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January 17, 2011

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Welcome back.

Jon,

Knustler has got a incurable case of baby-boom gloom. He is not a Piaf singing about life in pink, but rather, a woebegone sparrow chirping endlessly about the end of the world. A stockmarket at 4000? How many years has he been wrong about that?

Yes he is entertaining to read. And yes he can turn a phrase and a paragraph and make me laugh aloud. But his vision of the future is utterly mutated by his cantankerous pessimism. That's not to say there is something wrong with learning how to grow potatoes. That's an admirable thing to do. But for the human race as a whole? Go fish...

But the damndest thing of all about K"nuts"ler is that he is one of these modern day currency freaks. Having someone of that persuasion comment on Tucson and Loughner should pretty much invalidate everything he has to say about the ceremony here. Knustler is a classic case of a mental eddy swirling around itself, with his troop of loon commenters reinforcing his vortex-echo. It all gets louder and louder but not truer and truer.

But then again...

Who would have thought that Krugman would have to devote NYT column space and blog electrons to defending fiat currency against gold-and-silver-is-the-only-money folks again? In 2011?

I mean really. What's next in the push back against these pockets of modern regression? Will the NYT run essays arguing against a flat earth and for the germ theory? Who can say? I was happy see to see Bill Maher hit back at O'Reilly by suggesting that if Ben Franklin were alive, he could explain to him how the tides go in and the tides go out. That really is the perfect perspective...

Face it...

The war against Stupid will never end. And can never be won. Only contained and driven into Afghan caves, Fox News corporation closets, and blog bunkers like Knustler's.

"To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely." Edmund Burke

When you look at old mining towns like Bisbee or Jerome, you might sense a bit of contradictory information. There was the activity itself in the disrupted landscape. And then there's the towns with their solemn facades and proportional grace. They were cheaply built but endure decades later as islands of enchantment. Tourists go there to buy ice cream and t-shirts but the towns' antique charms still bewitch us.

Sometime between then and today everything changed. We invented giant earth movers and haulers. We discovered ways to make things move faster and farther. We no longer burrowed into earth but excavated huge open-pit mines. And people stop living in nestled houses that hugged the hills but in stripped-down boxes on wide, forlorn streets.

The scale of our economic activity completely dwarfs us now. Modern alienation is the overarching and unavoidable condition of civilization. We are angry and lonely and sometimes insane. We don't know our neighbors and their histories are from some other place. We are jumbled together randomly and madly. We are desperately cosmopolitan because our own culture no longer nourishes let alone inspires.

Phoenix is ridiculously stretched out like some ancient creosote bush. You can drive for miles without seeing anything that looks like love. And when you finally see something that love might have constructed, it's just as likely to be a ruin.

Knustler is a dud. The ceremony in Tucson struck a chord with me perhaps for its familiarity. The quote Jon posted from Knustler is ridiculous and begs the question; "what was he watching?" You see, I missed the trophy/ribbon portion of the "award ceremony."

It is as if Knustler came to my abuela's funeral and said he was offended by the Mariachi band at the family gathering playing my grandmother's favorite songs. Tell him not to return to Tucson for Dia de los Muertos(it is one of the best such festivals in all the Latin/Hispanic world).

Switching gears, I hope your visit to Phoenix and Arizona was pleasant Jon. The empty lots in downtown Phoenix do pull at one's imagination of what can fill those holes. Soleri once opined that any true urbanite would love Seattle's downtown in Phoenix but I disagree for one reason; architecture and layout.

Pacific Place in Seattle looks like a real Scottsdale wannabe. It is as if the architects wintered in "The West's most Western Town" and took back a small piece of Fashion Square and dropped it in among the buildings on Pine St; it is an enclosed suburban mall moonlighting as a "downtown shopping district". Please...

Let's hope that what does fill those empty holes in Phoenix is unique, open TO THE STREET, and not one store is enclosed in a suburban mall like setting; damn the weather and the elements.

