Friday, April 13, 2007
264 Main Street
This building and its neighbors are notable for their arched windows and attractive cornices. The building on the left looks bare by comparison. But the feature that really sets them apart from a lot of other Main Street buildings is that the upper floors appear to be occupied. Far too many buildings have empty second and third floors, and a few are even boarded up. Not very attractively, either. I don't know why they're empty, so I don't know what we'd have to do to make it financially attractive for the owners of those buildings to make the upper floors habitable again. Is there a minimum number of parking spaces that each dwelling unit must have? Who needs more than one car--if that many--when you live on a bus line and just blocks away from the train station? Are there accessibility requirements imposed when remodeling older structures? Can't we make an exception for 100-year-old buildings? Or must we wait until they deteriorate to the point at which we have to tear them down and start over, like the Danbury Gas and Electric building is on the verge of doing?
The traditional Main Street model has always been shops, restaurants, and other retail services at street level, and residential on the upper levels. We could go a long way toward solving our affordable housing problems if we just made full use of our existing infrastructure again.