Thursday, August 26, 2010

High Street - Abbotsford

A new development has been announced on the north side of the Mt. Lehman Interchange in Abbotsford. The development, ironically called High Street, is a new lifestyle power centre complete with Wal-Mart. Before we get into what's wrong with the development, I want to start with what's good about it.

What is really great about this development is that the parking is not the primary feature of it. The site's coverage is mostly retail buildings on the top floor with the parking on the ground level. More and more people are looking for the "Main Street" feeling and that feeling is what this development is trying to provide. The unfortunate thing about this development is that the parking is on the ground level, so the retail part of this development is not integrated into the surrounding community. A pedestrian on the street is going to see a big parking lot. If the parking was sub-surface, this development would be a great example of how to build urban power centres.

The other major issue with this development is that it is 100% relying on the freeway for traffic and therefore breaks the golden rule of designing for the pedestrian, cyclist, and transit. This is not the developers fault as the area surrounding the power centre is full of single-family houses. If nothing else happens in this area, we will have the perfect example of 1960's single use and segregated zoning.

What I find odd about this whole areas is that the Abbotsford's Mount Lehman Interchange Area plan goals for the section High Street is in are to "ensure a high-quality gateway development and a pedestrian-friendly urban environment by discouraging large surface parking areas and low-density developments throughout the Sub-Area [and to] Support mixed use Residential above Commercial development in the western parts of the Sub-Area."
 High Street is in Section C

I am unsure how the City plans to meet these goals with this development.

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