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Thread: Why town centers and not downtown?

  1. #51
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    Quick review: It seems it suffers the same problem that all of these development do. They focus inward, rather than outward.
    I agree. I looks pretty weak. I imagine that it would be rather stifling. In urban form, it is no different than a typical multiple building office park or suburban apartment complex.

    As for the main topic:
    people shop at other places than "downtown" because they live in a auto-oriented residential area, so they need to use drive to shop anyhow and the mall or large shopping center is easier to access than downtown for parking.

    Despite this, I believe the one weakness Americans have is that we have required that we (almost) always have to use a car for everything.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  2. #52
    Cyburbian ablarc'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
    You are being ironic, right?

    This is just another shopping center built atound a parking lot.

  3. #53
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Considering that it's smack dab in the middle of auto-oriented exurbia and suburbia, it's the best they can do, and most likely the most practical and the most profitable. The downtowns that exist in this area are much too small and are choked by the worst traffic, and also have spread out suburban residential development surrounding them. It just isn't practical or even possible to put in dozens of upscale chains and residential lofts in downtown Algonquin or Huntley. Town centers simply work here. Reverse ten to twenty years, when these country downtowns weren't completely engulfed by suburbia, it might be a different story. Then we might have greater flexibility in creating thriving walkable communities in these towns. Sometimes you just have to work with what you got.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  4. #54
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Your point is well taken, illinoisplanner, but I think ablarc's point is that that thing is only superficially better than a typical strip mall (in that, there are trees in the parking lots). It's hardly something to be lauded over.

  5. #55
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Your point is well taken, illinoisplanner, but I think ablarc's point is that that thing is only superficially better than a typical strip mall (in that, there are trees in the parking lots). It's hardly something to be lauded over.
    It does have mixed-uses, multi-levels. It's not just a shopping center. I guess that, along with the landscaping and the good aesthetics, will help make it stand out from a strip mall. Parking lots is a must in this area, or the project would fail. Until there's light rail on Randall Road or something, you're going to have to have parking lots.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  6. #56
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    It does have mixed-uses, multi-levels. It's not just a shopping center. I guess that, along with the landscaping and the good aesthetics, will help make it stand out from a strip mall. Parking lots is a must in this area, or the project would fail. Until there's light rail on Randall Road or something, you're going to have to have parking lots.
    It is mixed use, but I don't know how many people the developer can convince to drive to the two-level strip mall to come home. And I believe this could work in downtown Huntly. They're doing it in downtown St. Charles (much bigger, I know), downtown Geneva too. Randall Road is an incredibley unfriendly pedestrian area. I don't think a true "town center" could be constructed without a regional approach. In fact, I believe the only way to encourage comprehensive development is to think and plan regionally.

    Downtowns can only become competitive when they organize, market, and program like a regional shopping mall. There has to be full-time downtown management that focuses only on running downtown like a fringe mall or lifestyle center. I think this is one of the focii of Main Street
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  7. #57
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    It is mixed use, but I don't know how many people the developer can convince to drive to the two-level strip mall to come home. And I believe this could work in downtown Huntly. They're doing it in downtown St. Charles (much bigger, I know), downtown Geneva too. Randall Road is an incredibley unfriendly pedestrian area. I don't think a true "town center" could be constructed without a regional approach. In fact, I believe the only way to encourage comprehensive development is to think and plan regionally.

    Downtowns can only become competitive when they organize, market, and program like a regional shopping mall. There has to be full-time downtown management that focuses only on running downtown like a fringe mall or lifestyle center. I think this is one of the focii of Main Street
    Keep in mind that St. Charles and Geneva have much larger downtowns than Algonquin and Huntley. The majority of STC and Geneva are grid pattern. This is also the case in other successful downtowns like Elmhurst, Naperville, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Mount Prosepect, Palatine, Highland Park, and Winnetka. Also, they have train stations, with the exception of St. Charles. It would never work in Huntley or Algonquin. Algonquin, maybe some, since they have the riverfront and a medium-sized downtown, but not quite the number of options found in the lifestyle centers. Huntley, never...it would be a Barrington-esque joke. Huntley's downtown has like 6 buildings and a few historical homes, many of which are being protected from development. And there's no room for the downtown to grow. Huntley would have to have a developer come up with a new grid-patterned development on the edge of town or something, and it just wouldn't fit in right. It would be an entirely different community. The best you can do in situations like this is town centers. It's too late now. Maybe in Genoa or Harvard, or some place that hasn't been engulfed by suburbia yet. Maybe even dress up Woodstock's historic square. But, it could never happen in Huntley. It's too small.
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