Notable urban cities have created town-like central settings filled with rich choices of conveniences and comfort.
When I moved Downtown eleven years ago, the number of residents living in condos of make-shift cardboard homes lining our streets outnumbered those of us living in brick and mortar homes, yet there were more amenities within walking distances than there are today.
We used to have an upscale urban market filled with interesting and tasty wines, cheeses, breads, meats, and vegetables. There were shops for purchasing necessities and accessories for our homes. Downtown restaurants doted on their cliental, acknowledging and appreciating their patronage. For the few of us living here, we enjoyed a sense of community with our shopkeepers.
Somehow, our neighborhood amenities disappeared overnight, moving to outlying regional malls.
Now hundreds of new residents are moving Downtown every month, looking around and wondering where to find life’s daily essentials and comforts.
Our neighborhoods should have identifiable personalities with diverse shopping districts, defining a unique sense of arrival. Each neighborhood should have an urban main street within walking distance for residents, creating a neighborhood heart with an individual sense of character and quality.
Adding to the distinctive neighborhood feel would be inviting public spaces, retail-lined streets with outdoor dining and market shopping. Imagine narrow streets with landscaped medians discouraging traffic, and charming tree-lined sidewalks encouraging walkers.
To visit our neighboring main streets, we would walk on urban trails through public plazas and pocket parks. Or, imagine riding a bike or hopping on a free zone neighborhood shuttle.
In order to justify corporate profits, businesses are constantly searching for large target audiences. When is there enough of us living Downtown to support neighborhood services and amenities?
I mull over…When will conveniences become convenient?
Downtown needs another supermarket, a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Henry's, upscale boutiques and smaller restaurants/cafes in the Marina District for the locals. – Barbara Sachs, Park Row
As a new resident in Little Italy and a lover of the "Italian lifestyle" I would love to see fresh produce stands a la Venice or Florence. Places I can walk to after work to pick up some fresh herbs and veggies for dinner or maybe just an apple for lunch. – Jen Shuttleton, Porto Siena
We need more bike racks to encourage alternative means of transportation. More dog stations close to green spaces, parks and residential areas. Open spaces for our dogs to freely exercise. – Larry Marshall, Park Place
A great market (Whole Foods), clothing boutiques, piazzas with small, independent, neighborhood drugstores, bookstores and theatres, quaint little bars, European style café’s with places to tie a dog upfront while one pops in for an espresso or a meal, tiny playgrounds for tots and preschools. - Alison McGrath, City Walk
My own desires: Whole Foods Market, an independent film theatre, bakeries, upscale dessert dining, a veterinarian, stores for pet supplies, home and kitchen wares, food specialties, and urban garden supplies.
It’s time. We are here. - August 7, 2003