Monday, October 20, 2014

Main Street Rezoning Initiative Initial Survey

Main Street Viewshed
Source: City of Richardson.

Somehow I was chosen to take part in the city's online SurveyMonkey Main Street Rezoning Initiative Initial Survey. Mostly I was presented with a series of pictures of what the Main Street area would look like from different locations if several four to eight story buildings were built there. One of the "viewsheds" is shown above. I was asked if each of those views was acceptable to me.

After the jump, my answers.

These are the answers I had to choose from:
What do you think about the visual impact of these potential buildings on the neighborhood location modeled in this image?
  • This visual impact of buildings taller than those shown here would be acceptable to me.
  • This visual impact is acceptable to me.
  • Trees and landscaping can address my concerns.
  • The buildings should be somewhat lower than shown here.
  • There is too much visual impact; the buildings should be significantly lower than shown here.
Source: City of Richardson.

Despite the awkward phrasing of the first choice for an answer, I chose it for each simulated view: "This visual impact of buildings taller than those shown here would be acceptable to me."

Heck if it weren't for the bright colors of the simulated buildings, I'm not sure I'd have noticed what it was the survey was asking me to comment on.

Then, I was asked for any other inputs I have. I said:
Quit widening and adding more lanes to Main Street to move more traffic through it. Instead, focus on calming traffic and making Main Street a walkable destination.

Given that TxDOT is probably going to ruin Central Expressway (more) by adding capacity, focus the city's attention on making Greenville Avenue, from Brick Row to Eastside, an integrated, walkable, commercial north-south main street, with emphasis on walkable.
Source: City of Richardson.

The streets are more important that the heights of the buildings. What's in those buildings is more important than how high they are. Revitalizing the old downtown area should be a priority. That can be done without tearing down what's left of the old one-story buildings on Main Street. Instead, make Main Street itself more attractive to business. Make it more walkable. Integrate it with higher density and mixed use surrounding areas. Include assistance for startups and small businesses. Let the buildings rise but don't just throw money at big companies trying to lure them to build and occupy new tall buildings. Increase the value of the whole neighborhood. Yes, that means we'll have a visual impact that's taller than what's there now. It also means we'll have growing local businesses in those buildings. That's acceptable to me.

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