Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dullness is sexy

As I suspected, my piece in the Free Press last week inspired a response from someone affronted by the notion that maybe another 50 years of publicly-planned parkades downtown might not be the way to go.

This response came from East St. Paul resident Stefano Grande, Director of the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone, who tried to sell the public on how new parkades are not only neccessary, but can be sexy and fun!

As I stated in my article, it's all a matter of civic priorities: parkades are never "catalysts" for other uses, and their overabundant presence detracts from conditions that do attract development. And so, if in 2009 new parkades are considered a major priority for downtown Winnipeg, the city should ditch the pretense that it wants to see dynamic, mixed-use and densely-populated neighborhoods there. Instead, it should be more honest with itself in that it simply wants to be district that gives everything to keep suburban commuters with happy with cheap covered parking spaces.

It's their downtown, and it's no wonder them and everyone else avoids it on their own time.


Blogger gord said...

How hard is it to build a parkade over one or two stories of mixed use? Should this be a condition for any new parkades?

11:23 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

A couple problems gord. 1. it's expensive. many issues associated with separations between places where people live and where cars are left plus the structural implications of putting the heavy stuff on top. 2. stories of parkades looming over streets where people should be living/working/playing does not sound like a way to create a friendly, hospitable atmosphere.

Downtown should be developed for the people who want to live there, to establish an actual neighborhood and community. It should not be for suburbanites who bravely risk their lives once a year to see rod stewart rock the mts center.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Louis Riel said...

The Downtown BIZ are tools.

6:06 PM  
Blogger gord said...

I believe the King Building replacement is going to be parking over commercial, no?

7:08 PM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

Gord -- Supposedly it will. However, the WRHA parkade was supposedly supposed to have commercial spaces, but for whatever reason (probably because it little more was hot air blowing from the mouths of Centre Venture, etc.), it did not appear. Woops! Oh well! Maybe next time we can have a garden on the roof. Cool! That will silence the critics for sure.

7:28 PM  
Blogger urbandude said...

I agree with the BIZ - cars are here to stay. They are not going anywhere soon, so plan a better urban environment.

Every great city I have been too has a good mix of off-street parking, mass transit, circulator buses, pedestrian routes, and bike lanes. Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Denver, Montreal. You name them.

Infilling a surface parking lot seems like a good idea. Adding indoor parking even better to replace the surface parking lot where there is an existing demand, and the new demand for the new buildings. Mixed use must be mandatory.

Grande makes a good subtle point -incompetent planning and a pro-development at any cost environment is the issue and not cars.

This article makes total sense.

How does the city move from an idea like this to reality?

As pointed out, it did not seem to work for the WRHA building, nor the Ryan Block.

What teeth are needed to make this happen?

7:50 PM  
Blogger gord said...

Here, check this out. It says that the Average Cost Per Space is $17,777 for Freestanding (above grade) and $17,910 for Mixed use w/ an integrated (over other uses).


8:37 PM  
Blogger urbandude said...

I would not use American stats.

Their construction costs are about 40-50 percent below Winnipeg, in general. Chepaer labour, more compeition, lighter building codes.

8:41 PM  
Blogger gord said...

My point was that it doesn't cost more to build over mixed use.

8:57 PM  
Blogger urbandude said...

Hey I kinda like this.

90 condos, rooftop patios, guess what parking!!, a Home Depot store, Starbucks of course, aGrocery Store, home decor store, A new mixed use building in Downtown Vancouver.

Where has this been tried in Winnipeg?

9:30 PM  
Blogger Dallas said...

4:58 AM  

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