You hit the nail on the head in your assessment of the mood, culture, and future prospects in Arizona and Phoenix right now. Thanks for your honesty; we need more of that down here.

Here's a good introduction to Kunstler and his ideas: http://www.ted.com/talks/james_howard_kunstler_dissects_suburbia.html

Listening to him, you get an idea what a modern-day Jeremiah would sound like. He's often arrogant, exasperating and pig-headed. What he isn't is equivocal. He makes strong, declarative statements. He doesn't shrink from damning that which is obviously wrong. He doesn't coddle our muddled notions of self-esteem. He's not here to make us feel better about anything. He wants us to feel the loss to civilization of certain values, standards, and expectations.

If you're an urbanist or someone who's at least interested in cities, Kunstler is as necessary as he is maddening. He's an Old Testament prophet preaching to the ironic cool kids of the 21st century. He wants your attention and he's going to speak very loudly. And there's really no one else who speaks to us as if things like the built environment really matter. Not in the dulcet tones of NPR or the Oprahesque cadences of I'm okay, you're okay. Kunstler is there yelling: you're not okay. How could you be? You live in places like Phoenix that blaspheme the very idea of community.

Kunstler wants our "civilization" to fail. I don't. It's not that I disagree with his analysis or condemnation. It's that I can't imagine seamlessly segueing from autocentric hypertrophy to something much more benign. That said, I'm happy he's prodding us to at least think of the damage this does to us as human beings. I want there to be uncivil debate about this crapola we call American civilization. I want people to wake up.

Soleri: "He wants us to feel the loss to civilization of certain values, standards, and expectations."

Which I cannot since most of those values, standards, and expectations are white-washed and Anglo in origin. Because the landscape is changing and our values and expectations are morphing does not mean they do so for the worst.

Most of those elements Kunstler laments are becoming entwined with values, expectations, and standards of vast cultures in America that are easily expressed in other nations.

Elements of culture that are not dictated by the white majority. It seems even some individuals more leftist and "liberal" also lament the loss of the Great White Society of America.

If you live in Phoenix (ahem, I mean Chandler, Surprise, or far East-bum-fuck) then do yourself a favor and think about your choice of lifestyle. If you are considering a move to Phoenix look at the Central City, the core, before deciding on a place to reside. Let the light rail corridor be your guide and pathfinder.

But do not move to Phoenix or the far suburban enclaves of the Valley and complain that Phoenix will never change or lacks "community." Since you must drive to where it exists you may just feel more exiled if you are any kind of "urbanist".

Soleri, thanks for posting that video. Though Kunstler's interpretation of the Tuscon Memorial was wrong, his breakdown of the suburban community is more to par. He even examines some of the mishaps of modern urban design; like Boston's City Hall/civic space abomination.

Francisco, I do want to point out that those "values, standards and expectations" were hardly exclusive to Anglo Americans. They were, in fact, broadly distributed through Europe, South America, Asia, and even Africa (look at pictures of Casablanca or the casbah of Algiers, or pre-war Cairo). I don't want to out-mau mau you in the cultural diversity arena, but I myself have thrown brickbats like "white-bread Americana" right at our autocentric dystopia, this Leave-it-to-Beaver nightmare that is the lodestar of everything near and dear to "real Americans".

Believe me: there's no reason to identify with them even if it's to troll this blog with incoherent nonsense about Seattle. This is not about skin pigment or ethnicity. It's about making places worth caring about. It's about civilization that doesn't destroy itself with greed. Even today, there are cities in Latin America that do this much better than any American cities (Guadalajara, Cuernevaca, Oaxaca come to mind). And even in my own Anglo experience in Phoenix, I can remember neighborhoods like Golden Gate that were more genuinely communal than any of our chi-chi historic districts. Our disagreement, I suspect, is really minor here. I'm not picking a fight or hoping for a flame war. I don't really care one way or the other about that Tucson memorial. But we're not going to make Arizona better by denying what it has become - a sprawling, unsustainable, motorized hellhole.

