New Urbanism, Old Urbanism and “Creative Destruction”

As you probably know, the Congress for the New Urbanism is holding its annual meeting out in Denver this week. Today on the Streetsblog Network, we’ve got a post from member Joe Urban (a.k.a. writer Sam Newberg) that talks about the real-life impact of the "new urbanist" approach to planning in that city, and the importance of conveying that impact to the public when trying to implement similar planning approaches elsewhere.

2234248103_4ffbde6dea.jpgPoster children for the new urbanism in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood. Photo by EPA Smart Growth.

Newberg writes about touring Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood in 2003 with a group of other planning nerds, admiring the development patterns there, when the whole thing came to life for him:

We were passing a small pocket park when suddenly a young mother emerged from her house, dog and preschool daughter in tow, to let the two run around in the grass. Everyone in our tour immediately wheeled around to photograph an actual human being using and apparently enjoying new urbanism. I felt embarrassed for her, with 40 of us planning geeks photographing her dog take a pee.…

Of course, she doesn’t care that it is new urbanism. She probably values a nice new home across the street from a park. For all I know, the mix of housing types, local school to which they can walk, nearby town center, and sidewalks were trivial to her. It was striking to me, for all the time we spend planning and dreaming up visions of how places might some day look and function, was how seemingly off guard we were to see a great plan being used the way it was intended, by JoAnne Urban, and with so little apparent thought.

Perhaps that is what is so important about getting new urbanism, and good urban development in general, built. Vision and leadership. The mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, Patrick McCrory, spoke last night at the CNU’s opening “plenary.” After buttering us all up with compliments about our work, he leveled with us.

He said you can’t just create some designs and put them in a book that 99% of the public, including city councils and mayors, cannot understand. Show them how it will look. Sell a vision. Give the public an example like the young mom at Stapleton, stepping off her front porch and crossing a narrow street to an intimate neighborhood park to let her dog and kid run around, and suddenly you get public support. Leave the details to the planners and architects.

Of course, Denver is still the exception rather than the rule in American development. Today at The Urbanophile, Aaron Renn writes about the principle of "creative destruction" as it relates to Midwestern cities that have fallen into steep decline:

Entire industries that used to exist now no longer do. Companies that failed to reinvent themselves for a new era often failed. This had both a financial and human toll. There’s no need for Midwesterners to dwell too much on this as they know it all too well from personal experience or front line observation.

What’s true for companies and markets also seems to be true of places as well. Most Midwestern cities would appear to no longer have that much economic relevance. They are
sustained primarily on inertia and legacy economies that are in a state of decline. The challenge for them is to reinvent themselves for a new century and a new world.

This isn’t easy. Reinventing yourself requires letting go of what it is you identify as core to what you do today — never easy in the best of times, and particularly difficult in a place like the Midwest. Midwest cities need, more than anything, a game plan for making themselves relevant to the people and businesses who will be fueling the 21st century…

This is the real challenge. To come up with the right approach to create a viable niche the modern economy. Without this, too many places are simply going to end up like buggy whip manufacturers. Cities, like companies, can become obsolete. And the toll will be large in human, financial, and environmental costs.

It is imperative that there be a vision for change that is serious, relevant, and championed by community leadership. This can mean political leadership such as that from Mayor Daley of Chicago, who has been a tireless champion and promoter for Chicago’s transformation. It could also come from other sources too, such as leadership from a motivated business community. But whatever the source of it, it has to come from somewhere.

Looking for something a little lighter to carry you into the weekend? Got to love the story of the NYC subway conductor who delivered a baby on the R train the other day. We bring it to you via Transit Blogger.

  • Denverite

    You gotta be kidding. Denver Stapleton as the new urban paradigm? It’s a slightly denser, dolled up, car dependent, suburban development. Yes, there are parks, playgrounds and schools, but that’s the extent of mixed use. The great urbanist Jane Jacobs extolled mixed use as the foundation of walkable, livable neighborhoods. Stapleton segregates uses. There are no corner stores or mixed use retail/residential/employment. The nearest grocery store is in the middle of a gigantic big box complex nearby and doesn’t provide deliveries. No doubt a pleasant place to live. But still one where two car parking is a must and trips to work, shopping or services require a car, or possibly a bike for some. More so, Stapleton is not integrated into the surrounding street grid and is a little residential island bounded by big boxes, highways and unwalkable arterial streets. More broadly, the Denver metro area — which dwarfs Denver proper — is a giant, ever expanding sprawl which rivals the worst of Orlando, Phoenix or Las Vegas.

