1.5M s.f. new shopping center, zero new parking

A neglected series of buildings is expanding by an additional one million s.f. of retail, entertainment and university, yet there’s no additional parking being added? Yes, the $460M San Francisco Centre is indeed in a city like no other, but it just goes to show you that living-without-a-car is one of the hottest trends going.

Granted, by its sheer size and location it is a regional shopping destination, so that means predominantly chains, but take a look at the number of amenities it provides everyone:

– A 9-plex theater, seven full-service restaurants, a specialty food ’emporium’ in addition to the standard food court, free window shopping at 200 stores, a San Francisco State University extension and one of the most beautifully restored, intensively used interior public spaces (see larger rendering and fly-through) in a time where such places are rarely ever built. In fact, it was christened as the Emporium in 1896 as “the most beautiful store on earth”, opening with an orchestra playing twelve numbers including the William Tell Overture. Now that’s an experience.

The lesson for smaller cities and towns is not to shoehorn something of this scale into your downtown, but to strategize how to provide the same amenities (with indie stores) into the existing pedestrian-oriented urban fabric.