Monday, September 28, 2009

A Good Walk Tweeted

It is so nice out that I decided to make the mile walk thru uptown to the Borders bookstore on McKinney and spend the entirety of an hourly billing rate. I stop and take a few pics along the way, w/ tweeted commentary:

A Dallas sidewalk. Not xactly inviting for peds, no
A Dallas sidewalk.

vertigo inducing, makes my head spinz and not even had 1st drink yet:
Vertigo inducing

oh EIFS, how you age so unwell:
Oh EIFS how so unwell you age

sidewalk nice and wide.. trees and furniture located properly bldg porous. Just missing onstreet parkng - Not tweeted: on second thought, this building's ground floor is defined by a bank and the Borders. To be improved it could probably have the leasing plan carved up a little more to allow smaller units to address directly off the street and carve it into storefront that Borders doesn't need or fully utilize. Give them the corner and the side for their cafe and outdoor seating, allow for some other retailers to fill up the remainder of the streetscape, ie the areas seen in this pic.
Nice and wide trees and furniture located properly bldg porous . Just missng onstreet pkg

Kids, Vespa, parking, storefront entries, dog, people lounging: all the indicators of urbanism appear w proper bldg & urbn design - Not tweeted. This is somewhat aided by the fact that it is a side street off of McKinney and not actually on McKinney as in the case above. It is the sad reality of urban design under the jurisdiction of TxDOT and City street design standards that makes the best retail sites actually have to pull people off the busy streets. Compare/contrast this with Champs Elysees, Madison or Fifth Ave, Michigan Ave, certain segments of Wilshire, and say Connecticut Ave in DC. All are streets that are wide, handle a lot of traffic (necessary for retail, ie exposure to the business/foot traffic, aka the "movement economy") but are still able to have appropriate density, address the street, and support the pedestrian to the point where the wide traffic lanes are almost secondary to the street/sidewalk life.

The moment you make your arterials hostile to pedestrians (via high speed radii, lack of on-street parking, narrow or no sidewalks, allowance for front yard surface parking, etc) you are limiting the retail success of both the current and future location on a side-street, as well as the potential highest and best use, all of which means diminished tax revenue (sales and property).

Kids Vespa pkg storefronts dog people lounging: all the indicators of urbanism appear w proper bldg & urbn design

A couple of requisite pics from the streets mentioned above:

Champs Elysees:

Fifth Ave:

This is how we need to start thinking about the the Lemmons, McKinneys, Ross, Garland Rd, etc.'s of the City. Not as car movers, but rather as public places for attracting people that also happen to move cars to and through destinations. As I wrote the other day, attractive places to people(pedestrians) attract increased investment, as series of corridors punctuated by nodes at key crossroads, that handle many modes of transportation and are designed appropriately for the context we want them to have, not allowing the engineered road design to dictate poor quality of development along them, which works in reverse of they way it should.

Now a quote from Lewis Mumford:
The maintenance of the regional setting, the green matrix, is essential for the culture of cities. Where this setting has been defaced, despoiled, or obliterated, the deterioration of the city must follow, for the relationship is symbiotic (ed. think Portland reinvigorating their city by preserving nature thru the use of UGB's). The difficulty of maintaining this balance has been temporarily the incontinent spread of low-grade urban tissue everywhere, dribbling off into endless roadside stands, motels, garages, motor sales agencies, and building lots...
Mumford penned that in 1969. The man could see the future.