Creating A Better Utica
Hospital Neighborhood!

Downtown Utica deserves more!
Introducing the Wynn-BUD Initiative:

Better Hospital Neighborhood,
Better Downtown!

Introduction

Improve The Wynn Hospital, erase LESS of Utica's history, while creating a much more compelling hospital neighborhood.

If 1,000 to 2,000 new spaces are indeed required, let's advocate for two parking garages, not the large one as proposed. This page will explain a very significant alternative; fewer surface lot and two parking garages (as originally envisioned!).

In May of 2011 Paula Horrigan, a Cornell University professor (and one of the overseers of the Rust to Green Utica project), stated in a story titled Critics Assail Downtown Utica Parking Plan: "...more surface parking is the opposite direction in which cities are going."

From a October 2017 Tweet, "... urban surface parking lots are Viscerally Unpleasant and Disorienting to neighborhoods."

View a preliminary illustration of The Wynn-BUD Initiative, then read a detailed explaination below, or jump to the draft Action Plan page.

Rethink Hospital Nieghborhood Now!

First, we say Eminent Domain by Oneida County is not required, nor that being planned by the City of Utica. Utica's Downtown Development and the Parking stories have been watched carefully. Parking requirements can be better accomplished for The Wynn Hospital and the public needs.

For instance, this Illustration offers five alternative locations for any new parking garage or garages. These can be accomplished without using eminent domain and without demolishing additional historical assets. Other garage location and options exist as this page will also illustrate.

Very Important to Recall...

In their 2015 study for Mohawk Valley Health System, Hammes Company reported only 10.94 acres would be necessary should MVHS decide to build an "urban" hospital. That is, 10.94 acres for both the HOSPITAL and required PARKING [Ref.].

The Wynn Hospital:
Urban Site Requirements
433,250 SF (includes parking)
Total acreage = 10.94

Since that time the hospital has been scaled down, principally by reducing the number of Beds from 430 beds to 400, and then finally to 373 beds [Ref.]. Note that "bed count" directly drives the requirement for parking spaces.

Further detailing the change it was reported, "November 2016: The health system announces that it has downsized its estimates from a $575 million, 830,000-square-foot facility to a $480 million, 750-square-foot facility."

Seeking twenty-five acres (that's 227% above orginal 11-acres) is excessive. A sprawling hospital district is not compatible with the idea of creating a Walkable downtown.

As listed in the project unknowns below, another 3.42 acres may be added to hospital footprint making the total 28.42 acres- 258% above orginal 11-acres!

Large structures like the proposed garage that eliminates streets would create another long Super Block. Super blocks are undesirable urban design elements, especially within a small city such as Utica.

A final note on this topic, consider Tufts Medical Center (until 2008 Tufts-New England Medical Center or T-NEMC), a 15-building complex in Boston. This group of healthcare insitutions represent a "...tightly packed 11-acre area interwoven with the dense surrounding Chinatown neighborhood". See T-NEMC in Google Maps, view their Campus Map (PDF) and the T-NEMC Online Directory.

Per Wikapedia, "Tufts Medical Center has a total of 415 licensed beds: 206 medical/surgical beds, 48 adult intensive care beds, 57 pediatric beds, 50 pediatric and neonatal intensive care beds, 34 post-partum beds, 20 adult psychiatric beds, and 24 infant bassinets."

Tufts' 15 buildings provide award-winning healthcare using 11 acres. MVHS downtown calls for a single hospital building, a planned medical office building, and a parking garage - three buildings - yet targets 25-28 acres. Why?

How Much, Where's the Land?

The Wynn Hospital footprint approved by the Utica Planning Board is 8 acres. Below the building is shown in red. To each side in green areas are; Emergency department drop-off and parking areas (left), and the hospital service dock area and truck parking (right)...


Dated but historic, plus continuely upgraded and expanded, the Utica Police Department is a great city asset. A new police "maintenance garage" and Utica City Courts roundout what's called the "Public Safety Campus"...

Property & Parcels: Utica Public Saftey Campus.

