Monday, November 29, 2010

Bars of a Different Scale

Ryan Avent has a post up at his personal blog, The Bellows, about wanting neighborhood scaled bars in DC after a recent visit to London, famed for its neighborhood pubs, not much unlike Cheers where it acts as a hub of the community. He goes on to both suggest that nightlife demands clustering while lamenting it from a personal standpoint. Can't we have just a regular quiet bar that is able to make ends meet by local clientele?

The answer is yes, as I've detailed in the Parking Paper and some of the discussions regarding Greenville Ave., Henderson Ave., and the potential of Ross Ave as the regional conduit for the activities too intense for the neighborhood scale of Greenville/Henderson.

I also posted this in the comments at his blog:

You’re absolutely right to call out the causes/effects of clustering. What we are dealing with in Dallas is a case where the clustering is happening on traditional neighborhood service streets where you once found a full ecology of commercial establishments. They all became bars drawing from the entire metroplex. The parking and the noise eat into the nearby neighborhoods causing conflict.

The solution I have been proposing is to designate neighborhood centers distinct from regional centers. These have to be located in areas suitable to supporting the varying scales, ie a regional center has to be supported by the regional transpo infrastructure, such as having a regional metro stop there. It should also have a parking authority to manage supply/demand of parking and price it accordingly. Because of the increased infrastructure, these will also be denser areas.

On the other hand, neighborhood centers should probably have a parking cap, so that retail doesn’t over cluster in certain areas, thus protecting neighborhoods and a BID be established to manage the array of business types in support of the nearby neighborhoods. These will be less dense/less intense areas but there will be a broader array of retailers serving daily needs of the neighborhood. It behooves the businesses to be sized and scaled for the neighborhood and vice versa.

To sketch out what these look like, I think of New Orleans. Where Bourbon Street is the regional draw (or larger) and the place for loud and rowdy, Magazine Street might be that neighborhood service spine and there might only be a bar every few blocks that belongs to and is supported by the neighborhood.