Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Paradoxes of New Urbanism in Colorado

NY Times: Denver is building a large residential development where its old Stapleton airport used to be, in a style that has been called "a model of new urbanism." It's been partly built using tax-increment financing (which is what NC voters recently approved under the name "Amendment One").

But residential taxes alone weren't enough to underwrite the whole thing. The big tax money for the project comes from

the very emblem of suburban sprawl, a conventional 750,000-square-foot big-box shopping center called Quebec Square with huge parking lots that can accommodate 5,000 cars, a Wal-Mart Supercenter, a Sam's Club warehouse store and a Home Depot.
To a committed new urbanist, that's kind of like funding a drug treatment program by selling drugs. But I think it's emblematic of how urban development is probably going to proceed over the next generation or so. Everyone's going to need to compromise.


Anonymous said...

There is no paradox. You cannot be urbane if your supposed "new urban" area restricts speech not in the interests of consumerism. Let's face it, most of these new developments are play-spaces for suburbanites to experience urban verisimilitude without giving up their cars and mammon-hoarding. They also don't need to be bugged by speech or art that is unconventional, or the reality of the homeless. Places like PortlandOR, DC, Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago, Seattle, SF, NYC, Philly, Boston, etc. are urban because they accept reality, not wall themselves off from it. Members of this community destroyed a brilliant artwork in the Burlington industries building for more bourgeois consumerism. Any true city would have saved that iconic building and demanded that new shopping areas be done in denser areas that are actually in need of redevelopment.

David Wharton said...

I don't know of any evidence that the Stapleton housing development restricts speech -- it's just a new neighborhood, and one that has plans for a substantial amount of low-income housing.

Anonymous said...

Very nice. Keep up the good work.