the mysterious failure of tampa s pedestrian mall n.
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The Mysterious Failure of Tampa’s Pedestrian Mall. Our starting point… Tampa’s Franklin Street Mall. Proof that pedestrian malls don’t work?.

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Our starting point…

Tampa’s Franklin Street Mall

proof that pedestrian malls don t work
Proof that pedestrian malls don’t work?
  • In 1973, Tampa leaders closed a five-block stretch of Franklin Street to traffic, hoping a pedestrian mall with brick-street ambience would keep shoppers from fleeing to suburban malls.
  • By the 1980s, the move had proven to be a disaster. As Tampa's downtown decayed, retailers left in droves. Now, even though the south end of downtown is filled with gleaming office towers crammed with workers, Franklin Street Mall could be described as sleepy at best.
  • Most stores on the north end of the mall are boarded up, while the south end is a ghost town after the lunch hour.
  • To try to turn it around, the Tampa Downtown Partnership and developer Jack Wilson are leading a drive to open Franklin Street to traffic, at least after lunch hour. Though their effort is still in the planning stages, they hope the city will include as much as $400,000 in the fiscal 2001 budget for street lights, landscaping and new sidewalks.
  • The idea: People driving by would discover the shops and restaurants, and car headlights would make pedestrians feel safer at night.
  • "This is happening all over the country because downtown pedestrian malls just aren't working," said Jim Cloar, president of the downtown partnership. Similar moves are in the works in Chicago; Philadelphia; Eugene, Ore.; Kalamazoo, Mich., and other cities, he said.
  • "People are going back to having downtowns do what they do best," Cloar said, "and that means having streets with auto access."

St. Petersburg Times

mall location
Mall Location

Per capita income, 2000

pedestrian malls have failed in many us cities
Pedestrian malls have failed in many US cities
  • Allentown, West Chester and Philadelphia, PA
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Chicago, Danville, Decatur & Elgin, IL
  • Galveston & Waco, TX
  • Greenville, NC
  • Greenville, SC
  • Helena, MT
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Louisville, KY
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Vicksburg, MS


not all malls are failing however
Not all malls are failing, however
  • Successful pedestrian malls exist in:
    • Aspen, Boulder, and Denver, CO
    • Boston, MA
    • Madison, WI
    • Minneapolis, MN
    • Ithaca, NY
    • Burlington, VT
    • San Antonio, TX
  • Look for websites and other information on these malls (it’s clearly not necessary to have a mild climate!!)
is the urban pedestrian mall doomed to fail in the us
Is the urban pedestrian mall doomed to fail in the US?
  • “In the final analysis, the failure of pedestrian malls in the U.S. says less about the supposed infertility of European planning ideals on American soil than it does about a lack of understanding of the ingredients of their success. The few pedestrian malls that have fared well generally share certain characteristics including: shortness, mixed uses, a large population of "captive" users (including residents), heavily programmed activities, incorporation of public transit, and strong anchors that both serve as pedestrian generators and help enclose the street space. Again, features not dissimilar to those of the regional shopping malls that they were a response to. The Kalamazoo Mall managed to survive for many years because it did have many of these characteristics; however, few exist to support it now.”

Will Flisram,

other factors
Other factors?
  • Mall location
    • Cannot be surrounded by low income residences if middle and upper income users are desired
    • May work at the junction of areas with lower middle (not extreme poverty) and middle to upper social strata
  • Mall design
    • Must be an appealing human-scale space with greenery, overhanging canopies, play-spaces for children, fountains, street performers, fountains, and colors—in short, detail, complexity, and delight
    • Simply bricking over a street and closing it off won’t do the trick