Smart planning would integarte the historic UPD into The Wynn Hospital neighborhood, netting a savings of $50M! Per a June 2019 news report, New UPD Cost Estimate: $30-40 Million. There is plenty of room, look at the The Wynn Hospital Neighborhood Parcel Map (PDF, 20.7MB) complete with plot dimensions.

Using the Utica Public Safety Campus for parking with the Wynn North Parking Ramp would perserve the police maintiance garage, the police station, and the Utica City Courts. This garage concept also allows access to all buildings, retains the Memorial Wall, as well as the walkway leading to the Adirondack Bank Center.

St. Joseph's Hospital, Syracuse, NY

MVHS has offered nurmerous hospitals as Benchmark, all were investigated.

For instance in Buffalo and Albany, they are not in the downtown, both are 1 to 1-1/2 miles from their urban centerpoint. Then looking at Syracuse's St. Joseph's Health (another hospital on a downtown's periphery, not downtown!) a cautionary tale is offered.

St. Joseph's Health has been on "Prospect Hill" since the 1800's. If one drives, better yet walks, the blocks surrounding the hospital they are not greeted by vibrancy. In 2009 ground was broken for a $220M expansion, with great promises for the neighborhood. Yet today, one sees blight, vacant or partially vacant properties, as well as "For Rent" signs. A generally lower quality neighborhood on all sides.

Since 2009's expansion, two other hospital developments have occurred; (1) A 2009, $32,000,000 / 45,000 sq ft, Cardiovascular Care Center with a rooftop helipad. (2) A 2019 - a 5-story, 391-car, parking garage. Today a $25.2 million hotel and apartment are underway, but the project has bulldozed Four Homes.

To close out this point, not a single example was offered where a large part of a central business district was bulldozed and a new hospital constructed.

Old Neighborhood vs. Large Hospital Garage

Looking back: A view of the Columbia-Lafayette Neighborhood (CoLa) Before Vs. First Hospital Site Plan. Next, a view of the currently proposed 2019 Integrated Health Campus Site Plan, plus a more recent Site Rendering.

Hospital, Smaller Garages & New Neighborhood

Eliminate the large parking garage in favor of two smaller garages. This new plan requires splitting the design in half and slightly shifting the footprint by 300-400 feet. Compare illustrations as the large garage is halved and each half shifted: Before versus After. View rendering as a PDF New Parking Garage Concept (PDF), or as a PNG-style image New Parking Garage Concept (PNG). This alternative parking solution offers considerable benefits as discussed below.

So let's move forward! Dropping eminent domain by Oneida County would see both opposition lawsuits dropped. As others have stated, there's plenty of land for parking without destroying more of Utica's historic CoLa Neigborhood. Too much Parking is very bad urban design, plus car ownship and usage are changing fast [Ref.]. Furthermore, recall that initial reports spoke of two parking garages [Ref.]. Consider a few of the benefits...

The Carton Street blocks are preserved. The Enterprise car rental business stays; their plot is expanded to the west as their lot to the east is deeded to green space. Historic buildings at 418 and 442 Lafayette Street are preservered for historic redevelopment. Other parcels are ready for creative infill. The entrance and view of The Wynn Hospital is expanded- not blocked nor dominated by a large parking garage - as Cornelia Street is widened to create a much grander entrance.

The large parking garage proposal is said to meeet needs of The Wynn Hospital, as well as municipal parking that spans from Genesee Street at the east, to Bagg's Square and the AUD/Nexus, then onto Varrick Street to the west. This suggests two garages that are spaced apart will better accomplish these disparate needs.

Finally, the tremendous impact of Utica's canals (the Erie and Chenango, formally two of Utica's "main streets"), which built our Past Prosperty, and how they ignited the American Industrial Revolution, could be placed on display and celebrated. These smaller garage footprints means more history and greater neighborhood diversity.

Close your eye's and imagine the downtown we see, as you Walk Through The Wynn-BUD Initiative.

The Wynn-BUD Benefits

(1) Oneida County stops spending taxpayer dollars on eminent domain. City and county do not need to complete eminent domain process.

(2) Opposition to Oneida County goes away.

(3) Large garage doesn’t push out landowners, businesses and Utica’s original boiler-making history is not erased.

(4) AUD and Nexus parking is closer, has an overhead pedestrian bridge, so busy Oriskany Street traffic is not a safety issue.