    Here’s a picture of one of the main retail centers at Stapleton
    http://shop.stapletondenver.com/shops/quebecsquare

  • I was just in Stapleton yesterday and I pretty much have to agree with Denverite above. Hopefully I’ll have some photos and post a soon…

  • Aaron, there are plenty of damning photos on Stapleton’s own website. I found a Flash slideshow here:
    http://live.stapletondenver.com/live/E.29thAvenue

    I recoil in special horror from the one of Crescent Flats: a low-rise apartment building surrounding a featureless shade-free green field. It looks like a barracks building at Fort Dix, NJ, minus the basketball court.

  • cat

    Another ex-Denver resident here. I was going to comment but Denverite stole my thunder.

    Stapleton is a joke. In almost all respects the Stapleton development is barely distinguishable from outer suburban developments. In fact, it’s more sinister in a way because it gets all sorts of buzz about being something new and “urban” and sustainable. In fact, it’s just another car-based suburban development with big-box shopping centers backed by a cookie-cutter neighborhood with wide streets lined by narrow sidewalks (i.e., it looks exactly like any suburban development of the past couple decades). And as a side not, Stapleton’s not really close to downtown Denver at all, so I don’t know why they always say that in their advertising.

    There are actually several overhyped developments like this around Denver and Colorado. I’m not sure why so many people can’t see through the self-congratulatory buzz coming from developers and “New Urbanist” planners.

  • JSD

    Honestly…how is this New Urbanism different from Old Urbanism? Parks don’t equal a good neighborhood. A park surrounded by cookie cutter housing used only by a few during the hours of 10-2 is not a good multi-use park. Plopping a “new urbanist” development in the middle of nowhere is hardly better than a McMansion complex with a Walmart out back.

  • Add me to the group that agrees with Denverite and Cat. I know Stapleton is called “new urban,” but if that’s new urban, I don’t want it. Everything they say is true but four things deserve more emphasis:

    1) Stapleton is largely economically segregated and purposely cut off from the surrounding neighborhoods. Initially, Stapleton told the world it would “connect the grid.” They simply didn’t. In some places there are concrete barriers and fences to keep the surrounding neighbors from entering. Stapleton was required to build some low income, multi-unit housing. So, they put most of it around the edges to buffer the higher income in the middle. (It is also unbelievably ugly.) And the Stapleton neighborhoods themselves are divided. There’s a richer section and poorer sections – the “pods” aren’t as visible, but they are there.

    2) The place is absolutely car-centric. It’s divided by arterials. The traffic lights don’t work for bikes. And, as pointed out, there’s nowhere to go. The commercial areas are on the edges and are mainly big boxes, including Walmart.

    3) The ersatz nature of the whole thing makes me bilious. Nearly everything looks like something “real” but isn’t. There’s Cape Cods and Victorians and Haciendas all mixed together and made of plastic. Much of the low income housing looks like traditional tenements. There’s even a “Founder’s Green,” though who the founders are – the Forest City owners in Ohio? – is unclear.

    4) What Stapleton wants, Stapleton gets. No traffic plan? No problem, funnel it through existing neighborhoods. The city is cutting rec center expenses. In the poor neighboring areas, the city plans to reduce services and turn some existing rec centers over to private companies. Stapleton is getting a new, big, full-service rec center, though most of the people who live there could afford to put a gym in their basements (and many probably have.) Stapleton folks objected to having bus stops on their street. Presto, bus line moved to uninhabited street.

    The last thing that bugs me isn’t really about the neighborhood itself and isn’t unique to Stapleton, but it does seem more empty-headed and intense there. Part is the sales job the people in Stapleton received to get them to buy, part is constant reinforcement of that sales pitch by the developer (it runs the main newspaper – imagine living in an auto showroom), part is the upper-middle to upper demographic — the result is this nauseating smugness.

    The whole place – what it looks like, who runs it, and the people – seems uncannily like The Village in the old “The Prisoner” series.

  • Sarah Goodyear

    Wow, this is a great thread. I’m wondering if there are any Stapleton defenders out there…maybe we’ll hear from the writer of the original post.

  • I \v/ NY

    I’m a big new urbanism supporter but I agree Stapleton is a joke especially the classic 1990s big box powercenter thats as auto-centric as possible.

