Friday, June 26, 2009

Street wise

Last night the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis held a planning open house at the Old Post Office. The Partnership organization is updating the plan for downtown to position the area for continued growth and improvement.

Scanning the various display boards, I saw that the idea of "Arch camp" made the list of possibilities. I didn't see anything relative to improving the connections between downtown and the riverfront/Arch grounds other than a general reference. If you made the meeting and noticed anything along those lines, please comment.

One of the tables offered a place for particiants to suggest new ideas/comments. I suggested adding more water features downtown. In hot St. Louis summers, just the sound of running water is refreshing.

Standing at one of the boards, I bumped into an old friend and downtown building owner/business man. He's combination investor, artist, and creative tour de force. I asked him if he'd thought about the idea of making more streets in the core of downtown two-way. He said he had and that he liked the idea.

I've always thought about the idea of two-way streets from a traffic flow/pedestrian friendly amenity standpoint. Two-way streets slow down cars and spread out traffic patterns. But my friend had a completely different take. Over the years, he has noticed how the direction of downtown traffic, especially on the east/west running streets, helps or hurts retail trade.

Looking at the area between Market and Washington, he's observed that the shops and restaurants located on inbound/eastbound streets (Chestnut and Olive) outperform the storefront uses on outbound/westbound streets (Pine and Locust). Washington Avenue is two way, as is Market.

I never thought about it before, but my friend might right. Maybe businesses along the outbound streets suffer since they are located on the "getaway" streets, while business located on the inbound streets do better since they are located on the "arrival" streets? Having more two way streets might help balance out that differential.


Alex Ihnen said...

Absolutely. That's a great observation and clearly an empirical hole in our understanding of businesses and one-way streets.

Let's keep asking: Who are the streets for? Commuters? People wanting to shop? Residents?

Chris said...

The Book Suburban Nation documented this.

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