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Thread: A mid-size city with no parking lots

  1. #26

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    Perth

    The photos are great and show an inviting city. What's missing are scenes of a large convention center or sports stadium. Most U.S. Cities now have seperate stadiums for Hockey and or Basketball, Football, and Baseball. These large structures take-up alot of land and require ALOT of parking.

  2. #27
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RaneyOnline
    The photos are great and show an inviting city. What's missing are scenes of a large convention center or sports stadium. Most U.S. Cities now have seperate stadiums for Hockey and or Basketball, Football, and Baseball. These large structures take-up alot of land and require ALOT of parking.
    That's right. As you point out, these white elephants generate underutilized wastelands by directly displacing the city. Where these are, the city is not. Those who think these facilities revitalize areas are kidding themselves. (If you think about it, how could they even theoretically?) Stadiums are used a few days out of the year. No business is going to thrive on that kind of clientele. Actually, where I live people bug out immediately after a football game. The stadium's downtown location is harmful to the city, irrelevant to the football team and inconvenient for the fans (100% of whom arrive by car). The downtown businesses that benefit from the stadium are operators of parking lots and parking garages. End of list.

    To accommodate the stadium, about 1/5 of downtown is not available for alternative uses. In the interest of your health, I propose that the next time you visit the doctor, you should ask him to install a nice concrete block into the space between your liver and your kidneys.

  3. #28
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    Um, baseball stadiums and combined hockey/basketball arenas are used at least 81 days out of the year (the number is actually closer to 100 when you take in to account alternative uses such as concerts) and there are plenty of vey good examples of well designed stadiums and arenas not surrounded by acres of parking that have, in fact, been very much responsible for revitalization of the neighborhoods around them.

    Football stadiums are harder to make work because they're bigger, used less frequently and football fans want to tailgate in parking lots, but to suggest all stadiums are white elephants is simply incorrect and not a supportable position when one actually takes in to account on-the-ground experiences from many cities. I would start with Coors Field in Denver (baseball) and the MCI Center in Washington (basketball/hockey).

  4. #29
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Two counterpoints:

    Camden Yards... take a look at the area before and after. It's two different worlds. It's unfortunate that it is really more of an example of economic development being imported into a community, rather than being grown from it... but then again, most economic development is of that variety.

    MCI Center in DC... it is not surrounded by parking lots and almost all of their patrons arrive via mass transit.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
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  5. #30
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Cirrus and Breed, your examples are good, and I can add some too: Madison Square Garden, the Fleet Center, Fenway Park, bullrings in Spain and most European stadiums. But like most exceptions they don't disprove a rule; generally, stadiums do for Americanstyle center cities what you can see in aerial photos of Cincinnati or Cleveland: worse than nothing.

    If there's rail transport, it's another story.

  6. #31

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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    Cirrus and Breed, your examples are good, and I can add some too: Madison Square Garden, the Fleet Center, Fenway Park, bullrings in Spain and most European stadiums. But like most exceptions they don't disprove a rule; generally, stadiums do for Americanstyle center cities what you can see in aerial photos of Cincinnati or Cleveland: worse than nothing.

    If there's rail transport, it's another story.
    I'd throw in the SF Giant's ballpark. There are certainly parking lots around it-but they predate the Park and the entire South Beach/Mission Bay area is seeing significant new development. Many venue-goers use public transit (the F-Line is a lot of fun. Antique trolley cars and everything. Pittsburgh's loss (among other cities, like Milan) is SF's gain.

  7. #32
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    Cirrus and Breed, your examples are good, and I can add some too: Madison Square Garden, the Fleet Center, Fenway Park, bullrings in Spain and most European stadiums. But like most exceptions they don't disprove a rule; generally, stadiums do for Americanstyle center cities what you can see in aerial photos of Cincinnati or Cleveland: worse than nothing.

    If there's rail transport, it's another story.
    Interesting... we've all brought up stadiums that are baseball stadiums (80+ events per year) or hockey/basketball venues (even more events due to 40+ basketball/hoceky games plus a signifigant number of other events). I wonder if there are any examples of a football stadium having a positive effect. I can't really think of any. Although the one in Charlotte has helped to extend their downtown a bit. Before they had vacant industrial building where the stadium is.

