This is my editorial on a recent Newsday editorial titled: How Long Island can update its downtowns. The author talks about the 4,000 acres of parking lots in and around Long Island downtowns, how they can be better utilized and reimagined. This does not mean getting rid of existing parking, it merely means using the space a better way.
These flat slabs of concrete will be anachronisms in dynamic downtowns where people walk the streets, buildings have multiple uses, and culture and nightlife abound. But they, too, can be transformed into something that adds to the energy of these new downtowns, something both old and new at the same time — parking garages. (Newsday: How Long Island can update its downtowns)
I bring this up because there has been talk about the parking design with the iStar Superblock proposal. While many have issues regarding the building height, traffic and parking in general, others (including me) are also worried about the footprint looking too much like a strip mall; there is too much exposed, single level parking that could be put to better use. AGAIN: This does not mean getting rid of parking spots. In fact, it could bring more.
The Superblock is private property, so a public paradise would be out of the question, but something could be done to improve the lifestyle of the residents who might live there. Can you imagine if they had a community garden on top of a parking garage? It would make the building so much more desirable to live in. Plus, us folks on the boardwalk wouldn’t just be staring at a concrete slab, green rooftops are just sooo much nicer, IMHO. Besides, that current-design parking slab will have a better view of the ocean than you, it’s too nice of space to waste on just blacktop.
From the Newsday article:
The plan for Westbury mixed parking with commercial and office space inside an attractive structure, with dramatic terraced housing on top. A promenade lined with different services and amenities would lead people into Westbury’s burgeoning downtown. Rockville Centre’s design was aesthetically beautiful, with large graceful arches and a ground level serving dual purposes: parking during the week, a place for festivals and farmers markets on weekends.
Based on the reader comments written for that Newsday article, it’s evident how many of those folks have absolutely no clue what the author is writing about. I might be completely alone on this myself.. lol, but those who understand the concepts of smart development, beautification and complete streets might understand. Make this iStar building look like it belongs in Long Beach, not just a sore thumb standing out on its own. Right now the plan looks like a gated, strip mall, sprawling community – the complete opposite of what is happening in other areas. Parking is a must, but I don’t want to live in a paved paradise.
Other parts of the country — from Florida to California — are way ahead of us, sporting parking structures with jaw-dropping designs. One in Miami Beach that’s become a tourist attraction features no exterior walls and a top-floor event space that rents out for weddings, bar mitzvahs and charity events.
…….There are more than 4,000 acres of parking lots in and around the Island’s downtowns. That’s a lot of potential for re-imagination. The Long Island Index’s experiment shows we can, and should, rethink how these spaces are used as we develop the downtowns of tomorrow — downtowns that take advantage of their proximity to train stations and serve as magnets for the young and anyone seeking a more vibrant lifestyle.
- NEWSDAY: Editorial: How Long Island can update its downtowns
- NEWSDAY: Design challenge aims to make parking fun