Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Surrendering to the flow.

My latest post is up at Urban Indy.  It focuses on a new proposal for revitalizing the main street of Greenwood, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis.  The town's central business districts is essentially four blocks that project from an intersection--except that 1/4 of the original building stock was demolished decades ago for a parking lot.  Now the plan is to fill in that parking lot with a dense, mixed-use building that hopes to shift the city's sleepy retail center into a regional destination.

 Most aspects of the revitalization plan seem laudable.  However, I took minor issue with the plan to change the flow of vehicles along this very narrow main street.  Understandably, city leadership wants the area to be more pedestrian friendly, ideally through wider sidewalks and an inviting streetscape.  However, they also hope to change the directional possibilities of some of the streets.  They want to go from the aerial below, where all streets are two-way...

To this:

The latter will take Greenwood's Main Street and make it one way through the entirety of the old commercial district.  I don't think this is likely to help the retail fortunes of the main street, especially since communities large and small are reverting their urban one-way streets back to two-way.  Through Urban Indy, a fellow contributing writer and I devised several questions we think are critical as the City of Greenwood establishes its priorities in developing a good design strategy for what could become a picturesque, desirable downtown.  We have already spoken with a key member of the Greenwood Economic Development Commission, and he encouraged us to write this article.  Hopefully the publication will add to the fruitful dialogue as key stakeholders devise a design solution to this corridor with serious constraints.  And, as always, I welcome further questions from readers here at American Dirt.