While traditional brick-and-mortar retail continues to struggle for success across the United States, retail spaces sit vacant and city planners and developers look for new ideas to reimagine outdated retail spaces with alternative solutions for activating the urban ground plane. At the same time, community development advocates search for opportunities to bolster local small businesses, support community needs, and foster equitable neighborhoods. Non-profit community organizations provide widespread and lasting benefits to neighborhoods while also stimulating high levels of activity within the neighborhoods. Drawing in community members for educational opportunities, community performances, social activities, and support functions, the resulting foot traffic further supports integrated small-business retail and creates an active and symbiotic relationship between street-level functions and residential units above. In addition to creating a strong sense of community, providing supportive functions in proximity to multifamily residential development makes services easily accessible to those who need them most.
As an alternative solution for creating an active ground-plane environment, the Alt-Way design concept proposes integrating community programming elements along a meandering pathway, weaving in and out of the ground-floor space and tying the urban sidewalk into the ground floor of mixed-use buildings. Collaborative workspaces, booths for local entrepreneurs, educational zones for youth programming, and exhibit spaces for local artists wind along the Alt-Way path, interconnected with areas for community gathering, activity zones, and visually stimulating spaces and surfaces. Interior programmed spaces designed to support equitable community growth and development extend out and connect to the adjacent sidewalk. Pivoting and roll-down façade walls create security after hours while shaping a unique walking path with enhanced landscape and hardscape lined by digital screens and mural walls. The Alt-Way concept revolutionizes traditional retail spaces, activating the urban ground plane in mixed-use developments by creating a mutually beneficial relationship between upper-level residential units and the surrounding community.
An alternative solution for revolutionizing the urban ground plane in the absence of traditional retail, the ALT-WAY concept proposes integrating community programming elements along a meandering pathway, weaving in and out of the ground-floor space and tying the urban sidewalk to the interior ground floor of mixed-use buildings.