When I lived in Washington, D.C. I fell in love with mixed use design. Neighborhoods where people lived above or adjacent to businesses were consistently vibrant – there was always something going on, a buzz of activity and community. It seemed like so much fun to live above a restaurant or shop, to just run down the stairs for a coffee or pop down the street to your neighborhood bar.
In Seattle, many of my friends live in homes near Green Lake, and have multiple options for walking to and from restaurants and shops. The little community hub is always busy and energetic, and seems to bring the neighborhood together in a social way.
In Anchorage, urban living is scarce. And, to me at least, that means a vital piece of city development is barely available. Why not maximise the urban experience so that we can have both great city living AND the great outdoors?
Mixed use development makes sense, especially for young professionals or people who are downsizing. Families who are committed to living on a smaller scale and like urban living can also flourish in mixed use spaces. Anchorage has so many parks and so much access to wilderness, that people who choose to forgo their own personal yard in favor of condo living won’t be starved for green spaces (white spaces in Anchorage, considering our long winters). Single family homes located near development will be able to enjoy the same benefits, and property values will increase.
I think Anchorage would eagerly embrace this style of development – look at the success of Fire Island Bakery, plunked down in South Addition and over flowing with customers (can you imagine if there was some sort of live-above loft area – you could wake up to the smell of baking bread in the morning, and eat incredible chocolate chip cookies hot from the oven any time of the day; of course, you might gain a few lbs, but maybe you’d burn it by walking everywhere).
I have dream developments all over the city, but J.J. Brooks is actually making his come true. Turnagian Crossing will be located at the corner of Northern Lights and Turnagain Street. It will feature residential/retail/office space anchored by a 3,000-sf cafe/bistro. Kaladi Bros has already signed a lease, and I’ve heard murmurings about exciting things on the food front.
As someone who grew up in Turnagian and still frequents the neighborhood to visit family and friends, I think this is so cool. I imagine a leisurely walk in the evenings to dine on a wood fired pizza and enjoy a glass of wine, and in the mornings it would be so easy to stop by for a morning coffee and croissant. Living and/or working in the development would be even better!
I can’t wait to see how Turnagain Crossing turns out, and am crossing my fingers for more developments like it in the future.
Do you have any parts of Anchorage you dream of developing? What do you think about mixed use design?