Soleri, our disagreement is perhaps not really a conflict of ideas but of their presentation. And if you think that some statements about Seattle equate to trolling, then I hope you reconsider.

Simply, it is an attempt to outline some ideas that would make Phoenix a better city. Seattle, though more prosperous in its urban endeavors leaves much to desire and even more to enjoy in an urban context. 99.9% of metro Seattle's population face even more trouble getting to their core than those in metro Phoenix.

The design of much of Seattle's modern amenities could be transplanted to Westgate or Chandler Fashion Center (save the tallest buildings) and not feel too out of place.

Since there is so much lacking in downtown Phoenix and empty space available, we would be wise to address those suburban-cum-downtown afflictions of design in cities like Seattle so they can be addressed in a city like Phoenix.

The "designers" of Cityscape and even some buildings on ASU's downtown campus had to pour millions of dollars into redesigns after downtown coalitions and community groups tore into the design and layout of the places. The entryways were turned away from the main streets and instead walled into courtyards.

The outcome was a more friendly pedestrian interface in which stores, offices, classrooms, and reception doorways/entryways faced the streets...this type of design must continue in Phoenix and the avoidance of a Pacific Place mall (enclosed and suburban at heart) should be a goal.

Not to rip into Seattle (because that cities small streets and bones have a favorable disposition) but look at Pacific Place, "the Ultimate Shopping Experience" in Seattle and tell me it does not look like the much older Scottsdale Fashion Square:

http://www.pacificplaceseattle.com/home.aspx

Scottsdale Fashion Square:
http://phoenix.about.com/od/arizonapicturesandphotos/ig/Shopping-Malls/Shopping-Mall-02.htm

http://arizona.cityvoter.com/scottsdale-fashion-square-mall/biz/141759

This for downtown Phoenix, please no. When in Seattle, I have to run outside to make sure I'm not in Arizona when in that place.

Soleri, maybe you can point out which values, expectations, and standards were broadly distributed to Latin America, Europe, Asia even Africa? If you mean apartheid I understand.

However, if you mean design, urban layout, transportation, etc etc in those regions outside of Anglo America then I think you are mistaken. One trip to Madrid and their great network of transit or Buenos Aires and its great and dizzying density (that would make a New Yorker claustrophobic for a minute) might change your mind.

Francisco, I don't recall Pacific Place as particularly upsetting. There's that monorail business, of course, the vertical mall element, and some other stuff that smells of "lifestyle centers", but this is virtually everywhere now. The Maginficent Mile in Chicago is virtually nothing but those vertical malls. And south of the river, much of the classic retail is gone (Marshall Fields, Carson, Pirie, Scott) or homogenized away. Minneapolis has solid downtown retail except the streets are nearly lifeless because of those skytubes. San Francisco has this huge indoor mall next to Union Square. It's really bad.

Macy's is now the McDonald's of department stores and it's a shame to so many local businesses simply die off so this mediocre behemoth can triumph. We justly condemn Wal-mart for doing this to small towns. I wish we had some outrage left over for big cities. If and when downtown Phoenix gets a Macy's, remind me to be excited.

Seattle still has vital retail streets with all sorts of stores, restaurants, pubs, and local fare. Some individual blocks have more than all of downtown Phoenix put together. I wish Cityscape luck but I seriously doubt there's going to be an Oakville Grocery there a year from now. Urban Outfitters will probably be gone within two. Charming Charlies will be gone in six months. I'd love to be wrong.

Seattle's downtown integrates very well with the neighborhoods around it. And the downtown population is much larger than Phoenix's. These things matter. We can't do something like Pike's Place Market, of course, but it points out the fundamental problem with our downtown. There's no natural point of interest to it - no river, harbor, or lake. We are struggling to invent a reason for people to want to go there besides the bright, shiny retail objects we dangle seductively in front of them. So far, this strategy has not worked. It's why all those empty lots in and around downtown are going to be there for a long time to come (certainly my lifetime).

