In what’s being billed as the first major renovation of Downtown Hyatt since it was built in 1978 is in fact cementing in place a mistake we had hoped was left behind in the 1970s. We’re not concerned with new the hotel’s new interior or its new farm-to-table restaurant called Sway (for Southern Way), but rather what it is forcing of the hapless pedestrian passing by.
What was once a nondescript pedestrian plaza studded with small trees on Fourth Street at the building’s entrance between Jefferson and Liberty streets has been replaced with a driveway. The hotel already had a “motor lobby” accessed mid-block where motorists can drive drive into the building and then into the parking garage, but apparently, more car access was required. No longer can you leisurely stroll along a wide pedestrian sidewalk. Now you will be held at arm’s length from the building itself, funneled into a narrow expanse between two rows of shrubs and forced to dodge distracted tourists trying to navigate narrow Fourth Street. It’s a shame this kind of thing was allowed to happen at all.