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Old 05-13-2014, 09:10 AM
 
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Apart from safety issues and parking, what would you say that the average American downtown (for bigger cities) is lacking most that it might need? Amenities like grocers or stores? Things to do? Transit? Services like schools, maybe? What else?

What about your city? What does your downtown lack? Is there anything that isn't there that should be, in your or others' opinion?
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Old 05-13-2014, 09:15 AM
 
Location: Denver
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People. There are no stores, grocers, transit, etc because there are no people.
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:02 AM
 
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What large cities have downtowns with safety issues? Aren't downtowns normally some of the more safe areas of the city?
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annie_himself View Post
People. There are no stores, grocers, transit, etc because there are no people.
Amen.

Pittsburgh has a great downtown for the size of the city. We ruined relatively little of it during the bad period of the mid-20th century, meaning surface lots are rare and mostly found in adjoining neighborhoods. It has retained an unusually high concentration of employment, being stable at nearly 100,000 jobs in around 2/3rds of a square mile since the 1950s. There are plenty of amenities downtown, and a growing restaurant scene. It's excellently served by mass transit - mostly buses, but also some light rail.

Downtown lacks a lot, most of which is because there are only around 4,000 people who live downtown - many of whom are students at one of the two smaller universities with campuses down here. Downtown living is slowly starting to pick up, but it's really secondary to other gentrifying portions of the city, even at this point. Until we get more people living downtown, you're really not going to see things like an active grocery store here.
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:21 AM
 
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I'd say the lack of a full service grocery store would help downtown around here. Another small city downtown about 25 minutes west of here just needs more people interested and a little more housing, if there is more interest.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Denver
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Amen.

Pittsburgh has a great downtown for the size of the city. We ruined relatively little of it during the bad period of the mid-20th century, meaning surface lots are rare and mostly found in adjoining neighborhoods. It has retained an unusually high concentration of employment, being stable at nearly 100,000 jobs in around 2/3rds of a square mile since the 1950s. There are plenty of amenities downtown, and a growing restaurant scene. It's excellently served by mass transit - mostly buses, but also some light rail.

Downtown lacks a lot, most of which is because there are only around 4,000 people who live downtown - many of whom are students at one of the two smaller universities with campuses down here. Downtown living is slowly starting to pick up, but it's really secondary to other gentrifying portions of the city, even at this point. Until we get more people living downtown, you're really not going to see things like an active grocery store here.
Downtown Pittsburgh does look very interesting. Baton Rouge has a full grocer under construction right now in it's downtown. We've had a pretty big spike in downtown living in the past few years. New Orleans also has a full grocer in it's CBD.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:37 AM
 
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Here in Lawrence, ks we could use a grocery store, more housing, more jobs. I've always thought a science museum similar to the cosmosphere would be great downtown. They are building a new retail/apartment building. Townhouses would be cool too, I'd live in one or a nice condo in a 4-5 story building. We have plenty of bars, restaurants, snack shops, etc. Luckily our downtown is growing and is the place to be.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:43 PM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
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Originally Posted by annie_himself View Post
People. There are no stores, grocers, transit, etc because there are no people.
Not only people in general, but families. The mental image that most people have of American downtowns usually includes bars, drunks, the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and single professionals. It never includes children because our society thinks downtown isn't a place for children to be in.

Most American downtowns provide a lot of their homeless shelters and rehabilitation programs in the core of the city, leading to an increase in the perception of crime and presence of "strange people". This discourages families to move downtown, limiting downtowns mostly to single, child-less people and the homeless/mentally ill. Also, downtown rents usually are more expensive per square foot of space, so your average couple with one child will obviously choose to live in outlaying neighborhoods where rents are cheaper. Downtowns usually don't have elementary schools for parents to send their children to, nor do most downtowns provide easily accessible grocery stores.

Suffice it to say, urban decay from the 70s-today have transformed our downtowns to rather "unfriendly" places that most people don't find to be very livable without some major inconveniences.
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Old 05-14-2014, 08:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by GatsbyGatz View Post
Not only people in general, but families. The mental image that most people have of American downtowns usually includes bars, drunks, the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and single professionals. It never includes children because our society thinks downtown isn't a place for children to be in.

Most American downtowns provide a lot of their homeless shelters and rehabilitation programs in the core of the city, leading to an increase in the perception of crime and presence of "strange people". This discourages families to move downtown, limiting downtowns mostly to single, child-less people and the homeless/mentally ill. Also, downtown rents usually are more expensive per square foot of space, so your average couple with one child will obviously choose to live in outlaying neighborhoods where rents are cheaper. Downtowns usually don't have elementary schools for parents to send their children to, nor do most downtowns provide easily accessible grocery stores.

Suffice it to say, urban decay from the 70s-today have transformed our downtowns to rather "unfriendly" places that most people don't find to be very livable without some major inconveniences.
I think that this will depend on the size of the city too. A smaller city may actually have all of these things for a family in or close to Downtown. So, city size may play a part in this as well.
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Old 05-14-2014, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,419 posts, read 11,923,391 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GatsbyGatz View Post
Not only people in general, but families. The mental image that most people have of American downtowns usually includes bars, drunks, the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and single professionals. It never includes children because our society thinks downtown isn't a place for children to be in.

Most American downtowns provide a lot of their homeless shelters and rehabilitation programs in the core of the city, leading to an increase in the perception of crime and presence of "strange people". This discourages families to move downtown, limiting downtowns mostly to single, child-less people and the homeless/mentally ill. Also, downtown rents usually are more expensive per square foot of space, so your average couple with one child will obviously choose to live in outlaying neighborhoods where rents are cheaper. Downtowns usually don't have elementary schools for parents to send their children to, nor do most downtowns provide easily accessible grocery stores.

Suffice it to say, urban decay from the 70s-today have transformed our downtowns to rather "unfriendly" places that most people don't find to be very livable without some major inconveniences.
I don't think you'd get many families living downtown even if these issues are dealt with. Even in Europe, where downtowns are not areas with high crime or bad schools, few young children live there. Probably due in part to the cost factor (after all, a child is a roommate who doesn't pay rent), and in part due to not being as friendly to outdoor play as slightly more outlying urban areas.

In very small cities, where the "downtown" is basically the only urban section of the city (and it falls to detached single-family housing outside of it) I think it's possible to get some families living there. But in a classic CBD with office towers, I simply don't think many families will be interested in living there.
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