August 31, 2011
Many of you know that I am an Urban Planning/Parking Lot nerd. I love reading about the built environment and sharing my opinions about our urban landscape. I am obsessed with Walk Score, Kaid Benfield’s Blog (via Switchboard) and quite a few other sites that deal directly with my interests. My current home, Gainesville, has some great assets and some detriments, but all in all it is a decent city. It does has a large migratory population which can cause some issues, and a reliance in the outer regions to build large cul-de-sac neighborhoods off of container roads that cause crazy traffic jams, but all in all it is a good place to live.
The other day while perusing the local newspaper, The Gainesville Sun, I came across an article about a local restaurant closing, Luca’s Pasta Bar. The article had a brief interview with the building developer, Mike Langton, in which he tries to explain his thoughts on why the restaurant closed:
Property developer Mike Langton, of Jacksonville, said the business struggled, partly because of parking problems. He said the city put meters on the limited on-street parking and later removed them, and then parking at the strip mall across the street was filled by construction workers for The Continuum apartment project.
I find this to be quite the cop-out. Blaming the lack of parking as part of the reasoning for the closure of a three-year old business blows my mind for a number of reasons. First off, the parking lot across the street is part of a large infill project that has well over 100 parking spaces, of which, I have never seen full to capacity. Secondly, one of the adjacent businesses (Reggae Shack) has managed to stay open despite the perceived parking issue. Finally, parking meters that limit on-street parking is a good thing for businesses hoping to keep customers coming through the door. Why would a business want a long-term parking meter in place that allows customers to camp out, and encourages feeding the meter?
As you can tell from the Google Earth photo below (a timely photo as it contains pictures of contractor’s cars in the parking lot at peak time) there is plenty of spots to go around. Parking is not the issue. In fact, there is a little too much of it as the large strip mall on the top of the picture has a lot that takes up some prime frontage real estate.
The lack of abundant parking is not the problem that businesses close. Despite what politicians, old-school developers and some city planners want to tell you about parking minimums and requirements, the onus is on business owners to develop a quality product that brings customers through the door. Should parking be made available by developers, city governments and politicians? Absolutely, but nowhere as much as is made mandatory by zoning minimums.
On a side note, I do feel a little sorry for Mr. Langton for having to spin the demise of Luca’s Pasta. He did a fairly good job considering his building is not at fault. In fact, his property is one of the highlights of the recent developments that have graced Gainesville. It is multi-use and has some great street level retail locations, that with the nearly completed Continuum Apartment building (lower right of picture) it is bound to be a successful corridor connecting Midtown with Downtown. I just hope he would find a way to buy that ugly strip mall across the street and take out that ugly parking lot and put it to some good use!
August 28, 2011
One of my first weekends of racing in Florida last year was the Nocatee Stage Race outside of Jacksonville. The race is centered around an unfinished development (last year I called it “failed”, but I did see a few more houses being constructed this time around) consisting of a 6.5mi road loop and a small circuit race in a remote subdivision. The race was once again a ton of fun, but with a calendar date a full month and a half earlier than last year the heat played a major role in the racing experience.
The road race went as well as last year. I finished in the “field” after a break of seven riders went up the road and won by about six minutes. The criterium didn’t go as well as last year. My teammate wasn’t able to defend his title (in Hawaii), and the rest of the squad was working hard to get something going throughout the day. They were able to finish with the field, and I ended up third from the bottom after getting lapped twice. It was a tough day, but the best part was beating the guy that left the race halfway through because his wife had gone into labor.
Big props go out to that guy’s wife for getting him to quit so I wouldn’t get last place.
The heat is unbearable in August.
I anticipate the changing of the weather in mid-September.
August 21, 2011
There is no doubt in my mind that Swamp Cross will be the best cyclocross race in Florida this season.
We have added a second day of racing. We have an improved course and some amazing merchandise from our sponsors. Topping it all off we will be having a race party on Saturday night at Tall Paul’s Brewpub in downtown Gainesville. Oh, you may have also noticed that we have a beer sponsor from the local mega-brewer Swamp Head.
