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January 11, 2015


With an aging population, there is a need for non-profit Assisted Living Facilities for low income seniors. These officials need to think outside the box. Tearing down historic buildings, what a shame.

It is interesting as you and the SCV commenter have noted, but I wonder how connected it is to the city. The aerial map shows a good gap between the campus and the gridded blocks of the city. There's also a state highway. I suspect this is a really car-dependent development. It might be internally walkable, but it lacks external connections.

Additionally, none of the north campus is from the 19th century. Mostly it's mid-century architecture. I think that changes a lot of things - not to mention the romance and horroor of the "asylum" just isn't there.

I sent this off to my Documentarian friends who have their studio in Traverse City and live nearby. I asked for their take. Right off, Traverse City is the Jackson Hole of Michigan - THE place where upscale white people have lived/had summer homes at for decades. It's a lot different than Salem. I agree that the State Hospital should be a community asset and not some developer wet dream. But, it's likely going to have to be a lot more diverse than anything TC could come up with.

Michael, I agree.

Both that Traverse City is very different from Salem, and a state hospital redevelopment here would be very different from what happened there.

But, like I said, seemingly there is something we can learn from the Traverse City experience.

I found it interesting that the state hospital buildings there were set to be demolished. Then Ray Minervini stepped forward and made an offer to renovate them.

So the State of Oregon and City of Salem should be cautious about going ahead with demolition plans.

For one, this would be expensive, and better uses could be found for the limited state government dollars that would be spent on demolition. Also, it makes sense to be absolutely certain that a developer doesn't want the buildings "as is" before tearing them down.

Brian, My buddy in Traverse City says that Traverse City, ten years ago before their restoration of the State Theater anchored a downtown revival, was full of closed stores and empty lots. Worse than Salem. The state hospital restoration project came in about the same time. They then went on to build another downtown theater in a run-down museum building they also restored - The Bijou - and now hold a very successful annual film festival at both theaters. And, Traverse City overall is now a happening place. Of course, they have a spectacular waterfront and lots of wealth in the area, which helps. He thinks we should be looking for restoration grants.

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