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Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade: the failure and resurgence of a downtown pedestrian mall


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This article provides an overview of planning policy, practice, and theory related to downtown pedestrian malls in the US from the 1960s to present day taking into account social, economic, and design issues. It attempts to explain why most pedestrian malls failed and to recount the history of Santa Monica's downtown pedestrian mall. The story of this pedestrian mall is particularly interesting because the original mall, built in the 1960s, was a complete failure. Subsequently, the mall was entirely redeveloped in the 1980s and became a nationally recognized success. As interest in planning downtown pedestrian areas and alternative transportation modes has recently revived in the US, an explanation of the forces behind this turnaround is particularly illuminating.URBAN DESIGN International (2008) 13, 141–155. doi:10.1057/udi.2008.8
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Urban Design International
Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade: The Failure and Resurgence of a Downtown
Pedestrian Mall
Dorina Pojani
Delft University of Technology
Keywords: downtown pedestrian malls; downtown revitalization.
This article provides an overview of planning policy, practice, and theory related to downtown
pedestrian malls in the United States from the 1960s to present day taking into account social,
economic, and design issues. It attempts to explain why most pedestrian malls failed and to recount
the history of Santa Monica’s downtown pedestrian mall. The story of this pedestrian mall is
particularly interesting because the original mall, built in the 1960s, was a complete failure.
Subsequently, the mall was entirely redeveloped in the 1980s and became a nationally recognized
success. As interest in planning downtown pedestrian areas and alternative transportation modes has
recently revived in the U.S., an explanation of the forces behind this turnaround is particularly
This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article whose final and definitive form, the
Version of Record, has been published in URBAN DESIGN International (2008) 13, 141
155. doi:10.1057/udi.2008.8, copyright Palgrave and Macmillan.
The first part of this article summarizes the U.S. experience with downtown pedestrian malls (a few
blocks of public downtown streets converted to pedestrian-only areas) taking into account social,
economic, and design issues. It also attempts to explain why most downtown pedestrian malls failed.
The second part of this article is a case study of the Santa Monica, California, Third Street
Promenade. It explains how one carefully designed downtown pedestrian mall completely failed at
first and then, after being completely redesigned, became a huge success. This story could provide
some important lessons for other localities. It is a valuable story of a mall’s great failure and
subsequent great success in precisely the same location.
From the 1960s through the early 1980s, as part of the centre city revival movement, over 200
downtown pedestrian malls were built in American downtowns with great enthusiasm. American
urban planners thought that they had found a panacea to American downtown malaise. Pedestrian
malls appeared in every region of the country, in both warm and cold climates (Robertson 1994).
However, by the late 1980s, it became clear that most downtown pedestrian malls had turned out to be
unsuccessful. Many communities found that their malls did nothing to revitalize their downtown
commercial districts in spite of the care put in their design. Indeed, in many instances, they
accelerated their decline. Merchants hated downtown pedestrian malls; middle class residents ignored
them; and the homeless loved them. After a decade of hesitation, cities started ripping out these malls,
sometimes incurring large expenses. In the 1990s, only about 30 downtown pedestrian malls were left
(Branaugh 2002; West 1995). The literature about the old downtown pedestrian malls, written during
the brief period of their success, left a legacy of detailed design discussions without much
consideration of broader commercial strategies and locational viability. The literature written after the
demise of the downtown pedestrian malls, which was brief, had little analysis of the causes of their
Following the general trend in the development of pedestrian malls, in 1965 Santa Monica converted
its main downtown shopping precinct, which had become old and shabby, into a pedestrian mall.
Although created with much enthusiasm, fanfare, faith, and money, this project was a complete
failure. While most cities decided to do away with their decaying downtown pedestrian malls, in the
1980s Santa Monica chose to overhaul its own. In 1986, the mall was entirely redeveloped and even
renamed it the Third Street “Promenade”. This time, the mall became a nationally recognized success
beyond all expectations and it still remains a booming success today, twenty years after its reopening.
Now, interest in the revitalization of downtowns has resurged in the U.S., after a fifty year long love
triangle between the Americans, the suburbs, and the automobile. While only a handful of thriving
pedestrian-only malls have survived from the 1960s, now many cities are restoring their downtowns
into pedestrian-oriented spaces, and encouraging housing developments in the downtown area.
The Emergence of Pedestrian Malls The Optimistic 1960s
In the middle of the twentieth century, as the U.S. suburbanized and became a car-oriented culture,
the social role of public places changed. Suburban shopping malls became the public gathering places
supplanting the historic role of city centres, which in turn became solely office centres, deserted on
nights and weekends (Bednar 1989).
Downtown pedestrian malls” are the American equivalent of the European car-free city centres. Usually at the
beginning, they were exclusively commercial, with no mixed-uses, replicating suburban shopping malls. Hence
the term downtown pedestrian “malls”.
Downtown pedestrian malls were envisioned as ways to bring shoppers back to the central cities.
Attempting to copy European models of car-free streets, by 1959, 700 American cities had published
downtown revitalization plans (Hardwick 2004). The initial design criteria for downtown pedestrian
malls followed ironically - the suburban shopping centre model allowing few distractions away
from the basic shopping mission. However, in the 1970s pedestrian malls came to be thought of as
social and communal centres attempting to incorporate transportation and open space. They were to
be the modern equivalents of medieval plazas. Malls were packed with fountains, sitting areas,
trellises, exotic and native trees of varied scale and type, walkways, ponds, rivulets, playgrounds,
picnic tables, sculptures, stages, and canopies, and adorned with prestigious materials such as copper,
bronze, granite, and coloured brick (Fruin 1971; Brambilla and Longo 1977).
Initial evidence from the new downtown malls fully justified the optimism that accompanied these
experiments. A number of successful malls led to the view that they increased sales, positively
impacted the revitalization of the city centre, halted urban deterioration, and provided human interest
and interaction within their area (Fruin 1971). Cities provided public open space, launched
beautification programs, and granted bonuses for pedestrian amenities. In 1977, two experts on
pedestrian malls, Brambilla and Longo (1977) projected these feelings into the future in wholehearted
terms: “A new era of pedestrian malls is coming. Major cities and residential neighbourhoods, both
urban and suburban, will be included.” Borrowing language from the social revolution of that period,
two other experts, Breines and Dean (1974) pictured idyllic downtowns transformed into pedestrian
districts with no street curbs, no damaging vehicles, and no air pollution where walkers and mini-
vehicles would have freedom of movement.
They not only had a genuine and fervent confidence in pedestrianisation, but also the support of the
public and merchants, who were willing to tax themselves. The assessment district was the most
common source of funds. In these special tax districts, which could only be formed with a vote by the
majority of the property owners, owners along and near the mall were taxed according to the benefits
they expected to derive from the mall construction, and in proportion of the size of their property
(Brambilla and Longo 1977).