I am old enough to remember when everything was downtown and it dazzled my young eyes. The slow and unfortunate death of downtown Phoenix is hardly a unique experience. Virtually every city in America, large and small, has suffered something similar. What's remarkable about Seattle is that it still has one of its original department stores along with other unique retail. Its vitality wasn't engineered but actually the organic urbanism of a genuine city. Phoenix stopped being a real city a long time ago and I doubt there's any talisman or policy that can conjure that old magic. Not that we haven't tried (Lord, how we have tried). We even thought we'd get Jon Jerde to do a mini version of Horton Plaza - Square One - here. But dead is usually dead for a reason. We tore down virtually every building that could be used to revive retail and the new buildings require prestige tenants (meaning fewer and fewer retail tenants as time passes).

In short, downtown Seattle has great retail, a huge number of workers, many thousands of residents, a great focal point, a stunning number of beautiful old buildings, and a coherent and easily understandable reason for existing.

Phoenix, not so much.

True downtown Seattle does have the bones and streets of an urban center, I actually mentioned this if you read carefully. However, what Seattle lacks that a city like Chicago embraces and New York exemplifies is street level retail. True cities like Chicago and San Fran have turned to vertical shopping centers but Seattle is an affliction of such with its other center, Westlake, suffering the same discourse.

The shops in downtown Seattle are cool, but there aren't really as many as you try to elude to. I was there recently and walked past many of them very quickly. It is nothing worth a Seattlite's breath in an argument with a New Yorker, much less a resident of Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Madrid, etc etc.

What does Phoenix have to show, not much, now but what it can accomplish is what tempts the imaginative. The old city was destroyed but in its place a true urban experience can emerge as this is an area where the bones (small streets) still exists. The empty lots in Phoenix are outlined by small walkable streets awaiting human scaled, street level development.

For the future, let us work on a downtown experience in Phoenix that does not construct a faux shopping district under one roof similar to Seattle's...

What natural point of interest exist in downtown Phoenix you ask...for one the Roosevelt Row comes to mind. If the future of downtown Phoenix is carefully constructed the element that draws tens of thousands of people to this natural point of interest during every first Friday can serve as one area of critical mass.

Others: ASU's downtown Campus, Arizona Center can be retrofitted and reconstructed into a street side "fair" with the garden preserved, the arena and stadium another. Especially if in the future parking is removed and growing patronage served by the light rail. One area where Phoenix already has easily exceeded Seattle is in ridership and usage of the light rail lines. As I mentioned before, let this corridor serve as the trailblazer for revitalization. It can be done much, much better than downtown Seattle.

As for downtown populations, I an looking for solid numbers, but from what I've gathered downtown Seattle has a residential base of 35,000-40,000 people in a little under a mile radius. In comparison, within a mile radius of Central and Washington in downtown Phoenix there are over 20,000 residents. Nothing to write home about in either.

Another thing, downtown Seattle does not have any of its historic department stores. Gone are Bon Marche, the historic Frederick and Nelson, and I. Magnin. Nordstrom's remains but not in its original location and most of its building is occupied by the retailer's corporate headquarters.

If you are familiar with downtown Seattle, you would know that in 1992-1996 the downtown Seattle retail experience was dismal.

Reminiscent of downtown Phoenix except that its old buildings were shuttered rather than knocked down. This does give Seattle an huge edge but that shouldn't stand in the way of future Phoenix development. If anything Phoenix should emulate its namesake and rise again even better...

I am struck by the differences in world-view among us old guys and young guys like phxSUNfan.

I didn't mean to turn into a crotchity old fart, but it would appear that I are one.

Not pointing fingers or anything, I just find it interesting.

God bless the young eyes and vision of the youth.

Us old guys with bad eyes, thus bad vision (worldview and otherwise), bad legs, bad back, clogged arteries and bad memories make for grouchy, cynical bloggers. Thank God for Jack Daniels.

