Archive for the 'Town Center' Category

We’re all Strangers Here

I just completed Bill Bryson’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself and I came across a couple of quotes which are noteworthy:

“…Although the bookshop was no more than seventy or eighty feet away, I discovered that there was no way to get there on foot. There was a traffic outlet for cars, but no provision for pedestrians, and no way to cross on foot without dodging over six lanes of swiftly moving traffic. In the end, I had to get in our car and drive across. There was simply no other way. At the time it seemed ridiculous and exasperating, but afterward I realized that I was probably the only person ever even to have entertained the notion of negotiating that intersection on foot…”

Sound familiar? I can think of dozens of roads and intersections locally which could serve as the exact road Bill is describing. Try crossing Kendall, US-1, or any other stretch or road and you too will notice that pedestrian planning is an afterthought, at most.

“…You find it at Disneyland, where people flock to stroll up and down a Main Street just like the ones they abandoned wholesale in the 1950s. It happens at restored colonial villages like Williamsburg, Virginia and Mystic, Connecticut, where visitors drive long distances and pay good money to savor the sort of compact and tranquil atmosphere that they long ago fled for the accommodating sprawl of suburbs. I can’t begin to account for it, but it appears that in this country these days we really only want something when it isn’t really real…”

I get the feeling Bill Bryson gets “it.” I’ve long noticed the obsession with fakeness in this country. Celebration and Tradition, two newer Florida “towns” immediately come to mind, let alone Disney or any of the various “town centers” popping up across our landscape. More on this subject later, I get the feeling it’s a topic we’ll be addressing more often…

Davie Commons; We have Nothing in Common

Noting that the traditional enclosed shopping mall concept has dwindled within American Culture, we have seen the rapid rise of lifestyle centers modeled around the “Town Center” concept. Aside from various fake streetscapes and generally navigable streets within the complexes, these centers will continue to ravage the urban fabric of our cities in a fashion similar to that of the mall. The “Town Center” concept has taken off over the recent years and is designed with automotive access and developer’s pockets in mind. The recently approved Davie Commons retail and office center is no different. Sprawling out over 150 acres, this complex will certainly do little to centralize Davie and will only compound the traffic problems in the whole South Florida region. If fully approved by the city commission, this will signal a complete reversal of general urban planning principles, placing yet another massive development on the western fringes of the county’s sprawl, abutting the Everglades. Broward County traffic will be further disrupted by reverse commutes for people working in the 800,000+ square feet of office space or the Million+ square feet of retail.
Developers downplayed the potential traffic impact, claiming it would add fewer cars to local roads than a new housing subdivision.

The Davie city commission swallowed this load of crap, recently giving the project an initial first round approval, despite widespread opposition from the community. The complex will continue to exemplify the type of construction we need to stop in our region. Suburban office complexes and expansive shopping centers which are only accessible by vehicle in the western parts of the county equate to an ecological, immoral, and urban planning catastrophe for the whole region. The city commission is likely clouded by the massive tax benefit the city would reap:

In exchange for the town’s approval, developers will ask that the agricultural exemption on the 152-acre property be lifted beginning in 2008. The change would increase the taxable value of the land from less than $100,000 to about $20.1 million, creating a windfall for the town, Siegel said.

In addition, if the land-use change receives final town approval, developers have agreed to pay $3.5 million per year to guarantee that Davie receives the amount of revenue the project is estimated to generate.

Join the Opposition!

More Pictures:

Main Street! Main to what, the Everglades? (Wow, they got people to walk…)

The Bustling urban Town Fountain (Look at the water flow…)

Mosquito Park

At the Town Center

An unprecedented two town centers were announced yesterday in Broward County. The County will now feature several of these false city centers as the mall concept continues to decline in popularity nationally. The Margate town center will be located at the former site of The Swap Shop, while the Village at Gulfstream Park will serve as an Entertainment Center in Hallandale. I didn’t know you could place villages in the middle of counties with millions of people. What really irks me about these things isn’t the concept, but rather the actual execution by developers who see them as the next trend for sales. Making them trendy, typically negates everything that makes them actual Town Centers and gives them a fake charm rather than some actual substance…

Ryder/Arza/Shoma Homes, Recipe for a Doral Disaster

I just came across an old article in the Miami New Times, which discusses one of my most despised developments in Miami; the Ryder Systems Headquarters off of the turnpike expressway, on the edge of the everglades and civilization. I despise this project not only because of its location but because of what it is home to. The fact that one of the largest companies in the area and the nation would choose this site as its corporate headquarters is sickening. Its shows how little Ryder systems is concerned about Miami and how fickle its intentions to contribute positively to the urban fabric of our city really are.

It appears, much to my suspicions, that some sort of fishy land deal occurred, which allowed Ryder to sell their Doral digs and move west. The involved parties include no other than our own racial slurring state representative Ralphy Arza, as well as Shoma Homes Employees. The original plan was to develop the Ryder 45 acre parcel into, well, what would you know; a “Town Center” styled development. On top of being a complete load of BS, the development was slated to be “pedestrian friendly.” I guess these guys planned on attracting many of the pedestrians which walk from parking lot to parking lot in Doral.

Even more sickening is the way Masoud Shojaee, president of Shoma Development Corp., was able to pay off Ralph Arza $20,000 up front and an additional $30,000 once the zoning change was complete. So, now not only is Arza a racial slurring, voice mail leaving dirty politician, but, apparently his services can be purchased to influence the way our city is redeveloped. I propose we overturn the zoning changes and tear down the buildings which continue to push the development boundary westwards…

Bye, Bye, Ralph…