The Honeymoon is over
However, by the 1980s, the expected benefits of pedestrian malls had not materialized in most
American downtowns. Users only showed up to celebrate the opening of a downtown pedestrian mall;
they rarely returned to shop. Often malls were detrimental to businesses located in their territory. In
some cases, the whole downtown area suffered the consequences. Left to their fate, downtown malls
ended up with increasing amounts of dead space from failed businesses or demolished buildings. In
some cases, vacancy rates in malls were much higher and rents much lower than in nearby streets
where traffic was allowed (Rubenstein 1992; Robertson 1994; West 1995). Some malls even had bad
reputations as being dangerous places to go at night, where the homeless would camp taking
advantage of the lack of traffic.
As a result of the dissatisfaction with their performance, very few new downtown pedestrian malls
were constructed during the 1980s and 1990s (Robertson 1994). By the mid 1990s, over one hundred
cities had removed their pedestrian malls and/or turned them in traffic thoroughfares (West 1995;
Blaha 2003) believing that getting rid of their pedestrian malls was a major step in saving businesses
(West 1995). In many cities, reopening the street to cars resulted in increased sales in the mall,
increases in property values, and decreases in vacancy rates (Blaha 2003). However, in other cases,
car traffic did not restore the businesses or popularity of the downtown malls (West 1995).
Why Most Pedestrian Malls Failed
Planners in the U.S. believed that by applying the European formula to decrepit American downtowns
they would cure their malaises including neglect, abandonment, and disinvestment. However, by the
1960s and 1970s when downtown pedestrian malls were built, people were already well set into car
oriented suburban lifestyle. Pedestrian malls were not able to change street use patterns and stimulate
the suburbanized population into new habits. There was no reason to go to these malls, just as there
was no reason (i.e. attractive retail, entertainment, and activities) to go into the rest of the downtown
except for business purposes. The general lack of appeal of American downtowns was responsible in
large part for pedestrian malls’ failure. In the U.S. as a result of low density, foot traffic was often
insufficient to maintain substantial levels of street activity (Robertson 1994). There simply were not
enough users crossing paths in the downtown mall.
American downtown pedestrian malls were often roofless replicas of suburban malls. They were only
overseen during the process of planning and design, with no provision (and funds) for ongoing
management, based on the mistaken assumption that malls would self-regulate once they were built
(Robertson 1994). Decade-old malls were often dull for the design sensitivity of the 1980s.
In some of the malls, certain design elements even had a negative effect on perceived safety. People
saw these malls as too lush with vegetation and too cluttered with beautiful things that a potential
aggressor could hide behind. In other malls, snowploughs and street cleaning equipment were unable
to navigate the various design features (Robertson 1994; West 1995).
Often the downtown malls had old fashioned stores, which had survived from earlier eras. On the
other hand, suburban shopping centres were up to date with climate control and ample free parking.
Most downtowns could not replicate these features (Cunningham, cited in Robertson 1994). Even if
they did, in the 1960s and 1970s, suburban malls alone created more retail space than a community
could realistically support (West 1995). In the successful malls, chain businesses gradually replaced
independent locally owned enterprises (Robertson 1994).
A Handful of Successful Pedestrian Malls
While is it true that most downtown pedestrian malls failed, some thrived. Denver’s downtown
pedestrian mall (16
Street) succeeded by orienting itself towards a primary market group of
downtown workers. The city of Denver has helped its mall’s viability by encouraging the addition of
residential units, hotels, and an anchoring retail centre which includes shops, restaurants, and a movie
theatre in proximity to the mall; by creating in the early 1990s a special downtown assessment district
to provide funding for mall’s ongoing management; and by offering a free bus shuttle service (West
1995; Downtown Denver Business Improvement District 2004). Cape May New Jersey’s Washington
Street mall [and South Beach, Florida’s Lincoln Mall] have been capable of keeping their downtown
pedestrian malls economically viable by shifting their retail emphasis to target the tourist share of the
area rather than attempting to re-establish the downtown as a shopping precinct for local residents
(West 1995). Charlottesville’s Historic Downtown Mall and the Commons in Ithaca New York
mostly serve respectively the students of the University of Virginia and Cornell University,
functioning each as the cultural heart of downtown. Both cities have constructed large parking
structures in proximity of the malls (Great Streets 2003; City of Ithaca 2005).
A number of cities, including Portland, Oregon, and several cities in California, have adopted special
zoning standards for pedestrian-oriented districts. This type of zoning, although it does not provide for
pedestrian-only areas, regulates maximum rather than minimum building setbacks, FAR, and lot
coverage (both maximums and minimums), parking requirements (both maximums and minimums),
landscaping, and signage in order to make areas more desirable to pedestrians.
The Main Street idea a friendly, lively, pedestrian-scale place started reviving the imagination of
retailers, developers, and shoppers in the late 1990s. Also, a number of major national chains are
seeking a district identity, with individualized storefronts or buildings that suburban shopping malls
cannot offer. The new Main Streets are not necessarily conceived downtown any more. By the end of
1990s, every major metropolitan area had two or three new suburban Main Street projects in both
existing communities and new developments (Local Government Commission 1998).
The Creation of the Third Street Mall in the 1960s
Santa Monica is a small city (about 8 square miles). From a geographical perspective, it is a
particularly desirable part of the Los Angeles coastal area. The Third Street shopping area is a three
block long strip located three blocks from the ocean and adjacent to an area with mostly medium
density apartments. It has been Santa Monica’s principle shopping precinct since the beginning of the
century. In the 1950s, Third Street was a busy commercial strip filled with cars and commercial
activity (Figure 1). However, as the region became more suburban, this downtown area, like most in
the U.S., saw little improvement in the following years and by the next decade was old and
obsolescent (McGuigan, 2003a; Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa Monica], October 2004).
In 1960 the city invited Victor Gruen to conduct a study and recommend a series of improvements to
reverse the stagnation. His report, as expected, proposed the creation of a pedestrian mall as the
strongest possible catalyst for improvement (McGuigan, 2003a).
In the following year, a Mall Committee was formed to develop strategies for the creation of the
pedestrian mall. The committee, which managed to gather supporting signatures from 60 percent of
the merchants and 35 percent of the property owners along the proposed three-block stretch of Third
Street, recommended the creation of a pedestrian mall. A federal grant was obtained for design
consultants. In April 1963, after several years of debate, the city funded the construction of the mall
(McGuigan, 2003a).
The construction of the mall, initiated amidst much furore and fanfare, took place in 1965. To fund
the project, the city required that the mall’s property owners pay an assessment. This assessment was
projected to cover 90 percent of the cost of creating the mall. In addition, financing from local banks
flowed into redesigning and modernizing many of the 130 stores along the pedestrian mall (Brambilla
and Longo, 1977; McGuigan, 2003a).
The renovated street featured red brick pavement, a fountain, some 140 trees, 30 assorted types of
shrubbery, 12 reflecting pools, a sound system for soft piped-in music and announcements, and new
soft lighting (Figure 2) (Brambilla and Longo, 1977; McGuigan 2003a). Subsequently, the city built
six parking structures on the adjacent streets. By the end of the 1970s, there were over 3,000 parking
spaces serving the mall (McGuigan, 2003b).
