Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Make Main Street a temporary pedestrian mall?

2. June 2009 • Matt Hampel
Email this article

From the Ann Arbor News:

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje wants the city to study the possibility of closing Main Street on weekends in the downtown area during summer months, and not just for special events.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, Hieftje suggested that the city look into a pilot program for next summer under which Main Street would be closed from 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday evening to create a pedestrian mall atmosphere.



  1. I’ve been hoping for a proposal like this for years. There is no real reason that Main from William to Liberty is open to cars on the weekends. It’s congested, there’s little parking, and the noise & fumes make hanging out on the street less pleasant. Who knows, we might even get some real street food.

    One issue I’ve heard is that Main is also Business 23 until Huron, but I’d imagine that’s outside of the proposed area.


       —Matt Hampel    Jun. 2 '09 - 03:29PM    #
  2. I visited Boulder, CO a few years’ back and they had a similar set-up for their downtown area.
    Boulder was designed similarly to Ann Arbor, what with the University of Colorado located there and all. I think it’s a great idea and I hope that the City Council buys into the idea as well.


       —scooter62    Jun. 2 '09 - 03:53PM    #
  3. Why not just close Main Street from William to Huron, period? If this is a great summer idea, why not 100% of the year?


       —Alan Goldsmith    Jun. 2 '09 - 04:08PM    #
  4. NO!!!

    Pedestrian malls helped kill downtowns in medium sized cities all over the country in the 60’s and 70’s for many reasons. Every once in a while the idea arises again, people get starry-eyed, and start talking about Boulder, CO. When serious study is done on the economic impact to businesses, it is always a bad idea. For every one Boulder success, there are a hundred disasters. Pearl Street is just a different animal than Main and its really hard to compare them anyway.

    I think this is a monumentally bad idea that is very short-sighted. I hope the City doesn’t spend real money doing a study on this. I already know the outcome.


       —Marvin Face    Jun. 2 '09 - 04:32PM    #
  5. Marvin, can you explain how the pedestrian mall kills downtown? Is it the lack of mixed transport, or some snowballing effect?


       —Matt Hampel    Jun. 2 '09 - 04:43PM    #
  6. Marvin:

    I’m also curious: This seems like a great idea. The main street area has never seemed dependant upon street traffic—in fact, as noted above, the street traffic dampens the outdoor seating/restaurant thing.

    So—what’s the objection?


       —Daniel Adams    Jun. 2 '09 - 05:00PM    #
  7. Kalamazoo removed most of their pedestrian mall from downtown after much debate about the pros and cons of doing so. I don’t see the point of converting the street into a pedestrian mall. What’s gained by doing that?


       —John Q.    Jun. 2 '09 - 05:00PM    #
  8. Marvin,
    Could you also explain, (since you seem to have more advanced knowledge of this topic than most)if closing temporarily (weekends only) would have the same affect as a permanent closure?

    Thanks-


       —scooter62    Jun. 2 '09 - 05:01PM    #
  9. I see a couple of positives:

    (a) It’s a small stretch surrounded by parking. We’re not talking about shutting down all of Liberty and Main.

    (b) Restaurants get increased seating space and a calmer atmosphere

    © There’s room for street activities, booths, exhibitions, and general lounging.

    (d) The traffic on this section of Main is already slow-moving; it’s not really a good thoroughfare as it is. Plus, no bus routes cut through the William-Liberty stretch.

    However, I have heard that there’s a lot of objection from Main Street merchants.


       —Matt Hampel    Jun. 2 '09 - 05:17PM    #
  10. Probably the biggest(and there are many)reason is that people unfamiliar with an area like to see their destination prior to parking. The parking doesn’t have to be nearby, but they want to survey the scene. If they can’t drive by then go park, the business is invisible. I walk and bike in town almost exclusively so I’m not a car person yet I understand that this is the reality.

    There is also a safety factor. With cars driving down the street in non-busy hours, there is less of a feeling of desertion. Once a place feels deserted, people feel uncomfortable walking and avoid the area.

    There is also the fact that people go to Main St. for the activity. Cars add to the activity on the street. People “cruise” Main the way they used to cruise West Stadium and it adds to the vitality of the scene.

