Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Talking about cities

For the last few years, it has seemed to me that inner city Brisbane has been a bit stuck in a developmental rut.   While there was a burst of apartment building there back about 10 to 20 years ago, it seems that much of it is really designed for the likes of visiting students and and the rich young, all of whom I would assume move away to bigger digs once they decide to have a baby.

I guess this is not unique to Brisbane - I suspect the same thing has happened in Melbourne.  Sydney, less so, because of the proximity of the older residential inner city areas to the centre.  

But in Brisbane, the result you get is an inner city area that is not quite alive after about 3pm on a weekday.

I occasionally am in the city at that time for work, and (if I have not been able to have lunch earlier), I always find it sort of depressing the way the myriad coffee and lunch outlets are shutting down by that time.   Must be good hours for the workers, I guess, but a city that feels like it is shutting down at that time doesn't feel fully lived in. 

Of course, you can still find places open if you go up to the Queen Street Mall, which is relatively attractive and busy as far as inner city pedestrian malls go, but the city as a whole just feels like it needs higher, lived in, density.

I'm not sure how you cure that, as I guess that even if you said that residential development had to be more spacious and attractive to families, the cost would still be prohibitively high, and they may figure they can get nicer outlooks at the city fringe (such as at Teneriffe - which is booming - but it is not a convenient walk to the city.)

Anyway, just my thoughts....

Update:   perhaps I am being a bit tough here.  I mean, I guess there are parts of most major inner cities (save for the megacities like Tokyo) which are only going to be populated during business hours.   And, I have to say, that South Bank, just across the bridge from the inner city, is (in my opinion) actually the most successful arts/culture/recreation precincts of the Australian cities.   Southbank and Grey Street are very popular;  the Performing Arts centre is well used and has attractive outdoor eating;  the Queensland Museum is a bit underwhelming, though.   But overall, it is very lively and inviting area any day of the week.

The problem though is the gaps between the areas - South Bank and Kangaroo Point are popular at night, but go across the river and there are several empty streets til you get to the Mall.  Same if you head down to the Valley.   I have read that high class dining, which used to be a reason to go to some of the back streets in the city at night, is pretty much dying in favour of more casual eating.   (I can understand why, too.)   So it may be just one of these things at the moment.   But yeah, I would like to see more low rise residential closer to the inner city to see if that gives it more life.

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