We patronize Winter Garden Village on Daniels Road more often than any other shopping/dining destination because of its convenient location. I can’t help but reflect each time I’m there on missed opportunities.

What a great room in the upper portion of that tower!

There are portions of Winter Garden Village designed to be walkable and provide a main street appeal. Within this area are fake facades, fake windows, and fake architectural elements that would have made for some very nice offices or medical practices.

No chairs, no tables, no benches, no entry.

For example, the tower on the corner of Barnes and Noble Booksellers has a great space underneath. Ironically, there is no entry door here as one would assume. There also are no benches or tables underneath which seems like a simple fix. David Sucher, in this book City Comforts, writes that providing movable tables and chairs provide places for people to gather. Take a look at the second story portion. It is actually open underneath. This could be have been a nice conference or gathering room for a business.

I'm sure that's a nice office behind those Juliet balconies.

Look just across the way at Bonefish Grill. You’ll see a similar architectural element. Though Bonefish’s entry is within this tower, there is, again, nothing in the second story portion behind all those windows. And to the left of the Bonefish tower entry is another second story false facade. This one complete with Juliet balconies. Unfortunately, no one will even open those.

What a great entertainment patio on the second floor!

Go around to the next corner to Coldwater Creek. The entry is on the corner beneath what could have been a very large entertainment patio for a restaurant or business.

And the list goes on and on.

I’m happy that a portion of WGV is walkable and that these details were added to make it more pleasant and usable on foot. I can’t help but think about how much trouble went into making the details when they can never be used. Trust me, I know it’s more complicated than that.

However, mixed use centers that contain retail, businesses, and even residential provide the benefit of a synergy in that each use supports the others. In addition, there is often little additional parking needed. Each use takes advantage of parking facilities at a different time of the day and week. Plus, most of our parking requirements are set for peak demand, say December 24, anyway.

As studies show that more and more people want to reside in a location where they can walk to amenities such as restaurants and shops, we’re going to have to build our suburbs to have multiple uses.

Author: Tory