Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mixed Primary Uses

I snapped a photo of this proposed land use sign, at the corner of 13th and Pine, a few weeks ago (I was on vacation in Denver last week; we drove and our Prius averaged 51 mpg for the trip!). Like Josh over at Cascadia Rising, I've been reading Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and have been paying closer attention to the sorts of mixed uses that new developments house. This building, if I remember correctly, will be office above (and maybe residential) with restaurants at street level. As a frequent patron of Capitol Hill eateries, I generally welcome this, but the Jacobs book had me thinking about more diverse types of ground level establishments.

Recalling a post on Hugeasscity, where Dan laments the loss of the BMW dealership on Pike for providing diversity and working class employment, I set out to find similar retailers: locksmiths instead of boutiques, plumbers in lieu of architects. I immediately headed over to Pike where one can find Central Vacuum Service and Dave's Appliance Rebuild, shown below, respectively, within yards of each other.

In all honesty, I've never visited either of these shops (vacuum works fine and our apartment building has a shared laundry) but it is reassuring to know that both are here in the neighborhood. Seeing these reminded me of the ACE Hardware that used to be on top of Queen Anne, which in turn led me to recall my neighborhood ACE in Denver, two blocks from the condo in which I lived before moving to Seattle. I was at a loss: could it be that there was no local hardware store in my neighborhood, that I'd have to drive to the Home Depot by the Starbucks headquarters to buy some wood glue if needed?

It wasn't until today that my wife reminded me about Pacific Supply Company, on 12th between Pike and Madison. I had seen it before but failed to remember. Oh, and it's a co-op!

In case you were wondering, the man in front of the store is hard at work installing benches around the sidewalk planters. I can't say for sure whether or not these were here before, but I am very glad to see them. Jacobs repeatedly stresses the importance of having people milling around and hanging out on public sidewalks and cites the myriad benefits, including pedestrian safety and the vibrancy that attracts many of us to the city in the first place.

I have more photos from this walk that I will post soon but thought it worth mentioning that, in case it isn't clear, the point of highlighting these various retailers is that they are antithetical to typical suburban development, which relies on auto-dependent big box retailers and shopping centers, to serve the needs of residents. Stay tuned...

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