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Thread: They want my ideas!!!

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    They want my ideas!!!

    This is one of the things that I love about my job. Twice a year, we are required to do up a report asking for our ideas on things that we would like to see changed with our city ordinance and development guidelines.

    Can anyone give me any information on successful "Lifestyle Centers" or New Downtowns?

    Right now, we have a commercial shopping corridor that is full of Malls, Malls, Fast Food, Big Boxes, and Malls, but no downtown. I know that Rochester Hills has a lifestyle center that has been doing great. Can anyone give me information and facts so I have some backing behind my reasons?

    (Dan) Changed the Subject: line to something a bit more descriptive
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Humm lets see there is in Arlington Va

    The Market Commons

    and

    Pentagon Row

    both are less than 5 years old and doing WONDERFUL!
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I live near Legacy Village, a new lifestyle center in Cleveland. The place is constantly PACKED, and there have been parking problems since the center first opened; an indicator of its success?

    The majority of businesses in Legacy Village are upscale national chains that are new to the Cleveland area; Crate and Barrel, California Pizza Kitchen, Restoration Hardware, Z Gallerie and the like.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    maudit anglais
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    I take it that "lifestyle centre" is just the latest buzzword for retailing? Ugh.

  5. #5

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    Nah, "lifestyle centers" are upscale, fake-traditional villages/outdoor malls with fancy fountains, lots of vegetation, foam Victorian trim on the brick veneer over stucco box buildings. They are, as Dan indicates, filled with chain stores selling the more expensive lines of sweatshop-made products to people whose "professional" jobs have not quite been off-shored to India or China-yet.

    There were profiles in ULI of some California examples: Santana Row in San Jose is probably the most elaborate, luxurious one I've read about (it was planned and financed during the peak of the internet boom). Santana Row also incorporates luxury apartments and offices as well as the retail.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    ULI is the best source I know on the topic. Urban Land seems to cover it in almost every issue. Santana Row may be more the model for a Lifestyle Center than many of the ones that bill themselves that way. They are, in their truest form, intended as mixed-use centers. Like any buzzword, lesser developers will start using it to describe their latest development, even if it is nothing more than a C-store.

    Dan, is Legacy Village a good development? I ran into the developers at an ICSC show in Chicago and they were hyping it quite a bit, although it had not yet opened.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    I'm fairly familure with two of these type of development and they both have gone gangbusters with business.

    The Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre (love that phony "Olde English" spelling), located about 10 miles from one of the best downtown shopping districts on the east coast in a Charleston, South Carolina suburb.

    The other is the Waterfront, which is on the site of a former steelmill (i.e. brownfield) site. This is supposed to be a mixed use development, but the square is surrounded by modified big boxes and parking lots, and the residental area is located almost a quarter mile away across a five lane road. Despite this, it's better than what was previously there, is always very crowded, and is a great shot in the arm for what has been one of the more economically depressed areas of the city . Heck, I was even there last night watching "Return of the King" at the Loews Theater.
    Last edited by biscuit; 18 Dec 2003 at 11:30 AM.

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Veering off-topic into a debate over lifestyle centers. Split if necessary.

    Originally posted by BKM
    Nah, "lifestyle centers" are upscale, fake-traditional villages/outdoor malls with fancy fountains, lots of vegetation, foam Victorian trim on the brick veneer over stucco box buildings.
    Much better than bare box buildings or standard corporate protptype architecture-as-signage, IMHO. Besides, what's wrong with fountains and vegetation? I thought these were good things.

    They are, as Dan indicates, filled with chain stores selling the more expensive lines of sweatshop-made products to people whose "professional" jobs have not quite been off-shored to India or China-yet.
    Maybe, but the upscale chains often have no equivalent local competition. If there's no local version of Crate and Barrel or California Pizza Kitchen (and no, small neighborhood pizzerias don't count; that's comparing apples and oranges), what's wrong with their presence? They're filling a market void, not stealing business from equivalent local merchants.

    Many disagree with me on this, but I consider upscale chains to be a sort of economic indicator. IMHO, Buffalo has few upscale national chains, not because of local competition (there's no local equivalent to Restoration Hardware or Cheesecake Factory), or inherent resistance among locals (Olive Garden does quite well there, despite the overabundance of local Italian restaurants and large Italian-American population), but because the chains feel they can get a better return for their investment elsewhere. The lack of chains is an indicator that Buffalo is a bad investment, and that it's downscale.

    Even then, locally owned businesses don't always sell products made in industrialized Western nations.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I can accept that Lifestyle centers are a good step in superficial design from the big box/Mall pod design, but they seem to still be too contrived and fakey.

    Next week, I am going to visit the new lifestyle center in Rochester Hills, which michealskis mentioned (my wife grewup in that area). I will try to be less biased when I visit it, but it will be difficult, because it is located not far from a real downtown in the City of Rochester.

    This new style of commercial development isn't that revolutionary, you still have to drive there to walk outside.

    As for the chains in these, well that's not a big deal, there have always been chains in US retail.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    I have no information on these, other than to say that I have visited them. Here are a couple that are somewhat close to you.

    Jefferson Pointe in Fort Wayne, IN

    Eastwood Town Center in Lansing, MI

    River Place in Frankenmuth, MI

    I have no problem with 'lifestyle centers', but they aren't they really just glorified strip malls?

  11. #11

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    Dan, I know "reality," I was just funnin'!

    They are certainly an improvement over a strip center or an abandoned industrial plant. My comments are more aimed at overall economic trends. But, I still agree more with mendlemen, they feel very contrived and are often (not always) still cheap feeling. That's the reality of modern commercial construction.

