Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Maybe the plan should be to "blow up" the mall

The Gazette reports in "Wheaton Sector Plan public hearing set for Thursday," that the Wheaton Central Business District Sector plan is being readied for approval by Montgomery County and in "B.F. Saul picked for Wheaton redevelopment" that B.F. Saul Companies has a contract with Montgomery County and WMATA to come up with a redevelopment plan for 12 acres including Metro property.

Meanwhile, the "Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton" "mall" has been languishing for years (also see "National book chain shakes up Wheaton mall" and "Reformed tax credit aims to boost small businesses"from the Gazette) so now Montgomery County sees adding a Costco to that center as the panacea ("Residents blast Costco plan" from the Gazette.)

Me, I think probably the enclosed shopping center ought to be blown up, recreated as a lifestyle center, and the entire area reworked.

I haven't read the sector plan, so I don't know if that action was considered.

See "DEVELOPERS RETHINK THE MALL FOR THE 21ST CENTURY" and this more cautionary tale, "Lifestyle Center Developers Apply Lessons Learned During the Downturn" from Retail Traffic, concerning the idea.

From the first article:

“A regional mall, if it has the right tenant mix and offers value to the consumer, will be successful,” says Greg Lyon, design principal with Nadel Inc., a Los Angeles–based architecture firm. Plus, developers today better understand where and how to add residential, office and hotel components to bring maximum traffic into the center.

I think it's pretty clear that Wheaton Mall isn't all that successful.

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