    New Urbanism is old urbanism that just accepts the realities of today… buildings codes, automobiles, ADA, concerns for sustainability, the impact of TV, AC, computers (i.e. people spending a hell of a lot more time indoors), etc. NU is a hell of a lot more successful in an urban environment that suburban area… compare LoDo to Stapleton

  • I just re-read the post. The suggestion “Give the public an example like the young mom at Stapleton, stepping off her front porch and crossing a narrow street to an intimate neighborhood park to let her dog and kid run around, and suddenly you get public support” is exactly what the Stapleton developers did. The public, city, and neighbors bought all the hooey and didn’t require any realistic transportation plan and generally let Stapleton do whatever it wanted. (BTW, when I mentioned the public rec center issue above, I should have mentioned that Stapleton already has a private pool system that is not part of the public program.)

    The other problem with the suggestion is that although it might work, nearly any project can sell itself with pictures of a smiling mom, cute kid, and a dog. I am sure that that image appeared in materials for all the godawful developments in Highlands Ranch and Aurora, too.

  • Matt

    Living in Highlands (not Highlands Ranch, just Highlands) allowed me to be much more car-independent in Denver than Stapleton ever would. It may be new, shiny, and pretty but that’s about the extent of it. There are houses close to its parks, which is more than I can say for the Atlanta suburbs I grew up in, but I wouldn’t lift it up as any paradigm of urban design. It’s not even connected to the mass transit system.

  • Paz

    Good lord you guys are purists! It took us half a century to get away from urbanist principles. People in the 50’s didn’t start moving into McMansions. It’s going to take time and evolution to get back to high density and sensible transportation. Ok, Stapleton might not look like our vision of “New Urbanism”, but it looks incrementally closer to it than Tysons Corners.

    I believe the expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day” comes to mind.

  • The comments are right-on. Stapleton has been a big disappointment. It’s a pale imitation of better new urbanist developments, let alone bona fide urbanism.

    Not dense enough, not mixed-use enough, not well-connected enough.

    I’m totally pro new urbanism (gotta build new stuff somehow), but Stapleton didn’t come anywhere near delivering on its “kiss the ‘burbs goodbye” marketing tag line.

  • Why is “cookie-cutter” housing understood to be a “bad” thing? I thought we were fighting for density and multiple uses in close proximity. I live on a Brooklyn street lined with “cookie-cutter” flats and I think they look great.

  • Denverite

    Paz you raise a another problem with Stapleton. It’s not an incremental step towards anything. The model for new urban developments are the cities and towns people have been building for thousands of years. They are based on people being able to walk to shop or socialize or eat out or even to work. They are also based on the mixing of people of all walks of life. The problem for American urbanists is that walkable, mixing, cities like San Francisco, New York or Boston are so successful they are unaffordable for all but the few. Another problem is that fantastic, walkable downtowns in small cities and towns all over the country are being shuttered because of a host of economic and social factors related to local taxes, social services, poverty, race, schools, sprawl, subsidizing home ownership, destruction of local retail etc. Only affluent small cities, mostly college towns, have maintained their walkable character.

  • Stapleton folks objected to having bus stops on their street. Presto, bus line moved to uninhabited street.

    That tells me everything I need to know about Stapleton. If it were a successful New Urbanist development the residents would be asking for more bus service, not less.

  • It’s not an incremental step towards anything. The model for new urban developments are the cities and towns people have been building for thousands of years.

    Well said!

    Everyone noticed that Stapleton has been brought to us by the same Forest City Enterprises that’s responsible for Atlantic Yards, right?

  • JSD

    As for cookie cutter, I meant mass produced and likely made of cheap materials, not that they all looked the same. It’s common to see subdivisions made up of many different styles of homes, all of which are made of plywood and drywall. It’s also equally common to see a line of brownstones that look identical, but are sturdily built and have lasted for generations, as you’ve pointed out.

    I think the mistake that many of these communities make is their selective focus on what it is they happen to like about New Urbanism. Applying New Urbanist principles (or in Stapleton’s case, the gist of New Urbanist principles) to a small town or random New Jersey suburb doesn’t make all that much sense. Suburbs and small towns are completely different animals when compared with great cities, and should be treated as such. Of course, improvements can and should be made, both in existing areas and new towns. But dropping a park in front of a line of residences, and watching a young mother play with her kid, isn’t New Urbanism.

  • Steve Davis

    Someone should think about giving a short interview to the Forest City people and see what they say about it. I seem to remember it being another case of having to taper off their densities, FAR’s and uses to satisfy concerns of locals and local pols. I agree with nearly everything above, but I would like to hear that side of the story. It’s sunk more than one new urbanist development along the way, even as the developer was trying to do the “right” thing. I might be off base but i seem to remember that having something to do with it.

