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Thread: Living above a big box

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Living above a big box

    Article headline from the NY Times:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/re...TeE2abQ7yJD+dw

    Highlights:
    For many city residents, living above a store — or a restaurant or a bar — is not so unusual. But lately, developers have been adding a twist: building apartments above stores that typically take up vast amounts of space, like Home Depot; Target; Bed, Bath & Beyond; and Best Buy.

    Some developers have found that it can be difficult to persuade a potential resident to move into a building that has a big box store.
    Would be a very hard sell in my fair city.
    Would you live in such a location ?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    it's the environment. Living above a Bbox is not the issue as much as the environment the box is in. A large parking lot as far as the eye can see is not an inviting front door to any home. I couldn't imagine driving home and parking in a lot full of haphazardly crossing vehicles and shopping carts. Big Box stores and their environs emit a cold, industrial feel to me.

    Whats the big deal with the view of the parking? Typically its low income housing or apts right next door anyway.
    Based on my local environs, the big box is often next to Single-Family Dwellings. In the local area, housing is so affordable, that unless there was a special attractiveness to the area, apartments above the box aren't going to work. A view of parking isn't exactly selling a tranquil view of the woods or priarie; which is available 2 blocks down and for under 150k.

    Another example is around the local "lifestyle center". They wanted to build "loft" apartments on a greenfield just to the north of the development. The project has been in the planning stages for years and failing to attract enough capital to start. This is about as close to the reality of living on the box as we've come here, and there isn't faith it can work.

    At least in the affordable, mid-sized, stable midwest, people aren't interested in living in suburbia on top or next to where they shop and park their cars.

    A B-box as you describe in Philly may work better in that environ.
    Last edited by boiker; 07 Nov 2006 at 10:04 AM.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    This would be a gold mine in a major city. Heck, a great use of the space as well. Bravo! I really like this idea.

    Whats the big deal with the view of the parking? Typically its low income housing or apts right next door anyway. I could see these being marketed in Philly along the river as some high-end lofts, and peeps would buy them too.

  4. #4
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    As part of a major redevelopment project in downtown SLC, a full service grocery store (140,000 square feet) will have condos and apartments above it. It seems like in an urban environment it works well. In suburbs I think it would be difficult to market.

    There is a very similar situation in San Fran, where an Albertsons (?) and an entire strip mall for that matter, has residential above.

    Last edited by cololi; 07 Nov 2006 at 1:04 PM. Reason: to add picture (Greenescapist: you're right, it's an Albertsons)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cololi View post
    As part of a major redevelopment project in downtown SLC, a full service grocery store (140,000 square feet) will have condos and apartments above it. It seems like in an urban environment it works well. In suburbs I think it would be difficult to market.

    There is a very similar situation in San Fran, where an Albertsons (?) and an entire strip mall for that matter, has residential above.
    I think I've seen a Safeway there that has housing above the store. I think this is a great idea, but as others have said, it could only really work in an urban area that didn't have all the required parking. Most people would not want to live above a giant parking lot.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    There's a Whole Foods right on South Street in Philly with some pricey living just upstairs.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    There's a Whole Foods right on South Street in Philly with some pricey living just upstairs.
    It's just parking above the Whole Foods on South St.

    On the other hand. This is planned for 16th & Vine. The Whole Foods that's currently at 20th & Callowhill will be torn down to make may for . . . you guessed it, more condos . . . so they're moving to this gigantic new spot that they'll share with Best Buy and a two other smaller retailers.

    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    ^^Really? What am I thinking of then? Maybe I got my streets mixed up.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm.....

    Quote Originally posted by Greenescapist View post
    I think I've seen a Safeway there that has housing above the store. I think this is a great idea, but as others have said, it could only really work in an urban area that didn't have all the required parking. Most people would not want to live above a giant parking lot.
    Didn't they do this in Boulder recently?? Did that development ever take off....?? I haven't been there in a few years...... Zman needs to run down there and get some photo's of Boulder stuff.....unless there is a lurker here, or Cardinal want's to dust off some old pictures he might have.....
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  10. #10
    A big box is just a store renting a warehouse. A warehouse is not very hospitable. If they move the store into a store, it will make perfect sense for housing, but then again the building should already be multistory.

    Macy's in Manhattan is 10 times the size of your typical Walmart, and nobody has ever called it a big box store, nor is it necessary for apartments to be in the building.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jmac's avatar
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    The major regional grocery chain in my area, Giant Eagle, recently expanded their store in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood. The expansion includes an attached condo building known as Market House. The developer is heavily pushing the convenience of living above the grocery store in their advertisements - the expanded store includes a large prepared foods section, bank branch, dry cleaning services, etc.

    The marketing materials and newspaper coverage of the project often make a connection to historic mixed-use urban development, like:
    Quote Originally posted by post-gazette.com
    For centuries, shopkeepers and others have lived above retail shops. A new development in Shadyside embraces this centuries-old concept and takes it to another level, allowing residents to shop for groceries and run errands without ever stepping outside.
    It is interesting that they point this out - residential buildings with first-floor retail are pretty common in the neighborhood.

    Sorry, I could only find renderings, but they are pretty accurate.

    front view:

    side/rear view:

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    ^^Really? What am I thinking of then? Maybe I got my streets mixed up.
    You might be thinking of the Trader Joe's at 22nd & Market - but that's not really all that big and only takes up about half of the ground floor of 20 story tower that looks to me about 70 or 80 years old.

