For the better part of the past decade, developers and architects have been arguing about the best way to approach in-vogue concept back in the pre-recession days, but many of those projects ended up being duds. Some architects attribute the failure to the fact that developers were often trying to bring mixed-use into suburban environments where people are not used to living, working and playing in the same place.projects. Mixed-use was the
On the other hand, an article from this week's Times looks at a mixed-use environment that has thrived over the past several years--New York's Union Square. The area, which today serves as home to retailers as disparate as Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble, Nordstrom Rack and Filene's Basement, is successful precisely because it was always a mixed-use place, combining office buildings, stores and restaurants with a transportation hub and a public park. It's also always had a reliable anchor: a four days a week Greenmarket. In other words, all the mixed-use elements were already there. All the city had to do was invest in better infrastructure and a beautification program. That's something developers should keep in mind when they think about recreating the feel of an urban downtown on a suburban parking lot.
Here's a slide show that traces Union Square's evolution over the past 25 years.
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