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Old December 2nd, 2006, 03:15 PM   #1
edsg25
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Are there limits on how far a waterless downtown can go?

Can a major city that has its downtown in a waterless area (no lakes, rivers, ocean, bay, etc.), even one that is a major business center and is economically important, truly have that special, ultimate downtown location it wants? Is a watefront essential to create the right environment, to bring the folks downtown to live and to play....or can a city do quite nicely without that waterfront?

If water were to be considered essential, would the relatively narrow creeks, rivers, or canals in places like Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, Indy (canal), LA (LA River) work?

UTLIMATELY HOW IMPORTANT IS WATERFRONT TO A MAJOR CITY'S DOWNTOWN?
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Old December 2nd, 2006, 07:16 PM   #2
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I dont think a waterfront matters these days
most cities are near water because, back then they needed to be close to water. Thats why not alot of big cities are in the desert
a city needs water and if its going to grow it needs a supply of water
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Old December 3rd, 2006, 12:41 AM   #3
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Well, there is a river in DT Indy, the White River, and it is of decent size through DT too, but it is so polluted due to a combined sewer system that it is under utilized. There are a lot of things along the river (IUPUI, White River State Park, the Zoo..) but it won't reach its potential until the new sewer system is completed. I think it will be a handful of years too until they are done.

Anyway, back to the topic...for some cities I say "no," yet for others, "yes." I think that places like DT Atlanta and DT L.A. could hit a "cap" as there are other areas of these cities that are competing for the types of development that would locate in a DT. However, for smaller cities like Indy, I say there isn't a limit. DT Indy is the only game in town and as more and more people want the urban lifestyle, it is the only area to go. There really isn't any other area in the entire metro that has the density found in Center Township.
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Old December 3rd, 2006, 02:15 AM   #4
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Yah, I think evuantally the white river will have alot of buildings along it, as downtown spreads across the river.
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Old December 3rd, 2006, 03:18 AM   #5
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These days, as most waterfronts in cities (not all obviously) aren't used economically...it really doesn't matter.

To me, a waterfront is an added bonus.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 12:07 AM   #6
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waterfront cities came about due to the need of rivers for transport. that's the main reason why most cities in NC were not large during the 'river' phase of development - there are no deep water navigable rivers to use. once railroads came along this changed. now that we have trucks, rails, and planes, it is not necessary to have a river.

uptown charlotte is located 10 miles from a river, and there is virtually NO trade along those parts of the catwaba river.

is a river a nice amenity these days? yes! who doesnt love to go down by the river in a city and enjoy the entertainment that is usually located there?
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Old December 4th, 2006, 12:57 AM   #7
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Perhaps I didn't make my point clear. I wasn't thinking about historical waterfronts or shipping but the necessity of water as an aestetic necessity and its ability to define the boundaries of a downtwon district. Consider how many downtown attractions are located along the waterfront to take adantage of the beauty that comes from city and waterfront meeting.

Does the lack of a waterfront prevent a great downtown? No. But it may, just may, prevent a truly fantasticone, oneset apart from the pack, from happening.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 01:30 AM   #8
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If you have a waterfront, make the best of it. If you don't, make the
best of it. We all benefit in the long run.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 02:02 AM   #9
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I believe a waterfront is essential to a thriving Downtown. The LA River is currently in the process of being revitalized. A great example of a newly revitalized river that did wonders for the city is San Antonio where the Riverwalk accounts for some additional 2.8 million tourists a year.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 04:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westsidelife View Post
I believe a waterfront is essential to a thriving Downtown. The LA River is currently in the process of being revitalized. A great example of a newly revitalized river that did wonders for the city is San Antonio where the Riverwalk accounts for some additional 2.8 million tourists a year.
You're using an example of a city which revitalized its riverfront in hopes of making it a tourist area, and then extrapolating that idea to suggest that if a city wants a thriving downtown, it needs a waterfront. Not really the same thing.