The new Third Street Mall was dubbed “pedestrian’s paradise” and “commercial wonderland”. Its
opening drew national attention. Everybody was thrilled. The effort seemed to have paid off.
However, a few years of relative prosperity were followed by many more years of decline. By the
1980s, the mall was nothing more than an unkempt row of struggling shops and vacant storefronts
suffering from deterioration and disinvestment (McGuigan, 2003b). Many structures were in poor
condition (Figure 3). The mall was described in the press as “an urban eyesore” and “a ghost retail
strip” (Third Street Development Corporation and City of Santa Monica, 1986). Worst still, Third
Street Mall had earned a reputation as a dangerous magnet for the homeless and illegal activities.
Why Third Street Mall Failed
The 1970s and 1980s were grim retail years for the whole downtown area of Santa Monica (Warfel,
2005). Suburban shopping malls were ever-present throughout Southern California. The Third Street
Mall offered little to distinguish it from the competition and its retail mix was particularly
unfortunate. The mall lacked major destination uses (Third Street Development Corporation and City
of Santa Monica, 1986; McGuigan, 2003b). The big stores mainly consisted of old-fashioned
department stores and average national chains (Figure 4), which did not appeal to the new generation.
The rest were low-end discount stores and fast food shops (Rawson, 2005).
The creation of the pedestrian mall had cut out traffic from an area with little life of its own. The
mall’s outdoor areas were virtually unused for activities of any kind, with the exception of a number
of fruitless fashion shows. Most uses would close by 5.00 pm. The mall had no night entertainment
and only a few restaurants (Rawson, 2005).
A number of factors deterred improvements in the mall. There were over fifty owners along the mall,
each with different investment and development objectives. Most of the merchants were hesitant to
change, especially if they had to bear the costs, and they were uncertain about the benefit of any
renovation because the mall had been lifeless for years. Without the owners’ broad support, the city
had limited ability to achieve any revitalization objectives (Arroyo Group/Studio Works, 1980;
Kaplan, 2005).
For years, there was no group to drive any project forward. The Mall Committee, which had built
support for the creation of the mall, was disbanded in the 1980s (McGuigan, 2003b). The
development of the Third Street Mall was a one act play. It did not include the creation of any body
that would steer its future course, based on the assumption that the mall would self-adjust to the need
for change over the years (Kaplan, 2005).
In addition, in 1976 the city designated many seismically unreinforced masonry buildings along the
mall as “potentially hazardous”. This designation compromised owners’ ability to secure long term
financing for improvements (Arroyo Group/Studio Works, 1980).
For the urban design sensitivity of the 1980s, the appearance and configuration of the mall was
mediocre. It did not have a distinctive identity as a plaza or a street. The presence or entry of a
pedestrian way was not emphasized in any manner. The mall lacked focal points, articulations, and
spatial variety thus reasserting its vehicular origin. Its constant eighty-foot width was excessive to
facilitate convenient cross-mall shopping. The 150-foot depth of commercial parcels allowed for little
display and exposure space. Storefront signs were too high to be seen by nearby pedestrians, while
store windows were often obscured by insufficient lighting. Landscaping was often so obstructive as
to create a barrier to storefronts and cause safety concerns for the users (Arroyo Group/Studio Works
Furthermore, the construction of the garages along the neighbouring streets, with no retail
establishments on the ground floors, killed most businesses along them (Los Angeles Times [Los
Angeles], 10 September 1989). In addition, the mall was not directly connected to the parking
structures, forcing shoppers to walk down poorly maintained alleys to reach the mall. The aesthetic
quality of the parking structures left much to be desired. Many owners and tenants registered
comments that shoppers perceived the garages as unsafe in spite of the very low incidence of crimes
in the structures (Arroyo Group/Studio Works, 1980).
The Opening of a Neighbouring Indoor Mall that put the Pedestrian Mall out of Business
In 1980, a modern private multi-storey indoor mall, Santa Monica Place opened at the southern end of
the pedestrian mall. The new building, which spanned two full city blocks (10-acres), was designed
by Frank O’Gehry. It was a spectacular glass structure with an open interior space (Figure 5 showing
the entrance to the mall as it looks today). The new indoor mall was meant to stimulate activity in the
neighbouring Third Street Mall. The city council went ahead with the decision to build it, although a
1974 environmental impact report predicted that Third Street Mall and Santa Monica Place would be
in competition with each other rather than a complement to one another. As predicted, Santa Monica
Place took away all the business of its neighbouring pedestrian area (McGuigan, 2003b; Zane, 2005;
Van Tillburg, 2005).
The indoor mall attracted fashionable department stores and national outlets. The remaining retail and
visitors to the outdoor mall shifted their interest to Santa Monica Place. The outdoor pedestrian mall
became so much disregarded that the city even considered a proposal (dismissed later on) to build a
people mover above the pedestrian stretch that would carry shoppers to and from the indoor structure
without having to navigate the pedestrian mall (McGuigan, 2003b; Zane, 2005; Van Tillburg, 2005).
Remaking Third Street
In the 1980s, as Santa Monica became a highly desirable residential and commercial location, the gap
widened between what existed on the mall and what could be captured if the mall did not suffer from
a poor image and reputation (Los Angeles Times [Los Angeles], 20 November 1988). The marketplace
dynamic was not serving the community in spite of the latent demand for a downtown (Zane, 2005).
In 1980, a group of Santa Monica residents prepared a platform for municipal action, which included
the revitalization of the Third Street Mall, envisioning it as a human-scale centre of community life
(Zane, 2005). During the next few years, the city held almost 100 meetings soliciting input from
planners, designers, property owners, and residents. In 1984, the city created and funded a non-profit
agency called the Third Street Development Corporation (later renamed the Bayside District
Corporation). This agency, composed of lawyers, architects, businessmen, and merchants, was given
charge of the mall. It had no eminent domain powers but could prepare plans for the mall (Rawson,
Dennis Zane, who was Santa Monica’s mayor at the time, played a key role in the process of
remaking the mall. Zane’s participation led to an exceptional combination of forces in support of
revitalization. A relatively high percentage of Santa Monica’s residents were tenants. Zane had been
the leader of Santa Monica’s successful rent control movement in the 1970s. Therefore, he was
perceived as a hero by the population rather than as a tool of the business community.
Initially, conventional urban design plans were drafted with a focus on retail development. However,
in a shift in strategy, it was agreed that the focus of the outdoor mall would be on the establishment of
an assortment of outdoor eateries. The outdoor dining concept was unknown anywhere in car-oriented
Los Angeles because typically sidewalks are too narrow in order to leave maximum space for car
traffic (Zane, 2005).
