Although the renderings for the proposed Wal-mart show a design better than the blank box the current one has, one is left to wonder why we continue to not push for something better? We get a tower "element" and a small courtyard between the buildings but who wants to hang out between two big-boxes? Employees on smoke breaks I suppose.
As far back as 2006, Wal-mart has been striving to (or forced to) conform with the localities it is building in. Sometimes it is the planning/zoning that gets it there but more often than not it is the planning/zoning that stalls it there. Wal-mart is a powerful force (for good and bad) and will still build where it sees the potential for growth. A locality might as well strive for the best, not just from Wal-mart but from any development creating the fabric we live in. Do we want an (asphalt) hole laden sheet or a thick comforter to spend our time in?
Here are two Wal-mart designs:
First we have one proposed for Austin Tx. If we can get past the attached ramp (not needed in the town) we can note a modern design. After seeing Wal-marts attached to malls in Canada, what would be so hard placing something like this at the corner of Shimmer and S. Transit. One entrance at the corner for pedestrians, bicycles, bus riders, etc and the other at the other end of the Shimmer Dr facade for automobile traffic parked at the pack. Plus along Transit the small courtyard would make sense.
Here we have design two from DC. Time to get even dreamier. Imagine this on the WNYCA/F&M block downtown. A pedestrian entrance for the Walmart plus other shops facing Main St. The new city municipal parking ramp integrated into the structure. The ability of lower income brackets (without transportation) to easily walk adding life to Main St. Harrison Pl would have additional across the street parking and a continuous street frontage making it feel connected to Main St. Get really crazy and incorporate residential along Locust and in the F&M with attached covered parking.
They are big dreams but without shooting for the stars we are unlikely to reach the moon, much less leave the ground. At a minimum, the open store frontage could of been incorporated into the town design thus conforming with some of the Transit North Overlay District iinitiatives.
Odds are what is done is done pertaining to this project. Another 20-30yr decision that holds us back from making Lockport somewhere memorable to live.
"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic"