Re: A new vision for Malden Center
posted at 2/9/2012 1:48 AM EST
Density is not the cause of our decline. To my knowledge Medford is fine. The others may support your point, but then I can point out the increasing density of Quincy, Cambridge, and Sommerville have been good to those cities. Unless you don't count their developments as increasing density.
What I agrue for Malden Square is we need a real streetwall. The ability to walk down and feel like you're in an active town center. The feeling you get at a lively mall or Havard Square or Davis Square.
This is accomplished by two directions: enough continuous retail stores and stores worth shopping at.
We haven't been doing too well on that, we leveled a block of retail on Main Street for a parking lot and another block on Pleasant St. for a Condo. Can someone explain why we did that? Especially the parking lot.
In some ways, the response to GetActive and anotherman demonstrated my point. GetActive listed that we actually have a number of stores of decent interest. Anotherman shows we lost a number of them - the matress stores is completely disconnted to the rest of Malden Sq.
If you think about it, we actually have a good number of stores. Unfortunately divided by a highway, parking lots, a couple of auto repair stores and several suburban style office buildings. Oh yeah, and don't forget City Hall.
If only we can crunch them all the stores together (the ones on Ferry with the Super 88 area and etc), we can have a decent center... but that's not possible, we can can sew them (well enough of it).
That means City Hall and the Police Station needs to stop isolating Pleasant Street. Exhange Street actually needs join Pleasant as a full on retail area instead of the mostly dead zone it is. This mean that office building block Rt 60-Commericial Street-Exchange Street needs to go too. Along with City Hall and its police station on the other side. Also something needs to be done about the Super Fitness block.
Fortunately, there are plans for City Hall and the Super Fitness area.
To my hopes, the ballpark could add a lot of the city (c'mon people, what's there now is a fenced asphalt wasteland anyway). It's role, if done right, is help expand Malden Square to actually feel like a significant city center. With City Hall and the Super Fitness, it might do enough to knit them all together.
Though this is a BIG if. Right now Super Fitness is another condo with no retail. That won't connect the ball park with Pleasant Street. The City Hall thing is only on a wish list so far too. Then's there stilll more to be done as Rt 60 needs to be soften (though I hope the people who wants the Ballpark will do that, it's in their interest to see that happen) and then there's that office block in the way too.
All of that, and that's only for the first requirement. The second, the right shops. That's a different challenge. First though, I want to say ethnic shops is probably a net positive I think. I don't think the Pho restaurants damage us, actually I think it makes the square more interesting. People love going to squares to eat food, so the more variety of food shops, the better. Though I will admit having 3 Pho shops might be overkill, though I can also argue that if our center is not a single street, it wouldn't feel so over-saturated.
That said, what is true is the dollar stores needs to go. We do need more variety of stores. Whether it is specialty shops, bars, and/or restaurants, they can provide what the our center needs. Hopefully the ballpark can help with that (probably in the bars/restaurants front).
All of this said, this assumes alot on the success of such developments. If the ballpark busts, city hall sits, and superfitness just become another condo, we get more of the same or worse. The scenario above will probably what will play out. But, I can see a chance with the help of the Ballpark. It might greatly help us or it might just bring us a little worse version of the same. But I know if we don't do it, I am willing to bet that it will be more of the same.