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.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Being (in)direct

To restrict chain retail and banks, instead of (1) passing a chain retail review ordinance or (2) instituting a type of neighborhood serving retail preference in the zoning code (this is done in Laguna Beach, California, to help to restrict "touristification" of all the retail space in this popular beachfront community which is home to art galleries and such appealing to vacationers) or (3) restrictions on banks at A locations for pedestrian traffic, New York City proposes in the Upper West Side of Manhattan to not allow retail stores to be wider than 40 feet and banks wider than 25 feet because typically "chains" have a wider footprint.

See "Retail Limits in Plan for the Upper West Side" from the New York Times as well as this past blog entry, "Retail and Authenticity continued" about the rise of chain retail in Queens and Brooklyn, which references this NYT story from 2007, "Now, Big-Name Retail Chains Will Take the Other Boroughs, Too."

From the article:

Across New York City, the proliferation of chain stores, banks and pharmacies in the past decade or so has robbed many neighborhoods of the quirky one-of-a-kind shops that give those places their distinct personalities and where customers can form a relationship with their shopkeepers.

Now the city is proposing to erect a fire wall in one neighborhood — the Upper West Side — that may discourage chain stores and preserve the neighborhood’s commercial character and its vibrant street life. Supporters believe, and opponents fear, that it could serve as a blueprint for other neighborhoods.

The proposal would amend the neighborhood’s zoning to limit the ground-floor width of all new stores to 40 feet on two major commercial thoroughfares — Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues — and banks to 25 feet on those two avenues, and on Broadway as well. The 40-foot number was chosen because most are already narrower than that, and 25 feet was regarded by officials as a “workable width” for ground-floor banks.

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