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Thread: Why town centers and not downtown?

  1. #26
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    As jerseygirl pointed out, most of Fairfield County, CT (albeit Bridgeport and Stratford) shops on the traditional historic main streets where Gaps mix in with local anitique and high-end clothing stores. Even on Ridgefield's small Main Street, pop. 7K, a Gap is just across the street from an old pizza place and next to a local art gallery. In Fairfield center, Victoria's Secret and Border's are right down the block from the Community Theatre and across from a local travel store.

    This situation is largely the opposite of that of most of suburbia, mostly because of economics. One, no one here would think of setting foot in a Walmart. There is no market for most of the chains like Old Navy or Johnny Rockets. Two, the land is probably cheeper downtown. Sure, Westport or Greewich are not cheap places to buy land anywhere. But with property values in the millions, its easier to opt for an established storefront then deal with prissy neighbors who even tried to kick Martha Stewart out because her helicopter made too much noise.

  2. #27
    In the case of my town, can a town center development be the nucleus of a future downtown? We currently have no area that could be called "downtown" but do have a town center type of development on the boards. Are there any cases out there where this has actually worked to create instead of revitalize a downtown?

  3. #28
         
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    City Place, in West Palm Beach, is a successful town center/lifestyle center that was incorporated into the community's downtown. In Miami-Dade, downtown Coral Gables and Miami Beach both have urban shopping districts full of chain stores you would see in suburban shopping malls. Downtown Miami has an impressive retail atmosphere, as well, centered around Burdines-Macy's flagship store. However, most of the retail businesses are mom & pop shops with a national chain sprinkled in here and there.

  4. #29

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    Quote Originally posted by nighthawk1959
    In the case of my town, can a town center development be the nucleus of a future downtown? We currently have no area that could be called "downtown" but do have a town center type of development on the boards. Are there any cases out there where this has actually worked to create instead of revitalize a downtown?
    Although a mixed success from a design standpoint (houses backing onto a blank big box wall), the suburb of Pleasant Hill, CA did just that. A 1950s suburb with no real "center," Pleasant Hill built a new downtown main street with shops, a multiplex, and actually rather nice plazas and outdoor seating areas. (Too bad the detailing of modern foam stucco California commercial architecture is so poor and cheap looking). They've been adding small lot single family homes and even a new loft development.

    Walnut Creek, the next suburb south, had a traditional Main Street that they have complemented nicely with a higher quality mall and newer commercial centers. They are now adding expensive apartments, streetscapes, and even a new park. It helps to have a BART station and be at the center of a quite affluent suburban marketplace, of course.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Although a mixed success from a design standpoint (houses backing onto a blank big box wall), the suburb of Pleasant Hill, CA did just that. A 1950s suburb with no real "center," Pleasant Hill built a new downtown main street with shops, a multiplex, and actually rather nice plazas and outdoor seating areas. (Too bad the detailing of modern foam stucco California commercial architecture is so poor and cheap looking). They've been adding small lot single family homes and even a new loft development.

    Walnut Creek, the next suburb south, had a traditional Main Street that they have complemented nicely with a higher quality mall and newer commercial centers. They are now adding expensive apartments, streetscapes, and even a new park. It helps to have a BART station and be at the center of a quite affluent suburban marketplace, of course.
    What about the old industrial area in Berkeley- the Fourth Street area? I think several years ago in was primarily an abandoned- run down area- became a revitalized people (yuppy) center.

  6. #31

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    I would second BKMs recommendation to look at Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill. I am not completely sure how I feel about Pleasant Hill's town center. Went to the movies there a couple of times and looked around. It has the most disorganized Border's I have ever been in. As BKM points out it is an interesting combination of good ideas and cheap construction. I wonder if it will wear well over 20-30 years.

    Downtown Walnut Creek is as good as it gets in the suburbs. A Target with a parking structure (and some surface parking, too) is one of the features, but they have successfully integrated both the mall stores and the quality center stores around the core of an old downtown. It reflects how affluent WC and nearby 'burbs are, so not every place can pull it off with such style, but it is a great example.

