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.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Guess Corp. to Launch Members-Only Convenience Stores GP Club will cater to ultra-affluent clientele.

Is an article in Convenience Store News.  Frankly, it reads like an April Fool's Day story.  From the article:
The Guess Corp. is taking its efforts to open a chain of upscale convenience store and gas stations to a new level. ... the company will launch a chain of ultra-luxury gas/convenience stores as country clubs with memberships required. This chain, which will fall under the company's petroleum unit Guess Petroleum Ltd., will be known as GP Club.

According to The Guess Corp., GP Club will be the ultra-luxury brand for the ultra-affluent, while GP Express is the company's luxury brand for affluent consumers. GP Club will feature mansion-style designed buildings with a separate area of fueling.

The four-level buildings will include a steakhouse restaurant, business center, video-conferencing center, meeting rooms, suites for sleeping and resting, a medical clinic, a boutique selling select designer merchandise, and a hair salon. ...

The GP Club will serve consumers who have applied for and become members. Households with a net worth exceeding $50 million will be the clientele for these units, the company added.

Upon arrival, members will be greeted by a valet and a concierge/doorman will assist them upon entering the building. While they shop, dine, meet or relax, their vehicles will receive full fueling and hand-washed and waxed to perfection.

There will also be an on-site swimming pool and water park for members.
It definitely takes the "pro golf shop" typical of country clubs to a new level.

Note that the CSP News publication is more skeptical of the company behind the project.

Anyway, we have to realize that the petroleum-centric lifestyle and worldview isn't going away and that a sustainable mobility-centric lifestyle is merely one, not the only, way to live.

The difference these days is that there is greater recognition in some quarters around market segmentation between urban and suburban and town and exurban ways of living and the concomitant mobility choices that support respective living arrangements and community spatial patterns.

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At 10:01 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

clearly a hoax.

Yet you can see what $2 gasoline does vs $4.

Was out in Loudoun County there day and it felt like 1999 -- and one of their (massive) stoplights on Route 7 I was the only car surrounded by a sea of SUV/CUVs.

and my side point the the size of the vehicle does matter in terms of urban life. You can't park a Suburban or Expedition on the street. You can park a Fiat 500 or smartcar.

Off topic:

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

when I did a study in Brunswick, GA, I interviewed people "on the street" and wrt "parking" came to the conclusion that a lot of the popularity of shopping centers came down to people's fear of and inexperience with parallel parking. So that from a marketing standpoint, even in cities it becomes reasonable to offer parking garages as an option for comfort.

2. years ago a roommate had a Chevy Geo so I "learned" (incorrectly) I was good at parallel parking. Reality is that I am just ok. In July we went to the Museum of the Shenandoahs and they had an antique car show. The Ford Starlighter from the late 1950s was 17 feet long!

3. before the 2008 crash, I argued that suburban and exurban living is not likely to go away in those metropolitan areas that are well off. The challenge is for people to accept market segmentation rather than to impose their belief in "how everybody (should) live(s)" on everyone else. As you know, this is even a problem in the city where the Outer City people impose their will on the core.

I haven't written yet about the Novus Residential building in Alexandria, I will tomorrow probably, but that's an illustration of the area being a bunch of submarkets and many will be able to cater to the automobility segment just fine and succeed quite well.

All that's different now is that the city now can compete a lot better than it was able to 20 years ago. That's huge. But not anything that can be taken for granted. Instead we need to keep building on our advantages, and that we aren't doing.

(Where we live you can park three cars in front of our house, and if we wanted we could reconfigure and park in the back. We have a dirt floor garage but it's old and small, you could park one car in the middle I suppose, or two smartcars. Some houses still have "legacy" garages within the footprint of the house, usually houses on corners, which didn't have alley access, but they are too small for the cars of today, steep driveways too.)

At 10:42 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: Parking. Absolutely; I'd say at least 75% of the US population can't do it. I know my parents can't anymore without a huge struggle. Recent trends in car design (higher, less windows to the back) mean I was even struggling in my parents new volvo. Backup cameras + automated systems aren't helping either. Maybe the newer 360 degree cameras would help.

(side note: Big thesis on automated driving and the upcoming death of urban life!. We are living in the silver age of walkable cities).

another side note --- one reason I distrust performance paring it based on parking cars in the 1970s in streets -- you can see that it is different today. IN particular the varying sizes (car2go next to a Suburban vs delivery truck) means the "performance" targets are very off.

"The challenge is for people to accept market segmentation rather than to impose their belief in "how everybody (should) live(s)" on everyone else"

Best words for today. On a national level, our "infrastructure" tax (gas tax) is best suited for medium sized cities or very sprawling suburban cities (dallas, Indianapolis, etc) rather than encouraging density.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

hmm, driverless cars... I've been meaning to blog about it. I don't think it's the panacea that everyone thinks.

for one, likely the same kind of people who use car sharing are likely early adopters.

granted a driverless taxi has advantages, and likely a much larger user base compared to the people who've done car sharing.

anyway, it goes back to the "sustainability mobility platform/product service system" point I've been making of late. Like with biking or transit it works well in concert with complementary services.

Ironically, where it might make the biggest difference is in the suburbs. But the trip length, I'm not sure how profitable it will be.

Obviously, in the city it could impact two-way car share. Speaking of arbitrage, as you know some trips are cheaper with car2go, others by two-way, especially if there is an out of city destination, and longer trips in either case are cheaper by rental car, although you have to have a good relationship with a company and a willingness to go out to the airport to get the best rate. (Sometimes we can get a rate as low as $15/day.)

2. but the other thing is that I think driverless car, especially if they are not shared/car pool like vehicles, will generate more SOV trips, not fewer, and the price of a trip will not be lower than the cost of a transit trip. So the market, while large enough, isn't everybody.

In short, I don't see driverless cars "freeing up" traffic lanes, but maybe reducing parking some.

OTOH, people in places with low parking inventories, as more spaces come open because of car share + driverless, some will be motivated to buy a car or bigger cars (we might not have expedition sized SUVs in the city that much, but plenty of Cherokees and Lexus type SUVs...).

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: driverless cars

Yes, the model being pushed by mobileye/delphi will really just be automated highway driving.

Good enough for the US, and will make 40+ minutes commutes a lot easier. Drive to a freeway, turn it on, and be home in 40 minutes.

Will not work in a urban or suburban environment very well (too much unpredicitibility)

Suddenly I can live in Germantown.

(the uber/google model assumes it will be so expensive that nobody can own it, but Stage 4 shouldn't be that much more. If LIDAR can come down in price...

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Youch. Very very good point that the "low hanging fruit" for "driverless" car will be the freeways, and those long commutes you mention.

It will take a helluva long time before the network of arterial-collector-neighborhood streets in cities AND suburbs can be reworked to work for ITS at the level of intricacy required for driverless cars.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

if people were willing to do "collective taxi/taxi sharing" then driverless cars would make sense economically, you could carry four people each in a pod/cubicle. (You need that to prevent people from being assaulted by people they don't know.)

Even not paying a driver, I don't see how people are going to pay much less than $20/day to use a driverless car on myriad trips. $20/day is what AAA say it costs to own a car.

2. this might become the e-bike argument. E.g. my point that e-bikes are marketed for in-city/core trips, when they make much more sense for long distance trips, yet not that many people are willing to ride the kind of distances where e-bikes make the most sense, at least right now.

At 4:51 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

yes, the uber/google model -- lots of lidar sensors -- assumers very high costs, true urban driving, and transportation as a service. Gets around the problem on lack of lane marking, potholes, pedestrians, bikers, etc.

(For instance the Google car is built to assume people only cross on crosswalks)


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