I read Dave Bangert’s “State Street growing pains at Wabash Landing” column a few weeks ago with great bemusement. While I’ve enjoyed the shops and restaurants there for many years, I’ve never been particularly fond of the layout. Truth be told, I’d rather someone just bulldoze Wabash Landing and Levee Plaza and start from scratch. The parking distribution is bad and the traffic patterns are even worse.
Still, there’s plenty of parking to be had in the garage, unless you ask people who patronize Wabash Landing. Bangert quotes business owner Peter Lask describing his customers’ position: “walking from the parking garage to my store is out of the question.” Clearly the people who shop at Jupiter have never tried to go to a Main Street restaurant on a Friday night.
Fundamentally, the question is: should Wabash Landing be a automobile-focused suburban development, or a pedestrian-focused urban one? There’s no right answer here, especially since Wabash Landing is a bit of a no-man’s land. Even though it is seemingly well-sited for a pedestrian area, it’s cut off from obvious pedestrian-heavy areas like downtown Lafayette (by the Wabash River) and the Village (by River Road).
When I lived in West Lafayette, I rarely walked to Wabash Landing. The distance was no problem, but the unpleasantness of State Street’s narrow sidewalks and the width of River Road made walking a dangerous proposition.
Of course, not everyone lives within a reasonable walking distance of Wabash Landing. No matter how it is developed, ample parking will be needed. But to suggest that a walk of five minutes with no traffic to battle is too much is plain silly. It takes longer to get from one end of Tippecanoe Mall to another, and (I hope) no one gets in their car to drive around to the other side of the mall.
Improving Wabash Landing means making it better for automobile, bus, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic. This might require consolidating parking. Shoppers should welcome this, though: the less space used for a parking lot, the more space available for stores.