Monday, November 4, 2013

 Thinking Out Loud - First Draft
Trevi Fountain, Rome
For a variety of reasons most American cities do not have town squares to compare with the great town squares or plazas of Europe. We have great open spaces but seldom create great urban spaces that combine an open plaza surrounded by buildings with restaurants and shops.

Sarasota could create a great town square in downtown. A few thoughts below: 

The photo below is from Google and captures many people walking on Lemon Street near the Main Street intersection. The road is sometimes blocked off for farmers markets and other events.

The map below shows four possible expansions at Lemon and Main Street. Any one expansion could create a nice permanent town square in a great location.

How to pay for this while getting the support of the property owners and downtown merchants? You quietly meet with the property owners of all four properties.  You explain the idea, advising them that is simply an idea - It only goes forward if the property owner likes the idea. The property owner is compensated by being granted a higher density zoning next to the plaza expansion - so the property owner is trading his existing low building for a smaller footprint with a higher allowed building - say 4 to 5 stories. The result would be something like the square below - with Sarasota Mediterranean designed buildings with the first floor restaurants with outside seating, with office or residential in the floors above the square. 

Great Public Plazas and Squares

The Best and Worst of the World's Central Plazas and Squares
Flickr user: marco_ask under a Creative Commons LicenceEmail
"central plazas and squares play a crucial role in successful urban areas. When they're done right, these spaces act as a focal point for the civic and social life of a city, a place where impromptu gatherings, people watching and even, political discourse all naturally intersect. When designed poorly, though, they can act as a black hole, sucking the life out of a city center."

"The Project For Public Spaces has focused on understanding what's necessary to maintain or improve on these spaces. In 2004, they released their rankings of the best and worst public squares in the world." 
Click below to read the rest of the article and view their 10 best and 10 worst public spaces.

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