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krazeeboi

Where EXACTLY is "Anywhere USA"?

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We see this term used often in regards to many things as it concerns urban development. So...

1) How does a place become "Anywhere USA"? What are the qualifications?

2) What are some examples of "Anywhere USA"?

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IMO, Anywhere, USA is any common wide suburban strip lined with the parking lots of big box retailers, and huge signs denoting each store as well, usually with a mall at one end too. And of course the names of each shopping plaza are something like "Blah blah Centre" or "blah blah commons".

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This term actually annoys me. People use this term in such a negative connotation when people need to realize that these places called "Anywhere, USA" are actually essential to a part of our city, state, and even federal economy.

The definition of this term is pretty much on track with what Recchia was saying. These places are usually 5-6 miles of a major state or US highway that have strip malls, restaurants, parking lots, and car dealerships. Examples of these places are Savannah Highway and Rivers Avenue in Charleston, Two Notch Road, and Harbison Blvd. in Columbia, and Independence Blvd. in Charlotte.

However, the negative stigma that some people have placed on it is ill-conceived and unfair. These places provide many citizens with places to eat, shop, and conduct business. Many of the "Blah Blah" strip malls contain small, privately owned businesses that can't afford a location in a DT area or office park. These "business strips" (that's what I call them) also have many different places to buy an automobile, which is very important because our population is a highly mobile one. Just because these places contain mostly franchises and have a similar look, they are essential to our economy and our businesses.

Actually, many places that are considered

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Chain stores and big boxes are fine with me, cause you're right, they are where we conduct business, eat, etc. The only thing I hate about them is their physical form in many places. Why couldnt the big boxes line the street and have sidewalks rather than be surrounded by huge parking lots set way back from the street? And why can't they be better served by public transportation? Of course this is because we depend too much on the automobile, but thats a whole different story.

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Chain stores and big boxes are fine with me, cause you're right, they are where we conduct business, eat, etc.  The only thing I hate about them is their physical form in many places.  Why couldnt the big boxes line the street and have sidewalks rather than be surrounded by huge parking lots set way back from the street?  And why can't they be better served by public transportation?  Of course this is because we depend too much on the automobile, but thats a whole different story.

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I understand why you dislike the big box stores and large parking lots in these business strips. They can definitely be unattractive, and some of them don

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Both behind and some on street where appropriate would probly work the best, with a "walk through" from the back parking lot to the front street entrance of the store.  Of course this would only work if the whole street adapted the same idea, or else people would think why the hell am I parking way back here and walking around to an entrance??  The focus of the street would have to be THE street, not the back parking lot, or it would never work.

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Good point. You would have to redevelop the entire street or strip, and that would take many years and a lot of money to do. However, if you redeveloped a large section of this street, you could almost develop a "mini-downtown" of sorts. My hometown is already planning several old malls for in-fill development. You design the streets and parking lots like you were saying, but you would create an entryway into these areas, making it feel like you are driving through a DT area. Again, my main concern with putting ANY parking on the streets is traffic. I'm not sold on that idea, because I know how people are when they want to park somewhere. They can take their time, and sometimes they are waiting for a space to be vacant while waiting for another person to back up their car. A long line of cars down the street is what can result.

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Columbus, Ohio and its surroundings.

Seconded. I believe Columbus has the largest automobile-to-person ratio for a city of its size. I'm glad to be moving from here in a few weeks.

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However, the negative stigma that some people have placed on it is ill-conceived and unfair.
So you have no problem with miles of ugly and tacky strip malls?

I agree with making these shopping centers

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So you have no problem with miles of ugly and tacky strip malls?

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Obviously, your question is completely biased and insanely loaded. No, I don't like the look of shopping centers that were built in the 60's and 70's where it was nothing but a big concrete block with 2-3 acres of asphalt parking lot that never filled up. However, there is nothing wrong with having malls that are creatively landscaped and shopping centers with ample parking lots with trees and additional landscaping to make them more pleasing to the eye. I have no problems with bright street signs on these strips...they help drivers know where a store or restaurant is located before making the necessary turn. Also, just because a building is a strip mall doesn't make it ugly and tacky. That is clearly a matter of opinion.

Ideally parking should be on-street and in underground lots. Next best is above-ground lots and behind the buildings. In front of/beside the buildings is the worst option, and should be outlawed (and would be save for timid, "developer-friendly" politicians.

