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Thread: Alternative retail landscape designs

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Alternative retail landscape designs

    I went to Mississippi last week to look at a site for a client. I met with the planner there, who also happens to be ASLA. He asked me about some alternative landscape designs or requirements, and as I favor I told him I'd post the question here.

    The site we were discussing is as follows:
    -Large bigbox anchor, connected to large anchors on both sides, with some smaller retail sites across the sea of parking, and some restaurant outparcels
    -Parking islands with trees spreading across the sea of concrete, with some screening trees/shrubs along the road
    -Some minimal screening in the back - and the back is marked by the highway ROW
    -Established residential on the other side, and the developer is providing the development a 50-foot buffer, and will build an attractive sound wall

    Has anyone seen or dealt with retail landscape/site design that differs from what I've outlined above? You know, parking in the rear requirements, more or less landscaping, building orientation, etc? The town already has stringent architectural controls (it took Wal-Mart 5 years to get approvals for their supercenter - that includes preliminary talks), and the city is wondering what else they might be able to do in the future (this site's already in the system). Are there regulations out there that will lead to a different type of retail site design? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Wildono's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Salmissra View post
    The site we were discussing is as follows:
    -Large bigbox anchor, connected to large anchors on both sides, with some smaller retail sites across the sea of parking, and some restaurant outparcels
    -Parking islands with trees spreading across the sea of concrete, with some screening trees/shrubs along the road
    -Some minimal screening in the back - and the back is marked by the highway ROW
    -Established residential on the other side, and the developer is providing the development a 50-foot buffer, and will build an attractive sound wall

    Our comp plan calls for parking around back, particularly in downtown and in mixed use zones - with the landscaping islands, pathway texture treatments, tree plantings, etc. Our zoning & development codes support this to some extent.

    The Rub
    Typically though, public works and the fire prevention staff step up (with [ahem] selective arcana that is connected to some greater authority - state DOT, national fire prevention standards, etc.) to protect unfettered access for the largest design vehicles possible. And to minimize on-street parking. Landscaping in the ROW (i.e. planting strips) is also discouraged by PW and Fire, except for huge utility boxes. As you can imagine, this has been a serious impediment to getting quality pedestrian-oriented development built to the streetedges with parking in back - even where our zoning code supports it. We've even had challenges from PW and Fire on master planned development permits, including interior spaces, where site plans have already received Planning Dept. approval!

    Make sure your public works and fire prevention folks are on board and will consider application of other arcana that support pedestrian-orientation. Or get support from above. Ambiguity intended. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wildono View post
    Our comp plan calls for parking around back, particularly in downtown and in mixed use zones - with the landscaping islands, pathway texture treatments, tree plantings, etc. Our zoning & development codes support this to some extent.

    Make sure your public works and fire prevention folks are on board and will consider application of other arcana that support pedestrian-orientation. Or get support from above. Ambiguity intended. Good luck!

    Thanks! That's the kind of info they're looking for. And if you move the parking around back, does that change your front building lines/setbacks, and what about landscaping requirements?
    Does anyone else have this kind of regulation, or even gotten to the point of discussing this?
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    There's the usual recommendation of "take a look at Fort Collins, Colorado." Also, I'd look at Louisville, Colorado, too. Parking setbacks, berms, pedestrian amenities, etc., etc.

  5. #5
          bluehour's avatar
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    Also check out Bay Street, Emeryville, California. It's an urban location but they did a good new urbanist centre with parking around back in what was previously a blighted big box area wasteland at the centre of three massive free ways.

    the centre is very popular now and was a good addition to the city.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Madison, WI large retail ordinance

    The city of Madison Wisconsin has produced a great "Large Retail Design Standards" primer. It serves an illustrated guide for what the city adopted in their zoning code. It really is a "super"pamphlet that deals with everything: max building footprints, facades, roofs, site design, plantings, berms, trees, pedestrian circulation, parking lots, storage etc. Of course their code is also available for reference but the primer really gives a nice overview.

    For example the primer details how the city code requires that one tree be planted along every 30' of abutting ROW and a 4 ft. high berm where a retail center abuts residential property.

    My community does not have these standrds in place however I use some of Madison's primer as my own personal design guide when discussing site plans with area developers.

  7. #7
         
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    One thing I really appreciate is a "spine" - i.e. a raised concrete walkway between two facing rows of parking spaces. The higher above the level of the cars, the better. 1 foot seems about right. (the center is earth-filled) It really helps to offset the feeling of insecurity and danger you get in a parking lot. If it is designed carefully, it can also cut down on people moving cars within the lot, since those people feel safer walking across the lot to get to the outbuildings. When the spine crosses a perpendicular roadway, it has a ramp down to parking grade and then uses textured pavements over the asphalt.

    (BTW, it's called a spine for somewhat obvious reasons - a long white raised walkway, with perpendicular parking stripes that resemble ribs)


    A local Fry's has them between every other parking row.

    ADA compliance could be an issue - wheelchairs can't exactly take a 1-foot drop. Nothing is stopping them from getting to their cars the traditional way though.

  8. #8
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    Are these design stnds online someplace? I searched through the Madison planning dept website and couldn't find it. Can someone post a working link? thanks!



    Quote Originally posted by mique28 View post
    The city of Madison Wisconsin has produced a great "Large Retail Design Standards" primer. It serves an illustrated guide for what the city adopted in their zoning code. It really is a "super"pamphlet that deals with everything: max building footprints, facades, roofs, site design, plantings, berms, trees, pedestrian circulation, parking lots, storage etc. Of course their code is also available for reference but the primer really gives a nice overview.

    For example the primer details how the city code requires that one tree be planted along every 30' of abutting ROW and a 4 ft. high berm where a retail center abuts residential property.

    My community does not have these standrds in place however I use some of Madison's primer as my own personal design guide when discussing site plans with area developers.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Had you considered bioswales in between the rows of parking? Polluted runoff is captured while the swath of macadam is broken up. Or how about green roofs for all that flat roofed acreage? While that may not be thought of as "landscape design" it can affect the perception of the complex from a distance, especially if it can be viewed from above.

    I've seen a few good examples of small plazas in a break in the strip of stores. If its planned to be adjacent to a restuarant that offers take out and includes seating and tables, it can be a nice, amenable space, considering its still in a suburban strip mall and sits adjacent to a parking lot.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by urbanscrawl View post
    Are these design stnds online someplace? I searched through the Madison planning dept website and couldn't find it. Can someone post a working link? thanks!
    I have looked online as well but they do not seem to be posted anywhere. If you PM me I could fax or mail a hard copy.

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