Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fayetteville's forward-looking, 2030 draft "Growth Vision" imagines the city's evolution: the sprawling, car-dependent home to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base - characterized by its bedroom communities, "big box" stores, and chain restaurants - will grow into a city of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Is this feasible? Perhaps.
The Expansive Cross Creek Mall Lot, Framing Skibo Rd.
Here's how it could begin:
The Cross Creek Mall district offers numerous retailers and restaurants. With a little imagination, Fayetteville's evolution could begin here. It's centrally located, commercially booming, and lively.
The Entrance to Cross Creek Mall from Skibo Rd.
Arterial, multi-lane roadways and retailers' predilection for expansive parking lots fronting their respective establishments deter consumers from parking and then walking about.
How could Fayetteville surmount these obstacles?
- Build a tree-lined, landscaped median to divide Skibo Road, and limit the number of points at which vehicles may turn into establishments from Skibo Road;
- Create a landscape design plan for the lots abutting Skibo Road, and establish incentives to entice businesses to conform to this plan. This design plan should call for tree-lined and landscaped lot perimeters, a small number of "pocket parks" within lots, and landscaped pedestrian paths;
- Build pedestrian overpasses to permit pedestrians to safely cross Skibo and Morganton Roads. These should not be particularly high because the surrounding buildings generally consist only of one story. The overpasses should be designed to blend into the greenery created by the tree-lined median and tree-lined lots. For example, hanging vegetation, like that employed to screen parking garages in Honolulu or construction fences in Philadelphia, could be used to blend these overpasses into the greenery.
The implementation of these recommendations would, of course, come with a cost. Would Fayetteville and participating businesses receive a return on their investment? Yes.
Fayetteville possesses a disproportionately large population of twenty-something year olds that would cause such a development to thrive. This demographic often escapes to Raleigh and Southern Pines to seek weekend entertainment because Fayetteville lacks a cohesive, walkable entertainment district. This sort of development would entice off-duty soldiers and airmen to spend their earnings closer to home.
Should your city transform an existing, car-dependent commercial development into a walkable live-work-play district? Comment here or on Twitter!
Credits: Photographs by Sunny Menozzi. Data linked to sources.