Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stores and city hall

This is pretty scary:
(Port Commissioners) said the (city hall) project won't generate the foot traffic and economic activity they want at night and on weekends.

A City Hall would have to have shops on the ground floor or some other venue to draw people to the area after the offices have closed, the port officials said Monday. City officials, who previously were lukewarm to the idea, agreed to at least talk about it.
The problem is that the port doesn't want to build up their property and have one section of it shut down at 5 every night. I can understand that desire, but why is there an assumption that only commercial space can fill that role? The image of our city hall having ground floor retail space reminds me of Tukwila, Seatac or Lynwood.

Retail space isn't the only use that will create activity after 5p. Here's an idea just off the top of my head. The current Olympia Library is just over 20,000 square feet, too small for Olympia. In the late 90s there was an effort to build a new library down by where Yardbirds used to be, but that bond failed.

If the port wants folks to be down on their properties after 5, why do they have to be shopping? Why can't they be engaged in public, civic activties that center around the better part of life?

The solution could be a branch civic library, with reading and meeting space open after hours. The Timberland Library system already has experimented with providing library services in alernative spaces (in rural areas only though). This would be like a cross between the Olympia center and the current library, but as an alternative to both.

This isn't a perfect idea, but what I'm saying is that we don't have to settle for stores on the ground floor of our city hall.

No comments: