Author Topic: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach  (Read 6183 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« on: November 25, 2008, 05:00:00 AM »
Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach



In 1993, West Palm Beach was featured in a 60 Minutes segment on urban decay. At the time, 80% of downtown properties were vacant. Since then, the city has done much to improve its image.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/944

Jason

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2008, 08:56:52 AM »
Great article.  West Palm and Palm Beach are beautiful towns and were very walkable when I passed through in '02.

Joe

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2008, 10:28:37 AM »
West Palm is a really interesting place. It's certainly a model for urban new construction within a Florida context. All the new stuff is really great.

However, it's worth mentioning that the parts of downtown West Palm that weren't highlighted in this thread are absolute sh*tholes. CityPlace, Clematis Street, and the "central" cluster next to the park are all wonderful places. But if you walk even a couple blocks outside of those zones, you might wind up in a really nasty area.

Regardless, I can't say enough good things about CityPlace. It's an example of what a true lifestyle center should be. On the surface, it's so simple. It's just a small sized mall, a movie theater, a grocery store, a mid-rise office tower, and several hundred residential units. There's not much to CityPlace that you couldn't find within a two mile radius of the Avenues mall. Yet, through good urban design, they created a vibrant mini-city that became a true place.

Ocklawaha

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2008, 11:13:22 AM »


I was amazed at how trashed Ft. Lauderdale area and South Florida is in general. Our needs in Jacksonville sure do show up when we stack downtown centers with similar locales elsewhere. Frankly, we have a great history, fantastic heritage and financed the building of South Florida. (Non History buffs should note that we were a long established city before Miami had 6 people in it in 1893). Everything done there, came THROUGH here, it was the zenith of the roaring twenties, trains were running in 20 sections (20 trains under a single banner or number, for - Example #1, second #1, third #1 etc.. When the railroads got so full they could no longer bear the frieght and passengers, carload freight was embargoed to all of South Florida. Trains were running 24 hours late, and the clocks re-set to put them back on time.



Thus the old Colombian joke:

Gringo nervous at the station with ticket in hand for the 7AM train to Bogota
Colombian sleeping with ticket on seat nearby.
12 Noon Gringo starved, still nervous, still waiting.
Colombian leaves and eats a full meal and wanders back by 2PM.
At Dinner the Gringo is ready to eat his shoes, still no train in sight.
Colombian leaves again and repeats the noonday actions, arriving back at 8PM.
About two hours after sunset, the train arrives!
Colombian jumps up, hands off his ticket, and vanishes into the coaches.
Gringo jumps up, hands off his ticket and isn't allowed on...
WTF? WTH?
Conductor explains
"Poor Gringo, you ticket is for this mornings train, and THIS is yesterday mornings train!"



Okay, it REALLY HAPPENED in Florida! JACKSONVILLE TERMINAL. We reaped a harvest of cash, built a reigonal banking and finance center on old money - rails - banks - Money. Built mansions in Ortega, Springfield, San Marco, Riverside, Avondale and San Jose. But the wealth never got out of those tight fingers. NEVER! We didn't dare flirt with insecure risky ventures like Movies, Hollywood or Resorts... Money comes from Smokestacks. Today we and our childrens children are paying that debit.


We bake the cookies sold on Worth Avenue...

Helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllo Jacksonvilllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllle it's the 21st Century.



thelakelander

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2008, 12:03:16 PM »
However, it's worth mentioning that the parts of downtown West Palm that weren't highlighted in this thread are absolute sh*tholes. CityPlace, Clematis Street, and the "central" cluster next to the park are all wonderful places. But if you walk even a couple blocks outside of those zones, you might wind up in a really nasty area.

This is true.  However, I think it goes to show when you have limited resources, its better to invest them in centralized spots as opposed to spreading the pot too thin, where significant improvements fail to stimulate synergy. 

