October 22, 2006

Planning for Pedestrian & Auto Co-Existence: The Three-Sided Strip Mall

The landscaping in this particular example could stand much improvement, but I like the basic idea in this Key Food strip mall. Instead of simply having one single strip of stores parallel to - but far back from - the road, the mall has three sides -- sort of like a square cut in half. This offers the convenient in-front-of-store parking lot that many suburban retailers want (although people will in fact drive behind stores to park, as long as the parking lot and walking ambiance from car to store is pleasant). But it also gives a continuous walking environment from the sidewalk to the stores, because when a pedestrian comes to the place where the mall starts, they don't have to cross an acre of parking lot to get to the stores; the sidewalk makes a right-hand turn and continues in front of the first strip of stores that's perpendicular to the road. Maybe the photo below will help show what I'm trying to explain:
Three-sided strip mall

Look all the way to the right. That piece of sidewalk is parallel to the street. A walker can either cross the driveway and continue on passing the stores, or easily make a right turn on the continued sidewalk and start walking by the stores, which are up at the walkway while offering convenient parking.

Add some better landscaping around the siewalk and a more interesting architecture for the building facades, and it successfully balances convenient vehicle access with a reasonably appealing streetscape.

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