"Recipe for Success"
All American closed-street pedestrian malls, with the possible exception of those which failed, are not self-sufficient. Once a street has been cut from its life-blood of vehicles, alternate life support must be provided. All the malls are sustained by vigorous business associations dedicated solely to sustaining the mall. A typical yearly budget is $500,000. Pearl Street 's is $2M. This money is obtained partly by fees added to rent but also from the local government and from assessments on all businesses in the vicinity of the mall. It is spent on promotion and maintenance. This is invisible to the visitor but its effects are indirectly perceived. These malls survive as regional magnets, attracting consumer visitors to downtowns. They are advertised prodigiously– on radio and in print media. Advertising includes automobile directions from all regional points TO THE PARKING LOTS AND GARAGES ADJACENT TO THE MALLS. Look at all the satellite map clips on our caparison matrix. On every one you will see large parking lots adjacent to the malls – SURFACE LOTS. That is – these malls are sustained by inviting people to drive from far away, park adjacent to the mall and THEN leave their cars and walk. I know of this phenomenon first hand regarding 3 rd St in Santa Monica , having lived in Santa Monica for a year. I know this is true for our 4 th St. merely from listing to local radio. But I did not know this was true for every pedestrian mall all over the country.
If we close Center St. and follow the template of what's necessary to keep commerce alive on the street – WE MIGHT ACTUALLY INCREASE AUTO TRAFFIC IN THE DOWNTOWN. Certainly we'd need to provide abundant adjacent parking upon which all such malls depend.
I suspect this is not the favored vision of a pedestrian mall. But it is the real-world realization of one.
Elements for success:
Like many other successful malls, Pearl Street receives specially earmarked funding for maintenance and management each year. The money keeps the streets clean and organizes the many monthly events needed to draw people into the shopping districts.
In Boulder, a $2 million budget comes from the city, Downtown Boulder Inc. and the city's Business Improvement District — a broad area of businesses including Pearl Street that tax themselves for services. The revenue helps maintain the area's aesthetics and pays for annual events ranging from an art fair to "Bands on the Bricks," Fourth of July activities to August sidewalk sales.
Observers say a mall works best in a community that loves walking, and has a multitude of walkers nearby.
Proximity to a college
Efficient traffic flow
Variety of vendors
"Fine grain" architecture and small scale vendors which reward close inspection only possible on foot.
Failed Pedestrian Malls Article