"99.9% of metro Seattle's population face even more trouble getting to their core than those in metro Phoenix." - phxSUNSfan

Not in my experience as an infrequent motorist in Seattle (where it is not only possible, but enjoyable to bicycle or ride the bus) versus my experience as a captive, consuming motorist in Phoenix. My personal experience is echoed by most of those in my social networks in both cities.

Rate Crimes, as a person held hostage in metro Seattle for a time, I had the opposite experience (my family's house was not in downtown Seattle). The traffic on every major freeway in Seattle would make any Phoenician, Scottsdaler, Chandlerite, Mesan, etc gasp and weep.

Try driving from Puyallup, Tacoma, or Federal Way into Seattle...better yet take your chances making it to Seattle from Everette, Redmond, or Bellevue in under an hour; good luck getting to Seattle if your enclave happens to lie beyond the stretches of these closer in Seattle suburban expanses.

In Phoenix, I hardly use my vehicle, even to get to Tempe. I run downtown, and ride my bike in the vast lanes of bikeways (Sonoran Bikeway) in Phoenix.

One huge difference I notice in Phoenix is the size of the crowd I enjoy while taking our light rail in Phoenix. Imagine, over the Christmas break, a total ridership in metro Seattle on the light rail of less than 7,000 on a Saturday. The antithesis on that same day was Phoenix with ridership exceeding 20,000 people.

Someone once told me that shopping could not be accomplished in Phoenix on transit. At least not meaningful shopping; this friend is a high school friend from Seattle.

Meaningful as in say buying an Ipod, jeans, dress shoes for work, and some ground beef and veggies for homemade hamburgers. When he visited not only was this easily accomplished in Phoenix on the light rail and only one bus transfer, but a little more purchased as well.

Like I said if you move to Phoenix and live in East-bum-fuck; you get what you drove to in the first place...

Jon writes, "I satisfied my Mexican food jones while on this trip back home. Oh, dear, I said, Mexican".

In this vein, I'd be interested in his thoughts (and ensuing discussion) about how the US might work to at least partially de-stigmatize and re-energize our collaboration with Mexico.

Having had warm and happy ties with Rocky Point for 30 years, I find it regrettable that we tend to paint the entire country with the same brush. Yes, there are horrible issues with the narcos and the often dysfunctional government, but the LAST thing we need is a failed state next door. Opinion: now's the time to reset our Mexico policy.

Well Jon as U asked here goes my first attempt to blog. From what I have noted the discussions get way too complicated and long for my comprehension. My simple comment is as follows.
The Sweet Season
follow up
Jon, it was good to see you at the Poison Pen and thanks for a really enjoyable hour of Talton philosophy and commentary. As you know when I am not reading your stuff I am re-reading Ed Abbey and how an Anarchist and the Desert are a lot alike. They are unforgiving and eventually overpower all that comes to them. Time and nature will surely take the current home builders as it did the ones that came before them. HO HO who remembers the Hohokam. While you and I are of similar mind in many things, I still wish one of my favorite presidents would have made all of the southwest, including Utah a wilderness and skipped the dams (Roosevelt) and reclamation projects. I even liked Mo Udall, (even though he hung out with religious folks) who I believe came to wish he had not pushed for the construction of dams in the southwest. I thought Carl Hayden was a good man but I wished he had not been successful with the CAP. I miss ole time Democrats like Lefty Mofford and Republicans like Burton Barr.
Personally I think CityScape is a joke and downtown Phoenix ain't going to make it.
So as we have discussed before, I am proposing we remove all signs of human habitation from Roosevelt south to South Mountain and plant Sahuaros.
Also, I am in agreement with you that Obama’s speech was just more of the same touchy, feely stuff and didn’t deal with the issues. If I were a liberal person I would be really disgruntled with Obama. As a conservative, a life long conservationist and a REAL Republican at the tender age of 70, I am disappointed in that he didn’t get the US out of Iraq and Afghanistan the day he was sworn in. And I am disappointed that he is letting Ken Salazar rape nature’s wilderness and animal population. And that he has not legalized drugs and done away with DEA and increased the staff at the FDA. And that he and Bush (god I wish his mother would have kept him in the closet) were remiss in the bailout. Sometimes out of the ashes rises an new and stronger Phoenix.
Well I am off on my new Recumbent (bicycle for an old guy). Got my piece strapped to my side for errant motorist and loudmouths.

