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Curb Magazine is about policy practice and community experiences in cities, regions, and rural areas. Curb is distributed to municipal offices and planning departments across Western Canadian provinces and territories, and North-Western United States.

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    VOLUME 3 | ISSUE 2 | 2012

    CITY-REGION STUDIES CENTRE PLACES | SPACES | PEOPLE

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    $9.99

    COMPLEX OWNERSHIP AND STRIP MALL REDEVELOPMENT

    TRENDS IN STRIP MALL REVITALIZATION

    RECLAIMING HOSTILE SPACES:

    FROM SCOTLAND TO SKATEBOARDERS

    FREE ZONING

    STRIP MALLS

    PARKING LOTSand

  • One Team. Inf ini te Solut ions.

    In simple terms, the world of Stantec is the water we drink, the routes we travel, the buildings we visit, the industries in which we work, and the neighbourhoods we call home.

    A place like no other, Edmonton is an economic powerhouse where business thrives and citizens enjoy a dynamic and vibrant lifestyle. With enviable infrastructure and transportation networks, a highly skilled labour force, nation-leading growth, and a high quality of life with a diverse and vibrant culture, the city clearly has its eye on the future.

    Edmonton, Alberta: A stand out capital city for investment

    with its robust economic outlook

    Investing in Edmontons future:

    Blatchford:aworld-class,sustainable development

    LRTexpansion

    RoyalAlbertaMuseum

    WestRossdaledevelopment nexttoNorthAmericaslargest urban park

    QuartersDowntown/BoyleRenaissancehousingprojects

    Proposeddowntownarenaand entertainment district

    SUBURBAN LAND USE:STRIP MALLS AND PARKING LOTS

  • COMPLEX OWNERSHIP AND STRIP MALL REDEVELOPMENT by Orly Linovski

    DELAMINATED SPACE: FOLD THE ROOFby David Karle

    CHANGESCAPING BRISBANEby Linda Carroli

    IF SPACES COULD TALK: THE INVERNESS STORYby Susan Christie and Diarmaid Lawlor

    A PLACE TO PARK, A PLACE TO SKATE?by Michelle Catanzaro

    ADVENTURE WITHIN CINEMAS IN THE SUBURBS by Elena Siemens

    I STRIP MALLSby Kevin Edson Jones

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    SUBURBAN LAND USE:

    CURCCCCCURB APPEAL by Brittany Stares

    FREE ZONINGby Stephanie Davidson and

    Georg Rafailidis

    PARK(ED) MALLby Carole Levesque,

    Todd Ashton and Aumer Assaf

    STRIPSCAPING WINNIPEG by Pablo Batista

    PARK AIDby Tyler Dixon and Tai Ziola

    TRENDS IN STRIP MALL REVITALIZATIONby Ellen Dunham-Jones

    CURB MAGAZINE

    PUBLISHERRob Shields, DirectorCity-Region Studies Centre,University of Alberta

    MANAGING EDITORBrittany Stares

    GUEST EDITORMerle Patchett

    EDITORIAL BOARDSara Dorow, Kevin Jones, Merle Patchett, Howie Phung, Rob Shields, Maryanne Wynne, Peter Yackulic

    ART DIRECTION AND DESIGNERIwona Faferek

    CITY-REGION STUDIES CENTREFaculty of Extension Enterprise Square2184, 10230 Jasper AvenueEdmonton, Alberta

    E-mail: crsc@ualberta.caPhone: 780.492.9957Fax: 780.492.0627

    www.crsc.ualberta.ca

    Disclaimer: The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the City-Region Studies Centre, Faculty of Extension or the University of Alberta

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    STRIP MALLS AND PARKING LOTS

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    www.crsc.ualberta.ca/CURBmagazine

  • The problem of the suburbs has long been recognized by both planning professionals and elected officials. Sprawl, segregation and reliance on the automobile have moved social and planning challenges once distinct to urban centres beyond their traditional boundaries and into suburbia. What was once the North American ideal for living has become, quite simply, out of touch.

    Yet at the same time, the vision for the suburbs and for cities, more gener-ally is shifting towards one of greater sustainability and connectedness. The City of Calgarys imagineCALGARY Plan, for instance, articulated a series of goals for the long-term future of the munici-pality, which emerged from consultation with over 18,00 residents. Such goals included: the development of complete communities; the reduction of private vehicle kilometres; the reduction of community greenhouse gas emissions; a prevailing sense of communityfor the majority of Calgarians; and an increase in land use efficiency by at least 30% by 2036.1

    The suburbs are ripe to facilitate these transformations; however, significant obstacles stand in the way. Most obv-ious is the land squeeze faced by inner suburbs much of the land being undevelopable, already in use by roadways, residences and so forth and, on the periphery, the desire (and need) to curb further sprawl. How to best utilize land in the suburbs then, without sacrificing green spaces or quality of life?

