Eyes on the Street: The Gateway Center Pedestrian Maul

gateway1.jpg

When it opened its doors this spring, the Gateway Center mall was plugged as a boon to the South Bronx. So invested was the Bloomberg administration — along with city taxpayers, thanks to subsidies granted by the NYC Economic Development Corporation — that the mayor himself participated in the grand opening of the center’s Home Depot store.

In modeling the sprawling complex on the typical suburban big box slum, developer Related Companies seems to have made a tactical error. From a Times piece featuring Related honcho Glenn Goldstein:

Mr. Goldstein said that Related originally expected about 40 percent of
the mall’s customers to arrive by public transportation, but so far a
majority of customers had been traveling this way. Livery cab service
is available for shoppers who make bulky purchases, and some stores,
like Best Buy and Home Depot, provide delivery for a fee.

Who would have thought that a shopping center served by subway lines and city buses would attract so many transit-riding customers? Not Goldstein and company, whose 2,800 parking spots are proving to this point to be a lot of wasted space (likely in part because parking isn’t free). Unfortunately, Related went all in with its auto-driven design by making entrance points unwelcoming to shoppers arriving on foot, as shown in these Streetsblog photo pool contributions from Jacob-uptown. Imagine how many more people would walk here if they had actually made this a walkable environment.

Today, in a Times feature story on the Bloomberg administration’s development policies, former planning commissioner Ron Shiffman said the mayor has “failed to steer” the city’s most recent building boom. The real estate cycle may be cratering now, but eventually it will swing back up. When it does, will New York be ready to steer investment toward walkable development that matches the sustainability and transportation goals of PlaNYC? Or will we get swamped by even more Gateway Centers?

More pics, with commentary from the photographer, after the jump.

4053871037_9b8460f59e.jpg"The walkway is pitiful. Barely wide enough for two people standing still, much less walking past each other. It’s sad how much space is dedicated to the horribly underused car entrance and how little space is given to pedestrians."

4054614812_def58b1c85.jpg"Ped route to the big box stores through the parking garage."

4053874479_97fea66a1a.jpg"The awful mall actually has some nice wide sidewalks, perfect for vendors, street performers and all sorts of activity. Too bad they’re under a highway."

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