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How is that ideal? Above-ground lots and lots behind buildings are probably the least costly way to accomodate for parking in a new or refurbished development and will accomodate the most vehicles. I have to say, outlawing something that makes good sense is just ridiculous, IMO. How would you build underground lots in cities that have water-saturated land such as my hometown, or other Southeastern coastal cities? You have the potential to have serious problems with water and vehicle fluid drainage, flooding, and foundational integrity.

"Hindering" traffic, as you put it, is called traffic calming. It means taking measures to slow down traffic so the cars move at speeds that don't make it uninviting for people to use the sidewalks. No one wants to use a sidewalk with cars moving 50MPH just a few feet away. Measures like on-street parking help congest and slow traffic to more manageable speeds, like 25MPH. They also help by providing a physical barrier between people and moving cars. Finally, they convince people to move closer to work due to slower average speeds, which is good for the environment due to less pollution.

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I understand that you want people to be able to use sidewalks, but this mentality does not make any sense. All this will do is create another traffic bottleneck on a thoroughfare street and continue to frustrate drivers that need to go through the area to get to a destination. You specifically even used the word "congest" to more manageable speeds. :blink: WTF? How is that going to help most commuters? I see that basically you want to force people to move closer to work by frustrating them...well, most people will not be able to move closer in most cases, because they won't be able to afford mortgages or rent payments in these areas. It sounds like more of a control issue than smart urban planning.

These business strips are necessary to cities and their suburbs, and to seriously alter the traffic flow would not help anything except to make the street prettier. Reduce air pollution? :lol: How will that happen when you have a bottleneck of cars all packed closely together because they can only go 25 MPH through the street, and they have to wait for grandma to back her car out of the on-street parking space for 10 minutes?!?!

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How is that ideal? Above-ground lots and lots behind buildings are probably the least costly way to accomodate for parking in a new or refurbished development and will accomodate the most vehicles.

No, surface parking is only cheapest where land is dirt-cheap. It requires so much land to be bought, that in any desirable urban area it is not economical. When I said desirable though, I was speaking from the pedestrian's point of view. The only reason developers are allowed the to continue to build these lowest common denominator (cheapest) developments is because of spineless, short-sighted politicians.

If you don't understand the benefits of traffic calming, and why slow speed traffic is better for pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, and the environment, I sugggest you read up on the matter. If you make the same distance trip take longer, over time people will no longer be willing to live 20+ miles from work, and will live closer.

And how exactly is making it easier to drive going to encourage people to use public transit, walk, etc. :rofl: You really think a bunch of people driving for miles and miles at 50MPH is going to reduce air pollution :rofl:

Landscaping parking lots doesn't help reduce auto dependence, lower pollution, less sprawl, or anything else. I can't think of a single objective benefit to a parking lot instead of a parking garage.

Of course, in urban cities 98% of retail doesn't have any parking, and most of the other 2% has parking underground, thankfully.

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The parking can be in garages too, with street level stores. This is cheaper than underground and pedestrian friendly. And malls can be built to the street with storefronts on the street. Check out this pic of the Providence Place Mall, it's right downtown and has a vibrant streetfront. It has a huge parking structure built into it, but you'd never know looking at this picture.

shopping-mall.gif

RI_Prov_Place_Nordstrom.jpg

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No, surface parking is only cheapest where land is dirt-cheap. It requires so much land to be bought, that in any desirable urban area it is not economical. When I said desirable though, I was speaking from the pedestrian's point of view. The only reason developers are allowed the to continue to build these lowest common denominator (cheapest) developments is because of spineless, short-sighted politicians.

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I don't disagree with your opinion of politicians, but you cannot make a judgment on development and desirability based on the pedestrian's point of view alone. You end up forgetting about the 50,000 cars that pass along these business strips everyday with at least 100,000 commuters. As far as land being dirt-cheap, it IS cheaper in suburban areas which is why lots are still built. No, you don't want to build them in DT areas, but along these business strips, it is the most economically feasible option.

If you don't understand the benefits of traffic calming, and why slow speed traffic is better for pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, and the environment, I sugggest you read up on the matter. If you make the same distance trip take longer, over time people will no longer be willing to live 20+ miles from work, and will live closer.