    The last I will mention is that the space has to be programmed with events almost continually. When Main St is closed for events like the Taste of AA, or other events and the Mayor sees the jammed streets and all the activity I’m sure it is easy for him to think it should be like this all the time. But think of Main St on a typical weekend without a car show or octoberfest. Without the cars it’s a big expanse of asphalt. Interestingly, restaurant owners will tell you that when there is an event, their business goes down (They can’t wait for art fair to end every year).

    Yes, some malls have done well (Boulder, Burlington), some are just OK (Charlottesville, Ithaca), but most are disasters (Eugene, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and others).

    Madison is trying one on the popular State St and it will be interesting to see what happens there. One difference is that State St connects two distinct destinations (UW and the Capitol) while Main St IS the destination.


       —Marvin Face    Jun. 2 '09 - 05:20PM    #
  11. Regarding State St in Madison, what I meant to say was that it was recently renovated. It has been in place for years (part pedestrian, part ped/vehicle).


       —Marvin Face    Jun. 2 '09 - 05:29PM    #
  12. They did this in Manhattan last year, closing off streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park on weekend mornings. This year they’re expanding the program to (shorter stretches) in the outer boroughs. It was viewed as a wild success.

    Also, there are many streets in Manhattan that close of temporarily in the evenings or on weekends to better accommodate foot traffic, including Mulberry St. in Little Italy’s restaurant row. Best of both worlds, IMO

    So, if it can work on a denser & larger scale here, it could work well for Ann Arbor.


       —Scott T.    Jun. 2 '09 - 06:12PM    #
  13. Scott,

    I don’t agree with your final statement. I would counter that it would work ONLY in a denser environment you describe above where foot traffic absolutely dominates cars.


       —Marvin Face    Jun. 2 '09 - 07:04PM    #
  14. Scott, as someone who grew up in NYC I can say that trying to compare Ann Arbor to Manhattan is a bad idea. In Manhattan, people are used to walking a few blocks to get to a destination (either from the subway or from where they managed to find parking), which is definitely not the case in Ann Arbor. As much as we might think otherwise, Ann Arbor is nowhere close to the pedestrian city that NY is. Based on what Marvin said about a business being invisible if people can’t drive past it, I could easily see how that would apply to Main st. and not in Manhattan.


       —Jeffrey    Jun. 2 '09 - 07:08PM    #
  15. What’s wrong with studying to see if it is worth trying it out for a year? We’re only talking 8-9 weekends, on a temporary basis. We could even just try it for one weekend for July and one for August, with some programming to draw traffic to the area. There could be provisions to encourage businesses to participate, as well as controls to protect businesses from objecting. We would also be able to find out if we have the right retail/restaurant mix for this to be sustainable.

    The only caveat I see would be that the study would have to be done without additional expenditure. I’m not interested in consultant A charging $B against budget line item C for a report that merits a D.


       —jcp2    Jun. 2 '09 - 07:59PM    #
  16. I think it’s a fine idea, as long as it remains limited in scope. Making Main St. a permanent pedestrian mall is a disastrous idea. Letting the weekend crowd enjoy somewhat more peaceful shopping and dining during the summer seems like a fine idea.

    I’m not even sure it should be closed during the day—maybe just during the evenings would be enough.

    A serious issue would be the loss of those parking spaces for those hours. (One reason why I think blocking off the streets during the day would be a poor idea.)

    Seriously, just try it for a summer—let’s say 5-1, F/S/Su, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Can’t hurt.

    BTW, does anyone know what happened with City Place last night? I take it that it wasn’t left on the agenda.


       —Young Urban Amateur    Jun. 2 '09 - 08:07PM    #
  17. jcp2,

    I believe that we already temporarily test this with programming. It’s the weekends without programming that I’m worried about. Going back up to comment #3, I (and the Main St merchants) would love to see what a tuesday afternoon in January or February would look like on Main St if it were closed down all year long.


       —Marvin Face    Jun. 2 '09 - 08:11PM    #
  18. I think this is a great idea, on a temporary basis.


       —David Cahill    Jun. 2 '09 - 08:24PM    #
  19. Go back to the post at the top – the Mayor said “weekends in the summer months”. Worth a try – why not?

    When is summer coming, please?????


