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What are your thought's of Charlotte's Overstreet Mall?

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What are your thought's of Charlotte's Overstreet Mall?

The downtown shopping mall visitors to Charlotte know nothing about and never get to even see it most times.

When fans from visiting teams come to Charlotte for NFL games, many of the fans have no idea that Charlotte has a shopping mall downtown.

There's not even a website for the Overstreet Mall. Is the Charlotte Convention and Vistors Bureau and Charlotte Chamber missing out on this downtown center?

Most cities that have urban malls of any kind tend to make it public to visitors.

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future connection to EpiCentre/Two Ten Trade

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http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=10916

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I love the Overstreet Mall!

It helps provide safety at night and makes walking around much more comfortable during the day. It's criticized for taking life off of the streets, but it does so because the people who use it prefer it over walking around outdoors. The mall just needs a website, better signage and perhaps more coordination to make it appear more cohesive, such as similar color schemes and floors.

FYI, Montreal, Toronto and other "real" cities also have indoor passageways in their downtowns.

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I don't work downtown and therefore the mall serves no convenient purpose for me. With that said, I do not like the Overstreet Mall at all. It sucks the life off the streets and drastically reduces the need for other retail outdoors downtown. It also doesn't really function as a real mall would because it is not in any way destination retail. It is nothing more than a disjointed collection of service oriented businesses. I understand that service retail is its function, I'm just saying that doesn't attract anyone other than the workers in the towers who need dry cleaning or gum. If this retail were scattered more along the streets, I think it would be more of a catalyst for other types or retail that would probably not be interested in being hidden away in the towers.

Bottom line...this mall is like a Circle K. You wouldn't want to live next to it, it's not really a very exciting store, or even attractive. But, when you need milk at 2 am, I guess you're glad it's there.

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It does not add much to Uptown, but I think it serves it purpose well. That is, service-type retail for the people who work Uptown. Agreed that there is no reason to go to the Overstreet Mall as a destination, and that's probably why stores are only open during the week and during normal working hours.

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When these threads show up, I will usually defend the overstreet to some degree. It is nice to have on very hot, and wet days.

I pick up a bagel at the Einsteins sometimes, but there aren't many places in it I will really eat. Salsarita's is good, but the long line usually dissuades me. There's a ShowMars in the Darth building... it's as good as any other Showmars.

I have left my pride at my desk and eaten at McDonald's a few times, though. It's one of the few quick and cheap places left at 5:45 before the mall shuts down. :)

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FYI, Montreal, Toronto and other "real" cities also have indoor passageways in their downtowns.

Only because the Moscow type weather in the winter has forced them to build the things. I think all of Canada's large citie have them with maybe the exception of Vancouver. There is an indie film set in Edmonton, I think,about a group of late 20 somethings who decided to try an live completely in one for 30 days without going outside. The one that lasted the longest would be the winner. If I remember they basically went crazy. One guy tried to commit suicide by throwing a jar full of coins against one of the hermitically sealed windows and then jumping out, but the jar bounced off the glass and knocked him out. There is a metaphor there. lol

The Charlotte one was built as a copy of the one in Minneaoplis which also has dark cold winters. They really are not needed in a warm winter city such as Charlotte, and the Overstreet, which is smaller now than it was in the 70s, is considered to be a big planning mistake by the city by most people. When it was completed in the late 70s, I had a job in what was the Southern National Ceneter in those days, and a work day consisted of driving into a parking deck, working through the lymbarith of tunnels to get to my office, having lunch in the Overstreet somewhere, then going home. Many days I would not go out onto the streets of Charlotte even though in many ways, there was more to do and see downtown for the average person than now. I guess that is what happened to it.

Other "real" cities such as NYC do not have them.

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Other "real" cities such as NYC do not have them.

As a former Manhattanite, I respectfully disagree.

Midtown Manhattan has a small maze of tunnels around Rockefeller Center. The stores in them are like the ones in uptown Charlotte: fast-food places and service-type businesses. Tourists don't go in them much, but they are there. One entrance is near the Faconnable store on 5th Avenue.

