By Dom Nozzi
Community-serving “social condensers” (places where a number of residents regularly meet, such as a fitness center, farmers market, post office or government building) should not be located away from a downtown location—a location that is essentially inaccessible by foot, transit or bicycle. In particular, a location that is inaccessible to the downtown residences.
There are a number of reasons why I believe community-serving “social condensers” should be downtown:
1. They are an essential building block toward creating a “sense of community.” A central location such as a downtown is about the only place where a sense of community can be experienced, because downtown is where residents gather for cultural, civic, political and entertainment purposes. When community-serving activities leave the downtown, the sense of community declines.
2. In the downtown, there are “spillover” benefits. For most any downtown building, it is easy for folks to walk to the building from other downtown locations, or to walk from the building to various downtown destinations. In other words, retail, cultural and office activities can mutually benefit from their proximity to each other, because people at one location can easily walk to another nearby building.
3. In my opinion, an essential ingredient in the creation and maintenance of a quality city, as the Toronto Planning Director once said, is that there is at least one place where people can choose to live without being forced to use a car to get to important, regular activities in life. Folks who choose to live downtown (thereby being able to take advantage of a less car-dependent lifestyle) would not be able to walk or bicycle to suburban locations outside of downtown, and find it more difficult to use a bus to get there.
Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.
Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com
My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607
My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:
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