Cal Lash and his Dog Spot
In their motor home
Somewhere in the Great Sonoran Desert
What's left of it.

For the drug problem and Mexico
I recommend appointing Charles Bowden as Ambassador to Mexico

I was in both Chandler Fashion Center and Seattle's Pacific Place in December. While both pleasant, they were two entirely different experiences.

Chandler is great for raising kids and swimming. SF and downtown Seattle were phenomenal in my 20's and 30's and I hope they still are when I move back in my early 50's!

Hows the air quality in Seattle.
It's been so bad in Phoenix I will not exercise outdoors,even with a face mask over my nose and mouth. Not like what I remember in 1950.

Cal Lash, it depends on what you are most allergic to. From the American Lung Associations "fighting bad air" website, both downtown Seattle (98101) and downtown Phoenix (85003) receive an "F".

The difference that fuels people in Seattle is that their primary heavy pollutant (that puts most people at risk) is from combustion; mainly vehicle emissions and like sources. In Phoenix, the primary pollutant is dust...choose your poison.

http://www.stateoftheair.org/2010/states/washington/king-53033.html

Rewrite: The difference that fuels people's belief in Seattle that their air is clean is visibility (or lack thereof).

One of the most important measures is 24-hour particulate pollution measures; which calculates the risk of exposure during activities like walking and exercising. Downtown Seattle earns a "C" grade whereas downtown Phoenix earns a "B". I can run, sprint, jog in Phoenix just fine and without a face mask...

I know Suns fan wants to draw me into a tit-for-tat comparison/debate between Phoenix and Seattle. It would be a fool's errand. The two places are so different in almost every way that it would be impossible. Much of one's preference gets down to matters of taste, although almost any city or metro comparison would show Phoenix embarrassingly lacking against its peers. Suns fan has been around, knows a little of Seattle, and has chosen to make his stand in central Phoenix. Bravo. We need more like him.

The purpose of this blog is primarily to discuss the issues facing Phoenix. That's what most readers want, readers who followed me when I was booted from the Republic and was unable to stay in Phoenix. I don't write on Seattle to avoid potential conflicts with my job as a columnist for the Seattle Times.

Phoenix does need to benchmark itself against Seattle, Denver, Singapore, Amsterdam, etc. etc. because these are all high-quality cities it competes against for talent and capital, whether it wants to or not. And wishful thinking, boosterism and denial won't help Phoenix.

My thoughts on the two cities are in this post:

http://roguecolumnist.typepad.com/rogue_columnist/2009/12/phoenix-and-seattle.html

Well put Jon; I've tried to state in other posts that downtown Phoenix and the metro area is embarrassingly undeveloped. If you read my comparisons of Phoenix and Seattle I try to outline what can be done differently in Phoenix since downtown is basically a near blank canvass...

But since Jon resides in Seattle and many of us on this blog seem to be familiar with both, it's a natural comparison.

I live in Seattle. Happily without a car in one of the central city neighborhoods that Jon refers to, Capitol Hill. I don't have any comments about Phoenix, but wanted to address PHxsunfan's factual errors about Seattle.

First, the Bon Marché department store still didn't close: it was bought out by Federated and turned into a Macy's. It operates two blocks away from Nordstorm's flagship store, which is across the street from your dreaded Pacific Place.

