Having a CVS Pharmacy located in downtown East Stroudsburg is a great thing. It provides important goods and services to the residents of East Stroudsburg and is therefore an integral part of the local economy.
This property should be one of the most desirable in East Stroudsburg. Filling the South Courtland St. block between the Downtown District and Ridgeway Street, which connects to ESU, Wal-Mart, and Stroudsburg, this block should be the gateway into town. It should welcome both drivers and pedestrians, and draw them farther into East Stroudsburg.
Unfortunately the site design does the opposite. It is gray and unwelcoming with no windows, and therefore it actually acts as a barrier especially for pedestrians, who are instead drawn towards neighboring Stroudsburg.
Let's take a look at how just a few basic design approaches could dramatically improve this property, and help make the whole neighborhood more welcoming and livable.
The current building is designed for a suburban location. With a large parking lot out front, and an even larger one to the side, it assumes that everyone visiting this store arrives there by driving. It ignores the fact that this location is actually urban, where half of all customers could arrive by foot. Such large parking lots are a poor use of urban space and hide the potential to make this site a desirable place to live and shop.
Step 1: Bury utility lines.
Requiring utility lines to be buried or moved out of sight does require some work and added expense, but look at the dramatic difference it makes. Already the site is more appealing.
Step 2: Create a welcoming facade.
There are two significant problems with the current facade: color and windows.
1) The current gray stucco is very cold and unwelcoming. A brighter and warmer color and material (maybe brick) would really enhance its look and feel.
2) Windows are critical for providing a safe feeling in an urban environment. Windows allow folks inside the building to see out, and vice-versa. This adds the potential of many more eyes on the scene and therefore makes pedestrians feel both safe and welcome. The windows in this building are covered, completely defeating the purpose. Other parts of this building don't have any windows at all. Opening up the building with windows opens up the entire property.
Step 3: Bring the building out to the sidewalk.
This is really important. A large parking lot acts as a barrier for pedestrians. It not only adds a large, potentially dangerous, space that they must cross to access the building, it also prevents window-shopping, a key driver of pedestrian business. There's a reason all great shopping districts place the stores right next to the sidewalk. It creates a connection between the pedestrian and the store, and it dramatically improves safety.
Step 4: Place residential units on top of the commercial space.
For any business there is nothing like having a build-in set of customers. And no design achieves this better than multi-use design. With multi-use design the property is used for both commercial and residential purposes. More residents means many more eyes keeping watch, which dramatically improves safety. It also means more customers; not only for this store, but for all the ones nearby.
For the Borough, the additional cost to service a multi-use property over a commercial-only property is relatively small. But the property value created, and therefore the revenue generated for the Borough, are great.
Applying these concepts to key properties across East Stroudsburg will improve the safety, livability, and financial well-being of the Borough.