Svalbardbutikken has no problem with an eye-catching distraction in front of its store. They’re just prefer it not be a competing supermarket.
Instead Coop Svalbard and other local business officials are proposing a modernized parking lot with LED markings that can change color, with designated areas for taxis and busses, and a large bench seating area along the pedestrian walkway directly in front of the store. The design is in response to a proposal to built a Rema 1000 in a two- to three-story building adjacent to Lompensenteret, which would take a part of the existing parking lot directly in front of Svalbardbutikken’s entrance.
“Svalbardbutikken is not going to oppose the establishment of Rema in Longyearbyen, but we don’t want it to be built as a large building in the parking lot,” a post on the supermarket’s Facebook stated Saturday. “Of course, that has an effect of Svalbardbutikken, but we also believe that there should be room for for parking spaces, taxis, bus parking and snow deposits.”
The post also notes a long-term revamp of the center of town with an emphasis on making it more attractive for shopping, recreational and cultural activities is underway, and the proposed lot with its seating area would be in character with that approach.
“It would be a shame if you block the center and ‘turn your back’ against Elvesletta and the rest of the city,” the Facebook post stated.
The proposed lot, designed with the assistance of Kristjan Breidfjord’s Lo:Lee landscape architect company, is “in a very early” phase and the Facebook post sought input from locals in the comments section. Most of the responses were positive, although some questioned the practicality of the LED lighting (nothing they might be obscured by snow during the dark season when they’d be used), and there were a few inquires unlikely to arise in many parking lot discussions elsewhere.
“There have been a lot of discussions about ‘dog parking’ in the city center,” wrote Wolfgang Zach, a local woodworker. “Could this be the time to consider it in such a plan? Everything from some dedicated hooks in a corner that is not used so frequently to fancy cages have been suggested previously.”
Proposals for the redesigned lot are being evaluated by the Longyearbyen Community Council. Members of the city’s Technical Committee last February unanimously rejected Rema 1000’s original proposal to use the parking lot for store space, adding the company or other parties would need to submit a detailed plan for the affected area. Rema 1000’s current proposal asserts there would be room for 40 to 45 cars, with up to 70 possible in theory.
A few commenters on Svalbardbuttiken’s Facebook discussion proposed nearby alternative sites for a Rema 1000 store, including the vacant space between Svalbardbutikken and Svalbar, Elvesletta across the street, the Sjøområde industrial area near the shoreline, and the Skjæringa hillside where facility’s The Governor of Svalbard’s administrative building is located.
“It’s not wrong to make the town center bigger and there Rema can help,” wrote Sissel Fagerdal Lian, a local dogsledding operator who suggested the latter three locations.