Friday, October 30, 2009

You Mean New Yorkers Take Subways? Get Outta Here!

We haven't been down to the much talked about Gateway Center yet, but most of the media coverage thus far has revealed that folks are happy to be able to do their shopping locally as opposed to heading to Westchester.

Well, Streetsblog had an eye-opening piece yesterday detailing the actual layout of the development and pointing out its awkwardness and anti-pedestrian qualities. It quotes the developer, Related Companies, as saying that they thought most shoppers would arrive via car (even though the complex is served by subways, buses, and even the Yankee Stadium Metro-North station). The lack of use of the retail center's accompanying parking garage suggests they were WRONG. Many people are indeed arriving by foot, and this is how they are welcomed:

Photo courtesy of the fabulous Streetsblog

Yikes! I can imagine many an elbow getting thrown on weekends to secure one's pedestrian spot on this plank-like ramp. Here's what one Streetsblog commenter (vnm) who lives in the area around the Gateway Center had to say:

Wow. I've got lots of comments on this mall, which I shop at a lot because it is within walking distance.

1) James, unfortunately, this is an example of "transit-adjacent development," as opposed to "transit-oriented development." Streetsblog could do an entire post on this fact alone. The mall places a blank wall and its truck shipping bay right next to the entrance to the Metro-North station. There are no signs at the station or the mall pointing to the other. To get from the rear of the station to the rear of the mall, you have to walk through at least one door through a chain link fence and through a parking lot/truck bay. Absolutely no thought was given to the fact that a train station was within a few hundred feet of a major retail outlet. I imagine some retail employees would take the train if they live in the northwest Bronx or Westchester County, but I can't imagine any shoppers using this alternative because of the way it has been presented. Hopefully, some of this will be remedied if and when they build "Phase II" of this mall project, which is a hotel on the site of the parking lot.

2) The photographer must have visited on a weekday. If you go there during the peak times on weekend you will see many more people jostling for space in that walkway.

3) Re parking, the city needs to install parking meters on the streets just outside the entrance. Right now everyone parks for free on E. 151st Street and Gerard Avenue and walks across the street to avoid the parking fee of $2.40 per hour. Generally, the city installs parking meters in retail districts. This area is now a retail district and should be treated accordingly.

Very insightful points. I certainly hope that if Related's plans for the Kingsbridge Armory move forward, similar mistakes are not repeated. I mean, the Marble Hill Target/Marshall's/etc. shopping center (another Related project) doesn't even have bike racks. How do you not install a couple of bike racks after you spend millions of dollars creating something?

Click here to check out the Streetsblog piece.



Anonymous said...

Some interesting comments from neighbors...

Anonymous said...

The project is a bit weird for pedestrians but the photo only shows one portion of it. The "interior" street leading down to the water is much better.

Also keep in mind this project was planned BEFORE the metronorth station. I'd also note that during public review the community expressed concerned with not having enough parking.

Lennin Reyes said...

It's very true that most of the shoppers at Bronx Gateway Center come from transit. You see many people walking with shopping carts and bags along River Avenue to either 149th Street (to take the Bx19 or the 2/4/5 subway lines) or to 161st Street (for the Bx6 or Bx13 buses).

Of course, the two biggest downsides for this mall are no direct bus service to the mall from the subway stations and free parking (although Yankees fans would use the lot much more than shoppers if that occurred).

Guywithacause said...

The pedestrain area is not as bad as this article would suggest. There is NO ONE jostling for space, everyone is quite orderly and accomodating. It is however a bit awkward from THAT particular entrance, but there are several ways to access the Mall.

There is NO problem with pedestrian access to this mall at all, however I cannot comment on access via the MetroNorth station, since I live in the community and either walk/train/or bike there...which are all quite pleasant.