6/28/2010Posted by MJ
Some food for thought:
...But one quote in particular stands out: “‘Downtown can’t begin to compete with suburban office parks without convenient and affordable parking,’ said Schmand, whose nonprofit agency represents the interests of downtown stakeholders and residents.”From: Chuck Banas: Putting Parking In Its Proper Place. I'll grant you the we are not NYC, or even Buffalo. I use the quote to highlight the importance of parking placement, sharing, etc to maintain a DT environment that is worth visiting and living around. Site plans such as Family Video, Walgreens, etc only further hinder the use of our assets (urban, walkable infrastructure). Isolated, single-use, set-back, drive-in-drive-out pods will only hold back long term valuable growth in DT Lockport.
To the uninitiated, this may sound reasonable, except for one thing. Downtown can never compete with suburban office parks on the basis of convenient and affordable parking. To compete successfully on that basis would mean the destruction of all of downtown’s remaining (and emerging) value.
By definition, downtown can never out-compete the suburbs on suburban, automobile-based terms. By necessity, parking takes up a tremendous amount of land, creating lots of dead, open space, which the suburbs have plenty of. In fact, that’s the suburbs’ main asset: lots of open space. A city’s main amenity is not open land, but density, walkability, a diverse mix of uses, and the quality of the streets and other public spaces. These are the areas in which the suburbs cannot out-compete downtown. These are things cities...need to focus on to be successful.
Unfortunately we knocked down a lot of our asssets 50-60 years ago. We could use this open land as a positive to rebuild with a nice balance of pedestrian and vehicle amenities. Ulrich City Center with its "hidden" parking and continuous street fronts is the prime example. Though more often than not we appear to miss the mark for no particular reason other than "that's the way it's done". Or in other words, our bulding and zoning codes allow (or mandate?) that we get the weakest buildings and site plans.
Time for a change?