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Uhh, I understand that traffic "calming", as you put it, is more appealing for pedestrian use, and I have read studies on the matter. But I suggest you read up on economics. Just because you make a distance trip longer doesn't equate to people moving closer because the land will almost ALWAYS be more expensive. People will move only if it helps them financially. Most of the land in these new urbanist develpments are twice the amount of real estate value for land in the suburbs. Forcing people to move by shear frustration sounds something like a socialist (almost communist) way of thinking. Controlling people is exactly what many people in this country deplore! -_-

And how exactly is making it easier to drive going to encourage people to use public transit, walk, etc.  :rofl: You really think a bunch of people driving for miles and miles at 50MPH is going to reduce air pollution  :rofl:

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When the hell did I make an argument for reducing air pollution or promoting public transit? You know what WILL ultimately reduce pollution? Making cars that burn ethanol or hydrogen fuel cell cars...changing the way the car works, rather than imposing some liberal view of how people should live and work in a city. And how much sense does it make to believe that congestion of traffic will reduce air pollution?? Do you believe that cars compacted together moving at a snail's pace won't compact the gases emitted by these vehicles??!?! :blink:

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As far as fuel cell/cleaner burning cars, etc., I have often thought that this would be the solution to the problems that the automobile has caused. I've come to realize that this basically will only solve two problems: pollution and gas shortages/dependency. What about all the other problems caused by a world based around the automobile though? Together, with other forces, they have segregated our people, made us fat, gobbled up land, destroyed many historical city centers and have made huge aholes out of many of us.

Now I'm not sayin that streets should only be looked at from the pedestrian's point of view, but I do think that streets should consider ALL that use them, and all forms of transportation that use them: cars, pedestrians, and bikes. Right now it is clear that most streets are designed for cars and cars only, save for those that were built in the pre-automobile era. We could learn a whole lot from Europe as far as this goes (and no, not formerly Communist Europe).

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I don't disagree with your opinion of politicians, but you cannot make a judgment on development and desirability based on the pedestrian's point of view alone. You end up forgetting about the 50,000 cars that pass along these business strips everyday with at least 100,000 commuters. As far as land being dirt-cheap, it IS cheaper in suburban areas which is why lots are still built. No, you don't want to build them in DT areas, but along these business strips, it is the most economically feasible option.

Uhh, I understand that traffic "calming", as you put it, is more appealing for pedestrian use, and I have read studies on the matter. But I suggest you read up on economics. Just because you make a distance trip longer doesn't equate to people moving closer because the land will almost ALWAYS be more expensive. People will move only if it helps them financially. Most of the land in these new urbanist develpments are twice the amount of real estate value for land in the suburbs. Forcing people to move by shear frustration sounds something like a socialist (almost communist) way of thinking. Controlling people is exactly what many people in this country deplore!  -_-

When the hell did I make an argument for reducing air pollution or promoting public transit? You know what WILL ultimately reduce pollution? Making cars that burn ethanol or hydrogen fuel cell cars...changing the way the car works, rather than imposing some liberal view of how people should live and work in a city. And how much sense does it make to believe that congestion of traffic will reduce air pollution?? Do you believe that cars compacted together moving at a snail's pace won't compact the gases emitted by these vehicles??!?!  :blink:

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It's been proven that people will tolerate commutes (mainly to/from work) of a certain time. As faster travel has been made possible due to freeways, etc., people have been willing to travel further distances, creating worse sprawl. If you look at countries where freeways are few and far between (and often not through cities at all), and traffic travels on average at slower speeds, you will find greater density and less sprawl.

I'm not into "forcing" everyone to live closer to work. I'm for calming traffic to speeds that are more comfortable for all users. Over time this will encourage people to live closer to work unless they are willing to put up with commutes that take much longer. If commute time doesn't matter to them, it doesn't matter. Letting developers have too much free reign is what created this mess in the first place. The "let the market decide" option has created the hideous suburban landscapes we have today. Something different has to be done.

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I don't disagree with your opinion of politicians, but you cannot make a judgment on development and desirability based on the pedestrian's point of view alone. You end up forgetting about the 50,000 cars that pass along these business strips everyday with at least 100,000 commuters. As far as land being dirt-cheap, it IS cheaper in suburban areas which is why lots are still built. No, you don't want to build them in DT areas, but along these business strips, it is the most economically feasible option.