  7. #32

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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    As BKM points out it is an interesting combination of good ideas and cheap construction. I wonder if it will wear well over 20-30 years.
    Heck, I think it looks awful brand new (Downtown Pleasant Hill inspired a "New Urbanism is a failure" rants a couple years ago )

    As for Borders-the one in Davis, CA is pretty bizarre, too. Books piled randomly on the shelves, etc. Is that their schtick-to have the rumpled, disorganized look of a used bookstore run by a retired Berkeley art professor?

    What about the old industrial area in Berkeley- the Fourth Street area? I think several years ago in was primarily an abandoned- run down area- became a revitalized people (yuppy) center.
    Another example. I'm curious, though, was the industrial belt abandoned ten years ago, or did the increased real estate values of the retail drive any remaining industry out? Oh well. We don't need industry any more. We can just import everything from Asia! The American economy can be based on financial fraud and creative new forms of debt (and jobs in advertising agencies for the creative class).

  8. #33

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    Interesting "Brand New" Town Center-Windsor California

    Just went to Sonoma County today, and I happened to take the exit north of Santa Rosa that leads into "Windsor" a classic sprawl suburb.

    NO PHOTOGRAPHS-DIDN'T BRING MY CAMERA

    Windsor is a growing suburban city north of Santa Rosa-it incorporated in 1991 to get more control over its destiny.

    Windsor, with around 30,000 people, decided it wanted a real downtwon, so it adopted a form based code. I was more impressed with Windsor than Pleasant Hill or other examples.

    They focused their new downtown around a brand new "town green" that is primarily a passive open sapce but I seem to recall a playground in the far corner (if I remember right). The downtown itself consists of THREE STORY buildings, with commercial and office on the first floor and offices (maybe residential???) above.

    Positives:

    * Excellent street wall-three story buildings help enclose the space

    *Good mix of shops (including an excellent newstand with a good selection of architecture mags!-and some great art (including a beautiful glass bowl that I may buy some day)

    * Ties to a collection of older roadside structures that form Widnsor's "old town"

    *BIG public space with a lot of greenery, preservation of ancient oak trees, and an older gymnasium building that provides another reason to go downtown.

    Negatives

    *Modern architects and craftsmanship/construction cannot convincingly replicate the Victorian style they wer going for here-at least not in ultra-high cost California. The buildings were very thin looking. Better than Pleasant Hill or, in some ways, even Walnut Creek, but still very, very thin and feeble.

    * The town green is nice, but maybe TOO BIG? It doesn't have a strong sense of structure, it feels a little amorphous. The street wall of three story buildings along one side helps, but it drifts away on two other sides-the gymnasium, while a good use, is an ultra-uninspiring modern building that does nothing to anchor the north? side. Preserving the oaks was nice, but the landscape architects struggled with tying the grassy areas into the oak areas (unirrigated bark)

    * Like too many new town centers, there is no town to be the center of. windsor is still a very unformed collection of subdivisions, office parks, and more traditional shopping centers (although the street trees across the freeway were impressive!)

    Overall-an interesting project. With the form based code and interest from the town fathers, the town center could very well fill in over time. Hopefully, they can look to the north and realize they don't have to use ersatz Victorian detailing (there is a very austere, very crisp, but utterly beautiful hotel in Healdsburg that could serve as a modern for clean, modern, but urbane architecture.)

    No photographs today. I'll bring a camera.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Just went to Sonoma County today, and I happened to take the exit north of Santa Rosa that leads into "Windsor" a classic sprawl suburb.

    NO PHOTOGRAPHS-DIDN'T BRING MY CAMERA

    Windsor is a growing suburban city north of Santa Rosa-it incorporated in 1991 to get more control over its destiny.

    Windsor, with around 30,000 people, decided it wanted a real downtwon, so it adopted a form based code. I was more impressed with Windsor than Pleasant Hill or other examples.

    They focused their new downtown around a brand new "town green" that is primarily a passive open sapce but I seem to recall a playground in the far corner (if I remember right). The downtown itself consists of THREE STORY buildings, with commercial and office on the first floor and offices (maybe residential???) above.

    Positives:

    * Excellent street wall-three story buildings help enclose the space

    *Good mix of shops (including an excellent newstand with a good selection of architecture mags!-and some great art (including a beautiful glass bowl that I may buy some day)

    * Ties to a collection of older roadside structures that form Widnsor's "old town"

    *BIG public space with a lot of greenery, preservation of ancient oak trees, and an older gymnasium building that provides another reason to go downtown.

