Four Simple Steps to Fix Quasi-Urban Developments

Last week I introduced the concept of quasi-urbanism. This encompasses the new wave of city center developments that are often more suburban than urban in their execution. Some examples include: Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn to CityCenter in Las Vegas and CityScape in Phoenix.

CityScape

An un-urban side of CityScape in Phoenix. Photo by Yuri artibise

Like it our not, we are stuck with these developments for at least another generation. So the question that urbanists need to ask is “How can we make the most of these developments and tilt them from quasi-urban to mostly urban?” (In other words, how can we change them from bad toupees to passable hair weaves?!?)

The easiest answer is to find ways to better integrate then into the urban fabric. While they will likely never be truly authentic places, there are ways that we can do a better job of integrating the developments into to surrounding neighborhood.

Here are four ways that management of such developers could take to  better integrate their developments into the urban and community fabric:

  1. Offer transit passes or small discounts to patron with transit passes our bike helmets to encourage alternative ways for patrons to travel.While most restaurants and retail outlets in these complexes offer validated parking, they do not make any concessions for people who take transit or cycle. This small step would at least level the field.
  2. Install bike racks in visible places and at frequent intervals with adequate signage. This is another way to encourage alternative ways for patrons to travel, as well as ease parking congestion during peak hours and events.
  3. Install highly visible neighborhood maps that display other stores, services and attraction within walking or biking distance of the development. This would not only help boost the local economy, but illustrate that the development is truly interested in the health of the city core and not just themselves.
  4. Day-light covered windows to allow people to see in (and out), especially at street level. At the very least, bring back old-school window displays, complete with mannequins. Anything is better that whited out windows or generic ads. It would also offer porosity, opportunities for window shopping and ‘eyes on the street.’

Do you have any suggestions to add? Please leave them in the comments section. I will include them in a letter I am writing to CityScape developer RED Development and the Mayor’s Office

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.
  • Good suggestions. I’m still waiting a while before reaching an overall conclusion about CityScape, but I am disappointed with the blank walls on most sides of the structure. Those few doors that face the street are often just emergency exits or staff entrances. On the other hand, my kids loved the splash play area — maybe because they’re too young to read the signs about open wounds.

    When we went to the picnic event on Sunday, we spent some time with a family that traveled to CityScape via bicycle. I think they improvised a bike rack using some of the railings on the west side facing Frist Avenue. In a way that area makes sense for bike racks because it’s shaded, but it’s also hidden. As you suggest, it will take racks in multiple locations.

  • Good suggestions. I’m still waiting a while before reaching an overall conclusion about CityScape, but I am disappointed with the blank walls on most sides of the structure. Those few doors that face the street are often just emergency exits or staff entrances. On the other hand, my kids loved the splash play area — maybe because they’re too young to read the signs about open wounds.

    When we went to the picnic event on Sunday, we spent some time with a family that traveled to CityScape via bicycle. I think they improvised a bike rack using some of the railings on the west side facing Frist Avenue. In a way that area makes sense for bike racks because it’s shaded, but it’s also hidden. As you suggest, it will take racks in multiple locations.