Downtown West Palm still has a long way to go outside of Clematis, the waterfront and CityPlace, but one can definately see a plan/vision in play.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

JaxByDefault

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2008, 12:29:03 PM »
Excellent point. So where would be your recommended first cluster concentrations for JAX downtown?

thelakelander

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2008, 01:27:27 PM »
My main focus would be to create a vibrant pedestrian oriented atmosphere.  Imo, its easier to get 3 or 4 blocks working than it is to immediately tackle two square miles.  I believe this can be done with better use of what we already have in place. 

The heart of the Northbank between the Landing and Hemming Plaza would be my starting spot.  Instead of streetscapes, pocket parks, kiddie fountains and studies, I'd spend more time figuring out how to squeeze more vibrant use out of what's there already and encourage infill in between.  This could include giving tax breaks/incentives to building owners who flip their street level interior uses inside out, selling off city owned property in the core and working with JTA to make better use of the skyway stations.  It could also include removing city offices out specific first floor locations of public buildings and dedicating the space for retail/cultural uses.  To help fund public improvements I'd sell off the land underneath the Landing (provided Sleiman immediately moves forward with opening the courtyard up to Laura and flipping retail spaces to face Independent Drive).  I'd also issue affordable RFPs to rid the city of underutilized properties like the Snyder Memorial.  The money made from this pot would then go to help fund components of a long term Downtown Master Plan (ex. wayfaring signage, better lighting, grants/loans to refurbish historic structures, cleaning Hemming Plaza, building out the base of the library parking garage and then giving out cheap leasing rates to get it filled, etc.).

In the meantime, this does not mean I'd ignore the rest of the area.  There should be something set in place to make sure that every single private sector project in downtown's boundaries fit into the long term vision of the Downtown Master Plan.  So, say you're FCCJ, JTA or anyone else with plans to expand or build new facilities.  You can bet your bottom dollar there will be heavy public influence to make sure your use is designed to add life to the street.  This means, no more LaVilla 3's would get any where near final approval without properly addressing the street.  If you're SPAR or any other neighborhood group.  You can bet City Hall will be at your planning sessions to make sure connectivity will happen with the downtown core.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 01:33:23 PM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

copperfiend

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2008, 01:47:24 PM »
Lakelander, you should run for office.

I-10east

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2008, 03:22:32 PM »
Spoiled rotten rich arch-conservatives; Ugly and overrated S. Florida Art-Deco buildings; Overpriced everything; Sounds like my kinda town! ::) ::) ::)__WPB buildings are like Jax's "Southbank; Peninsula etc" times forty with that ugly architecture. Greenleaf & Crosby, The Old Barnett Bank, The Carling, and Springfield here in Jax is REAL architecture! WPB is probably a place I'll just pass to get to MIA. No need for me to go there.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 03:25:32 PM by I-10east »

Joe

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2008, 05:11:10 PM »
^ The city of WPB is really really liberal. Tremendously so. Maybe you are thinking of the town of Palm Beach - but even most of them are diehard New York Democrats.

Nor are there that many art deco buildings - the primary housing stock is Mediterranean revivial. Have you been there?
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 05:15:13 PM by Joe »

rjp2008

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2008, 08:12:45 PM »
Quote
Regardless, I can't say enough good things about CityPlace. It's an example of what a true lifestyle center should be.

Yep. It was designed by a Miami architecture firm and they knocked it out of the park. It's always busy 24-7, it's attracted new condos, convention center, etc. But it is a unique location in this country and the median wealth in the area allowed it to come about. They hit the economy at just the right time (2000).

I wish other cities would copy the concept. The style may change, but the idea of providing 24/7 range of venues - movie, restaurants, clothing, dance clubs, coffeehouse, public stages, fine arts theatre - all in extremely close proximity with a parking garage can work wonders for bringing in revenue (and tourists) to the area.