       —Leah Gunn    Jun. 2 '09 - 09:16PM    #
  20. When I ran for council a few years back I did a lot of research on this and discussed it with Dave Kunkle in the city’s planning dept. The track record of success for these pedestrian malls isn’t very good. Most fail. A very interesting report on the subject can be found in a link I provide at the bottom. When I floated the very idea the mayor is proposing: weekends only, set up barricades say at 6pm on Friday (I suggested big planters would be cool) – the response was more positive. Seattle did something similar for years in their downtown. Eventually, however, they stopped because the net effect on the businesses was negative. I do worry about the effect on business during the weekend days or if the weather is bad. The key is to be very sensitive… especially in the current economy. Even a drop of 15% in business could be devastating to some. Still, I’d love to see it work.

    Here’s the link: http://www.utexas.edu/depts/grg/adams/307c/pedmalls.ppt


       —Jeff Meyers    Jun. 2 '09 - 09:46PM    #
  21. For sidewalk restaurant diners this has the potential to be very exciting. One of my favorite Ann Arbor experiences is to get a table at Conor’s on Saturday evening, after the Art Fair has been cleared away but before the street reopens. It’s like a piazza in Italy. But I would want to keep it a special summer thing, temporary closure only, maybe not even every weekend.


       —Ken Josenhans    Jun. 2 '09 - 10:52PM    #
  22. While memories this old can’t be trusted, I visited Wisconsin somewhere around 1980-81 and recall walking one day down the middle line of that other State St. Leading from the capitol & downtown area to the UW campus, the open mall not too surprisingly mixed Mad townies and students. On a summer weekday afternoon, the thoroughfare wasn’t exactly jammed with foot traffic like at a Main St. special event in A2, yet it did not appear at all like the asphalt-brick urban desolation which some folks fear. From what people say here, Madison’s street mall is still there, so the project must have remained at least minimally adequately during the many intervening years. On that long-ago day in a distant era, we walkers who tread the business district roadway shared lanes with slow-moving mass transit, a few velocipedes, a sauropod or two, and a prehistoric cheesehead. Can also remember delivery vehicles occasionally going by; some had motors. Marvin: did renovation remove the hitching posts?


       —yet another aging boomer    Jun. 2 '09 - 11:12PM    #
  23. Yes, I’ve seen several “dead areas” as the result of pedestrian malls. Anyone been to Lansing near Allegan lately? I wonder whether that pedestrian mall is still there. From the last time I was in Madison (10 years?), the square (pedestrian only) seemed pretty dead, with most retail activity gone, which is sad, since it is so lovely and even contains the State Capitol with a golden dome.

    With regard to the restaurants on Main, how many might suffer from the lack of dropoff capability? I’m guessing that many groups who can actually afford to eat there might have one or more members who can’t walk very far.

    Also, isn’t part of the chemistry of the street the excitement from traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular? The pulse, so to speak?


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Jun. 3 '09 - 01:31AM    #
  24. Even though IMTCBNWWTC (In Michigan There Can Be Nothing Wrong With the Car), I confess that I could do without auto noise and exhausts when dining outdoors on Main Street.


       —David Cahill    Jun. 3 '09 - 01:45AM    #
  25. I never eat outside any restaurant on main. do not think sitting along the congested, loud, polluted city curb is anyone’s idea of a good time great atmosphere night out on the town. Save your dollars and pack a basket and head out to the park.


       —sherry    Jun. 3 '09 - 03:25AM    #
  26. “I could do without auto noise and exhausts when dining outdoors on Main Street.”

    You know, that sounds right, but….

    Come to think of it, I’ve sat outside several of those restaurants, often quite close to the curve, and I don’t recall noticing any exhaust smell.

    And I’m pretty sure it’s always been quieter than inside the restaurants.


       —Bruce Fields    Jun. 3 '09 - 04:05AM    #
  27. I’m OK with trying out some special days for closing off the street and even some weekend nights in the summer (say for First Fridays), but in general, I’m with Marvin Face on this one and would hate to see it done on a regular basis.

    I lived in Boulder for years and my husband is from there and most people who live there don’t go to the Pearl Street Mall to hang out. It is primarily a tourist destination. The majority of businesses turn over every few years and most people park as close as possible to the store they want to go to and don’t do much walking on the Mall itself. In can also be scary at night when you have lots of drunk people massing together. It is an atmosphere that I experienced on the Burlington walking mall too. Everything was fun and fine until 9:00 came and all the stores closed and everyone scattered quickly to their cars. We were shocked at how quickly the area became sort of dead and slightly scary and it was a beautiful summer weekend night. It was much less lively than Ann Arbor’s Main Street on a nice Saturday night. I do think the cars help keep the energy going and also provide an “eye on the street” presence.

