Creating Streets People Can Identify With
Constrained by an existing infrastructure of arterials and freeways, suburban municipalities are turning to private developers to create Main Street–style developments that emulate the qualities of traditional cities, mixing shops, housing, and offices along a pedestrian-oriented street. But while many of these developments capture the look of Main Street, they lack the larger connection to the city that makes traditional main streets feel authentic and naturally draw a wide variety of people to spend time there.
The popularity of urban living, the rise of car sharing, lower parking ratios, the demand for walkable urbanism, and millennials’ preference for places that offer a local and idiosyncratic feel all suggest that demand exists for developments that take their cues from classic, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use downtown streets. While this can be accomplished by incorporating urban materials and by providing architectural and programmatic variety, it is the connectivity to the surrounding urban fabric that really determines the difference between an outdoor shopping center and an urban core.