    I think the key to any kind of economic development related to stadiums is to recognize them for what they are: a place where X thousand people will congregate X times a year. If communities don't plan appropriately, they will become little more than another vehicular rest stop.

    It would be interesting to see a comparison of the "benefits" of a stadium for each sport.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  8. #33
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Breed
    Interesting...Although the one in Charlotte has helped to extend their downtown a bit. Before they had vacant industrial building where the stadium is.

    I think the key to any kind of economic development related to stadiums is to recognize them for what they are: a place where X thousand people will congregate X times a year. If communities don't plan appropriately, they will become little more than another vehicular rest stop.

    It would be interesting to see a comparison of the "benefits" of a stadium for each sport.
    Just as accurately, Breed, you could say that Charlotte's stadium took its corner of the downtown out of circulation for higher and better uses. But I guess if they hadn't built the stadium that area would be low-rent monthly parking for the foreseeable future. I guess you could say the stadium is a better form of land-banking; at least it's a building, and an impressive one at that.

    The stadium brings in parking revenue; the lots would have brought in parking revenue. The stadium won't be demolished for half a century or more. If there were to be an urban Renaissance the stadium would eventually be tempting as a development site.

    Then again, an urban Renaissance of that magnitudes is unlikely; urban cores in Sunbelt cities are patients etherized upon a table. They will require medical attention for as long as anyone can foresee.

  9. #34

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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    ...Then again, an urban Renaissance of that magnitudes is unlikely; urban cores in Sunbelt cities are patients etherized upon a table. They will require medical attention for as long as anyone can foresee.
    Au contraire, there are fine examples of sunbelt cities that have vibrant urban cores. Charleston, SC and Asheville, NC immediately come to mind.

    Ablarc, I fail to understand how you can say Southern cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, and Nashville are all under the watchful eye of the anesthesiologist. All are experiencing booming urban residential growth. No doubt things aren't perfect, but when a city like Charlotte has doubled it's uptown population in five years and the only tower cranes on the skyline belong to highrise condominium and apartment buildings, I wonder how you came to this conclusion? Besides, there are actually far more "Rust-Belt" cities in need of major surgery than those in the Sunbelt. Ask anyone who's recently been to Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Erie, Springfield (MA), Bridgeport, New Haven, Rochester, Syracuse, and most any city in Michigan.
    Last edited by Pride of Place; 16 Jan 2005 at 2:26 AM.

  10. #35
    Suspended Bad Email Address teshadoh's avatar
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    I wouldn't assume all southeast cities are neccessarily 'sunbelt' cities. Asheville & Charleston don't come to mind as the typical sunbelt city, though they may very well be, Charleston in particular does have a great deal of suburban spr... uh, you know.

    As for ablarc's comments - I'm not sure they point directly to downtown 'livliness', but density levels. Unfortunately, the downtowns of Atlanta, Dallas, etc. all grew at their greatest peak after WWII - which means, the downtown is more car dependant by chance than northeastern / midwestern cities. That is one issue that downtowns will most likely never get around, the majority of new towers in the past number of decades have required massive levels of parking.

    So, our downtowns are stuck with parking lots & at BEST, parking decks. That is one problem that will always prevent sunbelt downtowns from being truly pedestrian oriented, at least compared with Chicago or NYC. As long as people move to the sunbelt cities expecting to be able to drive anywhere & park anywhere - downtowns will have to either provide ample parking, or die. And downtowns are losing a greater level of economic importance to edge / edgeless cities.

    Anyways, it shouldn't mean downtowns are / will not rebound - but there will always be a high degree of parking requirements needed in downtown.

  11. #36
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pride of Place
    Au contraire, there are fine examples of sunbelt cities that have vibrant urban cores.
    No, there arenít. Iím not talking about lunchtime crowds on the sidewalk or evening entertainment seekers heading for bars or a performing arts center. Iím talking about places that work automatically and self-sustainingly as complete cities, where people live and work over a large area without having to resort to their cars. Iím sure youíre aware thereís a difference in that regard between San Francisco and Charlotte and between Boston and Raleigh. Itís not just a matter of degree; itís fundamental to how you live your life.

