Time to shape the future of Legacy Crossing

The site of the proposed Legacy Crossing project remains vacant at the southwest corner of Sixth and Jackson streets in Moscow.

In January, the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency, or MURA, solicited ideas for the development of two parcels of land located at the intersection of Jackson and Sixth streets in Moscow. The site has been on MURA’s radar for a long time, probably since the agency’s inception in 1995. Over the years, the focus would mature into a plan, known as the Legacy Crossing, “designed to address economic underdevelopment and physical deterioration … including, but not limited to, streets, sidewalks, pedestrian paths, and water and sewer utilities.” In 2008, the city of Moscow adopted it.

So much hangs in the balance. Not only will the eventual project have to pencil out financially, but do so while also solving for a gamut of conflicting architectural forces. Walk one block to the east and you are in an architecturally coherent and vibrant downtown but then do the same in the other direction and the opposite is the case. Repeat the journey north-south and your mind might break, now having to adjust between a medical center on one end of town and a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop across the street.

But wait, there is more, namely a future path endearingly called “Hello Walk,” a beeline linking downtown to the University of Idaho. It bisects the site into two, which is interesting and easy enough had it not also been for the fact that it does so diagonally, potentially forcing future building or buildings to split at the corner, violating one of the first tenets of urban planning. Urban definition is premised on strong and well-defined corners. Break them and you risk reverting back to the suburbs, where buildings are islands unto themselves, with little or no continuity between edges.