In 1986, a specific plan for the mall was approved. Thirteen million dollars in bonds were secured to
make the needed public improvements. Private owners invested a quarter million (Rawson, 2005;
Kaplan, 2005). Then the city decided to use its zoning power to shift the location of five proposed
multiplex cinema projects into the mall, by prohibiting these developments in any other part of the
city (Zane, 2005). Without this public action, the movie theatres would have never chosen this
location because it was a territory with a history of failure, while there were already first-run zones in
other parts of the city. Three of the biggest companies in the multiplex business consented to locate on
the downtown mall bringing in 5,000 seats, over 20 screens, and millions of dollars in investment (Los
Angeles Times [Los Angeles], 20 November 1988; McGuigan, 2003b; Zane, 2005).
The Third Street Mall was renamed Third Street Promenade. Also, the streetscape was redesigned.
Palm and jacaranda trees were planted along the street, lighting was improved, wrought-iron benches
and trash receptacles were placed around, and plazas were built at each end of the three blocks,
containing fountains and topiary dinosaurs (Figure 6). Sidewalks were widened to 30 feet, and the
street was narrowed to 20 feet. Pavilions were placed at intervals along the middle of the street to
break up the right-of-way width and avoid the feeling of a vacated space. The street was decorated
with banners to create a colourful and festive environment and to establish a theme throughout the
Promenade. The mall entrance was emphasized with banners as well. It was decided that the city
would rent carts to street vendors to encourage street vending on the Promenade. To be on the safe
side, Santa Monica tried a hybrid experiment. Removable traffic barriers (bollards) were put in place
that would go down to allow car traffic at 15 mph from 4.30 pm to 10.00 am (Zane, 2005).
In September 1989, the revitalized Third Street Mall, renamed Third Street Promenade, was launched
amongst a new round of parades, concerts, and fanfare (Zane, 2005; Rawson, 2005; Kaplan, 2005).
Overnight, the project became a community and commercial success. After the first few years, the
bollards went up permanently because of the abundant number of pedestrians (Zane, 2005). The rents
took a sharp turn upwards almost immediately. A study showed that the average annual rent per
square foot on the Promenade jumped from $59 in 1984 to $122 in 1988. Many of the thrift stores
closed down before the renovation and others unavoidably followed as leases expired (Los Angeles
Times [Los Angeles], 20 November 1988).
In conjunction with the overhaul of the mall, the Bayside District Corporation (BDC) was created as a
public-private management agency charged with the single task of overseeing Third Street
Promenade. Its mission has been to keep a constant focus on the Promenade, and secure continuous
funding for it, in spite of the volatile political focus. BDC advises the city as to what interventions are
needed on the Third Street Promenade to keep it viable (Rawson, 2005).
Since the early 1990s, and in spite of the economic recession at that time, the Promenade became one
of the region’s biggest attractions (Figure 7). The area continues to thrive twenty years after its
redevelopment. It contains over 60 stores, 25 restaurants and coffeehouses, and 21 movie screens
(Rawson, 2005). Nearly two dozen new businesses opened in 2006 (Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter,
Santa Monica] January 2007). A mix of 40,000 people visits the mall each day, with numbers
reaching 60,000 on weekends. Surveys show that 17% of the Santa Monica residents come to the
Promenade at least once per week; 82% come at least once per month (CIC Research, Inc 2003; CIC
Research, Inc 2006). Generally, the Promenade is crowded with pedestrians both on weekends and
The city, the residents, and the property owners along the promenade share a common vision and an
implicit agreement that the Promenade is an important community place in Santa Monica (Warfel,
2005). The place is both “funky” and trendy” with a collection of hip and hedonistic stores. The
shops stay open until 10.00 or 11.00 pm on weekends; several restaurants stay open until midnight.
The Bayside District Corporation has helped the phenomenon, organizing various promotions, such as
folk and jazz festivals, and the Farmers’ Market twice per week.
Through the years the Third Street Promenade has earned several awards for excellence in attracting
tourism and economic development, and has played a major role in reviving the larger downtown
area. The initial $13 million investment by the city has attracted private investment estimated at more
than $500 million, far exceeding the initial expectations (Rawson, 2005). In fact, in its beginning, the
Bayside District Corporation had only projected $100 million in private investment over 15 years (Los
Angeles Times [Los Angeles], 20 April 1986).
Initially the city had even promised to subsidize some rents to bring in desirable tenants (Los Angeles
Times [Los Angeles], 10 September 1989). Today properties are valued $600-$700 per square foot
compared with $60-$70 before the renovation (McGuigan, 2003b). Typical annual rents are $96-120
per square foot, or even up to $240 in some prime smaller spaces (Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter,
Santa Monica] February 2007).
In addition to providing a community centre, the Promenade brings high economic returns for the city
of Santa Monica. In 2006, the Bayside District which includes the Promenade, provided over $26
million in revenues for the city’s general fund (including $6.7 million in sales taxes, $7 million in
property taxes, and $8.1 million in parking revenues). In contrast, the cost of providing maintenance,
security, and traffic services for the Promenade was only $3.2 million. Recently a new plan was
approved for a facelift of the downtown streets flanking Third Street Promenade. The facelift will cost
eight million dollars and will receive funding from the city and the federal government (Bayside Beat
[BDC Newsletter, Santa Monica] March 2007).
To place these developments in perspective, the Promenade serves one of the wealthiest and
cosmopolitan communities in the Unites States. Visitors spend on average over $40 every time they
visit the Promenade (CIC Research, Inc 2006). Furthermore, 40% of Santa Monica’s residents are
young adults (25-40 years old) and 40% are single (Bayside District Corporation, 2004). These groups
are most likely to patronize urban districts like Third Street Promenade.
In addition, Santa Monica is a famous national and international tourist destination. It has warm
weather all year long. At the same time, while other parts of Los Angeles become uncomfortably hot
in the summer, Santa Monica never does due to its proximity to the ocean. Almost five million
tourists visit Santa Monica annually, pumping an estimated $50 million into its economy. The
Promenade is within walking distance from numerous beachfront hotels. Tourists account for one
third of the visitors to the Promenade (CIC Research, Inc 2003; Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa
Monica], March 2007).
Since the 1990s, the city has expanded the pedestrian-oriented area to include the surrounding
Bayside District. However, the Promenade remained the only pedestrian-only street (City of Santa
Monica 1996). Retail and outdoor dining has spread from the Promenade to the surrounding area
although the Promenade remains the liveliest spot. In order to visually and physically link the
Promenade to the peripheral streets, the streetscape and signage of the Promenade is extended to its
immediate surroundings. The plan also provides for pedestrian, bicycle, and shuttle linkages between
the Bayside District and the beach and other main (non-pedestrian) city streets (City of Santa Monica,
Until now, all eleven Bayside District Corporation board members have been appointed by the city
council in contrast with a typical business improvement district where the stakeholders appoint the
board. In 2007, after the assessment district was enlarged, there was serious consideration of
proposals to change the management structure of the Bayside District Corporation in order to grant
more control to property owners along the Promenade. Property owners have stated that they would
be reluctant to pay any new assessments unless they are given more power to appoint board members
(Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa Monica] March 2007).
