Monday, May 30, 2011
Big Box Retail In an Urban NY: Can A City Have Both?
This post may irritate many old school New Yorkers and traditional urbanists who decry the growing chain store and large scale retail trends in NYC. These images may dispel the myth that a city can't really have a normal, urban, walkable street grid and attract large scale retail chains.
Not every major chain operates in Manhattan--Costco, Ikea, Target and Walmart are at this time only in the outer boroughs or New Jersey. However, there is at least one major K Mart at Astor place, and chains like Staples, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Marshalls, TJ Max, H&M and Whole Foods are very common in the city. There is even a large Home Depot in a beautiful historic building in the heart of Chelsea. Add to this many locally famous stores with large scale formats like B&H Photo, Pearl Paint, Zabars, Fairway, Utrecht, The Strand Bookstore and ABC Carpet and Home.
A great strength of New York has been to make people and retailers adopt to it's urban nature-love it or leave it. Pittsburgh, currently seems a bit too ecstatic to see any major retail at all in the heart of some it's most critical areas--like East Liberty and downtown. The issue as we see it --is retail or housing or offices. Why not create the kind of dense mixed use buildings which combine many uses like we see in these pictures? Perhaps, then we would need fewer cars to get from one place to another.
P.S. There are no parking garages in the back, under or across the street from these buildings.