I can see no advantage a waterfront (river) would bring to a downtown area. If anything, it impedes transportation and takes up valuable real estate space.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 04:20 AM   #11
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A waterfront is not essential, but it probably adds about 30 points on a 100 point scale. People like space and vista and water seems to be hypnotic and soothing. When the water is angry (storms), it's an elemental force that boggles the mind and just as fascinating. Just check out people on a beach who can sit for extended lengths of time just staring at the water. You can sell condos with view for extra, a hotel with a view gets better rates than the same one a few blocks back. Boat rides, paddle boats, special water oriented events (such as Baltimore's Kinetic Sculpture race in which people invent human powered gadgets and race them in and out of the water), all these things add value to a downtown that is difficult to explain but absolutely valuable.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 04:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scando View Post
A waterfront is not essential, but it probably adds about 30 points on a 100 point scale. People like space and vista and water seems to be hypnotic and soothing. When the water is angry (storms), it's an elemental force that boggles the mind and just as fascinating. Just check out people on a beach who can sit for extended lengths of time just staring at the water. You can sell condos with view for extra, a hotel with a view gets better rates than the same one a few blocks back. Boat rides, paddle boats, special water oriented events (such as Baltimore's Kinetic Sculpture race in which people invent human powered gadgets and race them in and out of the water), all these things add value to a downtown that is difficult to explain but absolutely valuable.
I'm confused by your point scale -- how much value would a mixed-use apartment building add in comparison to a river?
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Old December 4th, 2006, 05:54 AM   #13
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To answer the original question:



No.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 12:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scando View Post
A waterfront is not essential, but it probably adds about 30 points on a 100 point scale. People like space and vista and water seems to be hypnotic and soothing. When the water is angry (storms), it's an elemental force that boggles the mind and just as fascinating. Just check out people on a beach who can sit for extended lengths of time just staring at the water. You can sell condos with view for extra, a hotel with a view gets better rates than the same one a few blocks back. Boat rides, paddle boats, special water oriented events (such as Baltimore's Kinetic Sculpture race in which people invent human powered gadgets and race them in and out of the water), all these things add value to a downtown that is difficult to explain but absolutely valuable.
excellent reasons, scando. add to this: water helps defines the downtown area and prevents it from littering petering out in all directions.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 03:25 PM   #15
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Yah, it also makes it much nicer, I think a downtown lacks big time when there isn't any rives, or large lakes, lakes, rivers, or coasts, give an alive feel.
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Old December 5th, 2006, 12:03 AM   #16
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No limits. But it's much harder to be an interesting, inspiring place without water.

My favorite downtowns all have interesting topography. Except a few places like Shinjuku and London's West End that have outstanding built environments -- in other words, places that have reached a higher bar.
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Old December 5th, 2006, 04:11 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdude View Post
I'm confused by your point scale -- how much value would a mixed-use apartment building add in comparison to a river?
I didn't mean it as an exact scale so much as the belief that waterfront alone won't make a place but it's a big factor. If waterfront by itself would to the job, it would have been over 50. If it really doesn't matter, it would be a 5. A purely subjective rating.
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Old December 5th, 2006, 04:24 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdude View Post
I can see no advantage a waterfront (river) would bring to a downtown area. If anything, it impedes transportation and takes up valuable real estate space.
Are you joking..?
Its part of what makes space desirable to real-estate. A nicely done waterfront is a VERY desirable and valuable feature anywhere. People want to live around these water features for things like entertainment and retail that are attracted to waterfronts, in addition to the fact that they are just plane good-looking. You can hardly suggest that a river is at all negative unless it smells bad or something...
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Old December 5th, 2006, 06:08 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
No limits. But it's much harder to be an interesting, inspiring place without water.
What he said.
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Old December 5th, 2006, 11:57 AM   #20
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Let's take the question up one step:

I reralize that cost and the ability to get land would be an issue in about what I proposing. But if those issues were manageable, would you suggest that a city without a waterfront that desires to make its downtown one of the best consider the following:

a Disneyesque plan to take peripheral land around the downtown area and turn it into man made lakes, streams, rivers?
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