    Quote Originally posted by Pride of Place
    Charleston, SC and Asheville, NC immediately come to mind.
    They come to my mind too, but not as Sunbelt cities. In the minds of my native Southern friends, these are proud pockets of the Old South; they are defined by their surviving urban fabric from way back, and the Sunbelt begins in their outskirts. When folks speak of Sunbelt cities as a type, they generally mean something like the other cities on your list, whose defining character is post-automobile. To include Charleston with them is to leach the meaning out of the term and define it strictly by geographic location. Then you canít say, ďIndianapolis or Columbus is like a Sunbelt city.Ē

    Anyway, even if you insist Charleston and Asheville are Sunbelt, a principle of logic is that exceptions donít disprove a rule; itís true to say Charlotte has a mild climate even on the rare day when the mercury plunges to zero. Itís as hard to expand your list of vibrant urban cores as it is to tick off subzero days in Southern weather.

    Finally (I hate to do this, residents of Southern cities are awfully defensive, especially if theyíre transplants), Iím not so sure about ďvibrant.Ē Charleston is chock full of tourists in the commercial places and on the scenic itineraries, but not too far off the beaten track in the residential neighborhoods things are kind of quiet. Look at the demographics to find out why: the same plutocrats who have snapped up Carmel, St. Croix, Palm Beach, St. Tropez, the West Village and other beauty spots have purchased many an old Charleston family manse for a pied-a-terre.
    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...ght=Charleston.

    These quasi-residents arenít ďhomeĒ much of the time; they donít even show up in the census figures for Charleston, as theyíre counted in LA or NY. So itís two categories of outsiders that largely typify Charleston; thereís not much cross-section of local inhabitants left to keep the local culture alive, except where itís needed to fulfill tourist expectations. A little urban life can be found among the thrill-seeking waiters and other singles who find nests on the Peninsula below Highway 17 and party with the tourists. Itís not like Brooklyn or Philadelphia, and itís not like Harvard Square or Miami Beach.

    Quote Originally posted by Pride of Place
    Ablarc, I fail to understand how you can say Southern cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, and Nashville are all under the watchful eye of the anesthesiologist.
    I didnít; I said they were patients etherized upon a table. The metaphor went seriously awry (Eliotís revenge for snatching his phrase); itís the surgeons who have the watchful eyes, not the anesthesiologists. The amount of learned study and hand wringing that revolves around infusing more vibrancy into the comatose patient where I live could fill a special collection room in a library (and does).

    All are experiencing booming urban residential growth. No doubt things aren't perfect, but when a city like Charlotte has doubled its uptown population in five years and the only tower cranes on the skyline belong to highrise condominium and apartment buildings,
    Thereís a growing demand for ďcity livingĒ and its make-believe doppelganger; downtowns everywhere outside rustbelt locales are experiencing residential building spurts. In the case of Manhattan or Bostonís Financial District, this means more people are living urban lives; in the case of Charlotte, it means transplants from Syracuse have no lawn to mow; you still mostly head for your car when you leave your pad.

    Thereís no doubt things are getting better downtown in Charlotte and all Sunbelt cities, and Iím thrilled by the new buildings; they mean that some day critical mass may reappear for genuine urban living patterns. Todayís forest had two cranes: one for a seventeen story apartment building and one for a parking garage. Driving around downtown to check them out, I didn't have to worry much about pedestrians.

    Parts of Charlotte now again look like a city, but itíll be a while before it starts to work like a city. Weíll know that has happened when the ground floor administrative offices and YMCAís of the new crop of buildings start to get converted to retail because thatís where business want to locate to make money. That will happen when people start to walk from some of those more outlying apartments (really only three or four blocks out), because the parking lots that discourage it are gone.

    Charlotteís doubled downtown population would impress more if the number being doubled were higher. Itís a whole lot better than the early Seventies population which was measurable in the hundreds, not including the homeless. When do you think the downtown grid will reach its 1900 population of 18,091, before streetcar suburbs started its population decline?



    I wonder how you came to this conclusion?
    I did that by living and working in the place I describe and helping with some of that housing you mention. Iíve lived in genuinely urban places and known them to be completely different from the present reality in ways that matter a lot. If I were inclined to uncritical boosterism I would sign on to your assessment, Pride of Place, but Iím acutely aware of how far there is to go before genuine urban living surfaces in the places on your list. If you say itís there now, your definition is different from mine, and Iíll just call mine something else.