Lower Manhattan has skywalks and passageways around the World Financial Center complex, some of which connected to the World Trade Center. The skywalks are still there, somehow, even though the skywalks to the WTC are now accessible from the outdoors at the WTC site.

Those urban areas aren't dominated by the passageways to the same extent that uptown Charlotte is, but they are still there. Even Boston has some, around the Prudential Center/Copley Square complexes.

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I think the problem with the Overstreet Mall is that it does not have much conectivity to street visable retail/and or any grand entry ways. Also the fact that it mostly stays closed on the weekends does not help.

Toronto's underground mall is more connected with street retail.

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^and your point would be?

To correct a misstatement and to point out that Overstreet Mall-type developments are found in lots of places.

Also, in lower Manhattan, at least, non-street level areas are where much of the "destination retail" is or was: the Mall at the World Trade Center, the second-level walkways of the World Financial Center and South Street Seaport, all of which have or had mall-type stores in them. Conversely, at street level, even in areas where there are no skywalks/tunnels, there isn't a lot of destination retail, although things are slowly changing. Boston is somewhat the same, with Neiman Marcus, Saks, Tiffany, etc. all in mall-type developments connected by skywalks, although Back Bay and elsewhere do have a good amount of street-level retail.

So get rid of the Overstreet Mall and destination retail will not necessarily follow.

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I have a hard time referring to Overstreet as even a mall. It's more like a food court for the surrounding office workers. It adds absolutely nothing to Uptown.

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I find it convenient when I do have to walk around uptown and it's raining. But it isn't for the stores that are in it -- it just the fact that it's covered. I live downtown and the only stores that I have actually visited as a destination are Jos. A. Bank and Vino 100 (great little wine shop with 100 wines for $25 or less). it doesn't add much to downtown except for convenient places for bank employees to grab lunch.

And those signs have to go -- the teal, pink, purple, and yellow crap makes me want to throw up.

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To correct a misstatement and to point out that Overstreet Mall-type developments are found in lots of places.

Of course there are malls everywhere, even downtown Rock Hill had one for a while and they removed it. Kind of like stating the obvious, as Manhattan is not known for its mall. There is a difference between a mall in Manhatten and a system constructed solely to link all the skyscrapers together in downtown for the purpose of getting people off the street, aka the Overstreet, and similar places in Minneaapolis, and Canadian cities. There was no mistatement made.

In terms of removing it to replace encourage retail on the street you are incorrect on that one as well. The fact that Raleigh is removing its version of of this in its downtown to encourage retail to return on what was called the Fayetteville mall is testimate enough for that. I encourage you to read the thread here on what makes good street level retail. What works and what doesn't.

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I think as more people move into uptown, you will see more on street retail. When all the big stores move out of uptown Charlote, it was not a shoppers destination.

We are now seeing restautants, grocery stores,drug store and other small retail on street level. To make retail work pass the work day and be open on Saturday, you must have enought traffic to open your doors.

Who wants to open retail at mall hours in uptown Charlotte if there are not enough customers to support them. Putting overstreet mall down to

street level will not do any better than it does now, if you don't have customers.

In 4 or 5 years, the story will be different, with more people living in the uptown are and the LRT connections.

I am sure large stores do surveys before they put in a store. It the market exist, they will sure to come. Where in uptown could you put a large retail store like Belks?

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Of course there are malls everywhere, even downtown Rock Hill had one for a while and they removed it. Kind of like stating the obvious, as Manhattan is not known for its mall. There is a difference between a mall in Manhatten and a system constructed solely to link all the skyscrapers together in downtown for the purpose of getting people off the street, aka the Overstreet, and similar places in Minneaapolis, and Canadian cities. There was no mistatement made.

