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Re: [carfree_cities] Re: recycling big-box stores

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  • Brian Labadie
    This is all very interesting and a great investigation into the reuse of unlikely structures, however, when considering this from a carfree perspective, the
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 17, 2008
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      This is all very interesting and a great investigation into the reuse of
      unlikely structures, however, when considering this from a carfree
      perspective, the feasability depends on the location of the subject "big
      box".

      If the location is removed from public transport and in a low density
      suburban setting (and that is usually the case with these type of
      developments), why encourage the reuse of it? People would still have to
      drive to the location, defeating its purpose.

      This is obviously a designer's dream as there are infinite possibilities,
      but this issue we're facing needs to be looked at on a macro level. Let the
      market take it's course and not try to reinvent something that was flawed in
      the preliminary planning stages. The best use I can see with an abandoned
      big box is reusing the building materials for a quality infill development
      in a dense, urban area and giving the land back to nature.

      Brian
      On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 10:45 AM, Matt Hohmeister <matt@...> wrote:

      > I find this quite interesting because because I'm interested in how to
      > convert existing areas to carfree without having to demolish existing
      > structures.
      >
      > I'm also not exactly a fan of eminent domain, so I'd rather not use
      > that to make carfree development.
      >
      > If an area becomes carfree, land prices per square foot will go up
      > considerably; I think the developers converting big boxes would be
      > happy to sell off strips through their property to make public
      > streets. A single existing big-box property would probably be turned
      > into several blocks: the big box itself on its own block, with all
      > other blocks ranging in sizes from 200 to 400 feet on a side. These
      > streets would probably range in width from 10 to 100 feet, so it
      > wouldn't exactly be a loss to the property owner.
      >
      > I know that a property owner could easily just build their own streets
      > on their carfree property, but that's not the point. Privately owned
      > streets mean that the owner can dictate terms of use; I don't call it
      > publicly accessible unless it's publicly accessible 24*7 with no
      > restrictions aside from causing a nuisance or danger.
      >
      > --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com <carfree_cities%40yahoogroups.com>,
      > "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > Hi All,
      > >
      > > This is moderately interesting:
      > >
      > >
      >
      > http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13/AR2008111303039.html?hpid=topnews
      > >
      > > Best,
      > >
      > > Joel
      > >
      > >
      > > Big Box & Beyond
      > >
      > > Today's Temples of Consumption Don't Have To Be Tomorrow's Ruins.
      > What's in Store?
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • J.H. Crawford
      Hi All, Some issues here: 1) Some big-box stores in Europe are served by good public transport, although most are not. All but a few of them are located away
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 17, 2008
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        Hi All,

        Some issues here:

        1) Some big-box stores in Europe are served by good public transport,
        although most are not. All but a few of them are located away
        from the city center on the cheapest land that could be obtained.
        Almost all are very near busy highways.

        2) I think that the basic structure of big boxes is unsuited
        to most kinds of redevelopment. These buildings are typically
        about two stories tall, but the roof structures are often
        very deep and crossed by trusses, so much of that space is
        not usable for most purposes. The extent of the buildings
        is so vast that there is virtually no way to bring natural
        light into most of the building.

        3) The quality of construction is generally very poor. These
        are engineered structures in the worst sense of the word.
        Even the addition of a mezzanine floor, required to make
        real use of the space, would probably overload the columns
        and their footings, which are no larger than they absolutely
        must be. These buildings probably have design lives of 30 years.

        4) The addition of water and sewer services will require taking
        up much of the floor, which is probably reinforced concrete in
        most cases. This would entail cutting through the rebar in order
        to lay piping. It can be done, but it is expensive.

        5) The scale of these buildings is simply too large to make
        them attractive for redevelopment.

        So, I would not waste a lot of time and effort on this question.
        Most of these buildings will be demolished and their steel
        members recycled. Some of the utility installations might be
        salvaged. The rest is land fill. Lots of it.

        Best,

        Joel


        ----- ### -----
        J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
        mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
      • Matt Hohmeister
        Good points. Poorly built big boxes, essentially disposable buildings, will likely wind up demolished. I know that Tallahassee has plenty of abandoned big
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 19, 2008
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          Good points. Poorly built big boxes, essentially disposable buildings,
          will likely wind up demolished. I know that Tallahassee has plenty of
          abandoned big boxes, and nobody wants to buy or lease them.

          There are two other building types whose future makes me wonder:

          - Large enclosed malls. The Tallahassee Mall here opened in 1971, and
          seems to be well built, as it has withstood countless additions and
          tenant modifications. However, this mall is 747,000 square feet and
          over a quarter of a mile end-to-end, which is pretty out of place in
          any carfree environment, unless you give it its own metro stop. Will
          these buildings wind up in the hands of metal recyclers too?

          - Parking garages. They dominate the landscape in the downtown area
          and higher-education campuses here. FAMU has had one for a while, TCC
          just got its first, and FSU just got its fifth. I can see two fates to
          these things:

          (1) Demolished. These things are quite difficult to convert to indoor
          space, thanks to short ceilings and, well, giant ramps between floors.
          A 6-story underground parking garage here with buildings on top of it
          could wind up abandoned, being too difficult to demolish.

          (2) Parking. As surface parking lots disappear and roads turn into
          usable public or private land, parking garages would remain to hold
          what few vehicles remain. Maintain a 20 mph road with speed humps from
          the garages to the nearest highways. Privatize the parking garages so
          their costs are actually covered by parking fees. The only problem:
          nobody wants to be anywhere near a parking garage, especially one
          frequented by college students who tend to have car alarms, extremely
          loud stereos, and mufflers designed to amplify engine noise, all of
          which radiate for blocks.

          > Some issues here:
          ...
          > So, I would not waste a lot of time and effort on this question.
          > Most of these buildings will be demolished and their steel
          > members recycled. Some of the utility installations might be
          > salvaged. The rest is land fill. Lots of it.
          >
          > Joel
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