Style ran a complaint letter today from a west ender who made her request known for improving Shockoe Bottom [emphasis mine]:

What I and all of my group want is not anything different than what is already being offered, it is improvement on what is being offered, with the main component being parking and free parking. Everyone in the West End I talk to wonders why no one gets it.

One of the main features that separates cities from suburbs is density. Stores, offices & housing are located close together, creating a visually interesting landscape. And more importantly, density makes it possible to walk from one shop to another, or from your house to your office. Density also makes transit economically feasible.

Parking lots tear holes in the urban fabric, make it harder to walk from one place to another, create stormwater runoff, contribute to the urban heat island effect, and are generally unpleasant to look at.

Shockoe Bottom is not a strip mall. It’s not a mall at all. It’s part of the urban fabric, and as such, driving from the suburbs and parking for free should not be its main goal. Shockoe shouldn’t look like this:

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Downtown is already saturated with parking lots.

Everyone I talk to who lives in the city wonders why suburbanites don’t get it. If you want “parking and free parking,” don’t come downtown- go to the suburbs. There’s plenty of bars and clubs there.

There are already entire city blocks in the Bottom dedicated to nothing but parking. Don’t further destroy our city to cater to those addicted to their cars.

Unfortunately, according to Style, some of our urban businesses are struggling financially so much that they want to create suburbia in the midst of downtown:

…some merchants are working on solutions to the parking dilemma because this is the complaint they hear most often, from Carytown to Church Hill… As they fight off the suburban franchise mentality, many realize that those vast, treeless shopping mall parking lots are often what separates red and black on the bottom line.

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