West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

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EOst
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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby EOst » May 7th, 2019, 7:53 am

I thought this section was pretty disheartening:
Even if Mid-America can identify that hot new concept and sell it on the demographics of the West End area, the center’s awkward design continues to be an obstacle, local developers say. The Twin Cities’ two other similar “main street”-designed lifestyle centers, Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove and Woodbury Lakes, both have the suburban luxury of surface parking on all sides. The underground parking that was thought to be a West End perk has proven off-putting to shoppers.

“Minnesotans don’t view a ramp as convenient. That’s what I’ve learned about Minnesota consumers,” says John Johannson, senior vice president of Colliers International in the Twin Cities.

Colliers’ Central Park Commons in Eagan is an example of the latest thinking about suburban lifestyle centers. Rather than erecting a faux main street in the middle of a parking lot, Central Park Commons was designed as several mini-strip centers throughout the property, each with its own surface parking and circular roads and sidewalks connecting each group of buildings. The design does little to promote walking, but visitors seem only too happy to drive across the parking lot from HyVee to Punch Pizza.

“Asking suburban shoppers to shop someplace without convenient up-front parking is really difficult,” Johannson says. “It’s a good lesson in trying to engineer design where you’re asking people to change their social behavior.”

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby amiller92 » May 7th, 2019, 9:55 am

Every time I go there (which wasn't often when we lived downtown and is almost never now), I just cannot fathom how they built it without housing above the shops. Like, who is a "town center" for? Typically, the people who live there (or other are already there).

It's like the re-created Downtown's struggling retail scene, which is plagued by not enough built-in customers, but on purpose and just a bit out in the 'burbs.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby mattaudio » May 7th, 2019, 10:01 am

There's plenty of housing below the shops... housing for cars!

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sdho
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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby sdho » May 7th, 2019, 9:17 pm

I am honestly disturbed by the idea that a shopping center that has on-street parking, underground parking, *and* above-ground ramp parking — all free — is thought to be floundering because it doesn't have convenient-enough parking.

The most off-putting part about the West End for me is that it creates a faux main street rather than embracing the actual... main... street of the area, Park Pl Blvd. But I still far prefer it to Arbor Lakes. It's also just a much better location regionally.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby colink » May 8th, 2019, 10:33 am

I never rant on this site but I'm feeling kinda punchy today!

There are sooo many issues with West End that could be improved with even a tiny bit of sensitivity to design. The parking lot to the east of Duke Drive has no ground floor pedestrian street access that I can see. You are required to take the skyway or walk through the vehicle entrance onto a street that HAS NO SIDEWALKS! Then when you get across the street you are either required to walk under the building or walk along the east sidewalk that just ends in the middle of the block for some reason. So much for easy access to "The Loop" and "Subway". And good luck crossing the street from Cub Foods to Rojo without getting hit. That intersection is so confusing and dangerous for both cars and pedestrians. The plantings in the intersection blocking sight lines aren't any help either.

Also, the hodge podge of architectural styles that are reminiscent of Block E do little to enhance the pedestrian experience. Maybe design matters after all? No, let's continue to ignore design and rely solely on retail trends to inform all of our decisions. By all means Mid-America, maybe the next short lived trend in entertainment will save the day. I hear the kids love axe throwing and mini golf.

And another thing..... if I, as a man, wanted to shop for clothing at West Elm I'd be limited to Jos A Bank. Evidently those millennials can't get enough of their Jos A Bank. Wait...are they in chapter 11 yet?

(I'm actually not a millennial but I added that part for dramatic affect)

Here's an idea. Maybe West End could eventually be converted into a Mayo Clinic!

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby Tcmetro » May 8th, 2019, 11:16 am

I think one of the biggest downfalls of the site is allowing driving along the main shopping street. This should have been a pedestrian street, especially since there is so much underground and ramp parking.

The big miss on this project was separating the uses on the site. The hotels and offices should have been built on top of the shopping giving people a reason to walk around. People aren't going to try to walk through the parking lots to get from the hotels/offices, especially if they have time limited lunch breaks.

Lastly, this site is isolated by railroads and highways. There has to be some attractor here that people will drive to, but this site is just a bad mash-up of 50th/France and Ridgedale.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby sdho » May 8th, 2019, 1:27 pm

Hmm, I actually think allowing (minimal, low-speed) driving on West End Blvd makes it feel more like a real street, and less like an outdoor mall. Compare to the Eagan outlet mall, where the "streets" are ped-only.

