Monday, October 18, 2010

Chestnut Hill Square -- Pedestrian Connection A

The northeast corner of the Chestnut Hill Square lot is a good measure of New England Development's commitment to pedestrians. It's not great.

There is potentially meaningful pedestrian traffic to that corner: from Avalon, from the apartment buildings on Hammond Pond Parkway, from next door at Barnes & Noble and Milton's. Yet, there is no sense of the corner as a gateway or main entrance to the site. This is in striking comparison to the northwest corner, which is treated like a gateway, largely because it's the corner that motorists are likely to see.

It appears that the principal route is meant to be along Boylston St./Route 9 to the entrance/exit, along the side of the north retail building, and onto the retail sidewalk. (Avalon is to the left in the bottom of the following diagrams.)

It would be better if there were only a single lane of traffic to cross (A). But, at least there's a pedestrian refuge. There doesn't appear to be very good sight lines for cars coming off Boylston turning left into the site (B). So, that crossing might be a bit hairy.

But, once across the entrance/exit, pedestrians are ill-treated. It's a mean little sidewalk with no street trees or other vegetation to separate people from cars (C). It takes the pedestrian past first the building dumpster (D) and then the building loading dock (E).

It seems likely that pedestrians may choose to take a slightly more direct, and likely safer route.

While there is no crosswalk at A, it's not likely to have a lot of traffic. There's no refuge at B, but cars will undoubtedly be going slower than they would at the corner above (also B).

Taking this route, pedestrians avoid the dumpster, but not the loading dock (C).

As with the "main" route, there is a distinct lack of green -- trees, lawn, bushes.

The most successful aspect of this corner is the direct connection to the Barnes & Noble and Milton's sidewalk. To New England Development's credit, they have not created any obstacles to connection with neighboring properties (even if they haven't exploited all the potential).

There's a nice crosswalk from sidewalk to sidewalk (A). But, pedestrians will still have to cross in front of the loading dock (B).


In an ideal world, the retail space would be facing Boylston Street, and this would be a whole different design. (More on that in a later post.) But, given this retail configuration, this entrance to the site needs to be safer, more comfortable, and more attractive for pedestrians. Specifically:

  • Open up the east end of the north building with an entrance similar to the west entrance

  • Wider sidewalks

  • Green -- trees, lawn, shrubbery -- between the sidewalk and the street

  • A crosswalk across the Milton's lot entrance (A in the middle diagram)

  • Raise the crosswalk across the driveway (A in the last diagram)

  • Better camouflage the dumpster and the loading dock

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