We all know that Clinton Square acts as the unofficial center of the city and region, acting as common gathering place for all walks of life. Concerts, festivals, ice skating, people watching, lunch eating, farmers market shopping, and even fountain wading are among the activities that give the square its life. The square has a fantastic backdrop of historic and monumental architecture [and yes, a few not-as-nice buildings as well], green space, the fountain, and the monument – what’s not to love about it? Despite all of this, though, there are many times the square feels empty and uninteresting. Its not the fault of the square itself, but rather the inactive perimeter of the square.
The north and south sides of Clinton Square were formerly lined with plenty of shops, food purveyors, the city’s opera house, the county courthouse, and the regional electric rail depot, so it goes without saying that there were plenty of people interacting around the perimeter. Fast forward to today, and all of those buildings are long gone, with the introverted Atrium building to the south -- a failed attempt at a mall-like department store -- and the Post Standard building to the north. Both offer little to no presence along the square, other than their hulking mass, and the passerby can only do just that – pass them by. In order to make the buildings, and consequently Clinton Square, more engaging, they need to be opened up to the street.
The Post Standard is moving most of its operations to their new build-out in the Merchants Commons building a few blocks away, so a good chunk of space in their Clinton Square building will shortly be vacated. The building’s façade is organized into a series of repetitive bays, so this could offer the perfect opportunity to reactivate the square side into a series of storefronts. There is a lot of sidewalk space on that side of the building which would be ideal for restaurants and cafes to set up outdoor seating – just think of what a popular summer spot that would be to dine while gazing out at the beautiful square. And likewise in the winter, warm behind large panes of glass, one can glance out the window and see the ice skaters in the shadow of the impressive glittering tree.
It'd take little investment for a whole lot of gain [hey Post Standard -- get ahold of me and I can help you figure it out!], re-establishing a level of constant energy into Clinton Square that it sorely deserves.