On a recent evening ramble through Southside, I snapped the above pic of a fairly recent redevelopment on the north side of 7th Avenue South between 23rd and 24th Streets. The building to the right has been renovated as a medical clinic; the building to the left has been renovated into parking.
Ideally, parking would have been hidden around the rear somewhere and a retail space provided on the street instead. Or take that a step further–even more ideally, that parking lot would disappear altogether, since our wonderful network of public transit, centralized shared garages, and dense city life would eliminate the need for individual lots like this.
Since we don’t yet live in an ideal world, a good first step is the preservation of the building facade, which is so important to maintaining a strong street “edge”. Streets are our most important public spaces, and the most satisfying streets are usually the ones that feel like places, defined by buildings lining sidewalks. You start to eliminate buildings, and the physical enclosure of the street breaks down, making it less desirable to walk down, and causing drivers to go even faster. Not to mention fewer opportunities for activity beyond the parking of cars.
So kudo’s to the developer here for preserving a nice old building–and the street edge. Maybe someday its use will no longer be necessary, and the shell will be there to wrap a more exciting tenant. At least for the moment it’s worth noting that SitTight, a service that checks/adjusts children’s car safety seats, operates out of this parking area as well (their website is down, though).