    Negatives

    *Modern architects and craftsmanship/construction cannot convincingly replicate the Victorian style they wer going for here-at least not in ultra-high cost California. The buildings were very thin looking. Better than Pleasant Hill or, in some ways, even Walnut Creek, but still very, very thin and feeble.

    * The town green is nice, but maybe TOO BIG? It doesn't have a strong sense of structure, it feels a little amorphous. The street wall of three story buildings along one side helps, but it drifts away on two other sides-the gymnasium, while a good use, is an ultra-uninspiring modern building that does nothing to anchor the north? side. Preserving the oaks was nice, but the landscape architects struggled with tying the grassy areas into the oak areas (unirrigated bark)

    * Like too many new town centers, there is no town to be the center of. windsor is still a very unformed collection of subdivisions, office parks, and more traditional shopping centers (although the street trees across the freeway were impressive!)

    Overall-an interesting project. With the form based code and interest from the town fathers, the town center could very well fill in over time. Hopefully, they can look to the north and realize they don't have to use ersatz Victorian detailing (there is a very austere, very crisp, but utterly beautiful hotel in Healdsburg that could serve as a modern for clean, modern, but urbane architecture.)

    No photographs today. I'll bring a camera.
    Hey- you were up in my part of the world! I live in Santa Rosa-in the JC area. I think Windsor was really a result of sprawl- people couldn't afford to live in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, etc. so, Windsor was the next best place (that's never happened before! ). I think originally, more farm workers had chosen Windsor area for their homes then, the subdivisions began to creep in (in the 80's). However, due to the downtown never being developed, people continued to shop elsewhere, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, etc. I was fairly concerned about the the developer that essentially was handed the downtown to revitalize- or, create. He had previously 'done' the little town of Graton- a few minutes north of Sebastopol. He refused to work with/have any dialogue with the people who live in the area...(no public hearing process- all administrative) AND, planning was o.k. with that . I guess he also 'did' Forestville- a few minutes further north of Graton... that, I believe involved a public hearing process Anyway, needless to say, I didn't have very much trust in this particular individual... and, I wanted to dislike the outcome of the new downtown. When I went there a few months ago, I was somewhat disappointed to find that I actually liked what had taken place . BKM- your description of 'thin-ness' was perfect... I had a similar feeling- but had trouble describing what that was. I agree the downtown is not quite connected with everything else and is under-used. It will take the Windsor folks awhile to get used to not travelling anywhere else (at least, not as often- maybe) for their 'stuff'. Also, Some of these buildings are to be used as 'live-work'- supposedly part of the reason for the 3-story aspect... There, was also an affordable component with the whole project (whatever that means- ha!).

    And, the Healdsburg hotel you spoke of- it is austere and very nice. I was surprised that such a big building could be plunked right into an established downtown square- and actually look like it fits it. I've walked through the hotel with my sweetheart (architect)... it was fairly nice.

  10. #35

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    Quote Originally posted by Nor Cal Planner Girl
    Hey- you were up in my part of the world! I live in Santa Rosa-in the JC area. I think Windsor was really a result of sprawl- people couldn't afford to live in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, etc. so, Windsor was the next best place (that's never happened before! ). I think originally, more farm workers had chosen Windsor area for their homes then, the subdivisions began to creep in (in the 80's). However, due to the downtown never being developed, people continued to shop elsewhere, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, etc. I was fairly concerned about the the developer that essentially was handed the downtown to revitalize- or, create. He had previously 'done' the little town of Graton- a few minutes north of Sebastopol. He refused to work with/have any dialogue with the people who live in the area...(no public hearing process- all administrative) AND, planning was o.k. with that . I guess he also 'did' Forestville- a few minutes further north of Graton... that, I believe involved a public hearing process Anyway, needless to say, I didn't have very much trust in this particular individual... and, I wanted to dislike the outcome of the new downtown. When I went there a few months ago, I was somewhat disappointed to find that I actually liked what had taken place . BKM- your description of 'thin-ness' was perfect... I had a similar feeling- but had trouble describing what that was. I agree the downtown is not quite connected with everything else and is under-used. It will take the Windsor folks awhile to get used to not travelling anywhere else (at least, not as often- maybe) for their 'stuff'. Also, Some of these buildings are to be used as 'live-work'- supposedly part of the reason for the 3-story aspect... There, was also an affordable component with the whole project (whatever that means- ha!).