    Besides, there are actually far more "Rust-Belt" cities in need of major surgery than those in the Sunbelt. Ask anyone who's recently been to Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Erie, Springfield (MA), Bridgeport, New Haven, Rochester, Syracuse, and most any city in Michigan.
    The places you mention need economic doctoring but not a lot of infill. Some are run-down, grubby and under-utilized, but most are more intact than Sunbelt cities like Charlotte, and have more surviving urban fabric. If the planners donít tear this down to make parking lots, it can be rehabilitated at some future time when immigration restores prosperity to the Rustbelt.

    .
    Last edited by ablarc; 16 Jan 2005 at 6:36 PM.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    .

    Places like this are not urban:





    They are suburban.


    Drawings by Leon Krier.

    .
    Last edited by ablarc; 16 Jan 2005 at 10:48 PM.

  13. #38

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    ablarc, great insight and thoughtful reply. I don't disagree with you on many points, it's just that I get weary of all of the negativity. Not trying to jump into the drivers seat for Charlote Chamber Boosters, but I have to appreciate what has taken place here over the last decade. It's a different city.

    Have to disagree with you on Asheville. It's not an Old South city. Period. It's 50 years Charlotte's junior.

    Traveled for work to all fo the cities I mentioned. Numerous blocks of "urban core" are completely barren. New Haven and Hartford especially. Both were decimated by the same animal that consumed Charlotte's Brooklyn neighborhood: 1960s urban renewal.

    And for the record, when I lived uptown, all of my neighbors in First Ward were Southerners. No one from Syracuse in the lot (although I called the shores of Lake Onandaga home in the 1980s). Besides, all of my friends in Syracuse love their yards...they only see them three months in a year. When they move here, they're drawn to places like Ballantyne and Weddington. So are the San Franciscans I know (who have relocated here). Sell those 950 sf condos in Hayes Valley and buy a big McMansion in Charlotte.

    You can't generalize. Cities or people. They'll prove you wrong every time.

  14. #39
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    A quick comment on Sun Belt cities and why they are generally not as walkable as northern cities. It comes down to air conditioning. Air conditioning was not really implemented in the south until after WWII. Air conditioning made the south "livable." Because the automobile is the preferred choice of transit, all development since then has been automobile-centered.

    One of the byproducts of that development pattern is less pedestrian-freindly cities, which is the key ingredient in making a city "work." There are sections of Charleston which are not automobile-centered, but those parts of Charleston essentially developed well before WWII. Asheville is unique though. It has a unique climatic situation (located in a valley, completely surrounded by mountains resulting in a cooler, dryer climate than other places nearby) where air conditioning may not have been as vital to its growth, although I haven't visited the area enough to know.
    Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter.
    Bill "Spaceman" Lee

  15. #40
    But postwar cities and suburbs in the North are just as unwalkable as they are in the Sunbelt. Air conditioning may fuel the growth of the South as it makes it easier for Northern transplants to go without adapting to the climate, but it isn't directly related to pedestrian-friendly downtowns. New Orleans was one of the biggest cities in the country in the 19th century, with its hot and humid 9 month summers. Boston's cold as all hell, San Francisco's famously hilly.

    It's the built environment, not the physical environment.

  16. #41

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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    The places you mention need economic doctoring but not a lot of infill. Some are run-down, grubby and under-utilized, but most are more intact than Sunbelt cities like Charlotte, and have more surviving urban fabric. If the planners donít tear this down to make parking lots, it can be rehabilitated at some future time when immigration restores prosperity to the Rustbelt.

    .
    I think ablarc is making some excellent points here. Cities that still act like auto-dependent suburbs are not really traditional cities.

    As for the list of decrepit northern cities, I agree somehwat with him there, as well. For one thing, they have that irreplaceable architectural heritage. What does Phoenix have that's worthy of preservatiion if the oil and air conditioning electricity runs out? (Not to pick on Phoenix, btw).

    Wilkes-Barre: Its been a long time since my visit, but for a small, quite depressed metropolitan area, Wilkes-Barre had a very lively city center and some neat older neighborhoods within walking distance. Plus, you look at the crime rates, and they were far lower than most sunbelt boomtowns. So, you can't write off an entire region.

