Friday, August 25, 2017

Westside 7-11 shuttered after only two years

Maybe in times when one could despair about humanity's wisdom it is an encouraging sign that the Mount Vernon Market and the old-time Italian deli Trinacria are thriving, while the recently added mecca of soda and junk sits already shuttered 2 years after it opened in a brandnew building constructed extra for 7-11.
Shuttered after only two years: Seven-11 on Paca Street
(Photo: Philipsen)

An early online shopper review read:
"This is better than your typical downtown 7-11 store, has all the soda and coffee options you could want from a 7-11 and five Slurpee options. The hot food area seems to be kept well stocked, as are the doughnuts and packaged items. .." 
So what could have possibly gone wrong? 

  • Maybe Slurpees are finally not what people want to drink anymore?
  • Maybe having temporary above ground sewage pipes cutting off customer parking for nearly a year was too much?
  • Maybe the yawningly empty Social Security West offices didn't help?
  • Maybe having the storefront smashed during the unrest was a bad omen for an ongoing set of security issues that these stores seem to have?
  • Or maybe a scathing architectural review in the Baltimore Business Journal written by someone with my name deterred customers? 
  • Or maybe more obvious: There are too many similar stores in close proximity? 
    The 7-11 under cosntruction (Photo: Philipsen)

While I have no doubt that the architectural critique had absolutely nothing to do with whatever caused 7-11 to permanently close this month, I venture to believe that the bad architecture of the building will drastically reduce the company's ability of finding a taker.
Door smashed at the unrest in April 15
(Photo: Philipsen)

The building is too much tailored to just one type of user with its emphasis on drive-through parking that results in a skinny impracticable floorplan. The fake second floor (meaning there is no floor, no stair, no elevator and no real window on what looks like an upper level) is there because the City didn't allow a single story structure a turn-off even for those potential buyers who would forgive the fake brick and the faux historicisms of the mis-proportioned facades.

Not that 7-11 has been a great neighbor. Soon after they opened, they locked the front door facing the intersection and installed a sign to use the rear door access from the parking lot side. People were expected to drive up. This may also be why they never shoveled snow or melted ice, or take care of the mandated landscaping along the edge of the sidewalk except to stick those wire signs in there to advertise the special Slurpees. Trash kept piling up. Putting a 7-11 in the Westside was an opportunity development that wasn't driven by a larger vision for this part of Baltimore, a vision that is still sorely lacking.

So now there is a new type of ruin in the Westside, the new- building ruin in an area with too many shuttered buildings already, a monument to greed, attempted profiteering on unhealthy food, the quick buck and poor taste, a monument one could do without.

One artist suggested that the 7-11 building looked like a pirate ship. Maybe some artists can take this line of thinking and create a cool, usable sculpture from this building.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Architecture review: Abominable 7-Eleven disfigures a Baltimore historic district