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Neighborhood Retail In Older Suburbs

June 2, 2014 Featured, Retail, St. Louis County 4 Comments

Driving around the inner ring suburb of Overland recently I was struck at the number of corner retail buildings adjacent to the residential streets. Unlike more recent suburbs, where retail is miles away from housing, these were very close. End of street close. Today when we think of retailing in the suburbs it’s easy to assume it was always big boxes or enclosed mall, but like the inner city, it started off with stores within walking distance.

Lackland at Ashby, click for map
This storefront building facing Lackland, just east of Ashby, was built in 1950. Click for map
This building was built in 1952, to the east of the previous.
This building was built in 1952, to the east of the previous.
The 1952 building even included a 2-story section
The 1952 building even included a 2-story section
Most of the housing in this area are modest one-story  homes from the 1920s-1960s, this house across the street was built in 1844
Most of the housing in this area are modest one-story homes from the 1920s-1960s, this house directly across Lackland was built in 1844
The commercial building a block east, at 10236 Lockland, was built in 1936. I don't know the prior uses, my guess was a market.
The commercial building a block east, at 10236 Lockland, was built in 1936. I don’t know the prior uses, my guess was a market.
The 21,000+ square foot commercial building at Lackland Rd & Bryant Ave was built in 1947
The 21,000+ square foot commercial building at Lackland Rd & Bryant Ave was built in 1947

This is far different than the 1960s subdivision in Oklahoma City where I grew up. The 1960s subdivisions I’ve seen here are very similar, by that time commercial development was further away  and with lots more parking than these examples. Suburbs & their subdivision development seemed to continue on this trajectory, except for New Urbanist developments like New Town St. Charles.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. guest says:

    This same condition exists in many of the inner ring suburbs of our region. They had street cars too. Inside of 255/270 is one world; outside of 255/270 is another. I choose to be inside, not outside.

     
  2. JZ71 says:

    Isn’t this just a case of natural evolution? A response to increasing auto use? Going from parallel parking to perpendicular parking triples the number of available parking spaces in front of a storefront. (And the next. inevitable, step is the dedicated parking lot, with the building set back increasingly further from the curb line.) And one big reason government is no longer a fan of this urban design model is the challenge with people trying to back into an active travel lane, one with increasing traffic volumes – off-street parking is much safer from a traffic engineering standpoint.

     
    • I’d say it’s more a case of unintended consequences, they provided a little more parking vs parallel but they had no idea what it would morph info decades later.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        They, who? I’m guessing that the retailers fully embraced the intended concept of more and more convenient parking. If the they you speak of is the urban design community, then yes, there were probably both unintended consequences and regret about some, but not all, design decisions. But that’s also true of many other design choices – given the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, there will always be some choices that we would do differently, just like there are many others that we got “right”.

         

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