Walkable West Palm Beach

New street planned in downtown WPB as part of All Aboard Florida station

10 Comments

A key component to the downtown master plan (DMP) is the creation of new streets in strategic locations to break up block length and facilitate more fine-grained urban infill. One of these streets is planned to run adjacent to the FEC right of way, on its west side, connecting Clematis Street south to Cityplace. This street is designated as a “Primary Pedestrian Street” in the DMP, which means it is to prioritize pedestrians and create an excellent experience. The area in which the All Aboard Florida station is proposed is the “Quadrille Business District”, per the DMP. The intent of this district:

Intent. The Quadrille business district is intended to be the main office core for downtown, and a link between the city’s two main retail centers: CityPlace and Clematis Street. It includes the greatest capacity for commercial development and building heights in the downtown and focuses the most intense development along Quadrille Boulevard to create a signature office corridor. The city will enhance Quadrille Boulevard as an urban parkway through streetscape improvements. Incentives are offered for the dedication of right-of-way (ROW) which will allow for the construction of a new road adjacent to the west side of the FEC ROW between Gardenia Street and Clematis Street. The new road will create a frontage for the QBD and promote an active urban environment. Proposed development in the QBD should consist of iconic buildings which respect the scale of Clematis Street and Rosemary Avenue by stepping down building heights along those corridors. Rosemary shall be the main pedestrian street with active use liners and ground floor active uses. Additionally, this district shall create a strong connection with the Northwest Neighborhood by extending the street grid from Banyan Boulevard to 2nd Street.

In Jeff Speck’s walkability presentation, he commented on the harmful impact that closing Datura and Evernia Streets will have to the urban fabric of downtown. To mitigate this impact, Speck says All Aboard Florida needs to employ good urban design. This means creating a real urban street as required in the DMP, hiding parking, and bringing buildings up to the street to create a continuous frontage along the street edge.

Getting this new street right is very important to the economic health of downtown as it will be the connection between the station, CityPlace, and Clematis. It will be the first impression visitors to West Palm Beach receive, and it will make redevelopment of land adjacent to it more feasible. Datura and Evernia closures were not planned as part of the downtown master plan. This new street can help mitigate the negative impacts, but it must be a high quality street design. Let’s take a page out of Victor Dover’s excellent new book, “Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns” and make an quality, memorable street here.

Here is a link with some inspirations:

 

10 thoughts on “New street planned in downtown WPB as part of All Aboard Florida station

  1. Getting this new street right is important, but as an after thought to closing 2 existing streets and failing to obtain a landmark train station design, it is a disappointing concession. The architecture that needs to line this new street is unlikely to happen for sometime. Therefore, the full potential of this concession will not be in-place in time to balance the regrettable planning and architecture of the new train station that is happening now.

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    • I agree. I skimmed the DMP and it says very little about train station design; all the standards applying to the Quadrille Business District seem to have office buildings in mind.
      On the other hand, I know there is a rule in the DMP that any project over a certain footprint (I believe the number is 50,000 square feet) is required to go before the Downtown Action Committee for special review.
      I don’t see how this site is any different from other sites downtown in that regard. The DAC could uphold high design standards, especially given the street closures. Members of the DAC:
      http://wpb.org/boards-committees/

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      • Every morning I drive down Quadrille and the speed of the cars I feel is a significant deterrent for residents wanting to walk west either to Publix in CityPlace or to walk their dogs in the morning or evening. Has a round-about ever been considered for Quadrille and Fern?

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        • That’s a great question. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen old plans of downtown that show a roundabout on Quadrille. I don’t know if it was, in fact, ever implemented or if it was just in the plans. The DDA office has a ton of old plans lying around and I saw it there.

          One thing is for sure: Crossing Quadrille is very difficult and cars don’t stop for peds at crosswalks. The $750K transporation alternatives grant the city received for Quadrille did not fix this problem.

          As it stands, the City is set to receive more grant money to reconfigure Fern. Part of it will be to do a bioswale, also to add angled parking. And I believe the plan is a traffic signal but I’m not sure. There is still time to redesign this project, if the community speaks up. ahansen@wpb.org is the city transportation planner to talk to, he’s a good guy.
          Let me know your thoughts and if you want to discuss more, send a message.

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          • Hello, Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. I would like to discuss some additional ideas for the area which haven’t been considered for quadrille to make the road more pedestrian friendly. If I could maybe arrange for a meeting with either you or A. Hansen in the next couple weeks, I would really appreciate it.

            Melissa Parnell iNvision, LLC

            Sent from my iPhone

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            • Let’s do it. I’ll talk to Alex and try to set up a workshop of some sort!

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              • Great thanks! Looking forward to it.

                Melissa Parnell iNvision, LLC

                Sent from my iPhone

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                • Melissa, it’s looking like Jeff Speck and the City folks are likely recommending against a roundabout. Jeff Speck’s walkability study should be coming out soon. I’ll blog about it once I get my hands on it.

                  I’m thinking about doing our next Walkable West Palm Beach meetup with a county transportation official, who may be able to work with us on some livable street design issues on Quadrille. Stay posted and ‘like’ our group on Meetup.com

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                  • Looking forward to Jeff’s study. Also curious if he has actually been on any of these streets that he has grand de jure ideas for and at what times of day because after working hours and on the weekends, the City streets are pretty barren, especially on Quadrille and Dixie.
                    On a side note, besides making WPB not only “walker” friendly, they need to think about overall mobility of the residents like implementing a bike share to assist people in moving about the City. It doesn’t make much sense to focus on people walking around downtown when they still have to drive to get here and then walk.

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                    • I walked downtown with Jeff, and had coffee with him with a group of stakeholders. He spent considerable time walking and studying the streets downtown.

                      I agree with you about excess capacity. It’s very unfortunate that many of our streets are sized for 1/2 hour of commuter traffic, rather than the other 23.5 hours per day that people use them. There was a really apropos article written today at Strong Towns on this very issue: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2014/7/29/ask-strong-towns-question-9.html#disqus_thread

                      Good news on the bike share front: It’s happening. The DDA and City have approved Decobikes to operate downtown. Getting financing in order is taking time, though. Hopeful it will rollout in the fall.

                      Speck’s report will contain many recommendations for biking, trolley routing, parking, and street design. Walkability is complimentary to all other modes. Get that right and so much else follows, as Speck says in Walkable City.

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