CBID gives TVA garage advice » Knoxville News Sentinel

The AutoPark at the Gallery Mall, Philadelphia.

This is a parking garage. It sucks. And we all know it.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to suck this much. That’s the problem that Knoxville’s Central Business Improvement District is facing, according to this post from Josh Flory. They are trying to convince TVA to put ground-floor retail in a parking garage that they are proposing in downtown Knoxville. This makes the big difference between what can be a pretty good streetscape and a “dead zone,” as Board member Patrick Hunt put it. For instance, here is another parking garage in Philadelphia:

Parking garage at 11th and Race, Philadelphia.

Now this doesn’t seem demonstrably better on the upper floors, but you can see that there are active retail uses on the ground floor. The truth is, I live very close to this, walk by it all the time, and never noticed the parking garage above, because at street level, I just see this:

Streetscape along 11th Street, just south of Race Street, looking north.

The garage entrance takes up one bay, and there are stores all along the rest of the front of the building.

Another example, an even better one, can be found a few blocks away, at 12th and Filbert:

Parking garage at 12th and Filbert, Philadelphia.

Unlike the previous two, this one was actually designed to minimize it’s parking garage-ness and give it some architectural character. It’s not winning any awards from the AIA, but it’s still pretty nice, and most importantly, the streetscape looks like this:

12th Street just north of Filbert, looking north.

There is a nice little cafe here and other restaurants around the cover, a double row of trees, and if it weren’t for the construction on the other side of the block, this would be a near perfect picture of urban life.

So TVA, please give your ground floor to retail uses. It has the potential to give you the parking space you need, and turn your property into a real asset for the community. Everybody wins.


About Dave Munson
This blog is about architecture, cities, and myself.

One Response to CBID gives TVA garage advice » Knoxville News Sentinel

  1. phillip says:

    This is a very good idea and does indeed cut down on the “garage-ness” of it. It provides more useable street level stores.

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