Uhh, I understand that traffic "calming", as you put it, is more appealing for pedestrian use, and I have read studies on the matter. But I suggest you read up on economics. Just because you make a distance trip longer doesn't equate to people moving closer because the land will almost ALWAYS be more expensive. People will move only if it helps them financially. Most of the land in these new urbanist develpments are twice the amount of real estate value for land in the suburbs. Forcing people to move by shear frustration sounds something like a socialist (almost communist) way of thinking. Controlling people is exactly what many people in this country deplore!

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It's been proven that people will tolerate commutes (mainly to/from work) of a certain time. As faster travel has been made possible due to freeways, etc., people have been willing to travel further distances, creating worse sprawl. If you look at countries where freeways are few and far between (and often not through cities at all), and traffic travels on average at slower speeds, you will find greater density and less sprawl.

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Why do we need to copy other countries and their lifestyles? What astounds me is how the "progressive" point of view constantly has to look in areas that are not in America to serve as a role model for urban development. I assume you're referring to Europe for other countries? Yet, their economy, prestige, and influence is nowhere near this country's. Since when did we have to look elsewere for ideas instead of taking care of problems ourselves?

What's hilarious is how the wording is changed by most "progressives" to reduce the impact of what it really is, i.e. traffic "calming". All this is, and you used the word in an earlier post, is traffic congestion. You assume that this will make people move closer to work, but more than likely, you'll get people who end up leaving the entire city. Again, we must think 3-dimensionally, not linearly. If you congest traffic on other thoroughfares, 2 things will happen: first, commuters will try to find an alternative route to get to work thereby worsening traffic on other overburdened roads. Second, many people will not be able to move closer to work among these new developments because ( a ) it will be too expensive and ( b ) many properties will not be available in the real estate market...in other words, there will be no vacancies.

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All we want is choice: The choice to walk or bicycle; The choice to live close to town close to shops and work; The choice to let our children walk the streets without feeling like they're endangering their lives.

Most of us don't have choice right now. We have one way and apparently you feel that's the only way it should be.

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Why do we need to copy other countries and their lifestyles? What astounds me is how the "progressive" point of view constantly has to look in areas that are not in America to serve as a role model for urban development. I assume you're referring to Europe for other countries? Yet, their economy, prestige, and influence is nowhere near this country's. Since when did we have to look elsewere for ideas instead of taking care of problems ourselves?

What's hilarious is how the wording is changed by most "progressives" to reduce the impact of what it really is, i.e. traffic "calming". All this is, and you used the word in an earlier post, is traffic congestion. You assume that this will make people move closer to work, but more than likely, you'll get people who end up leaving the entire city. Again, we must think 3-dimensionally, not linearly. If you congest traffic on other thoroughfares, 2 things will happen: first, commuters will try to find an alternative route to get to work thereby worsening traffic on other overburdened roads. Second, many people will not be able to move closer to work among these new developments because ( a ) it will be too expensive and ( b ) many properties will not be available in the real estate market...in other words, there will be no vacancies.

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First of all, I think yes, we do have to look at other countries as far as urban development goes, cause obviously this country has totally messed things up. We only have suburban development most of the time these days, not urban.

Second, I see your point about new developments ( I assume you mean "new urbanist" developments) being too expensive in some cases. That is why these new developments must re-use vacant urban land and be deemed "affordable" from the start (look at Montgomery County, Maryland's aggressive mixed income housing policies). Almost every city has TONS of re-usable land, its just a matter of making it more attractive to developers to develop, as opposed to building on open space. Overall, it will be cheaper for lower income people to live in these infill developments, because they won't have to rely on a car and all its expenses to get around, they can walk, or use transit.

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Charleston native, your theories do not correspond with the empirical evidence. Denser cities with heavier congestion and slower moving traffic have far higher rates of walking and transit ridership, lower average commute distance (I'm not talking just work here, but all commutes), and even if car ownership rates aren't lower - much fewer miles driven per car per year. Cities that take measures to "relieve congestion" OTOH, just push sprawl further and further out.

If you don't believe me, I'm not going to give a bunch of sources to prove my point. You can believe me or not, it doesn't matter, but heavier auto "congestion" leads to a stronger urban environment.

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