There are detractors of course as I see - just as South Floridians might believe all Jacksonvillians are country bumpkins, the reverse might expect to find nothing but "liberals" in WPB. Actually there are large Christian communities there you'd be surprised.

Thanks for the spotlight on WPB! Going back for Thanksgiving woohoo!!
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 08:16:18 PM by rjp2008 »

avonjax

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2008, 09:01:27 PM »
Sorry I-10 but many of the "ugly" art deco buildings in Miami Beach are architectural masterpieces, some of the finest in the world. I'm sure you weren't referring to those. And I'm in a cranky mood and I get so tired people who proclaim "ugly" all styles they personally don't like. I would hate to live in a city or neighborhood designed by someone with such a narrow view of good.

And yes there is some South Florida influence on the new buildings o the Southbank, but remember Miami has some world renowned architechure and is also considered by many as one of the top skylines in the world. No one holds that opinion of Jacksonville.

Everything doesn't have to be classical or brick. Jacksonville has way more than it's share of ugly and bland buildings downtown. As a matter of fact in my opinion, and it's only my opinion most of our tall buildings are  rather ugly and boring.

In my opinion, and it's just my opinion we could use some of the diverse architecture found to the South.


shawnsoldit

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2008, 10:14:33 PM »
First of all...Miami Metro is 1 1/2 hour drive from WPB and in my opinion should not be used to compare numbers.  You have to drive all the way thru Ft. Lauderdale before you even get to Miami.  So not sure why that is. 

Anyway, I have a home in West Palm...it has a completely different flavor than here.  There are so many more young people here and a bigger art scene culture feel.   In west palm, there is the have, and the have nots. With snow birds that dominate the seasons and economy.   City place is a big fake coporate "everthing is ok land" built on what use to be the slums of downtown.  It still is the slums if you walk a block outside this plastic make believe land and into the reality of depressed west palm.  The buildings that went up downtown are sitting empty...they look pretty but there is no one to enjoy them. I suppose if they were full it would put people on the streets.  Clematis street is pretty much dead.  When city place opened all the clubs went there, then the city instituted parking meters on Clematis?...so stupid.


Jacksonville is a much better city, and much further along to becoming vibrant city.  It already has great intown neighborhoods like Springfield, Riverside, San Marco, Murray Hill, and St. Nicholas.  It has much better industry, a new port deal, and a stable (in comparison) real estate market. While every other home in WPB is on the market...forclosures are everywhere.  Where the city will go next is unclear. 

I moved here less than a year ago....I could have gone to WPB.  I made the right choice.
Shawn McGuire
Executive Director
Oasis, The GLBT Center of Northeast Florida

thelakelander

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2008, 10:59:41 PM »
Quote
First of all...Miami Metro is 1 1/2 hour drive from WPB and in my opinion should not be used to compare numbers.  You have to drive all the way thru Ft. Lauderdale before you even get to Miami.  So not sure why that is.

This is really a question for the US Census Bureau.  According to them, Palm Beach County is apart of the same Metropolitan Area (MSA) that includes Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.  Its one long continuous line of urban development down there and many residents live in one county and work in the other so it makes sense.  By the same token, its a good ride between Hastings and Fernandina Beach.  However, both are included in Jacksonville's MSA (Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Nassau and Baker County).

Quote
Clematis street is pretty much dead.  When city place opened all the clubs went there, then the city instituted parking meters on Clematis?...so stupid.

Interesting.  Here's something we can learn from West Palm Beach.  People don't like to be punished with parking meters.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Keith-N-Jax

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: West Palm Beach
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2008, 11:13:27 PM »
I also wonder why Miami gets to claim all of WPB and Ft.Lauder. In that case why doesnt Jax claim Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, Gainesville.The drive the between Hasting and Fernandina Beach is it an 1 hr half away. Anyway I know this thread is not about metro pop. I like WPB my grandmother's sister lives there. I always stop and visit on my way to Miami. She lives in a bad area though off Blue Herron and Ave O.