    And, the Healdsburg hotel you spoke of- it is austere and very nice. I was surprised that such a big building could be plunked right into an established downtown square- and actually look like it fits it. I've walked through the hotel with my sweetheart (architect)... it was fairly nice.
    Off-topic:
    While we're on a Sonoma County ramble-

    Of course, the negative aspect of Healdsbug is the orientation to the upscale tourist trade. I also don't find the town's overall fabric as intact and nice as somewhat similar (but even more wealthy) St. Helena, which has a classic small town neighborhood feel off Main Street that is beautiful Of course, St. helena doesn't have that beautiful river or Fitch Mountain. And, the traffic along 29 is horrific )

    I notice that Santa Rosa is beginning to build live-work housing in Railroad Square. that's a good sign. (I collect folk art, so I went to a place called Gado Gado, befoere hiking out along the Santa Rosa Creek for a coeple of hours.) Interesting place. I got cursed out by a woman vagrant (threatened with "I'll kick your head in" when I wouldn't give her money There is also an interesting old guy who just sits on the railroad tracks and plays a harmonica all day.

    By far, my favorite North Bay City Center is Petaluma. Bizarre mix of shops (locally owned), the riverside development (while still that damn thin, cheap modern construction) is coming along nicely, and the nearby residential areas are fantastic, intact Victorian and craftsman style.

    (Sorry for the digression. When I don't go bicycling, I tend to do these long, long walks. I am very opinionated!)

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Off-topic:
    While we're on a Sonoma County ramble-

    Of course, the negative aspect of Healdsbug is the orientation to the upscale tourist trade. I also don't find the town's overall fabric as intact and nice as somewhat similar (but even more wealthy) St. Helena, which has a classic small town neighborhood feel off Main Street that is beautiful Of course, St. helena doesn't have that beautiful river or Fitch Mountain. And, the traffic along 29 is horrific )

    I notice that Santa Rosa is beginning to build live-work housing in Railroad Square. that's a good sign. (I collect folk art, so I went to a place called Gado Gado, befoere hiking out along the Santa Rosa Creek for a coeple of hours.) Interesting place. I got cursed out by a woman vagrant (threatened with "I'll kick your head in" when I wouldn't give her money There is also an interesting old guy who just sits on the railroad tracks and plays a harmonica all day.


    By far, my favorite North Bay City Center is Petaluma. Bizarre mix of shops (locally owned), the riverside development (while still that damn thin, cheap modern construction) is coming along nicely, and the nearby residential areas are fantastic, intact Victorian and craftsman style.

    (Sorry for the digression. When I don't go bicycling, I tend to do these long, long walks. I am very opinionated!)
    Let's keep digressing. I was up in Petaluma on Thursday night, and spent Friday night in Forestville. Most of these places lack any "downtown" to speak of, but I think the Russian River towns have a bit more authenticity to them. I heard of Windsor but did not get there.
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  12. #37

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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Let's keep digressing. I was up in Petaluma on Thursday night, and spent Friday night in Forestville. Most of these places lack any "downtown" to speak of, but I think the Russian River towns have a bit more authenticity to them. I heard of Windsor but did not get there.
    What did you think of Petaluma, Cardinal? Except when they are spreading manure on the pasture land outside town, I really find it a great, interesting, and "real" place (as real as any place with $600,000 ranchers can be )

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Let's keep digressing. I was up in Petaluma on Thursday night, and spent Friday night in Forestville. Most of these places lack any "downtown" to speak of, but I think the Russian River towns have a bit more authenticity to them. I heard of Windsor but did not get there.
    Russian River is quite a unique little town... pretty amazing to think that it was completely inundated in the '97 floods. The trees are wonderful and Armstrong Woods is a great Redwood tree hike- smells so nice and easily accessed just minutes from the downtown.

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    What did you think of Petaluma, Cardinal? Except when they are spreading manure on the pasture land outside town, I really find it a great, interesting, and "real" place (as real as any place with $600,000 ranchers can be )
    I call the area west of Petaluma Two Rock (cowboy accent)- there are so many cattle farmers there- definately a different contingent of Sonoma County folks that occupy that part of the world....... and the manure!- ya-hoo! ha,ha!