(5) Heliport is closer to emergency department's ambulance entrance and has a more direct line to care. In the lastest rendering by NBBJ, the helipad location means paitents from the helipad must traverse across the paths of arriving walk-in ED patients.

(6) Heliport is not seen from patient rooms.

(7) Large proposed parking garage would not block view of hospital and a much grander entrance way can be created, i.e. a widened Cornelia Street.

(8) Large proposed parking garage and parked cars moved out of the view of patient rooms.

(9) ED department entrances are covered from winter weather, by new parking garage location.

(10) Carton, the only remaining original Historic Street, is saved for restoration. This cobblestone lane will better integrate downtown's new biking/hiking pathways connected to the Rayhill Memorial Trail and the Utica-Frankfort Erie Canalway Trail On The Empire Trail. Offers numerous opportunities for historic signage along an authentic canal-era lane for tourists and hospital guests alike!

(11) Lafayette Street is turned into another vehicular path, is not closed to traffic; creates a large drop-off area and return circle.

(12) Two parking garages per original hospital concept, places public parking closer to Varick Street brewery district, and city courts- police station too!

(13) Downtown is made more walkable!

(14) Lots to the south of the hospital, along Columbia Street would allow expansion, parking and room for the proposed Medical Office Building (MOB) while keeping the current landowner and business (JP O'Brien Plumbing & Heating) in place.

(15) The more critical garage for The Wynn Hospital can be constructed faster as it is now smaller, and the helipad is in place sooner. The second garage started later, which excellerates the timeline for hospital use, while spreading out construction expense.

(16) The police maintenance garage and parking could be integrated into this new site plan; with parking garage built around or above the existing building.

(17) Land already offered by Utica and that already purchased by MVHS is utilized, not private lands still not willing to sell.

(18) As proposed in 2008 create “The Boat Works". Described in an Oneida County plan as a ”...outdoor, working museum that includes replica canal boats, demonstrations of boat construction and maintenance activities, educational programs on the workings of locks, etc. The historic nature of this facility could easily be linked to the Old Erie Canal State Park and Erie Canal Village. (See, Creating a Greenway in Oneida County: Part of the Mohawk River Corridor). A project like this could be created to promote tourism and honor Utica's canal heritage. Importantly, it could be located right where the Erie and Chenango once intersected!

(19) Redevelop 418 Lafayette Street parcels and buildings into "Utica's Boiler-Maker Park". Consider, as taken from Fires, Forges, Furnaces... "In 1898, The International Heater Company was formed; a merger of Russel Wheeler & Son, The Carton Furnace Co., J. F. Pease Furnace Co., Howard Furnace Co., and Kernan Furnace Co. Offices were on Genesee Street and a remodeled hotel at 418 Lafayette Street became a showroom- it still stands, behind this remains the original Carton Furnace Co. buildings bordering Carton Avenue, an original Erie Canal-era cobblestone street. Eventually radiators appeared, and by the 1880s cast iron radiators filled homes and businesses with excellent heating. One radiator line was produced by the forerunner firm to “ERC”. By the 1920s most homes had automatic heating systems. Blower furnace were placed into use in 1930s. Today one firm, “ERC International” still sells the “Utica Boiler” brand, and they also founded the Boilermaker 15K road race!"

(20) As stated by MVHS and project sponsors (in the SEQR FEIS, Section 8, GROWTH INDUCING ASPECTS) the public heard that one was, "Increasing the development potential of the surrounding area". The Wynn-BUD plan is just this!

(21) County and city money for legal, acquistion, remediation, and site preparation can be saved/diverted to building parking requirements.

(22) The first garage site along State Street is ready now, it's cleared and remediated.

(23) Needs as described by MVHS for new hospital garage parking are all maintained...

"Parking Garage: Partnership with Oneida county and the city of Utica. Access to parking garage at multiple points to make it convenient for patients, families and visitors. Parking for hospital patients and visitors, staff, volunteers as well as the community for non-hospital related events."

(24) All the projects and initiatives outlined by Wynn-BUD are within an Opportunity Zone, which makes attracting investors easier.

