I remember looking out my office window in 2010 and seeing black smoke pouring out of the Central Warehouse building in Albany.
“Finally,” I said. “Now they can rip that building down and all feel good about it.”
Unfortunately, the Albany Fire Department was ruthlessly effective in its efforts and saved a structure nobody wanted. Oh, well.
I don’t dislike the hulking Central Warehouse building, I’m just tired of reading about it. Yes, it would be so cool if it were renovated into lofts for affluent people and restaurants for affluent people and cute little shops for affluent people — but not if I have to pay for it with my tax money.
Renovation plans for the long vacant building always hinge on schemes where developers put up a little money and we put up the rest. Several local companies have made a very good living doing this, but I say not this time. Nobody in their right mind would put their own money into that place.
Don’t get me wrong. I love when old spaces with an interesting history are saved from the wrecking ball and repurposed. If you want to see an amazing example, visit MASS MoCA in North Adams, or the Harmony Mills in Cohoes.
But enough is enough. The Central Warehouse is a wreck and likely not worth the trouble. It’s too big and it has too many problems, but if you insist go ahead, just do it with your own money. Or here’s an idea, you could borrow the money from a bank. Good luck with that one.
In Voorheesville, it’s hard to miss the sound of the trains. Even
where I live, a mile away from the grade crossings where the trains are required to blast their horns, it’s noticeable. And I like it. Hearing the whistle and rumble of a train as you nod off at night is very pleasant.
But to folks who live just a few hundred feet from the tracks, the romance of the train whistles must wear thin — so much so that a group in Voorheesville has been lobbying to silence the railroad.
Their goal is to establish a quiet zone through Voorheesville, which is not as simple as it sounds. For the trains to be exempt from sounding a warning, the two crossings in the village need more gates or traffic control measures that would make it hard for cars to skirt around the barriers. This would cost about $400,000, money that might come from a federal grant.
Rob, you may be asking, who buys a houseÂ near the area’s busiest rail line and then start complaining about the noise? That’s a question I can’t answer, but I will say this: during our house hunt, we ruled out more than one property that was too close to the same rail line.
So, who knows? Personally, I would miss hearing the train whistles. If they were right in my backyard? Probably not so much.
We’re moving very soon, so packing and de-cluttering have been a daily chore.
I take great pleasure in getting rid of things. There was the ornate couch in the cellar that we planned to reupholsterÂ Â some day. The day never came, and in the words of Oscar Madison, “Now it’s garbage.” I pulled a box of baby toys from the attic, where they’d sat since the day we moved inÂ more than 20 years ago. Bags of old clothes, musty books and a vast assortment things that once seemed like a good idea. The guy at the dump? We’re on a first name basis.
But amid all the stuff, are some things that move you, like my son’s journal from when he was seven.
Some things you must let go, and some things you must keep. Choose carefully.
It’s easier to get things than get rid of things. Case in point, the weight machine in the basement.
I’m moving soon, so itÂ had to go. Fortunately, someone bought the thing off Craigslist for $50 — but now to move it out of the fu*king cellar.
It was instantly obvious that there was no way it originally arrivedÂ downstairs in one piece, and we had to tip it sideways to avoid low hanging duct work and pipes. But the highlight of this endeavor? That was when we got stuck on the stairs. Should we go back down? No, hand me the ratchet set so I can remove this part. And that one — all while Â balancing it on the steps. Did I mention I was on the bottom? Good times.
Maybe I should have offered it to the people buying our house; indeed, I think I might have paid them to keep it.
Once it was in the garage, it hit me. “That’s the best workout I’ve had with this thing in years.”
We’ve been looking at a lot of houses lately and noticed something interesting: people like putting flat screen TV sets over the fireplace.
Not to be judgmental or anything — because I would never do that — but one thing goes through my head when I see this in a house: douchebag bad idea.
There are a couple of practical reasons not to mount the TV over the fireplace. The heat might not great for the TV, and ideally, a TV should be level with your eyes position so you don’t have to look up at it. That could be bad for your neck.
But there are less tangible reasons, too.
It used to be that the space over the fireplace was reserved for something special, like a piece of art or an antique that sits on the mantle. Let’s say you have a mounted moose head that you love. Where’s it going to go? Over the fireplace, of course. It sends a message about what you find important.
When you put the TV over the fireplace, it says that the most important thing in your life is the TV. And it makes your house look like a barroom.
So don’t be a douchebag silly: find somewhere else for the TV. I knowÂ the fireplace thing isÂ popular right now, but just because it’s popular doesn’t make it right.
The area around Hilton Head has many beautiful neighborhoods of a sort you don’t see around here. These well-planned developments have wonderful landscaping and homes — and many haveÂ a gatehouse and guard at the entrance.
It’s also worth noting that Â a lot of these private enclaves for the affluent have the word “plantation” in their name.
If you look up plantation in the dictionary, the top definition is that it’s a farm for cash crops — but culturally it seems like a loaded term, especially in a place like South Carolina.
I’m sure that some of these communitiesÂ are located on grounds that were actually plantations in the past, and yes, I get that you probably don’tÂ mean it as a reference to the antebellum South. I understand, Â but here’s the thing: you’ve gotÂ this place where the wealthy white people live behind a gate and it’s called the plantation? It just feels a little odd.
Am I the only one who’s sick of hearing about Hudson?
Every time you turn around there’s another Hudson story in a national publication, several of which are summarized here by my friends at All Over Albany.
True, the Hudson phenomena is impressive. I remember when it was a charming wreck, back before the antique shops and overpriced restaurants (like the dreadful Swoon Kitchenbar) took over Warren Street. But now, Hudson has caught a bad case of what’s afflicted Columbia County for a long time: affluent New Yorkers.
Remember in Back to the Future II, how Biff has a copy of Grays Sports Almanac from the future? I wish back in 1993 I could have gotten my hands on some real estate magazines from today. I’d be writing a blog post about being retired at 52.
So what town is next? Catskill? Athens? That may be on the wrong side of the river for folks who want to take the train. Anyway, we should all thank god that Troy isn’t a bit closer to New York City.
So, I read in the paper we’re getting a Moe’s around the corner — and another frozen yogurt joint. Terrific. You can’t have enough burritos in my neck of the woods. Or enough frozen yogurt. But what I have had enough of is the traffic.
Anyone who was in my end of Bethlehem before Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and the construction of vast new residential neighborhoods will tell you that things have gotten worse. We’ve gone from being at the edge of the country to being in the middle of suburban sprawl.
The people who run things in town tell me that our roads can accommodate all this growth, and to that I cry “bullshit.” Try driving on 9W during rush hour. Other roads, leading to the shopping centers, never intended for such heavy traffic, have become a nightmare as well.
The most recent scheme developers use to maximize their ROI isÂ having their property rezoned as commercial hamlets, which allows forÂ a brew of apartments, town homes, and commercial/retail space. One so called hamlet near my house is an abomination.
As for the impact on traffic, here’s a line I pulled from a commercial hamlet proposal being floated:
“The existing traffic during peak hours is 5,600 trips, and the expected number of trips following the build out of Route 9W would be 14,600.”
Awesome. That’s only a 9000 trip difference!
So enjoy your frozen yogurt and burritos. I’m looking forward to the final day I have to beat the traffic out of town. Sayonara, suckers.