  15. #40
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    Maryland has a lot of town centers because it doesn't have very many incorporated cities and towns. The state has a lot of heavily urbanized areas in suburban locations, so the idea of a 'town center' makes sense.
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  16. #41
    There has been a bit of a interest in Connectict but the locations are somewhat remote from the major cities in areas where the populations has experienced a lot of growth over the past 10-20 years. A small town outside of Hartford named Canton has seen a burst of retail growth now that people seem to be interested in "community living centers." The outlet stores have experienced a lot of growth and interest along the eastern shoreline.

  17. #42
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Arlington Heights, IL. Even though it has 75,000 people, it is a good example of improving suburban downtowns. Many towns along the Metra commuter rail lines in Chicagoland have seen their downtowns thrive. This is probalby the best example though. There are varied size condominiums. Some are 10-floor. Some are 3-floor. All are nice though and all seem to attract a mix bag of people, though they are primarily older and more middle upper class. There are shops/restaurants down below, the kind you would find in "Town Center" malls. Ann Taylor Loft, Starbucks, California Pizza Kitchen, Corner Bakery, H&R Block...a lot of different stuff. I just can't think of it all right now. All within walking distance. All within walking distance of a train station that can take you to Chicago in 30-40 minutes. It's really a good precedent in downtown redevelopement and smart mix-use community planning.

  18. #43
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    A Couple Good Examples

    The downtown area of Portsmouth, NH has managed to preserve much of its historic character while integrating new mixed use construction. There's a Gap in the middle of it all.

    The Paseo Nuevo "mall" in Santa Barbara, CA is the best example I've seen of a mall integrated into a smaller downtown. It's an open air concept with all the typical upscale mall retailers, but it's connectivity with the rest of downtown adds to its success. Granted, SB already had a decent downtown with good parking to work with.

    I will acknowledge that these are both affluent tourist areas, which certainly plays a role in generating downtown foot traffic; but in both cases the locals go downtown to shop as well.

  19. #44
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    CT Development

    Quote Originally posted by Connecticut Planner
    There has been a bit of a interest in Connectict but the locations are somewhat remote from the major cities in areas where the populations has experienced a lot of growth over the past 10-20 years. A small town outside of Hartford named Canton has seen a burst of retail growth now that people seem to be interested in "community living centers." The outlet stores have experienced a lot of growth and interest along the eastern shoreline.

    Regarding new retail development in Canton, CT, the new "Shoppes at Farmington Valley" lifestyle center is certainly an improvement over standard strip development, but falls far short of a true downtown environment. It is all retail / food and has no connectivity to the surrounding area.

    This development shows that educated, affluent consumers crave something more than just standard strip development. Unfortunately the development community has thus far only been able to build these Disney-esque town center developments. I'm hopeful that these are a step in the right direction, and the retail and financial communities will try to improve on these developments. By adding residential and office components they could achieve the true mixed use communities that consumers want.

    Note: Having grown up nearby in Simsbury, I'm biased towards disliking this development. I was much happier when it was a golf course and open space.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    Arlington Heights, IL. Even though it has 75,000 people, it is a good example of improving suburban downtowns. Many towns along the Metra commuter rail lines in Chicagoland have seen their downtowns thrive. This is probalby the best example though. There are varied size condominiums. Some are 10-floor. Some are 3-floor. All are nice though and all seem to attract a mix bag of people, though they are primarily older and more middle upper class. There are shops/restaurants down below, the kind you would find in "Town Center" malls. Ann Taylor Loft, Starbucks, California Pizza Kitchen, Corner Bakery, H&R Block...a lot of different stuff. I just can't think of it all right now. All within walking distance. All within walking distance of a train station that can take you to Chicago in 30-40 minutes. It's really a good precedent in downtown redevelopement and smart mix-use community planning.
    Arlington Heights is a very good example. It should be pointed out, though, that AH was in the game early. The work to improve their city's downtown by increasing housing, height, mixed uses and density began in the 1980's, long before it was popular elsewhere.
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  21. #46
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Another great example, up and coming.