In terms of removing it to replace encourage retail on the street you are incorrect on that one as well. The fact that Raleigh is removing its version of of this in its downtown to encourage retail to return on what was called the Fayetteville mall is testimate enough for that. I encourage you to read the thread here on what makes good street level retail. What works and what doesn't.

monsoon- I have made plenty of misstatements on this board, and I am frequently wrong in the rest of my life. It's not a big deal to be wrong. When you stated that NYC doesn't have passageways designed to take people off the street or for the same purposes as the Overstreet Mall, that is simply not correct. If you were saying something else, then we are just talking past one another. Of course NYC isn't known for its passageways, but it has some, which were expressly designed to take people off the big highway between the WFC and the WTC and other streets in lower Manhattan and off Fifth Avenue and multiple blocks in midtown Manhattan, and to ferry people easily from subway and PATH stations and parking garages to their offices. Go tour those tunnels and skywalks one day and you will see that they are similar to the Overstreet Mall.

I would be certainly wrong to say that an Overstreet Mall-type thing has no impact on street-level retail. If the Overstreet Mall didn't exist, surely Charlotte would have more street-level retail. But that's not what I said. In the absence of the Overstreet Mall, Charlotte wouldn't necessarily have destination retail (e.g., Neiman Marcus or Banana Republic) uptown, just as lower Manhattan has pretty bad retail (e.g., Payless Shoe Source and a bunch of florists and liquor stores) in non-passageway areas. That's what I'm saying, as I have extensively studied what makes street retail work (and had already read the other threads).

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The Overstreet mall is viewed as an asset by those who use it (I fall into this category). However, for those not Uptown, the concern is that it takes away from the street.

While there is some truth to this, we should understand that the mall is already maxed out in terms of its size.

In time, the migration of people (residents) into Center City will command more retail on street level.

First the demand was by Uptown Office workers, of which there are 60K-70K strong, to have retail services conveniently located.

Then the trend will be to have services offered to residents (outside of the normal hours that the Overstreet Mall Caters to). So far the ratio still favors workers, and as such, will result in retail taking a little longer to come down to street level. However, as with the migration of people, so is the movement of retail.

I would be very happy if we can be proud of both co-existing together, having both an active Overstreet Mall and a Great Street Level retail. It will happen it just takes time.

Just my$.02

A2

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In the absence of the Overstreet Mall, Charlotte wouldn't necessarily have destination retail (e.g., Neiman Marcus or Banana Republic) uptown, just as lower Manhattan has pretty bad retail (e.g., Payless Shoe Source and a bunch of florists and liquor stores) in non-passageway areas.
Interesting point. The retail inside the Overstreet "mall" is mostly food court type places, gift/knick knacks/a few boutiques. Its not like there's a Nine West, Sephoras, a Sprint store or even a Strawberries type store. A woman who might want to buy a outfit afterwork or do some quick clothes shopping in many cases would not have her needs met w/ Overstreet at all. Street retail of the variety you'd find in the Village, 125th Street, Fulton Street in dtwn BK, 34th street, etc. doesn't exist Uptown and I don't believe that is a result of the Overstreet Mall situation.

In time, the migration of people (residents) into Center City will command more retail on street level.

Putting overstreet mall down to street level will not do any better than it does now, if you don't have customers.

I think you've both hit the nail on the head.

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Interesting point. The retail inside the Overstreet "mall" is mostly food court type places, gift/knick knacks/a few boutiques. Its not like there's a Nine West, Sephoras, a Sprint store or even a Strawberries type store. A woman who might want to buy a outfit afterwork or do some quick clothes shopping in many cases would not have her needs met w/ Overstreet at all. Street retail of the variety you'd find in the Village, 125th Street, Fulton Street in dtwn BK, 34th street, etc. doesn't exist Uptown and I don't believe that is a result of the Overstreet Mall situation.

What you folks are missing is that you are seeing the tail end of the effects of the Overstreet being in Charlotte for 30+ years. When the mall was built out it did indeed include all of those places you mention lupitachica, as well as connections to Belks and Iveys (now Dillards). What followed was that all of the street places died off and then once that happened so did a lot of the retail in the Overstreet once people quit going into Charlotte for any kind of shopping. The Overstreet mainly became a place that catered to the lunch time office crowd which is what you see now.

