Blocking the Box: Traffic Concerns Nix Big Retail From GWB Bus Station

broadwaygwb_01.jpgRendering: PA Associates

Plans to bring "big box" retail to a remodeled George Washington Bridge Bus Station have been scuttled due to fears that it would attract more car-commuting shoppers to Washington Heights.

Instead, according to the Manhattan Times, the Port Authority will build spaces for about a dozen smaller commercial shops and offices, says PA Executive Director Christopher Ward.

The decision to plan for multiple tenants, Ward said, was partly driven by the belief that retail opportunities should serve customers who walk or take transit to the terminal, rather than out-of-area shoppers arriving by car.

"The community spoke clearly that we didn’t need more cars," Ward said.

Work on the terminal, which is expected to increase bus capacity by 50 percent over the existing design, is currently scheduled to start in late 2009 and should take about three years, the Times reports.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You mean they wouldn’t want a new supermarket in Washington Heights? It seems like they need more retail just for the 200K people up there. I’d bet a surprising number shops in NJ.

  • someone

    @ Larry…..

    they do . . . . . by car!

  • Carice

    I’m ambivalent about big box stores, but I don’t completely get the logic that a big store doesn’t serve the users of public transit- it might even be better for a transit user- having “everything under one roof” instead of making multiple stops accumulating lots of little packages. Also, if they don’t include a ginormous parking lot with the big box (as in, duh, take the bus there) I don’t see how it would increase the number of cars in the area. However, it may be that the big box stores are unwilling to consider models that don’t have large parking lots so that may not be an option.

  • Carice: “Big-box store” is often used to refer to stores like Costco, which sell very large packages at discount price – packages too large to carry on public transportation.

    Apart from package size, I think the problem with store size is that larger stores must be spaced more widely. Imagine the difference between a metropolitan area with 100 Costcos and one with 1000 Trader Joes. With 1000 smaller grocery stores, you are likely to have one within walking distance of your house, or at least within easy bicycling or transit distance. With only 100 huge stores, there is not likely to be one within convenient distance, so there is a strong motive to drive.

  • Thank heavens.

  • Bernard Marx

    Too bad the plan isn’t to just tear that horrible thing down and get rid of the bus ramps over Ft. Washington Ave and B’way. Talk about urban blight …

  • A big box store would require a specific number of spaces, according to a zoning formula. A special waiver would have to be granted to build a fewer number of spaces, or no spaces at all. This would not likely happen because the developer and the big box executives both know that 100% of their shoppers will not arrive by walking, biking, or transit.

    The big box retailers would then be at a disadvantage and would most likely decline to build their stores at that bus station.

    The proposed solution of smaller commercial shops and offices seems more sustainable.

  • I’m ambivalent about big box stores, but I don’t completely get the logic that a big store doesn’t serve the users of public transit- it might even be better for a transit user- having “everything under one roof” instead of making multiple stops accumulating lots of little packages.

    One-stop shopping is way overrated. Give me a nice European-style market street full of independent specialty merchants who know all their customers.

    Too bad the plan isn’t to just tear that horrible thing down and get rid of the bus ramps over Ft. Washington Ave and B’way. Talk about urban blight …

    Uh huh, so you think there should be no transit over the GWB?

  • anonymouse

    How about getting rid of those ramps, and replacing them with an underground tunnel… that connects to the tail tracks of the C train that end at 174th/Broadway. And get trains running over the bridge, as I believe was the original plan way back in the 30s.

  • I feel it is a wise decision to not include “big retail” establishments at the remodeled bus station. The current traffic situation is already a nightmare in the area & does not need “big retail” adding to it. I feel it is safe to assume that the extra traffic that would come into the area would be from those who chose vehicular transportation as compared to mass transit to reach the destination. So what good would bringing in such establishments be? From where I sit, next to nothing at all.

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