    My one major caveat is that too many residents of even the "real" cities live like suburbanites (i.e., drive everywhere). San Francisco has too many curb cuts and too many brand new Stupid Useless Vehicles (even during the economic crash) (and, I'm sorry, even the excuses given by suburbanites for SUVs make even less sense in a dense city with limited, tight parking like SF) tooling around double parking.

  17. #42
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    To reflect on a point that Breed made concerning the walkablility of the sunbelt cities. Sunbelt cities in general have seen a great deal of growth post WWII. It has been my experience that a majority of the sidewalk installed was done prior to WWII and mainly because of Roosevelt's public work alphebet soup projects. so that effects the walkability of sunbelt cities. I am aware that sidewalks are not the only indication of a walkable city.

  18. #43
    Member Nor Cal Planner Girl's avatar
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    Is it in a tsunami zone-? just kidding....

  19. #44

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    Quote Originally posted by Pride of Place
    Sell those 950 sf condos in Hayes Valley and buy a big McMansion in Charlotte.
    LOL

    Plus, in the McMansion zone, you probably won't have gangs of feral 12 year olds following homeless drunks around throwing glass bottles at the poor old guy.

  20. #45
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    What does Phoenix have that's worthy of preservatiion if the oil and air conditioning electricity runs out? (Not to pick on Phoenix, btw).
    See this place Some people think its worthy of restoration, but yeah, when the AC is gone, they will sweat to death.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  21. #46
    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    Sprawly though it may be, Phoenix does indeed have some rather awesome midcentury-modern architecture. I've been looking through modernphoenix.net and I've never seen large-scale neighborhoods of archetypal midcentury-modern homes anywhere else.

  22. #47
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Sorry I missed this thread the first time around.

    Some answers to questions:

    There is a major sporting facility in the centre of Perth. It can be seen in the top of Ablarc's second photo in his first post. You can make out the lighting towers that lean in towards the playing field. The ground is the WACA, or the Western Australian Cricket Association ground. It hosts cricket in summer and Aussie Rules in winter. It hosts many special events as well (rugby union and rugby league especially). I have been to the ground (as a town planner visiting Perth, not for an event) and can confirm it does not sit in a see of carparking - as the following pic shows.


    There are no saltwater crocodiles in Perth. They occur much further north, in the tropics.

    Perth has a well developed heavy rail system and is renowned for providing transport infrastructure ahead of development. WA has a buoyant economy, mainly fed by a resources boom and tax subsidies from the eastern states. As most infrastructure is govt. funded in Australia, there is some jealously about WA's ability to provide this sort of lead-in facility.

    There has been an ongoing battle between the state government and local government about control of planning in the centre of Perth. I think the state is winning at the moment. They are having elections in February so it might change again.

    Perth has some problems with water management - both in supply and effluent treatment.

    It is not in a 'Tsunami zone' but it is on the coast, an Indian Ocean coast at that.

    The Swan River and Margaret River districts produce brilliant wines.

  23. #48
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    But postwar cities and suburbs in the North are just as unwalkable as they are in the Sunbelt. Air conditioning may fuel the growth of the South as it makes it easier for Northern transplants to go without adapting to the climate, but it isn't directly related to pedestrian-friendly downtowns. New Orleans was one of the biggest cities in the country in the 19th century, with its hot and humid 9 month summers. Boston's cold as all hell, San Francisco's famously hilly.

    It's the built environment, not the physical environment.
    That's right, it's the built environment. If we build a place that's walkable, people will walk. We don't need to be always pussyfooting around the issue looking for deep, first-principle red herrings like climate or culture or geography. It's just a question of built form.

    The traits of a walkable environment are short distances occasioned by buildings that touch, narrow streets, complete absence of parking lots, a streetwall you can touch from the sidewalk in most places, ground floor retail except where you want strictly residences, and no blank walls. Not much to it; no cosmic theories required, no woolly metaphysics or complex psychology.

    If you want walkable places, you have to change the building laws. Where I live, only in the very heart of downtown are you allowed to dispense with on-site parking, setbacks, side yards, landscaped buffers and all the other crap that produces unwalkable suburbia.

  24. #49

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    multi-level parking could do the trick

    I think a multi-level carparking building or facility could save up most of the parcels of land use for parking.

  25. #50
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Myra
    I think a multi-level carparking building or facility could save up most of the parcels of land use for parking.
    Right, and if you put shops on the ground floor, you don't even know it's there.

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