The Power of Urban Design: A Gas Station Transformed

August 17, 2010 38 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A gas station proposal for downtown tranforms right in front of Metro Jacksonville's eyes. Is anyone paying attention?

March 2, 2010: New Gas Station Proposed for Downtown's Main Street

Original project design

Main Street Elevation

The Northbank could benefit from a decent gas station and it would not hurt to get rid of another abandoned surface lot.  Metro Jacksonville suggests the owners (Bahri) and city staff make an effort work together to consider cost effective design options for an urban scale facility.
Full article:

Metro Jacksonville's position at the time drew sharp criticism from many discussion board members...

...another recommended gas station denial, this time actually on Main Street? time to start the conspiracy theories!

but really, Lake: what are chances that the gas station guys address the concerns of the denial and move forward?,7735.msg135085.html#msg135085

Evidently, the chances of the gas station guys coming back with a pedestrian friendly urban design were better than anyone imagined!

April 29, 2010: Downtown Gas Station Plans Revised

First revised project design

The Main Street elevation features a walk up window for the cafe along the sidewalk.

Conceptual plans have been modified to better integrate a proposed gas station and convenience store along Main Street. If approved, this gas station will include a cafe/restaurant with outdoor dining and serving areas along Union and Main Streets.

Full article:

August 13, 2010: JEDC green-lights Downtown gas station and cafe

Final Design

The Jacksonville Economic Development Commission did something Thursday it hasn’t been able to do in a while.

It sent to City Council a development rights agreement that will lead to a new building on an existing vacant lot and a job-creating business Downtown that is based solely on private capital, with no City funds or tax incentives involved.

Main Street Development Inc. sought the agreement to build a 4,400-square-foot gas station and convenience store on Main Street between State and Union streets. Also on the blueprint is a sandwich shop and cafe with outdoor seating and a walk-up service window for pedestrians.

The conceptual design was approved in April by the JEDC Downtown Development Review Board. At that time, the developer was asked to modify the design to better fit within an urban theme.

The renderings presented to the commission showed enhanced landscaping, awnings and a kiosk where mass transit information and JTA Skyway and bus passes will be available.

Main Street Development principal Carla Bahri said she bought the property four years ago and at first tried to interest a fast-food franchise in the location, but the downward trend in the economy made that option nonviable.
Full article: station

Despite criticism and a call from SPAR for taxpayers to fund its demolition, could the neighboring Park View Inn be the next ugly duckling to get an urban makeover?

Good form-based urban design has the power to make gas stations, car washes and convenience stores positive elements in a walkable environment.

Instead of immediately rejecting projects that don't fit our utopian view of what should be in an urban atmosphere, working with all business owners to properly integrate their projects into the surrounding context should be a major priority for this city and its neighborhoods.

Louisville's Highlands neighborhood: A typical McDonald's fast food box adjacent to the street, instead of a parking lot, improves walkability and the pedestrian experience without modifying the building's design or project's costs.  We really have no reason to not design for the pedestrian instead of the automobile.

Imagine the impact on our streets, sidewalks, sprawl and mass transit if every development approved in this city had to be designed with the pedestrian in mind?  Perhaps, our city would be able to operate and manage its general budget in the black instead of red.

Article by Ennis Davis