Make Marketplace more functional
Yes, Carbondale does need additional shopping mall and retail space, and the northwest corner of Main Street and Highway 133 is the right spot for it.
However, whatever gets built there has to be functional and effective for Carbondale as a whole community. The Crystal River Marketplace proposal, the mall with a 380-foot wall just 25 feet off west Main Street, left me gasping for air, literally, at every subject area I turned to while reading it, due to its lack of planning, design, foresight, function, environmental and community sensitivities, thoughtfulness and concerns.
An overview of the nine development pods looks like an overview of cow pies in a rancher’s field; no consistency, no coherency and randomly scattered over 24 acres to that people would never shop at more than one store at a time. Even the proposed restaurant for where 7-Eleven is now is several hundred yards away from the nearest store: totally dysfunctional, ineffective and inefficient.
Why not bring the anchor store more towards the north in the PCC zone and bring the other tenant stores around and more towards the south in the CRW zone and together into the center of the project so they straddle the two zoning districts and allow them to share a common and enclosed central shopping plaza and open space where multiple shopping can go on from just parking your car once?
The largest mall in America is in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and is about 2.5 million square feet, about 10 times the Marketplace’s size, and contains hundreds of stores, escalators and even merry-go-rounds, Ferris wheels, roller coasters and a water splash ride. Why couldn’t the CRM create and use a common shopping plaza and open space that could include perhaps a climbing wall, a merry-go-round and even a skateboard park area where kids can hang out while folks go shopping (warm and usable all year round).
There could be a short and long term day care center for children and/or pets as well as all of these being for-profit business. There could even be a second floor mezzanine (with escalator) for non-profit office area and a common meeting room.
The rest of the north part of the CRW district could be redeveloped. One possibility for this area could be affordable housing where the folks could just walk right over to the mall.
A second possibility could be to decriminalize hemp and open a public held stock hemp farm and factory that could produce fine fabrics and possibly clothes and fine papers for art work and special documents. Remember George Washington himself grew hemp and the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
Thanks goes to the Carbondale Trustees for not letting the Crystal River Marketplace development happen the way it is currently proposed – dysfunctional, ineffective and inefficient.
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