Public space issues are often are subject to nostalgia and weak analysis. Space Analytics has worked on peddling and vending, public-private access interfaces affecting private property and First Amendment public forum cases. How public and private space and property interface and function can have significant impacts on retail property, social communication and spatial transaction costs.
- A Public Forum
Two publishers selling game programs on the sidewalks next to a newly opened major league ballpark were arrested several times for trespass. The sidewalks were leased to the ball club by the local government agency. The original planning documents showed these spaces were intended to be public spaces. But were they really? We assembled evidence showing there was no curtilege nor physical, visual or symbolic cues indicating these sidewalk areas were non-public. All entrances to the ballpark were connected to sidewalks extending from the original city street grid. The trial court and the Colorado Supreme Court each concluded all adjacent sidewalks were public space constituting a public forum
- Dysfunctional public space
Skyline Park in Denver was designed by a famous landscape architect and built in the early 1970s. But by the mid 1980s, most shops and restaurants immediately facing the three sequential half-blocks it occupies had closed down. It was recessed about four feet below pedestrian levels and had become a steeplechase for skateboards and bikes and a hangout for hobos. Middle-class downtowners avoided the park and adjacent retail. Our analysis showed an internal configuration had a maze-like quality and was disconnected from the street/sidewalk grid. The configuration allowed it to be socially privatized by small groups and avoided by nearby pedestrians. Change was opposed by many landscape architects, but it was redesigned, rebuilt and enjoyably used by the public.
- Non-trespassory loss of access
Public space provides access to private property, but the governmental owners of streets can take access through eminent domain or the police power. We provided evidence in several cases showing improper analysis and inadequate information by the condemning authority about highest and best use, larger partial, access conditions and comparables. Some of these involved a new light rail line and are identical to most access takings involving road changes. One was the first Colorado access case in almost three decades that a property owner's claim of substantial impairment of access was acknowledged. Another analysis successfully showed that loss of vehicular access eliminated multi-story development potential. My article in Real Estate Review describes this in detail.