Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Suburbs in the Urban Area Part II

Wal-Mart HermosilloImage via Wikipedia Yesterday I talked about the situation in Miami when it comes to their suburban developments in the urban area. Today we look at the residential development at Gateway and what could have been done.

Most people know Gateway as the shopping center built around the former Union Pacific passenger train area. It is referred two as a “lifestyle center” that includes an open air mall and a residential component.

I have already talked about the while being an open air mall, Gateway share the characteristic of being a closed mall by being designed to keep people in the complex and not blending with the neighborhood.

Now let’s take a look at the residential component and see how it blends into the community.

While you have the shopping center on the backside of the residential component, the front side faces 500 West. While there have been trees planted and a grass median put in for the most part people only use this to get to and from their cars.

Previously I talked about the need to turn 100 South and 600 West into a Pedestrian connector between Gateway and Central Station and this would give more reason for pedestrians to access 500 South but it still has a problem.

The problem is while walking along 500 West you are faced a long journey past blank walls with nothing to draw people along the corridor.

In addition there is no connects from the residential area to either TRAX or the bus system. If the residential component would have been built on the opposite of the center, residents would have convenient walks to both TRAX and the bus lines.

In addition, the residential component does not blend into the surrounding neighborhoods much like the retail component. It is meant to isolate its residents into that area alone. Also, without neighborhood markets for the people to shop in, they have to use their cars even for the most basic of needs. There is nothing inside the Gateway retail center to deal with this type of need. Sure they can get a cup of coffee or look at books, but if they need a gallon of milk and some breakfast foods where do they go?

While Boyer did try to put in a Super Target that would have been too large of scale to blend into the neighborhood as can be seen from the Wal-Mart at 300 West/1300 South.

One of the problems with Gateway is that Boyer is basically a sprawl developer. They used their basic knowledge of building sprawl strip centers and adapted it to the urban environment instead of adapting to that urban environment.

That brings us back to City Creek. Will the residential development at City Creek be truly urban living that blends seamlessly to build a walkable urban area? Or will it end up like Gateway and be nothing but vertical suburbs were people are just as dependent on their cars as they are in the suburbs?

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