The most vibrant, thriving town centers and main streets occur near universities, from Pearl Street in Boulder near the Univ. of Colorado to Main Street in Charlottesville near the Univ. of Virginia. The list is endless. Why? Because there’s no better population for live music, indie restaurants and 24/7 nightlife than students and recent graduates.
So maybe Arizona State University realizes this well enough to build their own town center (or two), as pictured on the right side of the master plan above. Notice how the compact, walkable environs of the university town allows a vast amount of open space. The alternative can be clearly seen in the surrounding auto-oriented sprawl.
What they need is a commitment to develop indie retail and entertainment in the town centers rather than the same old line of national chains. Our study shows the most successful college town centers at 87% indie businesses. Also, perhaps a better name than ASU at the West Campus. Check out their other promising, progressive, aggressive plans here.