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Biz Buzz: Accolades for SLO downtown design

San Luis Obispo’s downtown Court Street has been honored for its innovative design and development by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Developed by Tom and Jim Copeland and designed by architect Mark Rawson, Court Street is an open-air shopping center located on the site of a former parking lot in the historic district of downtown San Luis Obispo.

The retail area, built in 2006, received the ICSC’s Gold Award because of its compatibility with surrounding historic buildings, according to a press release issued by the council.

The center was also recognized because it has the look of being several buildings, including a stairway up to the second level, when the project is actually only one three-story building. Because of this, the center blends well with the scale and variety of the surrounding areas and creates a number of pedestrian walkways and sitting areas, the council said.

Rawson received the award earlier this month at a ceremony in Phoenix.

Rawson and the Copelands received a similar award in 1996 for their development of San Luis Obispo’s Downtown Centre, with its theaters, restaurants and stores.

Some of the themes are similar with their innovative use of stairs (in the Downtown Centre they lead down to the theater level), terraces and walkways that help break up the scale of the project and attract people downtown and encourage them to stay awhile, Rawson said.

The next major Copeland/Rawson project downtown will be the Chinatown project with hotel, condos, retail and restaurants between Monterey and Palm streets near the courthouse. Chinatown will have similarly styled outside spaces encouraging visitors to sit a spell, Rawson said. Chinatown may begin on Monterey Street as early as the middle of 2010, he added.

The ICSC U.S. Design and Development Awards competition was open to shopping center owners, developers, management companies, architects, designers, retailers or other professionals responsible for any retail project or retail store design that demonstrated unusual development or redevelopment characteristics with a high degree of creativity and uniqueness. The competition was open to entrants within the continental United States.

ICSC is the shopping center industry’s trade association. Its 60,000 members in more than 80 countries include shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, retailers and brokers, as well as academics and public officials.

— Melanie Cleveland

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