Emerging Competition
In the 1980s the standard view was that only enclosed shopping centres can work in California. Now,
after the success of the Promenade, other places in Los Angeles and South California have attempted
to replicate the same model. Developers have built privately owned and controlled outdoor pedestrian
malls in Westwood and Century City (Warfel, 2005).
These other pedestrian malls compete with the retail and restaurants on Third Street Promenade. Also,
the Promenade has been losing some of its street performers (see later), who are offered contracts in
private outdoor malls. Certain population groups like the fact that in private outdoor pedestrian malls
there is private police to control the environment so that there are no safety issues and no homeless
people (Warfel, 2005; Rawson, 2005).
However, the market share (young adults) that the Promenade attracts is different than that of private
outdoor pedestrian malls, which primarily target families with small children. The Promenade is a
pedestrian public street, with mixed uses, which allows all users. Some people see this diversity as an
asset (Warfel, 2005; Rawson, 2005). The other advantage of the Promenade lays in its building
history. Private outdoor pedestrian malls in Los Angeles have typically been built all at once
displaying a more artificial atmosphere. Another notable difference between the Promenade and
private outdoor pedestrian malls is that the Promenade has very few chain restaurants.
Santa Monica Place Fails
While Santa Monica Place originally took away most of the business of a pedestrian mall that was
dying during the early 1980s, in the last decade it has lost its attraction. As users were drawn outdoors
by the renovated Promenade, part of the retail within Santa Monica Place gradually moved to the
pedestrian mall. The upper floors of Santa Monica Mall became lined with vacant stores.
In 2005, the public debated and the city council seriously considered proposals to demolish Santa
Monica Mall, and replace it with six mixed-use high-rise buildings (retail, offices, and housing),
which would have added 450 luxury housing units adjacent to the Promenade. This very controversial
proposal was finally voted down by the city council.
In 2007, a new proposal was submitted. Rather than expanding the indoor mall, the new projects’ goal
is to integrate Santa Monica Place with the surrounding streets by removing the roof and doors and
connecting the entrance to the Third Street Promenade. Santa Monica Place would remain in private
management but would resemble an open-air pedestrian mall and serve as an extension of the
Promenade, which is a public street. The proposed remodel features an open-air centre court and a
third floor food court overlooking the ocean. The current plan remains within the existing footprint.
The owners are looking for retail that would complement what is already on the Promenade. The
public and the city have reacted positively to this proposal (Rawson, 2007; Bayside Beat [BDC
Newsletter, Santa Monica] April 2007).
The city has continually taken on a proactive role in maintaining the mall, increasing its strength and
responding to potentially adverse developments. This section describes the principle issues and
strategies that have emerged.
Design Standards
Developers’ eagerness to take advantage of the Promenade’s success has allowed the city to impose
design and other regulations on developers and retailers. The city allows a maximum of four stories
on the Promenade. The physical density allowed along the Promenade (with no parking requirements)
is higher than in the rest of the city. The city requires that portions of buildings above 30 feet in height
are stepped back in order to maintain solar access and minimize the perceived mass of the structure
according to the current character of the Promenade (City of Santa Monica, 1996).
The ground floor uses along the Promenade and on the bordering streets are limited to pedestrian
oriented ones, such as general and specialty retail, restaurants, entertainment, and cultural uses. Other,
non pedestrian-intensive uses such as office and residential units are only permitted on the upper
floors. Restaurants can use up to 12 feet of the Promenade’s sidewalk to accommodate outdoor
dining. Outdoor dining barriers cannot exceed three feet on the Promenade. Most of ground floor
facades must be transparent and the use of dark or mirrored glass is not allowed on the Promenade
(City of Santa Monica, 1996).
The use of simple colours schemes involving a maximum of three colours (especially earth tones,
pastels and subdued colours with historic reminiscences) is set forth as a “preference” and the use of
bold primary colours (especially if bright or garish) is discouraged in the city’s plan (although these
are not legal requirements). The city allows the use of signs but limits their height to 26 inches or less.
The use of can type box signs with translucent backlit panels, or freestanding signs, or signs on
outdoor table umbrellas is not permitted (City of Santa Monica, 1996).
Reconstruction or replacement of existing uses is allowed but it needs to be sensitive to the structures
original character and its historic architectural details (City of Santa Monica 1996). Existing buildings
that display historically significant facades have been reinforced from the inside for this reason (Van
Tillburg, 2005). Painting of exposed brick that is previously unpainted is prohibited (City of Santa
Monica, 1996). The building style of new construction is not regulated. This allows for a variety of
buildings that reflect the construction period and add to the diversity of the street, as Figure 8
The Homeless
The presence of homeless persons has been a major issue. Opinions vary on whether the homeless
have a significant impact on the volume of visitors of the Promenade. Business attitudes reflect a
desire to help find viable solutions as well as a feeling of being ‘fed up’ and frustrated (Bayside Beat
[BDC Newsletter, Santa Monica] February 2007).
About 2,800 homeless people sleep on the streets of Santa Monica each night. One third of them sleep
on the downtown streets. Good weather and extensive homeless services are a major incentive for
them to come to Santa Monica. The homeless population costs the city an estimated $4.5 million a
year, most of it for public safety (Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa Monica] February 2007).
Issues related to the presence of the homeless are particularly important to the Promenade because of
its dependence on pedestrian traffic. However, the Promenade is largely dependent on citywide
solutions to the problem.
There are about 17 homeless assistance programs in place in Santa Monica, which are extensive
compared to what little is available nationally (Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa Monica]
February 2007). At the same time, a number of laws and regulations have been passed that prohibit
aggressive panhandling (begging for money) and homeless camps in downtown parks and doorways,
and require the use of highly visible forms of patrol in the Bayside District area (Rawson, 2007; City
of Santa Monica, 1996). Nevertheless, non-aggressive panhandling is still a burning issue (Rawson,
2007) and the police department is widely viewed as not doing enough, despite making almost 1,800
arrests a year (Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa Monica] February 2007).
In the mid 1990s, even in peak weekend hours only 63 percent of the 3,000 available spaces were
occupied in public parking facilities. In addition there were almost 2,000 spaces in private facilities
(City of Santa Monica, 1996).
Today, the parking facilities are insufficient in spite of continuous improvements and additions. A
new Civic Center parking structure put in place almost 900 new spaces. Also, a new public library
near the Promenade, added another 500 spaces that can be used by the general public during peak
hours at a rate of $3 per day. The existing parking structures, which were built in the 1960s, are being
retrofitted. Parking in these public garages is free of charge most of the day (Bayside Beat [BDC
Newsletter, Santa Monica] May-June 2007). Nevertheless, surveys repeatedly indicate that parking is
a major problem in the downtown, especially since 70-80% of visitors drive to reach the Promenade
(CIC Research, Inc 2003; CIC Research, Inc 2006).
The city has approved a new parking plan, which would add 1,700 parking spaces downtown over the
next decade at a cost of $180 million ($95,000 per space) (Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa
Monica] May-June 2007). Proposals to move all parking underground have been dismissed by the
Bayside District Corporation as too expensive (Rawson, 2005; Zane, 2005).