    There are plenty of newer buildings with ground floor retail, a parking podium, and a tower or at least several floors of condos or apartments. A lot of the new construction is fairly cookie-cutter so it's easy to get confused.

    In any case, the WF on South St.



    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    A big box is just a store renting a warehouse. A warehouse is not very hospitable. If they move the store into a store, it will make perfect sense for housing, but then again the building should already be multistory.

    Macy's in Manhattan is 10 times the size of your typical Walmart, and nobody has ever called it a big box store, nor is it necessary for apartments to be in the building.
    This is what urbanists (and new urbanists) have been saying for a while.

    Macy's follows the format of older department stores. The Macy's in Philadelphia is the same - a century old building with elevators and escalators to carry people from one floor to the next.

    There's no reason, given the examples in NYC, Baltimore, Philly, DC, Chicago, etc. that the typically suburban retailers can't adopt an urban model rather than dropping their suburban model right in the middle of the city.

    Like this one on Delaware Ave. in South Philly


    Home-delivery service goes a long way in any city.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 07 Nov 2006 at 4:35 PM.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    That idea was recently tossed around here for a suburban Target. Given it's location right off of interstate in a heavily congested, commercial area, I doubt that it would or could succeed.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post
    There's no reason, given the examples in NYC, Baltimore, Philly, DC, Chicago, etc. that the typically suburban retailers can't adopt an urban model rather than dropping their suburban model right in the middle of the city.
    The reason is that suburban cities do not accomodate this.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post

    In any case, the WF on South St.

    [/img]
    WOW!

    That is exactly what I was thinking of, and never realized that was parking. Granted, i've never "studied" the building, but....

    Kudos to the architect.

  16. #16
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    Terrible environment

    If you are talking about housing above a typical Big Box store - the kind set in a wasteland mall, on acres of surface parking... then I say this is a horrible idea.

    But as you all know, it is possible to work "big box" chains into real urban streets, in traditional urban buildings. There are a bunch near Market St in San Francisco, several chains in downtown Pasadena too. Works well there. Housing would work above those buildings.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian cdub's avatar
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    If you are talking about housing above a typical Big Box store - the kind set in a wasteland mall, on acres of surface parking... then I say this is a horrible idea.

    But as you all know, it is possible to work "big box" chains into real urban streets, in traditional urban buildings. There are a bunch near Market St in San Francisco, several chains in downtown Pasadena too. Works well there. Housing would work above those buildings.
    Agreed. Typical suburban development with typical big box doesn't warrant the need for housing. As others have stated, it would be pretty inhospitable.

    Lifestyle centers are the next closest thing, trying to replicate an urban street can work and the only thing these developments are missing to this point are the apartments. They're beginning to include them as developers are seeing the financial benefit of mixed use areas. Wrapping the unused facades of big boxes with apartments or townhomes will go a long way to creating a pedestrian experience, hopefully shrinking the size of the big box a bit as well.

    As for atypical big box, the Target on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis is a great example. Multi-story structure, all parking structured.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    Macy's in Manhattan

    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    A big box is just a store renting a warehouse. A warehouse is not very hospitable. If they move the store into a store, it will make perfect sense for housing, but then again the building should already be multistory.

    Macy's in Manhattan is 10 times the size of your typical Walmart, and nobody has ever called it a big box store, nor is it necessary for apartments to be in the building.
    Well, I think the key is that it is a Macy's in Manhattan and the building fits into and complements the surrounding vernacular. I think that with the right design you could probably get most BBs to fit into most areas.

    I think that the problems with BBs is that they pretty much give the finger to the local vernacular, are surrounded by acres of, usually mostly empty parking (build enough parking for the one or two days a year that you need, right?) and are generally unimaginative in their design - not only of the building but of the site as well. I won't even go into the whole "crushing mom and pop outfits" thing as I'm not sure how true that is or if it is true how wrong it is.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post
    It's just parking above the Whole Foods on South St.
    The old Superfresh is now a Whole Foods?

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    No the Whole Foods opened up next to the Superfresh. It too has a garage on top of it. So does the non-national chain (dare I say local) Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut. Philadelphia doesn't have much room downtown or University City for large parking lagoons, or buildings for that matter. Philly has gotten a couple nice urban supermarkets, but last I heard (a long time ago) that Target was going to build at 8th and Market, where the failed "Independence" Disney complex was to go. I don't know if the plans called for housing though. But Philly sure could use more high-rise, luxury condos for sure.

  21. #21
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    if the plan included a parking structure as part of the whole deal, then yeah I think it makes good sense.....if there is the standard sea of parking, then no way would it make it here in Colorado.


    Colorado Springs has had a lot of tries at LOFT living downtown in the past few years and as far as I can tell, they are all still mostly vacant. BUT keep in mind that out here in the wild west we have more land than we know what to do with so we sprawl at will and no one thinks anything of it.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian planr's avatar
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    Tempe Mosaic Development

    One of the many new developments in Tempe is a 21-story project called Mosaic, located near ASU that will house a 2-story Whole Foods location at the ground level as well as 215 residential units. To my knowledge, this is the first example in Tempe of a mixed use high rise with a "big box" on the ground floor.

  23. #23
    Years ago, I snapped these photos of grocers (and a Home Depot) around Chicago. I really should re-take them, and add the others (Target, Best Buy, Bed Bath, et al) who've joined them, but ah well.

    http://westnorth.com/boxes/

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