(25) Housing is in strong demand, create it: Further downtown success requires many more residets living throughout our downtown neighborhoods. While The Wynn Hospital requires a single MOB, gaining additional acrage for more MOB's nearby the new hospital (as proposed[Ref.]) would only decrease demand for medical office space in other Utica neighborhoods. Therefore lots cleared by MVHS in The Wynn Hospital area should be targeted for small scale and creative infill housing.

(26) St. Joseph's hospital in Syracuse offers ideas for The Wynn Hospital neighborhood. They placed their Medical Office Building (MOB) on top of their parking garage: Google Street View: Combined Parking Garage & MOB...

Learn more about St. Joseph's 2007 Combined Parking Garage & Medical Office Building, a $45 million project that included a pedestrian bridge to hospital.

(27) Moving half the parking garage south, places it closer to the MOB, see point 14 above, and per point 26, they could be combined.

(28) Another design modification would spare the Utica Police Department's Maintenance Garage. By designing the parking garage this way, $50 million can be saved be not having to relocate the UPD... (design rendering pending)

(29) Could two smaller parking garages be safer for healthcare workers, as opposed to a single large garage? Consider, Health care workers have been attacked in parking garages for decades. Why haven't hospitals done more to make them safe?

(30) When eminent domain for the county parking garage project is turned away, seeking preservation of two blocks west of The Wynn Hospital is more probable. These blocks offer chances to save Utica's canal and German heritage.

Possible Drawbacks

(1) Some of Oneida County funding spent on orginal concept/design may be lost.

8/8/18 - Oneida County Earmarks $500,000 For Downtown Hospital Parking Garage

9/6/21 - Oneida County to spend $2.5M for Utica parking garage design

Note: A confirmation letter regarding a FOIL Of Oneida County Parking Garage Records has been largely the only response, which fails to meet the legal requirments set by NYS law.

(2) Congestion, room for storage lane(s) feeding parking garage(s)? But perhaps place portion within garage's interior?

(3) Is there a desire by architects to not have historic (old) buildings so nearby their new Wynn Hospital, for fear of detracting from ultra-modern new construction and jeopardizing image of healthcare within?

The Wynn-BUD Initiative seeks first-rate redevelopment to both 418 and 442 Lafayette Street. Their brick construction can well integrate with the brick facade of the 2-story hospital podium. Additionally, adding the correct landscape and streetscape elements will allow Carton Street to become an enviable asset to The Wynn Hospital neighborhood.

(4) Perhaps a purported need for new and expensive traffic studies? However, more traffic studies are actually warranted, even without a new garage(s) location(s). Becuase; (a) The initial traffic study for the MVHS SEQR was stated to NOT be for the parking garage, just the hospital. (b) That traffic study placed sensors on neigborhood streets on quiet days in July, vacation time/less downtown traffic. Also there were no AUD events, the traffic redesign of Oriskany Street/Rte 5 wasn't complete, and Lafayette Street was opened (while current plan is to closeoff a section), plus AUD/Nexus parking is in a state of flux. In the March 2019 Traffic Impact Study Addendum, one reads- "Based on conversations with the NYSDOT and the Upper Mohawk Valley Memorial Auditorium Authority (August 2018), current and future events at the AUD/NEXUS Center typically do not impact commuter peak periods. Therefore, traffic generated during AUD events or potential traffic generated by the AUD expansion and NEXUS Center during off-peak periods are not included in this study." This seems dubious, and yet significant other neighborhood developments have been annouced which will increase traffic.

(5) The MVHS website states this about the downtown site, "Sited and organized to allow for easy expansion opportunity to the west of the site." The proposed Wynn West Parking Ramp would impact such expansion plans.

Opposition to Single, Large, Garage Concept

(1) Two lawsuits have been submitted seeking to invalidate Eminent Domain by Oneida County.

(2) Should Oneida County seeks to bond for the current, huge garage, concept (assuming they prevail on eminent domain and bulldoze properties), residents of Oneida County would mount countywide opposition. Various groups have already expressed interest in collecting signatures (8,115 required) to force a voter referendum. Next, a hard push to vote-down funding, and or a vote for a smaller garage.

Project Unknowns

(1) Is the Utica police station moving? If so, that would add another 1.38 acres to hospital footprint.

