Thursday, July 22, 2010

The New Uptown Centre

You know, I keep calling this Uptown Centre, but everything I see only calls it Uptown.   That seems wrong and only a partial name, it might make sense if it was a counter part to Downtown, but that has to be a much larger area than just one shopping centre.

So the place has opened to some extent.  I took a walk around today.

Issues I noted today:

  • there are only 27 parking spots on Uptown Boulevard, there will be more later but there are still not a lot on the main streetscape.  The street is only one lane and will be stuffed up with cars as people to try and park
  • there is only one elevator going from the Shoppers Drugmart level down to Walmart or the parking under Walmart.  This will be a problematic issue because of the demand to access the elevator on all levels.
  • the traffic patterns going in from Oak into the site are going to be a problem as there are multiple directions people want to go and they need to turn left across traffic flows.   This will be an utter nightmare during anytime there is a lot of traffic.  I can see a lot of problems with cars being able to even get around within the underground parking
  • access up the the Shoppers level is decent from Blanshard, but getting out is not going to be great because of the traffic on Blanshard.
  • there is no easy access to the underground parking from Uptown Boulevard

You can see the legislature from the parking lot at Shoppers Drugmart
In general the traffic patterns for the site seem to be very badly though out and I suspect will lead to ongoing problems.
Cool effect looking through to Macdonalds

The Shoppers Drug Mart is big and airy but offers little or nothing that I need that I do not get at the Shoppers at the Gorge - Tillicum plaza where all my prescriptions are.  About all they seem to have is more food stuff and are open 24 hours a day.   I suspect I will make use of this as there prices are reasonable and they are close to my home.

I went to the new WalMart the other day and I was underwhelmed, you can find my full set of thoughts here.   Basically it is does not seem to improve on the old one for what it did provide previously and the grocery section is the worst in Greater Victoria and not particularly cheap.  They really eliminated almost any reason to shop there.

Best Buy and Futureshop, I have never shopped at either one and can not think of a reason to go into them.  I am not sure there will be many retailers on site that will draw my business.  Certainly with the problems the traffic will be, I do not expect to enjoy driving in there.

I was wowed by Morguards fly through presentation of the site, but now that I see the reality and it is not nearly as exciting as I had thought or hoped.   It is clear to me now that what you really have is two separate zones on the site that have very limited connection between each other.

On the Blanshard street side you have a Millstream Road outlet mall type of place with largish stores you park in front of.  It is very much separated from the "Mainstreet" down below. there is only one access point from one to the other.   I had not really thought about this and was lulled by the fly through images.   Will people walk down the stairs to get from one to the other?

On the other side, accessed from Douglas, Carey and Oak, you have the modern version of a strip mall, offices in a moderately dense development over top of retail.   The feel is very much of a urban street and now that I have seen things in action, I really wonder how smart it was to have any parking on the street level of the development.   The angle parking there is going to lead to horrible congestion.

The fly through video spends almost half of its time on the central green space courtyard.  It looks nice in the video, but is it really going to that nice in reality?   Having been on the site recently, it is a much smaller area than one would think.

Uptown is better than the previous Town and Country, but it does feel like it missed the mark of what should be happening on that site.  Seeing the reality of the development, it really is disappointing.


Harold said...

I've driven by this development a couple of times in the past month and noticed the new 'Future Shop'. (I do occasionally shop there.) However, I'm not inclined to check it out. The availability of parking is not obvious. (I guess, since it's underground.) I can't imagine why 'Future Shop' moved from their previous location where parking was obvious and usually plentiful. Don't much care for underground parking in a city where it hardly ever snows.

Mike Laplante said...

I wrote up much the same comments as yours recently. This thing is going to be a traffic nightmare -- at least for the foreseeable future.

With regards to Walmart, my biggest complaint was the lack of a deposit systems or an electronic locking system on their carts. Their damn carts wind up everywhere -- abandoned alongside bike trails, parks and streets, dumped in local rivers and streams...
I just sent off a bunch of photos to Saanich showing their carts dumped by the side of the Galloping Goose near the Bottle Depot on Quadra. I've contacted Saanich about this periodically over the years but so far they've done nothing about it.
In a bit of subversion, every time I find a cart on my walkabouts past city hall I'll drop it off on their front lawn. Maybe once it becomes THEIR problem they'll take action...
I'll be writing Walmart this week about the issue.

Mike Laplante said...

For some reason my earlier comments didn't take.
"1. No lock or deposit system for the carts.

The first thing you see when you walk in the front door is a huge bay full of shiny new shopping carts. But no deposit coin is required to take one, nor are they fitted with those electronic locking systems that keep shopping carts confined to the parking lot.

This prediction is a no-brainer: These oversized carts are going to start showing up in our parks, bike trails and rivers by the dozens."

I've emailed Saanich about this issue several times over the years, even sending my photos of their carts in rivers, on the trails, etc.

No action on their part yet -- just a big collective shrug.

Now, whenever I'm walking about and I come across a cart, I dump it on the front lawn of city hall. Maybe once it's THEIR problem they'll address this blight.

Anonymous said...

you have too much time on your hands if you are reviewing a mall your never going to go to

Anonymous said...

Uptown mall is horrible. I only go there when I absolutely need to and I dread it. Everything is set up so poorly.