Besides physically adding parking, the city has turned to information technology to help alleviate
parking problems in the downtown area and propagate the message that it is easy to park near the
Promenade. A website was launched that displays the number of empty parking spaces in downtown
structures and beach lots. Also, the city is planning to launch a parking advisory radio station (Bayside
Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa Monica] May-June 2007). Finally, the city encourages merchants to
provide customers and employees with bus tokens, and disseminate bus line information (Rawson,
2005; City of Santa Monica, 1996).
Some people think that no investment is necessary now that the Promenade is booming. Others
believe that Promenade’s success depends on continued maintenance as retail is organic and it might
shrink without further investment (Kaplan, 2005; Warfel, 2005). At present it is believed that several
features need intervention; movie theatres, in particular, need to be brought up to modern theatre
standards (Warfel, 2005; Rawson, 2005). To increase funding, the city recently decided to form a
much larger assessment district. This will include not only retailers but also restaurants, hotels,
offices, and perhaps apartment buildings. This enlarged district would bring the city an estimated $2
million, a ten fold increase from the current assessment (Bayside Beat [BDC Newsletter, Santa
Monica] March 2007).
Under the present scheme, the assessments for Promenade’s maintenance go into the city’s general
fund rather than a special fund for the Promenade. This has reduced support by the district’s
businesses because there has been no guarantee that increased assessments will be used for the
district. The money that the city gives back to the Promenade is enough for the daily maintenance of
the street, such as street cleaning and tree trimming but not replacements (e.g. worn out street
furniture) (Rawson, 2007).
The Preservation of Restaurants
Having restaurants on the Promenade, especially ones that offer outdoor dining, was considered a
critical factor to the Promenade’s initial success. In the first years after the renovation, the city
encouraged restaurant owners to locate on the Promenade, although it limited their number. As a
result of the presence of the restaurants, the Promenade became a major drawing point for retail
businesses. At that point rents were driven up to a level that the restaurants could not afford thereby,
threatening to push out the major source of the success of the Promenade (Zane, 2005; Warfel, 2005;
Kaplan, 2005). In response, in 2006, the city placed a moratorium on the conversion of restaurants to
retail (Rawson, 2007).
Chains versus Independent Stores
There are several national chains on the Promenade today, and an increasing number of them are
willing to come in. The trend is more accentuated on the Promenade itself than in the rest of Bayside
District (Zane, 2005; Warfel, 2005; Rawson, 2005). Ironically, one store that started with a single
location in the Promenade is now a chain (Rawson, 2005).
Some board members think that some affordable chains might be desirable on the Promenade to
balance the upper scale retail (Hoffman, 2005). However, others fear that chain stores would displace
smaller, indigenous restaurants, cafés, and retail operators and destroy the special character of the
A few years ago the city council voted against permitting a large chain store (Target) to move into the
Bayside District. In addition, the city placed a moratorium on fast food restaurants. They are only
allowed to locate in food courts (there is only one on the Promenade) and must follow the design and
layout regulations set by the city (Figure 9). They cannot apply their own corporate design or offer
drive in service (Rawson, 2005).
Although surveys show that over 40% of people think that more independent stores should be added
to the area (CIC Research, Inc 2006), the public has not been supportive of controls over chains stores
(Rawson, 2007).
Street Performers
Street performers are a central attraction of the Third Street Promenade. While the quality of the
performances varies, they always catch the attention of significant numbers of people. Surveys show
that street performances provide at least some enjoyment to about two thirds of the visitors (CIC
Research, Inc 2006).
Right after the reopening of the Promenade, street performers were drawing audiences in the
hundreds. Such proliferation became a matter of concern for a number of parties. Residents and
restaurant customers did not like the amplified music from boom boxes, and the use of chain saws,
swords, and torches. The police warned that crowds presented a safety hazard. Finally, merchants
complained that the sidewalk shows were taking away their customers (Los Angeles Times [Los
Angeles], 24 August 1991). As a result, the city established maximum noise levels allowed on the
Promenade and specified distances and time limits for street performers (Rawson, 2005; City of Santa
Monica, 1996).
There is no single recipe for success in creating a successful downtown pedestrian mall. Santa
Monica’s efforts are notable because the city extensively used its land use controls not only to control
the design of its downtown pedestrian mall but also to force a major business and night time
attraction, the movie theatres, into the mall. In addition, the city controlled the mix as well as the
design of the businesses in the mall.
The ability to change and modify a downtown pedestrian mall was critical in this case. Recipes for
success in one decade often became recipes for failure in the next decade. The city realized that the
development of the mall is not a one-time event. Rather than redesigning the mall and leaving it to its
fate, the city created an entity which has as its sole purpose the maintenance and strengthening of the
mall in partnership with the businesses that have a financial stake in the outcome of the city’s efforts.
Also, the success of the mall maybe attributed to the fact that the city saw the mall as more than just a
shopping district. In fact, the shopping district was simply one piece of an entertainment and dining
district, with theatres and its own special forms of entertainment.
While pedestrian malls flourish in some locations, they are likely to fail in others. It is
debatable whether Third Street Promenade turned out successful as a result of the gentrification of
Santa Monica as a whole, and whether pedestrian malls can work only if located in wealthy
communities. Furthermore, the special weather patterns in Santa Monica may play a role in the
success of the Promenade. However, the climate was the same in the 1960s when the original
unsuccessful mall was built. Local residents are fond of the Promenade. Contrary to widespread
beliefs, the story of the Third Street Promenade illustrates that even in a car-oriented region like Los
Angeles many people enjoy walking in outdoor car-free spaces if these are created at the right time, in
the right place, and offer the right kind of activities
The case of Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade does not demonstrate that pedestrian
malls can succeed anywhere. However, it does demonstrate how design and ongoing community
involvement can spell the difference between failure and success. While planners dream about a
faraway future, with downtowns dense enough to support pedestrian malls, in the meantime, people
desire places to go as an alternative to suburban shopping malls and a dreary car culture.
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... However, local merchants were initially reluctant to support pedestrian zone schemes since limited private vehicle access and parking spaces would discourage citywide consumers from visiting traditional retail outlets. Indeed, many pedestrian mall practices had turned out to be commercially unsuccessful across American cities by the 1980s, in part for the inadequate design and operation of parking spaces (Pojani, 2008;Robertson, 1993). Differently, the designation of pedestrian zones has been associated with the construction of underground parking facilities for vertical accessibility and/or street-level tram/light rail stops for horizontal accessibility in European cities (Castillo-Manzano et al., 2014;Parajuli and Pojani, 2018;Soni and Soni, 2016). ...
... A body of studies further points out the dilemma that the commercial success of pedestrian zone schemes is likely to spur the replacement of local small retailers with international chain stores due to increased shop rents for higher accessibility (Özdemir and Selçuk, 2017). Essentially, a large part of the retail turnovers increased by accessibility enhancement and commercial gentrification can be transferred from competitive tenant shopkeepers to street-level property owners who are required to recover the costs of pedestrian zone schemes through special levies, taxation, or land value capture (Hass-Klau, 1993, 2014Parajuli and Pojani, 2018;Pojani, 2008). ...
