Franklin Alley

A Brief History

As Troy continues to grow, the combination of old infrastructure and a rebounding population creates challenges to modern services and everyday city operations. Franklin Alley is one such example where our intact Victorian-era street grid, a celebrated asset in almost every instance, becomes a nightmare for garbage collection logistics, impacting restaurants, properties and people that depend on it and everyone that walks by a smelly, garbage filled alley. There are limited options to balance our need for clean, attractive and safe streets with efficient waste collection and sanitation. The good news: any solution to the problem at Franklin Alley is also a potential solution for the same problem in other alleys throughout the growing downtown. In other words, this project is scalable and therefore promises an exponentially greater return on our investment.

Franklin Alley is a small and narrow street running north to south between River St. and Broadway. Lined on either side by 2-5 story pre-war mixed-use buildings, the alley was intended for carriage barns and stables, access for deliveries, fire safety and other necessary services. Today, the alley sits in the middle of a thriving historic downtown, featuring a healthy mix of restaurants & bars, a bakery, boutique shops, new residential units, a senior center and commercial office tenants – all within half a block of the alley itself. In fact, with 13 gaming companies, architects/design firms, another dozen tech companies, an AI Center for excellence and STEAM incubator, one can make the argument that Franklin Alley is the epicenter of a growing innovation region… and yet the alley is mostly used as an unsightly staging area for large dumpsters, illicit activity and inadvertent sludge retention measures. As layers of asphalt have been added to repair damage from garbage and delivery trucks, the street’s pitch varies by the foot, sending rain water and dumpster juices into ponds at the intersections with River St and Broadway. Here, it collects and waits for a distracted pedestrian who’s having a bad day, or freezes in the winter and really becomes treacherous. The alley is generally considered a smelly, scary and largely ignored blight, centrally located in an otherwise thriving historic downtown.

Together with our public and private partners, we have developed a plan to reinvent Franklin Alley as a unique and intimate public space. Once completed, it will be safe, attractively lit and inviting; and feature public art inspired by Troy’s history and characters.

The project involves the following goals:

  • Pilot new trash removal programming that will
    provide downtown businesses and residents with more frequent collections to
    reduce the buildup of refuse, allowing it to be removed from the alley.
  • Improve the functionality of all street components
    to improve drainage and accessibility of the alley and sidewalks (particularly
    at intersections) and install ADA approved ramps at crossings.
  • Create a sense of place and destination through the
    use of various design elements including landmark signage, consistent/attractive
    surfacing, and overhead string lighting that provides the alley with
    appropriate lighting and improves pedestrian safety.
  • Collaborate with our partners to leverage local
    expertise, talent and a mix of public/private funding and commit ourselves to
    bringing the once-stalled project to fruition.
  • Support the Arts Center and their mission to
    introduce public art throughout Troy and showcase inspiring talent like muralist
    Joe Iurato, commissioned to install several custom pieces along the walls of
    Franklin Alley.
  • Rededicate the alley to the public as a place
    for engagement, community building and programming such as street performances,
    pop-ups and special events.
Rendering of Franklin Alley with murals.

Rendering of Franklin Alley with murals.

If downtown Troy reclaimed its alleys, it could increase its public space by 15-20%. In fact, it means that downtown alleys cover almost half as much space as downtown parks, plazas and other pedestrian-oriented spaces. That’s a lot of potential to reimagine a city that is more Attractive, Vibrant and Connected.  

What’s Next?

In June of 2019, The Arts Center chose artist Joe Iurato to work along with the community to design and implement the Franklin Alley Pedestrian Walkway Mural. Joe Iurato is an internationally recognized muralist who will work to energize the space with his illustrative designs. Simultaneously, 3t Architects is securing funding from the Troy LDC to design and manage the physical improvements of the alley.

Public Private Partnership
  • City of Troy
  • Downtown Business Improvement District
  • Arts Center of the Capital Region
  • 3T Architects
  • Chazen Companies
  • National Grid
  • Westside Management
  • Bonacio Construction
  • Bryce Companies
  • AI Center of Excellence
  • Center for Independent Living
  • James Pledger
  • Joe Iurato
  • Troy Capital Resource Corporation
  • Troy Industrial Development Authority
  • Troy Local Development Corporation

Stakeholders Presentation by 3t Architects (July 2019) | PDF
Arts Center of the Capital Region Master Plan for Public Art (February 2018) | PDF
Troy CRC Funding Application |PDF
Troy CRC Funding Resolution |PDF