    The other things to consider are that the few places where walking malls succeed are 1) tourist areas and/or 2) have nice weather. Ann Arbor might be a small regional destination, but it isn’t really a tourist town and even with nice weather in the summer, we still have lots of rain and cloudy days. In addition, closing the street would remove the on-street parking which sustains the businesses and you would lose the ability to drop people off, which happens a lot currently. The sidewalk cafes are full as it is. Main Street is currently vibrant. There are other options if you don’t like sitting right on the street (inside, Prickly Pear’s back area, some of the open air restaurants). I’m just not sure there are the benefits to closing the street that people think.


       —Juliew    Jun. 3 '09 - 04:40AM    #
  28. Juliew has some very good points. I have visited Boulder, and she is quite right about Pearl Street – it was a football week-end, and not altogether pleasant. Also, the maintenance paid for by both the merchants and the city, is sky high. That includes concentrated police presence.

    Maybe we should try a few week-ends in the summer and see how it goes? I’d like to hear more thoughts.

    New York City just closed down Broadway at Times & Herald Squares – but they have a critical mass of pedestrians and very few private cars.

    I’d like to hear more – I remember Oak Park, IL before & after the mall. After was much better.


       —Leah Gunn    Jun. 3 '09 - 10:46AM    #
  29. For me, this topic is a great idea of why discourse like what is found here on AU is so important. When I first read the idea, I was all “Ooooh!! Cool!!!” until I started reading the posts by Marvin Face, Juliew, etc. I find what Marvin says re: State Street in Madison interesting. I went to law school there and I’m trying to picture how that will look…hmm….

    I want to second the issue of on street parking. I know that when I have out of town guests over (and heck, even some IN town guests), there are a lot of people who simply don’t want to “walk far”. Now, you know and I know that it’s not usually that far to walk to places if you are used to downtown, but if you aren’t, then it seems like forever (at least to my suburban friends who are used to parking in strip mall parkling lots and such). And if it’s raining or snowing? Oy.

    Although, I must say that I wouldn’t miss the folks who slam on their brakes and then idle in front of the karate school when they are picking up or dropping off…. :)


       —TeacherPatti    Jun. 3 '09 - 12:48PM    #
  30. Does everyone realize that back in the 60’s, Ann Arbor almost nearly made the same mistake by closing Main St as a pedestrian mall? Those planters with trees on Main were actually Phase 1 of a two phase plan to close the street to traffic. Thankfully, phase 2 was never built and Main St remains what it is today: a pleasantly shaded mix of retaurants and (mostly) local businesses that is incredibly vibrant. Let’s not screw with a good thing please.


       —Marvin Face    Jun. 3 '09 - 03:43PM    #
  31. I am just voicing my personal opinion – why in this town is the only place we “really do things” on main street? This is not really fair to business owners on both South U and State Street. Look at Taste of Ann Arbor – I apologize if I am wrong but most all the restaurants are in the main street area and they did not want to try to expand this through out the city.

    Dan


       —Dan    Jun. 3 '09 - 05:57PM    #
  32. I’d like to hear from the downtown retail merchants on this. Several of them have told me that business is down when the street is closed for events like the Rolling Sculpture car show. If the pilot is tried, please remember to ask the merchants if it is helping or hurting them. And please remember to buy from your downtown merchants.


       —karen sidney    Jun. 3 '09 - 06:06PM    #
  33. Selfishly, I’d love to see this happen. It would make sitting outside on Main a lot more pleasant.

    But I think there would have to be a well thought-out plan of how to reroute current traffic. I avoid driving down Main St. myself, due to all the congestion, but it seems to be a main thoroughfare for out-of-towners coming off of 23 or 94 into A2. And isn’t there already discussion of reducing the width of 5th and/or Division? The current traffic on Main isn’t just going to disappear, unless we want to kill off the downtown.
    -Ted


       —Ted Belding    Jun. 3 '09 - 07:48PM    #
  34. Comment #33 reminds me that Robert Gibbs (a retail specialist who gave a couple of lectures during the Calthorpe process) made a big point of the failure of downtowns when traffic was routed away from them. People need to see things that they might visit.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Jun. 4 '09 - 01:05AM    #
  35. Viv,

    You don’t say.


