Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Future of Downtown?

Here is a picture of Downtown Des Moines, Iowa. For anyone who listens to the Doug Wright show, you heard him talk about how the downtown street level in Des Moines was dead, dead, dead. The skywalk system much like the one in Spokane killed the downtown street scene.

I know some of you will say that it is only a single bridge. However, City Creek will be the focal point of the "new" downtown. The Skybridge is designed to keep people solely in that development and to move traffic off of Main Street.

To compare look at the Gateway project. That project was also designed to be inclusive and not include the immediate area. Everything is designed to keep people in the complex and does not create an environment that encourages people to walk into neighboring areas.

In fact the most open area is the one that points people to 200 South where the homeless shelter is which also discourages pedestrian traffic.

The city planners should be seeking a complex design that opens out to the neighboring areas, not locks them off. to everything except to what is to the north.

What this must not become is a church or anti-Rocky issue. The issue is, will the City Creek development be like Gateway and lock the neighborhood off or will it become part of the greater downtown area and be an asset that will help bring more life to downtown.


Scott said...

Check out the "Americana at Brand" project in Glendale, California, which is currently going up on about 30 acres in downtown Glendale.

This is part of a trend for "activity centers" (we used to call them shopping malls) to be constructed as outdoor plazas, rather than interior-oriented fortresses. No sky bridges here, though I will admit California is more conducive to outdoor malls than Utah, with our mild winters.

The funny thing about it is that they are building it RIGHT NEXT TO the Glendale Galleria, a HUGE regional INDOOR shopping mall built in the 1970's.

Glendale will be the perfect place to study the new style outdoor mall/residential centers, versus the old-style 1970's fortress shopping malls, since they are right next to each other. We'll see how popular the Galleria remains once Americana opens up. I believe it's even (like its crosstown sister The Grove, built by the same developer) going to have its own trolley line inside it! Yippie!

Stay tuned.

JMD said...

Thanks for the comments Scott.

It could still end up being a fortress, just an open air one if not planned correctly.

I have to admit I spent a lot of time at the Galleria my first couple of years out of high school. Haven't been there since 1987 though.