What not to do: Downtown BMV

This is the first of a 2 part series.   Today is an example of what not to do when designing a new development.  I always like to lead with the bad news first, then get to the good news, which will come later this week.

It’s probably apropos that a new BMV features such a poor site plan. But that does not mean it should not come under criticism.

I realize that this wedge of land is pretty difficult to deal with, but this is the best that could be done?  It’s far off of the street, surrounded by more parking than they’ll ever use.  Another factor that needs to be mentioned is that they are hoping to sell the land to the north of the building for apartments.  Regardless, this collection of proposed buildings looks like it would be best seen while motoring at 40 mph on Madison Avenue, instead of addressing the more human-scaled Terrace Avenue.

Here’s a look at the building up close, courtesy of LoopNet.com.

Looks like it would be right at home in front of a Meijer, not in an urban neighborhood.  The citizens of this city deserve to have more effort and creativity put into our ordinary places (hat tip to Urbanophile).  Fortunately, there is a place that has done just that.  Stay tuned.

Comments 5

  • A “wedge of land is pretty difficult to deal with” could also be looked at as an opportunity to build something unique and iconic. But, if that happened, many folks would complain about the outrageous spending for something as mundane as a BMV.

  • Two things could’ve prevented this via the Zoning Ordinance:

    Requiring a maximum % of parking spaces between the facade of the building and both streets- say 30%- this would bring the building closer to the street as the majority of parking would be restricted to the rear of the building, and

    Having a maximum permitted number of parking spaces for the site

  • I totally agree with this article and having visited the site, I can say that the location of the BMV now puts additional hurdles on downtown residents. For example, now to access the BMV, you now have to pass through two psychological and physical barriers that limit and funnel traffic- under two sets of train lines and I-70.

    Initially, this may not seem like a large problem, but if you are trying to access the BMV by foot, then you really are struggling to find a safe and direct route. Further, from a civil planning perspective, you are now moving the BMV that services the downtown community, further from its customer base and limiting how they have access to the site.

    Over all, it seem like this is another issue of poor city planning without good input from residents.

  • What was wrong with the Virginia Avenue location? If anything, they should have moved the branch closer to the heart of downtown so that residents and workers could have access.

  • I couldn’t believe how they designed this as I watched it go up, it looks so surreal as if its some kind plot in a really dry satire. Better they used only a small parcel of land and left the majority as a vacant lot for future development.

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