       —Marvin Face    Jun. 4 '09 - 02:07AM    #
  36. YES!!!

    I’ll take that drink without all the fumes and noise please. And it is about time.

    I’ve never (!) eaten on Main St. with all the cars, but without them will be now and it will be great.

    The shops will be begging to do it full time as their income grows as is the case in most traffic free zones.


       —Vin Caruso    Jun. 4 '09 - 02:15AM    #
  37. Main St. retail merchants have said consistently that their business is reduced when there are special events, especially including the Art Fair. I don’t know if that is true of restaurants as well. I would like to hear more from them. So it’s not just Robert Gibbs saying this.


       —Leah Gunn    Jun. 4 '09 - 10:35AM    #
  38. I think that perhaps this idea can work on a temporary, summer-only basis. Some cities, such as Burlington, Vt, Charlottesville, Va, and Denver have made the pedestrian mall work. But, Kalamazoo, MI’s mall was torn out in the mid-90s and downtown has never been better. And closing off State Street in Chicago was a failure. I think Malls are a tricky thing to pull off, and I’m not sure it’s worth messing with what is already a vibrant and enjoyable downtown.


       —Joe Cialdella    Jun. 4 '09 - 11:09AM    #
  39. Am not so sure that Main St. is as vibrant as it appears on most weekend evenings. I’ve heard a number of anecdotal tales of non-restaurant storefronts struggling to get by. Apparently, the less retail there is along the street, the more that the survivors struggle for store traffic and purchases. Even the restaurants, a year ago or so, were said to be experiencing a slowdown in sales. As a means to pump more life into the area, creating a temporary street mall atmosphere during certain hours in the summer is one idea, among many, that’s worth limited experimentation. Fridays & Saturdays only, ending around midnight, or earlier, so that drunks don’t dominate the pavement, Pearl-style.

    Also, if as Marvin says up above, A2 took a serious look at the downtown street mall concept 40 or more years ago, I’ll bet there was a reason for that. During the 60s, Arborland was “the mall” in the area, and it, along with growth on W. Stadium, drew retail activity away from downtown. Around big cities, shiny new suburban malls were making their first appearances. No small wonder, then, that city officials and worried downtown area retailers in A2 (and elsewhere) began to reimagine the central city district, remaking some portion so as to give it some trappings of those newfangled walking malls. If the time frame here is the late 60s, locals may have have known about plans to build Briarwood.

    That said, I’ll guess Marvin’s sentiments about the 60s-era changes are correct. Going ahead with Phase 1 (4 lanes to 2 lanes, tree planters) has worked, as far as it went. If Phase 2 had gone forward and remade Main as a pedestrian mall, something tells me the city fathers/parents of the time would have done it in a conservative, bland fashion. Briarwood in the 70s would still have sucked the life out of downtown. As it is, from what others here say, the history since those years seems to show this kind of transition not to be accomplished easily.


       —yet another aging boomer    Jun. 4 '09 - 12:58PM    #
  40. I agree with Bruce that the interiors of busy restaurants are louder than the on-street seating areas. Even the Prickly Pear back courtyard was louder last Friday. (Maybe the walls and tent ‘ceiling’ reflect the sounds.) No fumes there, though. Palio’s or Seva’s deck or Bar Louie’s open-air space might appeal more to some.

    Jeff, it won’t take a 15% drop to close businesses, just another 1-2% in this economy. So, YUA, it could (and most likely would) hurt, even for limited times.

    You won’t hear from many business owners here, Karen, they’re too busy running the store.

    As an alternative approach, I suggest that we aim to eliminate the worst of the noise and fumes through enforcement (at the borders of town or downtown) of existing ordinances, calm traffic and improve the attractiveness by adding more planters, replace lost street trees and maintain them, limit maintenance work to early morning hours and early weekdays, give pedestrians a few more protections at crosswalks, find better assistance for the homeless and drug addicts, ask merchants to remove garish “ATM” signs and the like, set a limit on the volume of outdoor music speakers (but allow and even encourage them), expose/employ paid musicians/entertainers a la the Black Pearl and First Fridays, keep the sidewalks clean and clear (year ‘round), and the trash cans from overflowing. That will make a good urban environment even better—one in which businesses will thrive and not just survive.

