Thursday, July 18, 2013

Forget Main Street. Focus on Greenville.

Patrick Kennedy, the CarFreeInBigD guy who wants to tear out IH 345 in downtown Dallas, takes a look at downtown Richardson with an eye towards "mining the poor utilization of land for gold."

The first thing he concludes is that there's not much that can be done to revive Main Street. The street can't be narrowed, sidewalks widened and more cafe space created. Main Street is already "at capacity, if not over, moving more than 30,000 cars per day as the primary firehose delivery system to/fro 75. The only way to increase pedestrian space here would be to knock down buildings."

As much as I hate giving up on my hopes for Main Street, I came to much the same conclusion when I reviewed the City of Richardson's own Main Street study. "The drawing shows wide tree-lined sidewalks, a tree-lined median, a lane for parallel parking and two lanes of traffic in either direction. How they're going to get all that in the narrow space available is unexplained. What is there now are narrow sidewalks and barely enough street to squeeze two overloaded lanes in either direction."

After the jump, Kennedy realigns Richardson's focus north-south, not east-west.

Instead of doing the impossible with Main Street, Kennedy says, "I suggested that the opportunity was actually on Greenville and that the opportunity to 'mine for gold' was in under-utilized land area."

I think Kennedy is spot on with this idea, even if he seems to be misinformed on the details. For example, I think he underestimates the demand for parking at the RISD Administration building during the day Monday-Friday and overestimates the demand for parking on Friday nights (that's not a high school football stadium there). But that's a quibble.

The important thing is that Kennedy redirects our gaze from Main Street to Greenville Avenue. Main Street can be left to provide the arterial to bring the cars. It doesn't have to be where the pedestrians congregate. That can happen on Greenville Ave and the side streets off Greenville. There's about a mile from the Spring Valley DART station to the Arapaho DART station, all of it ripe for redevelopment along Greenville Ave. In June, 2011, I tweeted, "Richardson has 4 DART stations and lot of big gaps in between. A streetcar line up Greenville Ave. could tie it all together." Make Greenville Ave., not Main Street, the spine and you create a nice little network with Phillips, Kaufman, and Polk Street for development to spill down. Kennedy says Greenville carries only half the number of cars per day that Main Street does (I'll take his word for it), so it can afford to be narrowed, making it more pedestrian-oriented and friendly to shopping and dining. Kennedy is right. There's more gold to be mined on Greenville Ave. than on Main Street. It's time for Richardson to get digging.


Unknown said...

This is a very interesting concept and a real eye opener. Main Street buildings could still get a "fa├žade" facelift to make them more attractive from Central and the Dart Rail, but the real potential is "connecting the dots" between the rail stations. Greenville could be to Richardson what McKinney is to Uptown. And maybe somewhere along the way we could establish a designated area for an "Arts Incubator".

Mark Steger said...

Peggy, thanks for the comment. Yes, an arts incubator built somewhere along Greenville Ave. could be an incubator for redevelopment of the whole stretch. I like it.