(2) Is MVHS going to continue using the vacant Utica National building for administration? If so, including that block adds an additional 2.04 acres to the hospital footprint.

(3) What is the current plan and demands for space and parking for the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM)? [Ref.]

(4) Oneida County recieved a FOIL for parking garage documents, however they have supplied very little information to date. Also NBBJ studied different hospital layouts, for example First Concept Revealed To Public and then Various Building Arrangements, and the City of Utica looked at parking plans. What designs has the public not seen and why were they not selected? What has been spent on parking garage design and what aspects of the project?

What has been spent on parking garage design and what aspects? Multiple funds have been moved by Oneida County.

The public read in August 2019, "The estimated cost for architectural design services from MARCH is $1,595,000, though about $325,000 of that is reimbursable, Picente said. The overall parking garage project is a joint venture between the city and county, with the county taking the lead on funding at this time." and

(5) The developer of a potential Medical Office Building (MOB) has not been revealed? Steve DiMeo of MVEDGE suggested a total of three MOB's. What land and parking area would be needed?

(6) The State Street Mill (92,000 ± sq. ft, five Stories) is said to be under redevelopment. Their real estate Flyer touts hospital development. What amount of parking will they require?

(7) Oneida County has plans called the U District and the Nexus Center is underway. They each promised hundreds of thousands visitors, but no significant parking plans. What are the plans looking forward?

(8) The distance between Varick Street businesses and Genesee Street busineses is about 3/4 of a mile. Placing this large single garage between these touted needs seems less than ideal. Where's the study that analyzed these needs, as well as the; City Court, The Wynn Hospital, AUD, Nexus, etc.?

(9) Why are twenty-five acres required? MVHS and Oneida County should explain this. Also, were any or any infrastructure accomodations being made to convert a planned surface parking lot into an "unknown" and future building development?

(10) RCIL's largest building, the historic Former E. Tudor Williams Furniture Store on Columbia Street was demolished in May 2021. It was not covered by the Letter of Resolution (LOR), and this was after the building was shown carved-out of hospital maps.

(11) Compassion Coalition owns the Turnverein Building, at 509 Lafayette Street and the Bargin Grocer operations at 506 Columbia Street. The specifics of an agreement signed between MVHS and Compassion Coalition are unknown, but its believed MVHS has a right of first refusal should the property be sold.

(12) Parking garage(s) ownership, first said to be MVHS then reverted to Oneida County ownership. Status? And what of the land beneath the garage and would the City of Utica recieve sales tax revenue form parking fees paid?

(13) What number of surface parking spaces are required nearby the main/front door of the hopital? The 2015 Downtown Site Plan had 32 spaces. The 2019 Site Plan appeared to have about 200 surface parking spaces. Then a video released in March 2021 offered a Computerized Flyover, which appeared to increased green space revealing an estimated 150 parking spaces.

Using a valet parking service could minimize need for surface parking at hospital's front door. At many hospital in urban downtown cores, the vast majority utilize parking garages exculsively, as surface lots are very rare.

(14) On July 22, City Hall reports two new projects; a new hotel and a medical office building (MOB) adjacent to The Wynn Hospital. This per story titled, Palmieri announces plans to sell Kennedy garage in Utica; Picente, MVHS caught off guard. New traffic study required? The property said to being acquired by the developer, for the MOB, has been targeted for eminent domain by the city for the hospital campus. What are the impacts of this new twist? Seems as if their 25 to 34-acre hospital site is in a new state of flux...

Hospital Parking Garage Timeline

November 19, 2014 - Words “new hospital” first heard by public, Mohawk Valley Health CEO: New Hospital 'Worth Exploring'

September 22, 2015 - Public hears, Downtown First Choice For New Hospital

April 3, 2016 - Newspaper reads, Decision Made: New Hospital To Be Built In Downtown Utica

August 18, 2016 - "Parking: The Project Will Include One Or Two Parking Garages; Officials Are Leaning Toward Two So That One Can Be Reserved For Staff And Visitors, While The Other Could Be Opened To The Public After Business Hours."

November 3, 2016 - "A parking garage — with an estimated cost of $27 million — was taken out of the plan. The garage is essential, but health system officials believe that third-party ownership of the garage makes sense. Perra said officials have received indication in “a very meaningful way” that someone is interested in the project. The garage might very well also serve Utica Comets hockey fans and patrons of new downtown businesses."

January 9, 2017 - “A parking garage or two and at least one medical office building also would be constructed in the neighborhood.”

September 1, 2018 - “…according to a joint statement from Palmieri, County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. and Scott Perra, the health system’s president/CEO. “The preliminary concept would accommodate 1,650 spaces, which at that size would cost an estimated $41 million,” the statement says. “Final design, cost and financing details are being worked out by a joint city-county project committee, and a proposed plan will be presented to city and county leadership in the near future.”

July 25, 2017 - "If There's No Garage, There's No Downtown Hospital," Steve Dimeo, President, Mohawk Valley EDGE

August 22, 2017 - "Without the county-city financing for the garage, the hospital project cannot move forward, according to several people associated with the planned hospital.”

November 16, 2017 - MVHS Unveils Site Plan For Downtown Utica Hospital

December 7, 2017 - “The $480 million hospital will be built on a 25-acre campus with a parking garage, a medical office building and five parking lots in the neighborhood of Oriskany, Columbia and State streets and Broadway.”

August 8, 2018 - “Oneida County Earmarks $500,000 For Downtown Hospital Parking Garage”

September 1, 2018 - Parking garage for proposed Utica hospital lands design firm

October 10, 2018 - Oneida County approves design firm for hospital parking garage

November 6, 2017 - C.O.N. Application Submitted

June 9, 2021 - Oneida County Provide $2.5 Million For Utica Parking Garage Design


There's time, as a full hospital site plan has yet to be approved by the City of Utica. Read 13-Years Of Utica Hospital News Headlines by the UticaOD.


Feedback

June 21, 2012

(1) Need to maintain the Pine Street's "/"Chapman Memorial Walk" from Police station to Lafayette Street.

(2) Rather than show empty lots around remaining un-demolished buildings (442, Turn Verein, Citation's (for which you could be criticized) you should show what should show what would have happened organically with new infill construction of appropriate scale and character as shown in the Gateway Historic Canal District design guidelines. As would happen with newer infill construction of appropriate scale.

(3) May be issues with adding an overhead bridge on Oriskany St. (state highway?) from garage to AUD. [Editor's note: See an entire building placed above a roadway, The Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering's new construction rises up over Fuller Road Thursday Oct. 2, 2014, in Albany, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)].

(4) This would be a good opportunity to remind the public of MVHS's much publicized “NBBJ's GUIDING DESIGN PRINCIPLES” from the November 2017 public meetings and comment sessions, and which they were purported to use when designing the new hospital campus; (a) reuse older buildings for medical or hospital related functions... NOT! And (b) maintain the street grid, etc. Lafayette Trail gone forever, just a narrow sidewalk leading to surface parking lots. Also what happened to the touted "serenity garden" and lush urban park? MVHS/NBBJ did none of them.

(5) In front of Turn Verein you could show a complex of mixed use shops w/ apts. above grouped around a water feature pool (to commemorate the Erie/ Chenango Canals Turning basin that was on/near that site at one time with water/pool side cafe dining. Enter the courtyard thru an arcade at Lafayette Street opposite the front facade of Turn Verein. There are probably still stone wall from the canals.

(6) Glad to see that you have graphics that are less informal sketch-like and more similar to the level of sophistication that MVHS/NBBJ use.

(7) The whole garage could be moved to the large area adjacent to Kennedy Plaza apts. where they just torn down 401 Columbia. I believe that was one of the locations for the two garages shown in the various July 2018 studies that were not shared with LSGU or the public, despite promises to the contrary.

(8) How about building more garage on top of Kennedy garage, it is supposed to be able to support a hotel per previous Urban renewal plans.

(9) Remind public that garage does not have all its site plan approvals and required variances yet, despite what MVHS claimed several years ago. Per MVHS ONLY hospital building proper NOT the whole campus has been approved. Still street closures to approve by CC. Hospital building approval and area variances was based on all the proposed parking happening which is NOT in place yet.



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