Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Downtown Kalamazoo

1. I thought that Downtown Kalamazoo had a very nice feel and look to it. I thought that there was a variety of stores that would seem appealing to most. To me I thought that some of the stores that were next together didn't really mix together very well. All of the stores had big glass display windows which is a good thing in my opinion. You could see in almost every store and know what the store sold. I also liked the brick sidewalks that gave off a downtown feeling and look. The sidewalks were also very wide making it very pedestrian friendly. There were a lot of tables, benches, trees, and flowers which would be looked down upon according to Paco but I actually liked all of them around.

2. One recommendation would be to promote downtown more and get more people down there to shop. They could do this by having more billboards promoting it around the city. Another way to bring in more shoppers is possibly bringing in a big store that everyone knows. Another recommendation would be to keep the sidewalks a little cleaner, I noticed that the sidewalks had a lot of pieces of gum on the ground. One last recommendation would be to just bring in some different kinds of stores to appeal to more people.

3. The shade trees and planter boxes? Lovely, he says, but they block shoppers' view of shop windows and signs. Those handsome groupings of benches and tables? They seem inviting until Gibbs points out that they often attract teenagers and other loiterers, who scare off shoppers. The elegant Victorian streetlamps, the expensive trash cans, and the distinctive granite paving stones--"so beautiful that people will stare at them as they walk by the storefronts," Gibbs says--are little more than money down the drain. Their costs must be amortized over many years, but long before they have been paid off (and before the town can afford to replace them) they will be old-fashioned, marking the entire street as out of date and out of step.
Standing outside the gym at the corner of Clematis and Dixie Highway, he discourses at length on an untidy collection of benches, tables, and chairs outside a cafe across the highway. This is civic space only in theory. In fact it poses a threat to civic existence. "Those benches make it look like this is a very difficult place to walk," he says, putting himself in the shoes of the average (that is, female) shopper. "You've got to squeeze between those benches. And if a teenager or some street person happens to be there, you would have to touch them, because you're so close together. That is like a sign saying DON'T ENTER."

I picked these passages because they all have to deal with the benches and trees. Downtown has a lot of benches, tables, and trees. I have to disagree with Gibbs because I think that it is a good thing to have a lot of benches and trees if they are placed right. I think that the trees give off a good look. The benches and tables make it easier for people that just want to take a break from walking around or just eat their lunch.

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