Real Estate

What Would Knox Street and Cole Avenue Look Like as a "Complete Street"? With Trolleys?

While sifting through Vimeo this morning I came across a Shops at Park Lane construction time lapse posted this morning by the good folks at Good Fulton & Farrell. Which led me to the video you see above: The Fairmount Street-based architectural firm's entry in the city's Complete Streets Visual Essay Contest, which wrapped a few weeks ago.

As you can see, it imagines what the already walkable Knox and Cole might look like with a few improvements as imagined by the folks at the firm that's more or less responsible for its present-day look. As Larry Good explains this morning, GFF's been involved there since '91, when George Bayoud started snapping up property on the north side of the street, and its design for the Crate & Barrel store was an award-winner back in its day. More recently, GFF's been studying how to redo the street since the city council passed the Knox Street Public Improvement District in June of last year.

Says Good, based on that new look-see "we thought we would do an entry in that competition, so Jeff Good [a principal at the firm] captained that, and two of the other guys here led the visualization efforts. And I think Knox has a good head start because it already has on-street parking. The sidewalks are awfully narrow, but it wouldn't take much to change the character. And you saw the trolley in the video ..."

I certainly did, which is why I called Good in the first place: He's on the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority's board of directors. And I wondered: Does he know something we don't?

Last year, of course, MATA got $4.9 million from the feds to bring the trolleys further into downtown via the creation of that connector loop line down St. Paul and up Federal to Olive. And there's that Cityplace Turntable Project presently under construction. But till now I'd never heard anything about bringing the McKinney Avenue north, up to Knox.

But, says Good, he belives it's "part of the manifest destiny of the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority to come that extra distance from Blackburn up to Knox. It's just natural to get that done." Which is to say: He and the board want go get that done, and throwing that in the video was his way of "planting that seed," as he says this morning.

"Wouldn't it be great if we could get everyone encouraged to make it that way north?" he says. "It's such a great destination. And it's a lot less expensive to get the MATA an extra mile than it is DART light rail."

So, then, how likely is this to happen ...?

"You mean: Do we know what the source of the money would be?" Good says with a slight chuckle. "No. And it's not easy. The thing about MATA is they know how to use their volunteer motormen and lean staff to run the system very inexpensively, and they got construction dollars to send MATA into downtown. So, we'll see."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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