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Downtown Minneapolis has an extensive skyway system full of coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, salons, etc. They also lead to stores like Macy's, Target, Neiman Marcus, Banana Republic, Office Depot, etc. Downtown Mpls. also has plenty of street-level retail along Nicollet Mall, which really isn't affected by the skyways. If anything, downtown retail is threatened by the Mall of America.

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Same with Cincinnati with even its street-level Saks Fifth Avenue also connected by skywalk to other mall-type stores, although some of the newer stores seem to be at street level.

I think this topic is fascinating. How do people think Charlotte would have turned out without an Overstreet Mall- more like Atlanta, with a bleak retail scene downtown despite only a few off-street passageways, or like Seattle, with a more vibrant retail scene downtown?

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I don't think there really is any way to know the answer to that question. Altanta's demise happened for demographic reasons that simply don't exist in Charlotte.

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While I definitely don't think the Overstreet Mall was a major help to Charlotte's uptown retail scene, I also don't think it was the cause of all its ills. Street-level retail in Charlotte probably would've died out with or without the Overstreet, just as it did in every other major NC city during the same period. The fact that there was nothing resembling Charlotte's elevated gerbil habitat in the others didn't do much to save their retail establishments.

In fact, you could argue that uptown Charlotte retained its department stores even longer than most other big cities in the region. Among the top five or six, I think only Raleigh still had a major downtown department store after Charlotte lost Ivey's and Belk around 1988. Whether this was because of or in spite of the Overstreet Mall is not something I'll make a guess about right now.

I'd argue that building the NCNB/NationsBank/BofA center did more to kill off street-level retail in Charlotte than the Overstreet Mall ever did. Bulldzoing the last real commercial block uptown (which housed Belk, Eckerd, Woolworth, and dozens of other stores, may of them still open at the time) had a rather chilling effect on the area, and eliminated a cluster of storefronts that would probably be thriving now were they still standing. You can't rebuild an environment like that from scratch by imposing a street-level retail requirement on new buildings.

The biggest problem in Charlotte is that, for thirty years or more, anyplace where some urban vitality could possibly develop usually gets bulldozed in favor of some massive new overplanned project (like the Overstreet Mall) or building that wants desperately to be "urban" but generally isn't. "Urban" and "built last week" generally aren't compatible concepts.

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I believe that Belks was open until the early 1990s but I do tend to agree that it might have happened that way. Its hard to say because if 45,000 downtown workers actually went onto the streets to eat and shop some of these places might have indeed survived longer.

It is clear the design of the NCNB Corporate HQ, the Independence Center, and the BofA tower, 3 of the 4 corners of Trade & Tryon, were designed with the overstreet in mind with no retail facing the street, just blank walls and fountains. If the Overstreet concept had not been there then this most important intersection of Charlotte might have looked quite different than it does now.

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I'd argue that building the NCNB/NationsBank/BofA center did more to kill off street-level retail in Charlotte than the Overstreet Mall ever did.
I was just going to post something similar. I think a combination of factors play into the lack of street shopping, including a poor public transportation system, narrow & difficult to negotiate sidewalks, etc. on top of the fact that the buildings you mentioned don't have much street level retail space.

Back at home I certainly wouldn't drive to 34th, Fulton or 125th, Soho & such to walk around & shop. I'd take public transportation. If I were going to get into a car to go shopping then in my mind that's when I'd go to a real mall. If the number of residents that live Uptown don't supply the type of demand that would encourage retail shops to open then people who don't live in the area have to come & shop to make it worthwhile. Imo, if there were a slew of Armani or a Door Store types all over Uptown and I wanted to shop on a Saturday afternoon - I probably still wouldn't go to this are because parking on the street would be difficult, paying for parking in a garage silly (to me), and the public transportation isn't convenient or frequent enough. Just thinking about it is tiresome.

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