Case studies that are underway include some traditional Main Street Centres around Brisbane that have developed incrementally over time, such as Oxford Street, Bulimba approximately 5km east of Brisbane CBD); Park Road, Milton 2km west of CBD); and Latrobe Terrace, Paddington 2.8km north west of CBD). Case studies of more recently constructed Main Street Centres include Kelvin Grove Urban Village 2.5km north of CBD); James Street, New Farm 1.8km east of CBD); Portside, Hamilton 6km from CBD); and Varsity Lakes, Gold Coast 8.8km south of Surfers Paradise). The case study analysis has highlighted a similar range of issues that have hindered the full realisation of economic and place-making potential of many recent developments:
these sites are not well integrated into the broader urban fabric, but are ‘dead-end’ destinations.
their current public transportation network is limited
workforce populations in adjoining areas are too low (successful Main Streets Centres such as James Street and Park Road both benefit from a substantial workforce population in excess of 15,000 people)
surrounding residential densities are too low (the 1.2km radius of the Main Street Centre fails to provide the foundation threshold that the centre requires
resident populations within retail/commercial developments are too low, or non-existent (reducing thresholds, safety and surveillance etc)
the demographic mix of residents can be too uniform (a mix of family types enhances the economic success of the Main Street Centre -for example, at Portside, the majority of the resident population are working professionals that exit the area during the day, returning in the late evening)
there is a tendency to overbuild the retail/commercial space (resulting in vacancy rates in excess of 30%) by allocating shop front uses to the entire ground floor plane of the project. The practical economic limitations of the centre need to be recognised and the design needs to embrace low intensity fringe and non-core space. Core retail precincts generally include a catchment of approximately 200m radius, where retail activity is consolidated rather than being ‘spread too thin’.
parking provision remains a key focus for current retail developments and a key design challenge newer Main Street Centres are often devoid of ‘unique’ character that contributes to a sense of ‘ownership’ with users
Main Street Centres are not always adequately ‘comfortable’ for pedestrians (this covers a range of physical and visual aspects within Main Street Centres, including, for example: – provision of shade and shelter – building and streetscape quality, including landscaping – street furniture such as seating, lighting, bins, bicycle racks – activated interfaces with smaller more frequent ‘shopfront displays’ and front doors – legibility, street widths, block sizes and frequency of pedestrian crossings – negative visual impact of services, loading areas, parking lots
the Main Street Centres are not supported by public investment in facilities such as libraries, community centres and post offices. It is intended that the outcomes of this ongoing research project will provide the industry with a greater awareness of the importance of achieving a good foundation of core urban design elements and preconditions within a Main Street Centre, in order to achieve ongoing economic viability, community building, placemaking and local employment creation