About Pacific Place: yes, it's a mall located in downtown. It also has no surface parking and is built up to the sidewalk. Two of the sides and three of the corners have ground-level, street facing retail. It's similar in concept to the mall adjoining San Francisco's Union Square. Malls, per se, aren't bad, if they are built within the existing urban fabric and support other street level retail. Surrounding Pacific Place, on walkable city blocks, are an H&M, a Gap, a Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom Rack (which is moving into the basement of the other downtown mall, the unlovely Westlake Center), a Blue C Sushi, an Ann Taylor, two brew pubs, a NikeTown, a multiplex theater (plus one inside Pacific Place), several hotels, and at least three women's boutiques. And if you want to get to any of them, you almost have to walk. This doesn't even count anything west of Fourth Avenue. You can post all the links you want, but posting them without context just makes you look incredibly uninformed.

Regarding light rail and transit, I can take a choice of two different bus routes for my commute (the 10 and 11), running with 8 minute headways during rush hour (15 minutes otherwise). Or I can just make the 20 minute walk. Seattle's Central Link light rail is already being expanded, including to my hood, and by 2016 it will connect the University of Washington to Seattle's densest hood (Capitol Hill / First Hill) to Downtown, and to the airport. You talk about Phoenix light rail already having higher ridership, but look at the total ridership by all modes. Seattle is tops among any US city its size (including Portland) by percentage of people who take transit.

I'm happy you're an advocate for a better central Phoenix, but your need to present a distorted view of Seattle will not get you to that goal.

SousDesNauges, most of your information is very biased and hardly "factual." Seattle enjoys one of the highest ridership counts in all transit modes??? Please, lets compare it to Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Newark, San Fran (all cities with populations comparable to Seattle's). It is more comparable to Portland except they have a light rail ridership count that easily exceeds 120,000 daily. The fact is that even Seattle is highly dependent on SOV transit and the entire metro more so. Hardly a model for future smart development for Phoenix...

If someone is ill informed, it is not really me. As for the suburban malls in Seattle's core; if anyone advocates for this type of "urban" development I doubt their true city mindsets Just because a mall lacks some surface parking does not mean it is an envious urban project.

Most malls in Los Angeles have no surface parking and Scottsdale's Fashion Square now only has one small lot (about 50 spaces) and most of the mall is sidewalk friendly on Camelback and Scottsdale Rd. but I'd hardly call it a winning design for an urban plaza.

Seattle's most densely populated neighborhood, Capital Hill (the West Slope)is not even half the density of numerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles, much less San Francisco. It is actually comparable to a very few dense Phoenix hoods around MetroCenter. That speaks, sadly, for the not so dense development in Seattle.

Many opinions about Phoenix are formed by the fact that Phoenix occupies 500 sq miles of land, yet much of that land is uninhabited, undeveloped, and park/preserve land. There was a tool Soleri posted on one thread for the U.S. Census bureau's count of populations per census track. It was on a NYTimes link and there were census tracks in Central Phoenix comparable to Seattle's many, slightly denser hoods.

It is pivotal that Phoenix capitalizes on the fact that the Central City has some form for smart urban planning and growth. If transit continues to improve in Phoenix, downtown's development will only benefit from it. Avoiding Seattle's mistakes must be a priority.

I forgot the mention that The Bon was a regional department store headquartered in Seattle; now defunct and rebranded Bon Macy's in 2003 when Federated took over the foundering retailer. It was fully rebranded as Macy's in 2005 in an aggressive push by the parent company to woo back shoppers (tourists) in downtown Seattle. Otherwise, had it not been for Federated, The Bon would have left a vacant building...

Well this my third ever blog.
I want to thank U all for the info.
But it all seems a little much as I travel down Abbeys Road seeking Ed's spirit. It's good to know that there are folks out there with big brains and imagination. I am re-reading City by Clifford Simak, where the dogs sit around the campfire and ponder if man truly existed. Look for me on the high plains where U can C for miles and not a house or pole in sight. Mas Tarde.
cal lash and his dog spot from their motor home somewhere in the vastness of space and time

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