Continuing along the theme of condos and street life…
In a really interesting article from Spacing, Jake Schabas discusses condo retail and some of the factors that lead developers towards big chain retail/services to fill their mixed-use requirements. For starters, big chains are the ones most able to sign pre-construction leases the developers need to secure financing.
Goodbye mom-and-pop shop, hello Shoppers Drug Mart. In other words, form follows finance.
Schabas also puts forward interesting thoughts on what can be done. Nothing. Something. Compromise. Worth a read.
The article also links to one by Lisa Rochon in the Globe and Mail: In a big-box world, can the street be saved? In reference to a development in Vancouver’s Gastown by architect Gregory Henriquez and developer Ian Gillespie, she quotes Henriquez:
You have to curate the amenities that go in, that’s the only way to do it. Otherwise, the marketplace is going to deliver 7-11 convenience stores or whoever is going to pay the highest rent. Development has no ethics. Individuals have ethics.
Finally, one more article linked to by Schabas, gives some insight on how “messy urbanism” can keep condos interesting and more liveable. Here, Shawn Micallef points out:
Messy is a hard concept for developers to mimic, but some are trying.
They all brings up an interesting point on what is the role/responsibility of the architect, the developer, and/or the city to curate what is going to happen on the street of big developments. When is it imposing and when is it protecting the character of the neighbourhood? As the South Central issue points out, it’s especially complicated when “revitalization” is on the table.