Peter Picknelly, Victor Bruno, and Chris Cignoli, they love the city and want it to succeed more than anything in the world, but they fail to understand that it is their obsession with cars, traffic, and parking that is what is making the times tougher and our future ever more grim. Moving more cars more quickly is the problem, not the solution: Rapidly moving giant metal machines are scary to people. Tearing down perfectly designed finely crafted buildings for surface parking is like removing vital organs in hopes that air might enter the lungs more easily through the newly opened yawning cavity.
Have enough confidence in your menu, in your business model, in the beauty of your city, in your vision for our success that you don’t eradicate the very fabric that makes you unique. The restaurant patrons who prioritize ease of parking are going to go to Applebee’s or Chili’s or Ruby Tuesday’s not Worthington Street! They’re not your market, or if they are MOVE YOUR BUSINESS TO MEMORIAL AVENUE OR BOSTON ROAD.
(A building slated to be razed for surface parking)
You can’t out “ease of parking” stroad world, don’t you get it? That’s their game, it’s their only game! It’s mud wrestling with a pig! It’s trading insults with Don Rickles! It’s arm wrestling over the check with Mr Universe!
Our game is places near places with stuff and nice buildings in between THAT PEOPLE WALK TO. No one goes to New York or Boston or Provincetown or Paris or Northampton because the parking is good. Look at the “dining district” in downtown Springfield from the air:
Plenty of parking, not enough people. More parking lots means less places with stuff for people to do and fewer businesses where people can work. That means fewer people walking by your restaurant, fewer customers, and fewer people around making other people feel like this is the type of place people like to be.
I’m begging all of you: READ ABOUT WHAT IS MAKING SUCCESSFUL PLACES SUCCEED TODAY. Hint: It’s not wide streets and ample parking; it’s place making, walkability, prioritizing the pedestrian, and slowing the cars.
People don’t go places because they’re easy to get to, they go places because there is something there worth going to. Focus on that. Just try it. Just this once, don’t tear down the building, program it with something that might bring in just a few more people.
Find ONE, just ONE city which has bulldozed its way to prosperity! Want to know which city it was that first said: “Let’s put the car first, make that our focus, and see how that works”?
Detroit. You know, cars…Detroit. How’d that work out?
Look at Hartford…next time you drive by it on the highway. Have you ever seen so many parking garages? There’s more parking than there is stuff to park for…still harder to park there than WestFarms Mall…but loads of parking. Hmm, weird that they might need to file for bankruptcy soon.
Every parking lot, every parking garage, and for that matter, every extra wide street robs the municipality of valuable land. The taxes the city won’t get from those desiccated places must be extracted from the remaining parcels which add real value, creating a headwind urban businesses and urban entrepreneurs don’t need.
Wake up. The car is your enemy, people are your friends. Make your places people friendly spaces and the rest will take care of itself.