We have a long-term vision for this race. We want it to be one of the largest cyclocross races in the Southeast and become a must-race event on the Florida racing calendar. Naturally, we are faced with a few obstacles to accomplish this goal. The biggest is that we are in Florida and cyclocross isn’t as popular as in other parts of the country. This can be chalked up to the propensity of the road season to go into the middle of November, and the lack of miserable and muddy weather. Yet, who really wants to race in the mud? Come on down to sunny Gainesville, Florida and race your bike at an amazing venue that has some unique touches (we put in stairs last year!).
The title sponsor for the race is Bikes and More Gainesville, easily the best shop in our fair city, and we have a bunch of great sponsors already confirmed, and more are jumping on board each day. Here is our current list of sponsors:
- Felt Bicycles
- Lazer Helmets
- Riot! Minneapolis
- Swamp Head Brewery
- Anthem Tattoo (if you win the SESSCX race you get a free one!)
- Tall Paul’s Brewpub
- Big Lou’s Pizza
- Twin Six
Can’t wait to see you folks down here in early December!
August 14, 2011
This Monday I start a new teaching job at a Middle School in the city of Gainesville. I am awfully excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to work with teaching professionals that are going to help me improve my abilities and knowledge. It is with some remorse that I will be leaving my previous school district about 30minutes outside of Gainesville. It was a great experience and I am really going to miss my coworkers and administration that taught me a lot about the teaching profession.
The new job means that I have a lot to do. I have a new textbook to peruse, some lesson/unit plans to write and a ton of new names to learn. I also need to step up my game and become a much better teacher. Because of this I will not be able to attend Interbike in Las Vegas as I had hoped. It is going to have to wait until next year.
I scored a front row starting spot for the USGP of Cyclocross race in Louisville.
This is my first podium for the year, and I may not start just to keep the allure of this high starting position!
August 9, 2011
It is getting to that time of year when race promotion begins in earnest.
For the second year in a row I will be helping the gang at 352 Racing and Bikes and More Gainesville in promoting Swamp Cross. Last year was our first year and we had about 100 racers. It was easily one of the largest cross races in the state, and this year we are doing all we can to make it the largest event in the state, and build it towards being the best race in the Southeast in a few years time.
We have extended the race to two days. We are gathering some amazing sponsors (like Lazer!) and we are going to have an amazing race party on the Saturday night between race days at Tall Paul’s Brew House in downtown. I have the feeling that this race is really going to be able to grow into something special. It reminds me of where the Minnesota CX scene was way back in 2004/5 when things were just starting to reach critical mass, and now with other promoters working together we have a website that will be unveiled soon, but most importantly, we will no longer have to rely on the ancient and geocities-esque webhome of Florida Cycling.
We are all very excited for this moment!
It is going to be a great year and cyclocross will grow in this state!
Bookmark Florida Cyclocross (FLCX) now!
August 1, 2011
Went down to Miami this past weekend to watch some soccer and check out cool buildings and art.
While I was in Miami Beach I made sure to check out the new award winning parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Mall.
Thing is amazing.
Some of the levels had 30foot ceilings, while others had 7foot ceilings. Take a look at the hanging vines to the left of this picture. Those are from the roof top deck that is only accessible for the condo owners on this floor and higher.
This picture shows the upside down V support beam which counters the V support beam in the previous picture. It also houses a sweet boutique that is only accessible from the 6th floor of the parking garage. Not an ounce of street frontage! One of those places that you have to know is there…but then again, they ain’t selling Levi’s.
What an amazing place.
I also got to see the Miami Marine Stadium! What an awesome place. I have written about it here.
There was a ton of graffiti and lots of cool little rooms that were hidden off of the main grandstand.
Finally, the New Yorker this week published a story about the Bin Laden raid.
What an amazing piece of journalism.
Bravo to the New Yorker, the best $2.99 I spend every month on my Kindle.