Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Comparing the Malls to Downtown

The Dayton Most Metro forum has an interesting thread on “why there is no shopping downtown”. A question came up from the board host as to what a comparison of downtown with the malls would look like.

And that is something I was wondering about too. So here are some quickie comparisons of the malls + parking with downtown.

We’ll start out with the mall that probably had the most to do with killing off retail in the center city, the good old Dayton Mall of, 1969-1970. Its interesting to read planning documents of the time, as the planners pretty much saw this as the nail in downtowns’ coffin. This is an older Ariel from 2000, not showing that quasi-new urbanist stuff they put in on the northwest parking quadrant.

Next, some color coding, anchors, mall shops, the “mall” pedestrian spaces”, and the all-important parking.

(an interesting aspect of this would be to map out where people are actually parking in those huge lots. One can sort of do that with the aerials, but one doesn’t know if this would be a peak shopping time or off-time, so you’d want to get an ariel of a peak time, like on a Saturday)

Next, downtown Dayton, more or less. Pretty much the core area of downtown around Main Street; the classic Anglo-American central business district.

Then superimposing the color coded diagram of the mall on Main Street, locating the center of the mall, the atrium in front of Lazarus, at 3rd & Main, but orienting the long-axis of the mall on Third.

Then a second superimposition, again centering the mall on the heart of downtown, but orientating the mall along Main. Interesting to see that long axis is about the size of the core blocks of the Main Street shopping districts, actually a little shorter.

Next lets look at Fairfield Commons...

And again centering the mall on 3rd & Main, more or less the atrium by the food court as the “center”. More compact, but that’s because the mall is double-decker.

Comparing the two malls. Again, Fairfield Commons is more compact, but both have the typical mall design tricks of bending the pedestrian area so one doesn’t see how long the mall space is. Both have similar amounts of parking...Dayton Mall maybe a tad more, and the parking is probably overbuilt (except for Christmas)

The missing piece is the areas around these malls. That is the "rest of downtown". Mall shopping is Main Street shopping, but the peripheral things that would be on the streets parallel and crossing Main, like furniture places, discount shops and appliance and furnituer places, short order grilles, hotels, and so forth...all that is now scattered around these malls.

In fact it would be really interesting to show how these two malls are not alike when it comes to the "mall shopping district" around them.


Admin said...

Thanks Jeff, I had you in mind when I posted the comment on Dayton Most Metro. Although a little different I was actually surprised by how similar in size the two mall footprints are. Looks like about 4x5 city blocks in area.

The overlay did start me wondering about the downtown parking formula. If someone were driving in to go shopping downtown would they be able to find an available lot within the "mall footprint"? What is the parking capacity inside that footprint? I'm not sure that is worth thinking about too much but I'm just thinking out loud.

Again, thanks for creating this overlay comparison.

Unknown said...

Nice work Jeff...

Jefferey said...

Thanks, Billy.

For bruce, good question about capacity, but think about "simplicity", too.

One thing about mall approaches is they very simplified. In a mall enviroment the parking if visibe at first glance, as is the destination..an entry point to the mall via anchor stores or the mall itself.

I think maybe it is this simplicity vs the more complex decisions involved in parking downtown that people mean when they say they "can't find parking".