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emerging.me

Pedestrian-Only/Carfree Streets in Columbia

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There's so much talk right now in the urban planning community about pedestrian-only streets. It's the new hotness. Here's a series of excellent posts about them from the always interesting CoolTown Studios blog.

We are so far from being able to really pull that off with excellence in Columbia, but I think the city will be there one day -- the density is just not there yet. Where would you put them? What kind of development would you like to see there? Yes, it'll be a while, but I love hearing our dreams for the city...

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It would be pretty easy to extend the part-time-ped-only sections of Greene Street. Columbia needs more density to make this happen though, and more pedestrian oriented mixed use development

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I'm not sure, emerging. Sumter tried closing off their Main Street to traffic in the 70s, and it was an unmitigated disaster that killed the downtown. It is just now recovering, and still not what it was. I know it is the latest trend in new urbanism, but I agree with Spartan that Colatown doesn't have the density to pull it off.

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Spartanburg did the same thing, but this appears to be different than the pedestrian mall concept for a number of reasons. First, you still have a street, its just that cars aren't allowed on it at certain times (eg: weekends). Second, the general trend of development is pushing downtown retail back, whereas the pedestrian malls were trying to fight white flight. Ped malls did not advocate mixing uses or density, it was just a way to compete with the suburban mall concept.

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The best example of this that I've personally experienced has got to be Third Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica. It's closed to vehicular traffic on Saturday nights and it's an amazing mixture of retail, vendors, etc. Imagine King Street as a pedestrian-only street on a summer Saturday evening, and that comes pretty close. I could potentially see Lady Street filling a function like that in the future if current development trends continue.

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"First, you still have a street, its just that cars aren't allowed on it at certain times (eg: weekends)."

Ohhh...I see.

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Five Points would have been ideal for a pedestrian mall on Saluda. If tiny Burlington, Vermont can do it, so can Columbia. In Burlington, Church Street has no cars - but it does have outdoor restaurants, cafes, locally-owned stores, street vendors, street musicians, jugglers, fountains, etc, etc Lots of life! (see links with pics below).

http://www.city-data.com/picfilesv/picv24427.php

http://www.flickr.com/photos/no3rdw/871534659/

http://www.weddingmapper.com/photos/1/63/97993_l.jpg

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Five Points would have been ideal for a pedestrian mall on Saluda. If tiny Burlington, Vermont can do it, so can Columbia. In Burlington, Church Street has no cars - but it does have outdoor restaurants, cafes, locally-owned stores, street vendors, street musicians, jugglers, fountains, etc, etc Lots of life! (see links with pics below).

http://www.city-data.com/picfilesv/picv24427.php

http://www.flickr.com/photos/no3rdw/871534659/

http://www.weddingmapper.com/photos/1/63/97993_l.jpg

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I think both Lady and Main Streets would be nice for that. Imagine a Main Street filled with fountains, street musicians and vendors.

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Pedestrian malls were not a universal failure to be sure. But is that really the route we want to go? Does anyone really think blocking of Main St to cars permanently will actually accomplish anything? I think Greenville's approach is the way to go. The "carfree" streets thing would be a good direction to take on Main St at some point.

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Aiken has an ultra pedestrian friendly area called the alley. I really enjoyed that when I was visiting a friend about a year ago. It's more of a restaurant and bar area instead of shopping, but it was really cool.

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Pedestrian malls were not a universal failure to be sure. But is that really the route we want to go? Does anyone really think blocking of Main St to cars permanently will actually accomplish anything? I think Greenville's approach is the way to go. The "carfree" streets thing would be a good direction to take on Main St at some point.

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Its easier to do during a festival. Spartanburg shuts down a block of Main St during Music on Main. But its good that Greenville is doing that during non-event weekends too.

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One of the best pedestrian only streets I've been to is Fourth Street Live in Louisville, KY. The street is closed to vehicular traffic on weekend nights and when special events such as concerts are going on. It is right in the heart of downtown Louisville and has some awesome restaurants, retail, and entertainment venues. The street is even partially covered by a large glass awning that is connected to the buildings on each side. I believe the street is controlled by a downtown alliance similiar to that of our own City Center Partnership in Columbia. They are in charge of closing the street, checking IDs, and even enforcing a pretty strict dress code. The street has a very open feel with a lot of the businesses being on different levels while still being open to the street with access by stairs and escalators. I think it would be awesome for Columbia to eventually turn a portion of Main St. into something like this if they could centralize some bars and restaurants onto one block. Maybe they could make the bottom portion of the Palmetto Center retail and restaurants with the Marriott and Sheraton as anchors on the sides!

Here is a link to Fourth Street Live: Fourth Street Live

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One of the best pedestrian only streets I've been to is Fourth Street Live in Louisville, KY. The street is closed to vehicular traffic on weekend nights and when special events such as concerts are going on. It is right in the heart of downtown Louisville and has some awesome restaurants, retail, and entertainment venues. The street is even partially covered by a large glass awning that is connected to the buildings on each side. I believe the street is controlled by a downtown alliance similiar to that of our own City Center Partnership in Columbia. They are in charge of closing the street, checking IDs, and even enforcing a pretty strict dress code. The street has a very open feel with a lot of the businesses being on different levels while still being open to the street with access by stairs and escalators. I think it would be awesome for Columbia to eventually turn a portion of Main St. into something like this if they could centralize some bars and restaurants onto one block. Maybe they could make the bottom portion of the Palmetto Center retail and restaurants with the Marriott and Sheraton as anchors on the sides!

Here is a link to Fourth Street Live: Fourth Street Live

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OK, I found some shots of Third Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica that I mentioned earlier. You've just got to experience it for yourself; it's nothing short of awesome:

3rdstreet.jpg

2213.jpg

3rd_St_7913.jpg

755616374_fd9d3703e3.jpg

photo1.jpg

800px-052607-008-3StP-facing-SMP.jpg

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