    Even though it's not a downtown, it's as close as you can get to a multi-use town center not in a downtown. It's a step up from the lifestyle retail center which was just built north of this proposed development. It is called the Esplanade and it's just being proposed now, and is likely to win approval. It is located on the very hot Randall Rd. corridor in Algonquin, IL, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago, adjacent to lots of retailers, restaurants, and a proposed office park. But not only does the proposal contain retailers and restaurants, it also includes residential and office lofts above the retailers.

    Check it out:
    The Esplanade
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  22. #47

    Dying downtown

    Our city is about 27k, our downtown is trying to be re-developed, but it is a SSLLLLLLOOOOWWW process (i.e. getting a reputable developer, environmental cleanups, etc.) How do you draw the chain stores without having the traffic volumes???? I think it is nearly impossible. Hence our downtown will forever have mom and pop stores that barely make it, and restaurants that get hammered during lunch, in which you can't get in and out in an hour, thus ticking off the employees downtown and they spend their lunch dollar elsewhere (outside of the city). Many of our stores downtown last only a few months, literally. It's a viscious cycle, will it ever end???? We're praying that the current development dubbed "The Paper District" will help kickstart it with the residual businesses and residential supplementing it. Any success stories with redeveloping industrial areas in the Midwest area??
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  23. #48

    To answer your question

    Town Centers are well planned, versuses downtowns, which are limited in several ways. Downtowns usually have a fixed number of parking spaces, unless garages are to replace surface parking lots. Chain stores shy away from places with limited parking (like older downtowns). Buildings in downtowns have limitations also, including the costs for remodeling to meet codes, building sizes, etc. You have to think that these older downtowns did not provide for each person to have a vehicle, maybe each family.
    The well-thought out Town Centers have ample parking for most any type of business, are sized to fit, as far as size is concerned, and not restricted by many older downtown's "color themes", or design review boards.
    Lest I forget, location, location, location is the other component, I would be remiss if I didn't add that the town centers can be put on the busiest streets for maximum "exposure", whereas existing downtowns are not necessarily surrounding the busiest streets in a city, and can't be moved. So in essence, developers can build around the traffic rather than hoping to generate the traffic.
    This is why towne centers are more popular and practical for most developers and chain stores.
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  24. #49
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    Another great example, up and coming.

    Even though it's not a downtown, it's as close as you can get to a multi-use town center not in a downtown. It's a step up from the lifestyle retail center which was just built north of this proposed development. It is called the Esplanade and it's just being proposed now, and is likely to win approval. It is located on the very hot Randall Rd. corridor in Algonquin, IL, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago, adjacent to lots of retailers, restaurants, and a proposed office park. But not only does the proposal contain retailers and restaurants, it also includes residential and office lofts above the retailers.

    Check it out:
    The Esplanade
    Quick review: It seems it suffers the same problem that all of these development do. They focus inward, rather than outward. The buildings are setback from the roads.. Parking lots everywhere. The development is setback a considerable distance from Randall Road. A downtown needs to be fine grained.. have few, small parking lots and a proper level of residential development immediately adjacent and within. If I was a resident of this development, I would feel overwhelemed by the amount of asphalt and boring walks to distant buildings. It's really just a prettied up office/retail park.
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  25. #50

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    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr
    Town Centers are well planned, versuses downtowns, which are limited in several ways. Downtowns usually have a fixed number of parking spaces, unless garages are to replace surface parking lots. Chain stores shy away from places with limited parking (like older downtowns). Buildings in downtowns have limitations also, including the costs for remodeling to meet codes, building sizes, etc. You have to think that these older downtowns did not provide for each person to have a vehicle, maybe each family.
    The well-thought out Town Centers have ample parking for most any type of business, are sized to fit, as far as size is concerned, and not restricted by many older downtown's "color themes", or design review boards.
    Lest I forget, location, location, location is the other component, I would be remiss if I didn't add that the town centers can be put on the busiest streets for maximum "exposure", whereas existing downtowns are not necessarily surrounding the busiest streets in a city, and can't be moved. So in essence, developers can build around the traffic rather than hoping to generate the traffic.
    This is why towne centers are more popular and practical for most developers and chain stores.
    Most of these points, which are described as "positives" here, are why these faux downtowns are almost always absolutely predictable, bland, and boring places that will not survive the next shift in trendiness.

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