    My problem, also, is the whole idea of "building a downtown" at one time, with one property owner and one management company. Pleasant Hill, California has tried to do that. The main street "Crescent Drive" is OK, but they tried to cram big boxes and a standard Albertson's supermarket into the project. It just feels like a feeble and very architecturally awkward imitation of an old main street. But, of course, there is plentiful parking and the private security keeps "undesirables" a long way away (they don't even allow you to walk with your dogs from the adjoining park and stop off at the chain coffee shop). Very, very controlled feeling. But, in an uncertain world, that's what people want or need.

    Although, one could argue that strip centers in aging suburbs, by providing cheap space for small businesses, are more interesting places.

    And, I would argue that these centers by no means replace big box centers. Patrons still go to Target and WalMart for the "basics."

    SW Michigan: I've been to Jefferson Pointe. Its located in the epitome of countryfied sprawl that makes up southwestern Fort Wayne. I thought I had magically transported myself to Walnut Creek, California. Jefferson Pointe may be an excellent example for michaelskis to look at. I wonder how it does in the winter?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Originally posted by BKM
    SW Michigan: I've been to Jefferson Pointe. Its located in the epitome of countryfied sprawl that makes up southwestern Fort Wayne. I thought I had magically transported myself to Walnut Creek, California. Jefferson Pointe may be an excellent example for michaelskis to look at. I wonder how it does in the winter?
    I went once in the spring, it was pretty busy. The other time I went was mid December last year and it was pretty darn cold, and I swear we were one of ten people there on a Saturday afternoon.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Originally posted by mendelman

    Next week, I am going to visit the new lifestyle center in Rochester Hills, which michealskis mentioned (my wife grewup in that area). I will try to be less biased when I visit it, but it will be difficult, because it is located not far from a real downtown in the City of Rochester.
    Could you take a few pictures and post them so I can better see and understand the layout?

    I would feel no guilt encouraging one to move into Portage. It would be the closest thing to a traditional downtown that we would have, and a nice change from the typical malls and big boxes that we currently have. In addition it would provide an alternative to downtown Kalamazoo.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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    Just curious: How is downtown Kalamazoo doing? I know they were the "pioneers" in pedestrianization in the late 60s/early 70s. Is the downtown pretty active, or is the metro like my home town (Fort Wayne) with a basically abandoned downtown?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Downtown Kalamazoo is great. I have yet to be disappointed when I have gone into the downtown mall area. It has something for everyone, and every place is impressive.

    Kalamazoo's Downtown Center City

    This web site has all sorts of information, and I think that what has been done here can be a good guide for other old downtowns.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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    Looks pretty cool.

    Fort Wayne tries, and it has some pretty nice buildings, but the City is just so relentlessly suburban in orientation. They've even built a little mixed use project with apartments. The last time I was there, most of the retail storefronts were empty/filled with a couple quick sandwich places for downtown workers.

    It used to be something else. Without sounding like some posters, Glenbrook Mall and the whole panoply of comemrcial strips that make up the real commercial center for Fort Wayne today prove that "progress" is not always positive

  17. #17
    Check out Birmingham, Mi while you're in the Rochester area.

  18. #18

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    I found this excellent little essay that points out some of the flaws with many of these "lifestyle centers." Conversely, it contains some good thoughts for what a lifestyle center that wants to be more than a gussied up shopping center should include. http://www.newcolonist.com/rr41.html

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    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Manayunk in Philadelphia

  20. #20
    Cyburbian oulevin's avatar
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    Lifestyle Centers

    Also in Ohio is Columbus' Easton Town Center. Larger in scope than Legacy Village. LV isn't quite as expansive as ETC (hehe, yeah) because it sits cater-corner to Beachwood Place, the region's most upscale mall -- and its home furnishings orientation complements BP's fashion orientation.

    While lifestyle centers are Disneyfied (at first at ETC I confused the music playing from the flower beds as live), I do think they're a step forward from the indoor mall. Ultimately, though, I question their staying power.

    I do agree that upscale stores are an indicator of regional well-being. I'm sure there are people who consider the existence of Pottery Barns or Williams-Sonomas as a litmus test for relocating to a city.

    Dan, have you had a chance to read Steven Litt, the art and architecture writer for the Plain Dealer? His revue of Legacy Village was plain scathing, citing the conspicuously different architectural styles for each building, poor pedestrian access to the restaurants from the rest of the village, and its parking woes.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    greenway station in middleton, wi

    it was an meh experiance. The architecture was up my alley, but the layout was sprawling and the 'lifestyle feel' of the center lacked. There were still gobs of parking and few sidewalks within them.
    Greenway pics
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  22. #22
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    The Village of Rochester Hills - lifestyle center

    Originally posted by michaelskis
    Could you take a few pictures and post them so I can better see and understand the layout?
    Sorry, I wasn't able to get any shots of the development, but I can tell you that the Village at Rochester Hills is nothing more than a mall without a roof and cars in the "main street" instead of just pedestrians.

    It is relatively small, about 2 city blocks long. The entire development is still ringed by a large parking lot with a 2 story department store and a large square footage grocery store book ending the typical selection of chain boutiques in between.

    It is single-use, retail, with no apartments, or office.

    The only good thing I can grant it is the site was redevelopment from a from defunct enclosed mall. So, at least it wasn't built on a greenfield.

    Go take a look at it if you are ever in the area, it is a weak example of the theory.

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