I actually think that using this general design might want to go a bit farther, and do angle parking in front of the stores, rather than short parallel parking bays. Like many small town downtowns, you can get a good amount of short-term parking that way, and still have a great, meaningful sidewalk presence behind that.

Agreed totally about isolation from the rest of SLP and GV, and the separation of uses. This has to be the only (?) single story strip retail with underground parking in the metro. Even if it was easier to finance/build by having them as separate buildings, they could have at least reserved a bad for residential near Gamble Dr, rather than having it all on the north end.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby Tcmetro » May 8th, 2019, 2:26 pm

Street-fronting retail works on thru streets (Hennepin, Grand, 50/France) because there is traffic that creates chance activity beyond those that are destined for those areas. West End has no thru traffic, it is more similar to mall in that the only people that go there are those that want to. Embracing the "mall function" would make the experience more pleasant. That being said, the design of West End Blvd would be ideal for any of the "thru street" retail strips.

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Anondson
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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby Anondson » May 8th, 2019, 4:13 pm

West End’s isolated aspect would improve with some grid extensions. 16th through the Golden Valley sliver to the frontage road and HOV ramps. Duke Dr. or West End Blvd south to Parkdale then to Cedar Lake.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby BigIdeasGuy » May 8th, 2019, 5:51 pm

Would it be possible if they were to tear down the 1 story retail and rebuild a 6 story stick built with ground floor retail with the parking garage underneath?

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby mamundsen » May 8th, 2019, 7:38 pm

I always thought they should have gone for a KC Power and Light district plan. Have a central courtyard that could be shared by multiple restaurant patios.

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Anondson
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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby Anondson » May 8th, 2019, 8:28 pm

BigIdeasGuy wrote:Would it be possible if they were to tear down the 1 story retail and rebuild a 6 story stick built with ground floor retail with the parking garage underneath?
I mentioned up thread, and it may be wrong now, but in recent past proposals the West End area I recall reading that the area was nearly at capacity for water use. I wouldn’t be surprised more residences, even with seeming high demand here, may be held up by infrastructure.

If there is some person wise in the ways of figuring out water infrastructure capacity in neighborhoods I love to hear if this is true here.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby xandrex » May 9th, 2019, 8:51 am

sdho wrote:
May 7th, 2019, 9:17 pm
I am honestly disturbed by the idea that a shopping center that has on-street parking, underground parking, *and* above-ground ramp parking — all free — is thought to be floundering because it doesn't have convenient-enough parking.
The weird thing is, despite all of that parking, it's never seemingly "convenient" when you get there. Perhaps it's the times I end up there, but it seems like a long wait to turn from Park Place Blvd to 16th. Then you've got the confusing mess that is 16th and West End Blvd, where nobody knows who has the right of way and there are just enough pedestrians that everything is mucked up but not enough that anyone drives with caution. Then you can either slowly chug down the street to the underground ramp or head to the ramp, where it seems like I've always ended up near the top.

I think, fairly or not, the setup just makes it seem less convenient than a place like Arbor Lakes, where you can park essentially right next to wherever your destination is.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby sdho » May 9th, 2019, 3:54 pm

xandrex wrote:
May 9th, 2019, 8:51 am
I think, fairly or not, the setup just makes it seem less convenient than a place like Arbor Lakes, where you can park essentially right next to wherever your destination is.
Fair points, and I agree people talk about surface parking as convenient. But it seems like people never talk about the advantages of covered parking? No scraping snow off your car, no excessive solar heating on a hot summer day, no tree blossoms or seeds (or minimal, if in an open-air ramp), no bird poop, no hail.

If you're running in for 10 minutes, those advantages are minimal, but if you're going somewhere for several hours -- like, going out to a restaurant and a movie at the West End -- I feel like a covered ramp offers a lot of advantages besides efficient land use. When I worked out at Lifetime SLP, I would always park in the ramp (although I would admittedly try to get in the first floor, since I didn't like dealing with the stairs).

There's a reason suburbanites prefer to park in a garage at home versus on the street or driveway. Could retail and restaurant capitalize on that preference better?

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby xandrex » May 9th, 2019, 5:05 pm

The article seems to indicate that the movie theater and restaurants are doing quite well - and anecdotally, the few times I'm in one of the restaurants there, that seems accurate. It's the retail that's the issue, and I wonder if maybe surface parking is just...psychologically preferred for that? If you're trying to run into a store and grab something, a ramp seems like a hassle. If you're making a day out of it, that's much less an issue. But making a day of shopping is really only a weekend thing, and it requires a certain level of store density (MOA is a good example of people putting up with a lot of inconvenient parking for true destination retail).

