Qualified Condition

August 8, 2008

Is This Saugus or Highland Park?

Filed under: Uncategorized, Vive le Strip Mall — qualifiedcondition @ 10:30 pm

It’s not often that we get brand new buildings in Northeast LA so I hope that it’s okay for me to point out how utterly disappointing it is when we do get one and it sucks.  I’m going to eschew the fact that this new strip mall on York Blvd. right near Eagle Rock Blvd. houses a Starbucks and a Walgreens neither of which we needed in this area and instead focus on what an abysmal failure this development is from a planning and urban design standpoint…and then because I don’t want this blog to be all negative I’ll be sure to follow up with something beautiful.  Or at least a photo of a puppy.  I promise.

Here’s what’s wrong with this mess:

The Walgreen’s is tucked back behind a sea of parking rather than meeting the street.  If you want to get to any of these establishments and you happened to have walked (you fool!) you’ve gotta go through the vehicle entrance.  Having the building set back so far relates very poorly with the rest of York Blvd. where most buildings are located along the street.  Even the Starbucks, which is remotely near the street does not provide an actual door on the street.

Both the coffee shop and the bbq place provide patios, but neither are located along the street-front.  People like eating on the street, not in the midst of a parking lot.  This creates interest to passers-by for the business and makes the place look a lot more special and relevant.

There are no bike racks, the paved surfaces are totally impervious (ever here of Portland cement?!) and there are two drive thru’s.  This is a big step backward from an environmental standpoint.  People really won’t mind getting their fat asses out of the car if we stop providing this ridiculous option.

The architecture is the ubiquitous strip mall junk that has nothing to do with Highland Park or York Blvd for that matter.  This thing could have been kerplunked down from wherever—Planet Stuccoschlock perhaps?  In an attempt to provide articulation we see the same tired foam-plant-ons, fake awnings, and the multitude of faux-towers.  Granted it could be so much worse, but it could be so much better!

A freshman architecture or planning student could have whipped up a site plan that makes a million times more sense (see napkin sketches below).  So why are paid professionals still letting this kind of crap happen?



  1. where’s the photo of the puppy?

    Comment by kw — August 9, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

  2. […] showed a pretty bad example of a new strip mall development that went in on York Blvd a short while ago.  It was the sort of […]

    Pingback by When a Strip Mall Isn’t so Bad « Qualified Condition — August 15, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

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