Good things are happening in downtown Troy


By David Lindeman

Contributing columnist

You may not think so, but downtown Troy is in a golden age right now. I’ve lived in this town all my life and I cannot remember a time when so many good things were happening downtown. In fact, I can remember long periods of time when virtually nothing was happening downtown.

Let’s get the obvious problem out of the way first. One block on West Main Street is pretty much ruining the city’s entire image. I’m not sure what the answer is for the Odd Fellows building – my suggestion was ignored a long time ago – but I think most people in Troy would say they’d just like to see any solution at this point. It really is embarrassing, not to mention inconvenient. It appears as if we will be finished paying off the new schools before West Main Street is fixed. So let’s forget about that and look at the rest of town.

First of all. West Main Street itself looks better than it has during my lifetime. That project has been a painful experience and it’s not completed yet, but the improvement is obvious.

Then there’s the Public Square area. Back when I was growing up, there was a little fountain in the middle of the square and a traffic pattern that was decipherable to mere mortals. Over the years, the fountain was upgraded, the traffic pattern changed (about a dozen times) and now in the summer the square is simply beautiful. The flowers look so good they’re almost a traffic hazard.

The businesses have been upgraded, too. There were some pretty shady establishments in downtown Troy over the years. There used to be a lot of places you could get a cheap beer. No more cheap beers – everything downtown is now upscale and so you’re going to have to pay the price. But the buildings look great, which brings us to another topic.

I can remember decades when there were no significant changes in downtown Troy. In the last 10 years, the city has been remade. It has managed to keep its historic feel (well, if you consider 200 years old historic. Try to sell that to someone from Japan or Europe). At the same time, many of the downtown buildings have been renovated and restored. Maybe the city’s newer residents and young people take it for granted, but in almost 70 years there hasn’t been anything like it.

Once upon a time, the police station, fire station and city hall were all scrunched together on South Market Street. Now there’s a new fire station to go with the modern, relocated police station. Even better, the old fire station is going to be a pizza place. That’s progress!

Old churches have been repurposed. The old Brown-Bridge building along the river is gone, soon to be replaced with condominiums or apartments. The wrecking ball next will be aimed at Van Cleve which is an opportunity to give that part of town a real rebirth. And yes, I know it is hard to see an old school go down, but I have to tell you it was a junior high in the 1960s and it was a mess then.

The number of restaurants and high-end drinking establishments in downtown Troy is amazing to someone who remembers the Flash, Stager’s, Mister Bill’s and the Idle Hour. Plus, the number of events held downtown on Prouty Plaza, at Hayner and at the library, among other places, really is almost exponentially more than what was going on downtown 50 years ago. Things were so quiet at one time that all the stores used to close down on Thursday afternoons (and nobody noticed). Yes, I kind of miss the clothing stores and the old-fashioned drug stores but on the whole, things are a lot better. Besides, we still have K’s.

Now, if we could just get 116 West Main resolved. I think maybe we should have a winner-take-all tag-team wrestling match, right there in the part of the road that’s closed, to determine the building’s fate. We could have Randy Kimmel and Mayor Oda match off against Jeremy Tomb and Ben Sutherly. Judge Wall could be the referee. We could charge admission (I’d pay to see it), sell expensive drinks from the downtown establishments and make a real day out of it. Winner take all. In fact, we might be able to sell enough tickets and enough $10 craft beers (it is in the DORA, so it would all be legal) to raise a significant amount of money to put toward resolving the whole mess.

OK, I’m being ridiculous here, although I’m not sure it’s all that more preposterous than what has really happened. Someday, it will be resolved. In the meantime, look at the rest of Troy. It really is looking good.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].

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