RockStep Capital, the new Houston-based corporate owner of the Lakewood (soon to be rechristened Aberdeen) Mall, is repaving the mall’s crumbling parking lot. Evidently they don’t like the parking lot living up to the corporate name.
The mall shares the same problem as the rest of Aberdeen: it’s so darn flat that water doesn’t go anywhere fast. Precip has more time to sit, freeze, thaw, and bust up pavement. Mall management needs to re-engineer the lot to improve drainage.
The mall also appears to have overbuilt its parking capacity. Check out RockStep Capital’s own overhead shot of the complex:
The picture isn’t date-stamped, but the shadows indicate the photo was taken mid-afternoon. The lot is more than half empty. The cost of maintaining all that unused pavement evidently put the previous owners on a maintenance schedule that couldn’t keep up with the deteriorating conditions, making a trip to the mall feel more like a drive through Mogadishu (again, not unlike driving elsewhere in Aberdeen).
But hey, in that aerial view, did you notice that little triangle in the northwest corner?
That’s the retention pond at the southeast corner of Aberdeen’s Sanford complex. Sanford didn’t pave corner to corner; they kept a depression into which their parking lot water could flow, then planted grass and trees around it to absorb the water and improve the aesthetics.
RockStep could save money on parking lot maintenance and make the mall more inviting by replacing half of their parking lot with green space—big patches of grass and trees around retention ponds—and re-engineering lot drainage from the remaining parking areas. Moving that water means fewer potholes. Shady green areas can make parking lots 31 degrees cooler. People, just like critters and crops, appreciate shelterbelts for wind protection, and right now, if you go see a movie at the Aberdeen Mall in winter, there’s nothing between you and the bitter northwest wind.
Of course, if RockStep revamps its parking lot to be all dry and smooth, moviegoers might get spoiled, and they might expect the city to maintain a road of similar quality to the movie theater and the hospital:
Third Avenue Northeast is the main street to the mall’s north/movie theater entrance and to Sanford Hospital. As my bicycling bottom can testify, Third Avenue Northeast is in just slightly better condition than the mall parking lot.