It seems Sims love to shop, so this tutorial will help you to create realistic shopping centres as seen on the outskirts of major towns and cities all over Europe and North America.
Essentials for this are smoncrie's hole digger lots and one of the many slope mods available. I personally use the one created by bones1, but any others will give the same effect.
First of all plan your shopping centre in order to be sure a) your layout fits where you want it to b) you have accounted for where your development will be c) you like it !!
I generally "draw" my new developments with roads as its fairly cheap and shows up the design well. My plan here is to have 4 6x6 blocks either side with 2 6x6 blocks at each end. The centre of the site will house a rail station and lots of parking.
There will be an outer road which will cut in diagonally at the ends in order to give the shape some aesthetics.
Now, for the sake of making it look interesting we are going to raise the level of the whole site using the ground lifter lots by smoncrie. Its only necessary to raise a small area first as you can expand this by use of the Mayor Mode levelling tool of by laying single road tiles.
Remember to demolish the outer road at this point or you will end up with a bit of a mess around the edges which will only mean more work to tidy it up.
Once you have raised this section, expand it and re-create the same shape you had at ground level. Once you have the general shape, re-draw your original plan..this helps to ensure you have the correct size of raised area and also helps for aligning things as you go along.
Now, we are going to add a rail link to the site. We do not want to take up any retail space, so the rail will enter via a tunnel. I am not a big fan of plummeting slopes (especially for rail), so we are going to create a very gently sloping tunnel.
The tunnel is going to enter from the western side of the site, going under the end units and surfacing in the central parking area.
Using single road tiles, dig a double tile width route for the tunnel ending only a tile or two into the central area.
Next, run a stretch of ground highway down from the upper to the lower level. You will note in the image below that the highway is bending inwards at the join of the two levels. This means that the slope will invert and once demolished it will provide us with the gentle descent we are looking for.
For the next step, use single road tiles to fill the tunnel back in to the point of where the slope begins to rise. This should be 1 tile away from the inner road. Also re-draw your plan at this point.
You should also add an extra tile width at the exit point of the tunnel, which will prevent it from destroying the outer road.
Once everything is in place, drag your first rail tunnel through and then repeat the process so you are left with a double tunnel. Plop your desired rail station..in this case it is the clock station by simgoober, and then tidy up the tunnel entrance/exit as you see fit. I've used some simple fenced grass filler lots and tunnel overpasses.
Complete the central area by placing parking lots to all the remaining space...shopping centres have lots of parking spaces!
You can now either zone out the areas you have reserved for CS or you can plop units if you have them in your plug in folder. I have plopped all the units on display here for the convenience of the tutorial but I have built many centres like this with zoned, growable units instead.
All that's left is to connect your shopping centre to your transport network and add eye candy to your empty tiles.
If you have any questions on this tutorial, please Private Message Rochefort!