StrangerThings wrote:I'm not going to stop getting defensive about comments like "The P&L is what it is, and isn't what it isn't. And what it isn't is an urban district that feels urban and works like 99.9% of the successful urban districts in the world work." That's not criticism, that's bullshit and there's a difference.
Well, no, it's not bullshit—and it's not really a criticism either, just a statement of the P&L's unusualness. And, yes, P&L is
very different than most other successful urban shopping and entertainment districts, the large majority of which are in neighborhoods built in the conventional, historical way, with shops and restaurants housed in buildings opening onto the street. Westport is such a district; it clearly has a very different atmosphere than P&L, and people use its space differently than they use P&L's.
To return to the original discussion: KCPowercat's criticism of the design of the space around H&R Block was that it's hard for anything other than a well known place like Chipotle to succeed there, presumably because it's not natural, simply as a consequence of walking down the street, to pass the entrances of many of the businesses in the area. I explained a bit more about that, and you replied that nobody should have any trouble finding the storefront they're looking for in the block.
Sure, it's not that hard to find the place you're looking for in P&L. But many people use urban shopping and entertainment areas without looking for a certain place. Often they don't just say to themselves, "We're going to such and such restaurant," and then go to that restaurant. Instead they say, "Let's go to to such and such district," and then they go there, look around a bit, stick their head in the door of one restaurant to see whether there's a wait or to look at the menu or whatever, and then go some place else instead. Or maybe they do say, "We're going to such and such restaurant," and they start walking there, but they see some shop on the way they want to check out, and they do that, and then maybe (but not always) they continue on to where they were heading. Likewise, when somebody heads out of his office around lunchtime in a typical city center, it's not always the case that he knows where he's going—he's hungry, and he's going to eat somewhere, but particularly where often isn't fully decided until he see something that appeals to him at the moment, and he says, "Ah, that place."
The experience of walking through (and especially by) P&L is not like that, because if you're not paying much attention, you might not notice much of what's there, and you certainly won't see enough of it that you'll want to stop some place you hadn't planned to stop—at least if you're walking along the street rather than the pedestrian path that Cordish evidently intended all customers to use, but which a great many potential
customers might not use. At the same time, because so many people are drawn into the P&L's interior, as they head towards one of the establishments along the pedestrian path, there's substantially less foot traffic along its streets, which makes them less good locations than they would be in the traditional arrangement of storefronts facing one another across a public street.
That's how the P&L not like almost all other successful urban shopping and entertainment districts, other Cordish developments notwithstanding. And in that way it is poorly designed, in my opinion (and evidently at least also in the opinion of KCPowercat)—but poorly designed not only because it creates a vibe and manner of use that I think find less attractive than the traditonal one, but because it also seems to make the district less effective for retail than it otherwise might have been.