Is there any retail at West End that's even unique to there? Sure seems like if you're a suburban resident, there's probably a more convenient strip mall or shopping center that's just as close.

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sdho
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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby sdho » May 9th, 2019, 9:18 pm

Good points. For me, the main retail draw on its own was Lululemon, but they have since moved. In that case, there isn't really a more convenient, drive-up-strip-mall type option. The one I go to otherwise is Galleria, where there is also a presumption of parking a car a ways and walking. Ridgedale is where the West End one moved.

Other than that, I'd only do it if I were there for another reason, like Lifetime Fitness (in the past -- although the short walk over sucked) or heading to the restaurants.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby QuietBlue » May 10th, 2019, 10:50 am

sdho wrote:
May 9th, 2019, 3:54 pm
Fair points, and I agree people talk about surface parking as convenient. But it seems like people never talk about the advantages of covered parking? No scraping snow off your car, no excessive solar heating on a hot summer day, no tree blossoms or seeds (or minimal, if in an open-air ramp), no bird poop, no hail.

If you're running in for 10 minutes, those advantages are minimal, but if you're going somewhere for several hours -- like, going out to a restaurant and a movie at the West End -- I feel like a covered ramp offers a lot of advantages besides efficient land use. When I worked out at Lifetime SLP, I would always park in the ramp (although I would admittedly try to get in the first floor, since I didn't like dealing with the stairs).

There's a reason suburbanites prefer to park in a garage at home versus on the street or driveway. Could retail and restaurant capitalize on that preference better?
I've noticed that some people have an aversion to covered parking, even when the surface parking is less convenient, and I don't know why. Like the people who go to the MOA and hike in from a parking lot rather than just using one of the two gargantuan ramps that are attached to the mall.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby trafficeng985 » May 10th, 2019, 11:41 am

QuietBlue wrote:
May 10th, 2019, 10:50 am
sdho wrote:
May 9th, 2019, 3:54 pm
Fair points, and I agree people talk about surface parking as convenient. But it seems like people never talk about the advantages of covered parking? No scraping snow off your car, no excessive solar heating on a hot summer day, no tree blossoms or seeds (or minimal, if in an open-air ramp), no bird poop, no hail.

If you're running in for 10 minutes, those advantages are minimal, but if you're going somewhere for several hours -- like, going out to a restaurant and a movie at the West End -- I feel like a covered ramp offers a lot of advantages besides efficient land use. When I worked out at Lifetime SLP, I would always park in the ramp (although I would admittedly try to get in the first floor, since I didn't like dealing with the stairs).

There's a reason suburbanites prefer to park in a garage at home versus on the street or driveway. Could retail and restaurant capitalize on that preference better?
I've noticed that some people have an aversion to covered parking, even when the surface parking is less convenient, and I don't know why. Like the people who go to the MOA and hike in from a parking lot rather than just using one of the two gargantuan ramps that are attached to the mall.
Part of it might be that people feel those covered areas will take forever to find a spot it, hence why the MOA has the spot red/green lights now. The underground parking in West End is often full, and maybe peoples aversion is to driving around, not finding anything, and having to keep looking.

I do wonder if the West End has an issue with employees utilizing all of the closer parking, or even the underground parking, making it seem more inconvenient to customers.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby QuietBlue » May 10th, 2019, 1:47 pm

There's usually plenty of parking in the MOA ramps on the upper levels, even if the roofs are closed off. It's not an issue unless it is very busy.

It's not just an MOA thing, either -- at Mia, for example, people will fuss around with trying to park in the surface lot and ignore the garage that is right there across the street. I don't get it.

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Re: West End / Central Park West Development - St. Louis Park

Postby sdho » May 10th, 2019, 4:47 pm

Depending on the ramp design, it is nice that it can be a linear flow — there is no hunting for spot, row after row, but one progression, and you *will* see the first available spot. However, that design can be pretty annoying when you need to leave.

I think the current MOA setup -- with an external ramp to move between floors, but dynamic lights to let you know what areas are more open -- are the best of both world. You can exit promptly, but don't have to completely DIY your search.

After writing on this thread, I met some friends at Rojo last night -- and indeed, I went into the underground garage and couldn't find a spot. It may have been full, as there were several others swarming around. Which is fine. There was plenty of space in the ramp. But it was annoying to have wasted 5 minutes hunting around and adding congestion to a full space when (fairly simple) technology could have directed me to the above-ground ramp to begin with. I still found it less frustrating than a bleak parking lot at Arbor Lakes, but my parking preferences may not match the typical consumer...


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