    We can still have the many special events (FestiFools, Taste of AA, Green Fair, Octoberfest, July 4th parade, runs, bike races, art fairs, etc.) throughout the warm months that will attract visitors and close the street(s). The only valid reason to close the streets to car traffic is because that space will be filled (yes, filled) with something else.


       —Steve Bean    Jun. 4 '09 - 03:10PM    #
  41. This is a good idea!!


       —Kerry D.    Jun. 5 '09 - 02:07AM    #
  42. This is a terrible idea!

    It’s awful for all the reasons Marvin has expressed. we would have to try it without any programming in the area to see just how damaging it would be. half the pleasure of dining on Main Street on a Friday summer evening is the ‘seen and be seen’ theater. Take the cars away and that goes away too. I do not think that we have the density or amount of required pedestrians to make it work.


       —KGS    Jun. 5 '09 - 12:14PM    #
  43. Closing Main Street to traffic is an extremely bad idea. KGS is right on about that.

    The traffic is part of the scene — it is part of the action that makes Main Street on a summer evening interesting and fun. The variety — the layers — of human activity on Main is why it is so attractive in the first place. There are folks going in & out of restaurants and shops. There are folks eating & drinking at tables, or just sitting at planters watching the flow. People are walking up & down the sidewalks. Bicyclists cruise by every now and then. And then there are cars. All of that adds up to something to watch & something to be part of. Closing it to traffic will just kill off a large part of that variety, a large part of that energy.

    Professional planners know about this already. It has been tried over and over. And it fails. That is a fact. It sounds like a neat idea, but it is not. Save it for the special events, which would seem a whole lot less special if the closing was routine.


       —Scott Wade    Jun. 6 '09 - 01:24PM    #
  44. Since the above comments were posted, there has been another initiative from the mayor. He proposes to tear up the parking lot at First and William (formerly a parking structure), 2 blocks from Main, to make a park (for 3 million). Main St. cannot survive as a private preserve for those living within walking distance. It needs parking. When attending an evening activity downtown, I cannot take the bus because service to my part of town ends too early. Golden can work because it has ample peripheral parking, including a monstrous parking structure. Manhattan has subways running at night.


       —Henry Brysk    Jul. 9 '09 - 09:35PM    #
  45. I just stumbled on this site while doing my research on the economic impact of street closures on downtown businesses. I admit I have not read every comment here, it’s Sunday night and I’m tired, so forgive me if I repeat points already made. As the Executive Director of the Main Street Area Association and the person responsible for putting on such events as the Taste of Ann Arbor and the Rolling Sculpture Car Show my first thought is who will be funding, programming and executing the events necessary to keep a street closure from becoming a dead zone? For those referencing the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO, the Business Improvement District and the City of Boulder spend of 2.5 million dollars annually maintaining and programming that pedestrian mall. From what I know of the City of Ann Arbor’s budget I can’t imagine there is much extra to put into event planning for Main Street.

    For those who propose a trial run I ask that you carefully consider an experiment that could potentially have a serious negative impact on our local businesses. Given the current state of the economy I do not believe this is a good time to risk the livelihood of those who help make our downtown the great place that it is.

    I understand how in theory many would find this an appealing idea. If the thought is based on experiences had at the Mayor’s Green Fair or the Taste of Ann Arbor please remember that those events take months to execute and careful planning.

    To Dan (comment #31) the Taste of Ann Arbor is open to all restaurants. This year of the 34 participating restaurants only 11 are located on Main Street. The event is put on by the Main Street Area Association, a nonprofit membership based organization comprised of businesses in the Main Street area, this includes Liberty, Washington, Ashley, Fourth, and Fifth. Our staff consists of myself and a part time person. Expanding this event would require the assistance of other interested parties. We have never been approached to expand this event.


       —Maura Thomson    Jul. 26 '09 - 10:45PM    #
  46. Not a good idea. Check Kalamazoo’s pedestrian mall—it’s a dead area in what is actually a fairly healthy downtown. Development has actually migrated away from the pedestrian mall to the old storefronts north and east. Both major department stores and many smaller shops on the mall have failed.


       —Jim Manheim    Jul. 26 '09 - 11:03PM    #