    One answer is to more effectively exploit those spaces in suburbia which are underperforming. Here, we zero in on two common features of any typical suburban neighbourhood: the strip mall and the parking lot.

    Strip malls first rose to prominence in the post-WWII era, encapsulating the idea of convenience close to home and capitalizing on the increased use of the automobile with their location near major intersections and accompanying parking lots. In time, the automobile would prove their undoing; no longer would consumers be content to stop at the neighbourhood strip when they could carry on to larger, big box stores in further districts. Quoting Merle Patchett and Rob Shields, As a business model, strip malls have suffered because they are unable to grow.2 Subsequently, most modern strips and their vast parking spaces often stand empty, the shops with high vacancy rates and quick turnovers, both failing to engage the community of which they are part.

    Our special section of Curb, Suburban Land Use Planning: Strip Malls and Parking Lots, focuses on alternative uses for these spaces. Here, we draw on ideas generated from the CRSCs competition Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall, which invited participants from all over the world to reimagine, revitalize, and ultimately reclaim (on paper) a struggling suburban strip local to them. The featured entries, based on winning and shortlisted submissions, offer a range of approaches to dealing with these spaces from flexible zoning

    practices, as described by Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis, to parking complexes promoting increased densi-fication of the suburbs, as proposed by Tyler Dixon and Tai Ziola. For commu-nities feeling that they have, literally, nowhere to go, the theme shared by these authors of maximizing what is already available can provide valuable insight.

    Where complete overhaul is not possible, new and innovative ways must be found to reengage with these spaces. In the rest of this issue, we explore every-thing from possible modifications of the strip malls roof with David Karle to creative curation in multi-storey parking lots with Susan Christie and Diarmaid Lawlor. Whatever the case for communi-ties, developers and businesses, there is opportunity to be found in unloved spaces such as strip malls and parking lots opportunity where one might least expect to find it.

    Brittany Stares is the Managing Editor of Curb Magazine

    1 As measured by public transit threshold and increased density. Full plan available at http://www.imaginecalgary.ca/imagineCALGARY_plan.php (November 21, 2012).

    2 Patchett, M. and R. Shields, eds. (2012). Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall.

    LAND USE PLANNING AND SUBURBIA BRITTANY STARES

    CURB APPEAL

    1 CITYREGION STUDIES CENTRE | University of Alberta

  • Contemporary architecture projects are typically triggered by and tailored to specific uses, business plans, buil-ding codes and immediate economic interests. These project triggers are increasingly time-specific and dynamic, and the lifespan of uses of buildings is becoming shorter and shorter. A quick succession of programs, changing building codes, updating mechanical services, economic changes, land banking and so forth are all mighty forces that challenge buildings over time. Now, more than ever, buildings are outliving their intended use.

    On average, retail typologies change every ten to fifteen years. Architects, planners and administrators are strug-gling to acknowledge and reconcile the rift between the lifespan of buildings and their original use. This means that when buildings are no longer meeting the spatial demands of their use, they are often abandoned, offered as lef-tovers for an adaptive reuse project of some kind or simply demolished.

    Central Park Plaza exemplifies this increasingly common rift. Central Park Plaza is a derelict strip mall in Buffalo, New York. Having been vacant for years, the vandalized shell is now an infamous site of crime and illicit activity. Built in 1957, partly on the site of a former rock quarry and partly on forested land, the strip mall thrived for the typical time span of around fifteen years before it predictably lost its retail appeal. The City of Buffalo, however, still treats its demise as an unfortunate, unforeseen event. The repeated searches for a

    commercial developer for this property only underscore the inability of planners and policymakers alike to understand the changed economic, social and political context for spatially inflexible and typologically outdated buildings like the strip mall.

    Central Park Plaza is typical of a new form of architecture that emerged in the second half of the 20th century, one that depends on mechanical services to produce vast and unusually deep spaces that do not rely on natural ventilation or lighting. The high running costs of mechanical ventilation, air conditioning and around-the-clock electric lighting were easily met by the large revenues these businesses initially produced. After one or two decades, when the business model fulfilled its ambition and a new retail typology replaced the former one, this architecture would ideally disappear. Bu

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