... The economic implication of pedestrianization in Asia's commercial cityscapeneither commercial revitalization nor gentrificationis debatable in comparison with the success of car free zones in transitoriented European cities (Hass-Klau, 1993, 2014Ö zdemir and Selçuk, 2017) and the failure of early pedestrian malls in car-dependent American cities (Pojani, 2008;Robertson, 1993), especially in three aspects. First, the intensity of pedestrian and commercial vehicle flows around rail stations in Asian cities is much higher than that near tram/light rail stops in European cities. ...
Asian cities have increasingly been promoting the creation of walkable built environments as a catalyst for local economic development in global competition. However, the economic influences of pedestrianization are still debatable without sufficient quantitative assessments in Asia's commercialized cityscape along with mega-rail projects, high-rise buildings, and traffic-choked streets. This research examines the net capitalization effects of skywalk network and pedestrian zone schemes on office towers and retail streets using the case of Hong Kong. The sets of hedonic regression models in a quasi-experimental research framework show mixed results. The expansion of skywalk networks produced positive capitalization effects on podium-level office units connected by footbridges near metro rail exits, while having insignificant impacts on street-level retail units. The models also reveal that the implementation of pedestrian zone schemes generated insignificant capitalization effects on street-level retail units regardless of rail proximity. The evidence gives some credence to the notion that the creation of walkable built environments in Asian cities would contribute to capital accumulation through mega-rail plus international office tower projects. However, the findings also infer that pedestrianization initiatives in global competition would lead to neither commercial revitalization nor gentrification on local retail streets around metro rail stations.
... In polycentric cities and large monocentric cities, the traditional roles of inner city streets are supplanted by suburban high streets and suburban shopping malls. But often suburban retail spaces (whether in the form of high streets or enclosed big box malls) are in competition with one another as much as with the city centre (Pojani 2008). ...
... Small, independent business owners operating along public streets were undermined by the cheaper goods, free parking, and climate control offered by indoor malls. People came to prefer the convenience of a single entity that contained all necessity shopping items over navigating several small stores (Pojani 2008). While suburban high streets had to rely on meagre public resources for physical upgrades, shopping malls had access to much more substantial private capital. ...
... To cater to these demographic and cultural shifts, some formerly enclosed malls have been redesigned to include open-air, car-free streets. These resemble traditional suburban high streets while remaining under private ownership and control (Pojani 2008). At the same time, dying suburban high streets have been revived by incorporating some successful elements of enclosed shopping malls, such as an anchor store and a few car-based conveniences, but also mainstay planning features, such as shop-top housing, historical preservation of character buildings, distinctive and creative retail, outdoor seating, bikeshare docks, and public transport stops (Rao et al. 2017;Griffiths et al. 2008;Vaughan 2015;Graham and Peleg 2016;Scott 2015). ...
Full-text available
If well planned and designed, suburban high streets can fulfil important economic functions and carry social significance, in addition to allowing for the passage of traffic. However, in newer cities which have been built around the automobile, suburban high streets have struggled to attract and retain customers. This study quantitatively assesses the design quality of suburban high streets in Brisbane, Australia, employing an existing framework. The results suggest that a lack of vitality and walkability in Brisbane’s suburban high streets is due to their low urban design quality. © 2019
... Second is the 'mutation' where the mall emulates the socio-spatial arrangement of the main street, or vice versa (Beyard et al., 2001;Southworth, 2005). There is much less discussion of synergies where the power centre is incorporated (Hahn, 2000;Hernandez et al., 2004) and where two or more complex assemblages of types are formed (Dovey, 2016;Lowe, 2005;Pojani, 2008). ...
... Hernandez et al. (2004) and Hahn (2000) have pointed to a co-functioning relationship between the mall and power centre agglomerating around freeway interchanges or major junctions. Several scholars refer to emerging complexities where two or more synergies are combined (Dovey, 2016;Pojani, 2008;Thomas & Bromley, 2003). In particular, Lowe (2005) has identified a complex synergy in which the power centre is assembled with the suburban mall, main street, and 'street emulating mall'. ...
Full-text available
Car-dependent cities of the mid-late twentieth century transformed urban shopping as shopping centres became privatised and separated from urban life – traditional main streets were often replaced by suburban malls and then power centres (big-box clusters). We identify 13 emerging synergies between these retail types and critique the ways the synergies may foster or endanger urban public life. This evidence suggests contradictory trends: a return to urbanity with more fine-grained, mixed-use, and pedestrian-friendly shopping, juxtaposed with anti-urban tendencies of entrenched car-dependency and sophisticated private control. The role of planning in creating resilient urbanity is at stake.
... The construction of private shopping malls and theme parks continues unabated, although a new-generation design is emerging which seeks to emulate public streets (Fig. 8). While this trend is seen in Western shopping venues as well (Pojani, 2008), it means that new social spaces, while appearing to be public, are more tightly surveilled by either the government or private owners in order to avoid any disruptions which may deter consumerism and tourism. This issue has been evidenced in the West too, and it has been heavily criticised for undermining the public sphere and curtailing democratic freedoms (Madanipour, 2010;Madden, 2010;Mierzejewska, 2011;De Magalhães & Trigo, 2017). ...
Full-text available
This study examines how the Reformation has affected public space in Indonesian cities. The article draws on expert interviews and systematic field observations in Surabaya and Bandung, Indonesia's most important cities after Jakarta. The findings reveal that, with democracy and decentralisation, the public sector is more keenly aware of the socio-political functions of public space, and the planning process has become more participatory. This growing awareness has helped create more appealing and humane urban environments. Political activities, largely absent in the past, are now allowed in public space-albeit under the watchful eye of the government. At the same time, if public space was once considered as an 'unproductive' land-use, it has now commodified in a major way. Shopping malls have become ubiquitous, and are quite popular with local urbanites, who have traditionally equated public space with commercial space. Locals appear to be unconcerned about public space ownership-as long as it can offer novel and interesting activities.
... While public space privatization is supposed to have hurt urban populations, privatized commercial centres, theme parks, and "third spaces" are often full of life and activity (Pojani 2008). Presumably, by "voting with their feet", people are communicating that they enjoy these spaces -either for their aesthetics and neatness, or for the interactional opportunities and stimulating programming. ...
Full-text available
Academics have decried the erosion of public space under the neoliberal practices that have taken root since the 1980s in cities around the world. However, it is unclear whether users are concerned about the ownership of the urban spaces they use. To find out, this study surveyed users and observed their behaviour in three types of public spaces in Liverpool, UK: one entirely private development, one public-private partnership, and one urban renewal project taken over by a grassroots organization. The findings indicate that users appreciate privatised areas for the pleasant, clean, and safe environment they offer, as well as for the socialising opportunities. At the same time, privatised spaces send subtle signals to users that certain activities, people, or behaviours are not tolerated or encouraged. To reinforce the democratic essence of public space, values of appropriation should be safeguarded in all types of urban spaces, including privately produced ones.
