Walkable Suburbanism: If not on Mercer Island, then Where? and the Manhattanization of Mercer Island both discuss the mid-rises going up on the Island. Good articles, but I think Dan missed the mark on two things (read on).
“Which leads me to the aspect of the downtown Mercer Island story that I find most compelling, and that’s how the place is such a fascinating living example of our struggles to retrofit suburbia. It’s a classic, last-century, unabashedly car-oriented built environment being invaded by walkable urbanism. It’s a jarring mix, like awkward adolescence, stuck in the middle and still trying to have it both ways.”
Worth reading. As is an older Seattle PI article on the lack of vision in design of Mercer Island’s downtown. However,
Counterpoint #1:The foot traffic to the farmers’ market makes me think that Mercer Island isn’t as car-wedded as the authors think. People are just looking for a place to walk to. But unless you live near North Island or South Island shopping centers, walking isn’t really an option. And the little bus that goes around the Island isn’t that convenient or regular either (try taking it in the middle of the day during the week.) If it were, more Island residents might take it to North Island and walk around for the afternoon.
Counterpoint #2: The bigger mistake Dan made is to assume that the development is making MI more walkable. If all the retail space weren’t vacant, banks, or real estate offices, it might do. Putting these mid-rises up hasn’t done that yet. We’ll revisit this topic later…