that easy. Ill even attest to a saying " you can experince all 4 seasons in one day in WNY" . I HAVE expericed it. Interesting, yes, fun and nice to work in,NO .

As far as Canal Street, i read int he paper ther other day (belive it was Thursdays paper) they are having "mini concerts" at the Gazebo on Canal Street. Matter of fact i hav eht peper in front of me .. ill make a post about that aftet this one. Be that as it is .. its a bit of a "step in the right direction".

Something is better thean nothing.
~Jeff

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