... (New York Times, 2009). The redevelopment of Santa Monica's pedestrian mall highlights the continuing interest in the use of this design intervention (Pojani, 2008). This should not be particularly surprising, as public attitudes toward urban living have shifted in the intervening years. ...
Full-text available
This research provides a historical analysis of the American experiment with pedestrian malls. Specifically, we ask why some pedestrian malls have failed and were reopened to vehicular traffic while others have succeeded. Over 120 post-war malls from across the United States are statistically analysed, examining the relationship between the mall’s lifespan and a variety of geographic, demographic, and economic factors. Using a Cox proportional hazard model, we find that cities’ population density, the median age of the residents, the percent of the population that is white, proximity to beach, whether or not the City is a tourism destination, length of the mall, and the percent of sunny days are all significant in explaining a pedestrian mall’s longevity. In addition, we also examine qualitative, design-based characteristics in order to better understand why certain pedestrian malls, despite their locational disadvantages, have thrived to the present day.
... These findings suggest that proclaiming the death of public space as it has been known since antiquity (see Sennett 1977;Sorkin 1992;Mitchell 1995) is unwarranted at this point. The inclusion of private interests in public space production does not necessarily lead to poor quality urban spaces (see Pojani 2008). Urban designers can play a key role in enhancing the publicness of the urban spaces they are in charge of -including those spaces which are privately funded or produced. ...
... In the city centre of Bristol, a network of pedestrianised main streets is integrated with the semi-open shopping paths of Cabot Circus (a mutated mall themed on an open 'street' atmosphere). The second case is identified in downtown Santa Monica, California, also cited by Pojani (2008). Here, the Third Street Promenade (a malled main street), and Santa Monica Place (an open-air shopping centre that has been reconfigured from an enclosed suburban mall) are integrated at human scale. ...
Full-text available
This paper explores emerging spatial forms of shopping centres (evolved or planned agglomeration of shops). The twentieth century shopping centre development was largely towards car dependency, with the rise of the ‘suburban mall’ and ‘power centre’ (big box store cluster) and the decline of the ‘main street’. Retail landscape, however, increasingly forms synergies between these three retail types, giving rise to new shopping morphologies. These retail synergies are not well investigated in the existing research, with limited coverage of synergistic types and cities. In an attempt to address the research gaps, a morphological typology of shopping centres is conducted, using 100 cases of contemporary retail synergies from 55 cities with a broad global spread. A wide range of synergies between the main street, suburban mall, and power centre is identified: from simple combinations between any two types to highly experimental and complex assemblages comprising two or more synergies. These three retail types thus show a strong capacity for changes and adaptations, which may foster the resilience of shopping centres amid the recent mass-closing of brick-and-mortar shops; the ‘retail apocalypse’.
... These can advocate for pro-cycling policies, lobby to increase cycling-related budgets, and ensure the continuity of cycling issues in institutional agendas. Single-issue agencies have proven to be successful in overseeing the implementation of other sustainable transport concepts such as pedestrian malls and bus rapid transit (see Pojani 2008Pojani , 2014. Given the current climate emergency, such agencies are far from wasteful: on the contrary, they are paramount if cycling rates are to match car and/or public transport ridership. ...
Full-text available
In Singapore, cycling serves only two percent of daily commuter trips. Whenever cycling is discussed in relation to tropical settings, weather and climate are cited as major barriers to success. Commentators based in temperate climate zones assume that stifling heat, humidity, monsoon rains, and severe thunderstorms preclude the adoption of cycling in the tropics. Drawing on in-depth interviews with transport policy experts based in Singapore, we demonstrate that weather and climate are less important here than previously assumed. To people acclimatized to the tropics, the local climate and the weather variations therein pose less of a barrier than factors such as safety and convenience, which are nearly universal. It appears that, to make cycling irresistible in tropical climates, similar setups and approaches proposed or implemented in temperate climates are needed. ARTICLE HISTORY
The shopping mall is both the most visible and the most contentious symbol of American prosperity. Despite their convenience, malls are routinely criticized for representing much that is wrong in America-sprawl, conspicuous consumption, the loss of regional character, and the decline of Mom and Pop stores. So ubiquitous are malls that most people would be suprised to learn that they are the brainchild of a single person, architect Victor Gruen. An immigrant from Austria who fled the Nazis in 1938, Gruen based his idea for the mall on an idealized America: the dream of concentrated shops that would benefit the businessperson as well as the consumer and that would foster a sense of shared community. Modernist Philip Johnson applauded Gruen for creating a true civic art and architecture that enriched Americans' daily lives, and for decades he received praise from luminaries such as Lewis Mumford, Winthrop Rockefeller, and Lady Bird Johnson. Yet, in the end, Gruen returned to Europe, thoroughly disillusioned with his American dream. In Mall Maker, the first biography of this visionary spirit, M. Jeffrey Hardwick relates Gruen's successes and failures-his work at the 1939 World's Fair, his makeover of New York's Fifth Avenue boutiques, his rejected plans for reworking entire communities, such as Fort Worth, Texas, and his crowning achievement, the enclosed shopping mall. Throughout Hardwick illuminates the dramatic shifts in American culture during the mid-twentieth century, notably the rise of suburbia and automobiles, the death of downtown, and the effect these changes had on American life. Gruen championed the redesign of suburbs and cities through giant shopping malls, earnestly believing that he was promoting an American ideal, the ability to build a community. Yet, as malls began covering the landscape and downtowns became more depressed, Gruen became painfully aware that his dream of overcoming social problems through architecture and commerce was slipping away. By the tumultuous year of 1968, it had disappeared. Victor Gruen made America depend upon its shopping malls. While they did not provide an invigorated sense of community as he had hoped, they are enduring monuments to the lure of consumer culture.
Bayside District Specific Plan. Santa Monica: Policy and Planning Analysis Division
  • Santa City
  • Monica
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Charlottesville Virginia East Main Pedestrian Mall Available online at:
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Demographics. Downtown Santa Monica and Third Street Promenade Available online at
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More Pedestrian Malls Fail than Succeed, Observers Say In The Daily Camera and the E.W. Scripps Company Available online at
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Branaugh Matt (2002) More Pedestrian Malls Fail than Succeed, Observers Say. In The Daily Camera and the E.W. Scripps Company. Available online at: Accessed on February 9, 2005.
An Information Brief on Downtown Pedestrian Malls. Washington DC: National Main Street Center Available online at:
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West, Amanda B (1995) An Information Brief on Downtown Pedestrian Malls. Washington DC: National Main Street Center. Available online at: Accessed on January 31, 2005.
Studio Works (1980) 3 rd Street Mall. A Design and Revitalization Plan for the Santa Monica Mall
  • Arroyo Group
Arroyo Group/Studio Works (1980) 3 rd Street Mall. A Design and Revitalization Plan for the Santa Monica Mall. Santa Monica: Arroyo Group/Studio Works.