Rants and rambles from a Phoenix rabble rouser, rogue and sometimes rebel.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
My Thoughts On CityScape
I was recently asked my thoughts on CityScape (and the retailers). I thought some of you may be interested in what I had to say, so here it is.
My thoughts on CityScape: (Warning - I'm rather philosophical this evening :))
When we think about our travels, whether it's in the U.S. or abroad, I think it's fair to say that most people are won over by a city by its vibrancy and charm, which in this case equates to life in/on the streets, unique experiences, and interesting things to look at. As an example, the people who would rather browse around an eclectic used bookstore, where the owner comes to greet you and chat, aren't going to prefer to spend the same amount of time (or wish to go at all) to a large box store book retailer.
I think this equates well to the people who actually LIVE downtown. We like unique. We like charming. We like knowing who we're giving our hard-earned dollars to.
Life and vibrancy should be on the STREETS - not behind nondescript block walls. I could name 20 streets throughout the places I've lived and traveled that I've loved for these reasons. People watching is part of the urban experience. Watching buses and bikes go by, people walking, people talking.
Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN
I think CityScape blew it with bad suburban design. The people who want to feel "safe' will continue to shop in malls. It (CityScape) was not designed or built with the locals in mind, doesn't lend itself to a being an interesting destination where you'd want to spend any real amount of time, and even the "square' (which tries to pose as a "park" in some people's minds) lacks any sort of warmth, shade, or substance to make it interesting.
It makes me sad, because there are so many talented architects and designers here in Phoenix who DO get it, and it was such a fantastic opportunity to take a step in the right direction towards progressive, creative growth.
As far as the retailers go, I personally would have liked to see fewer big name retailers, and the only "chains" at least those that are local to our State. Though I understand it comes down to a $$$ situation, I would have rather seen smaller, organic growth with quality versus quantity, and a more thoughtful selection of tenants. Of course with the main point being, these tenants would be facing the STREET, where you could shop like a normal human being does in cities across the country.
Can't you picture it? Cafes on the street, trees, awnings providing shade, interesting boutiques and bars, live jazz music streaming out of the doors into the street on warm spring evenings, smells from the shops... I can almost taste it.
Instead we have a "gated community feeling" shopping/entertainment plaza in the heart of our city. And unfortunately it doesn't have much of a pulse or soul...
CityScape, Phoenix, AZ
So until things change, those of us who live in or near downtown will continue to stick to our edges - Roosevelt area, Grand Ave. - the places where you can feel the heartbeat. Creative visionaries make any great city and draw people in - including business. The powers that be just need to start listening to the people who actually live here...