Following retail trends is not a matter of great interest here, but it has been impossible not to notice recent talk about Macy's selling stores and about the decline of classic 20th century department store brands. Just today the Oregonian has a note about 100 store closures and more speculation about the downtown store on Pioneer Square.
Locally, as Meier & Frank the store here was a mid-century icon; as Macy's it seems increasingly like an afterthought.
So is it time to think about what might come next?
|Downtown Macy's (all images here via streetview)|
|Four or Five levels of parking|
|Sandwiched between Marion and Center Streets|
If you were to look at a map, the site offers the strongest combination in Salem of urban walkability and car-oriented connections. It's the one place downtown where you could build fully car-oriented urban housing without also having to build new parking.
So here's the question: Can - would it even be structurally possible - and should Macy's be redeveloped to maintain ground floor retail/commercial and then to stick a housing block on top of it?
(A few years back, you may recall, there was talk about a mixed use development on top the Marion Parkade. It stalled, and it seemed to have the wrong development team attached - but at least structurally, there it seemed possible.)
At the Macy's site no new parking would need to be built for a redevelopment project, and so it could be a perfect transitional moment for a large chunk of downtown housing with plentiful parking. The cars and traffic would impose no hardship on the Marion/Center couplet, already optimized for lots of traffic. And it would help add a large amount of residential foot traffic to reach that critical mass and tipping point for real downtown vitality.
Kitty-corner to the Macy's block is the old
So apart from whatever financial constraints there might be, just as a thought experiment, it seems like a good site for new housing.
What do you think?
And just as a postscript, the google on Marion Street captured a person biking down its length, hugging the curb and weaving in and out of parking spots. We need the Union Street bikeway as a parallel lower-traffic alternative, of course. But we will also need to retrofit our principal arterials, as they connect primary places and also have the key storefronts and destinations on them.
|Latent demand: Biking on Marion Street, hugging the curb|
We'll look at this more closely in the next couple of days, but as the picture here suggests - there's latent demand for bike lanes, no matter how heavy the auto traffic. The principal arterials are the most direct routes and they are where the business destinations are located.