  • @Steve Davis

    Good suggestion. I’d like to hear what Forest City says, though I suspect it would largely the verbal equivalent of the mom, kid, dog, and park image.

    Moreover, if Forest City were to say that the lower density was responding to local pols, I wouldn’t believe it without other evidence. These things are complicated and contradictory, but Forest City seems to do pretty much as it likes. Sometimes it seems to make concessions, but rarely actually conceded on anything important.

    Also, if you walk around the place and check out how Stapleton has isolated itself from pre-existing transit service and roads, it’s hard to not to conclude that Stapleton had little positive interest in transit or other alt modes. (Tthere’s a transit terminal that pre-dates the Stapleton build out that should be an easy walk from lots of houses, but the designers essentially cut it out and walled it off from everything else.)

    For what it’s worth, probably not much, a planner for one of the home builders told me that Forest City actually wanted less density not more, because less density is easier to sell to most of the buyers who Stapleton targeted.

  • Does it bother anyone here that the developer celebrates an architecture paradigm that celebrates not caring about the built environment? It’s as though delivering a desirable consumer a good to an end-user is the only value of architecture. As presented, it sounds like residents should be unconcerned with structures they interact with on a daily basis. Nobody would ever want ordinary citizens to be this disengaged from politics, even though street design has an equally real impact on daily lives as tax law. Look at the Founder’s Square: it’s completely divorced from the civic and commercial aspects of a New England commons, except in appearance. It’s just about the nice park, rather than the community factors that make the park a good asset.

    I don’t think that the average person needs to understand the Transect any more than they need to understand Post-Functionalism. But they ought to understand some basic elements, what’s worth fighting for, and what the global impact of good urbanism is. Why not want these people to say “I’m glad I can see my neighbors from my porch,” “I don’t need more highway lanes,” and “It’s a good thing my kids can walk to school.” As long as New Urbanism fixates on its milquetoast commercial appeal, developments will seem rather fake and its message will be lost as just “traditionalish.”

  • I meant mass produced and likely made of cheap materials

    Fair enough–and a good point. Most new neighborhoods aren’t built to last, are they. I remember my brother bought a new house in the outermost exurbs of our hometown and he was complaining about the crappy construction. The best-built houses are of course in the city, but the city is largely a slum now, so… there you go.

  • New Urbanism has been a failure everywhere there wasn’t a huge capital concentration to fund it. (See links) Now that the capital concentrations have evaporated, the New Urbanists are screaming in agony, facing the realization that they were not combating an unsustainable system, they were giving it a last life.

    Now that it’s all collapsing, they don’t have a solution.

  • Stapleton Resident

    I can’t believe the uneducated comments on here. As a long time Stapleton resident, I have to say that a lot of folks are quick to judge a new community that still has to grow to the master plan of 30,000 expected residents and 30,000 expected workers. We’re not even close to being complete (about 1/3 complete). This is not a simple redeveloped area. Its a HUGE redevelopment project. You have to start somewhere and it has to take time for the density to occur. Stapleton’s vision is not even close to realization. Forest City actually is requiring even smaller lots for their single family builders now (it was 4000sf — now we are looking at 3500 sq ft single family lots). There IS an integrated grid with the rest of the city and those “blocked” streets are SOON to open to the rest of Denver and Aurora. There has simply been road funding, traffic planning issues, and intergovernmental challenges with Aurora and Denver that delayed it. There will soon be a highway interchange in the middle of Stapleton. There is a commuter rail station scheduled to open in a few years just 3 blocks from my house that will take me to the airport (I travel a lot) or downtown Denver in no time.

    The entire development plan still calls for nearby neighborhood shops and retail within walking distance of all homes. The power centers and large shopping centers you see now are just the beginning and at the EDGES of Stapleton. Once Stapleton grows and becomes more dense, the planned and required neighborhood shops will be integrated. This is why you see so many empty lots because Forest City is holding them for multi-use purposes (i.e. street level retail with affordable housing above). This is especially true near the old tower. The office buildings are planned to have retail on the bottom as well. Residents and developers are coming together to combine uses. A Storage company wanted to come to Stapleton, but residents and the developer said he had to have a few retail spaces at street level on his property if he wanted his storage center here….so he had to comply. The NEW storage center is now here. My neighbor walks 3 blocks to get their dry cleaning done at this storage center/dry cleaning spot WITHIN the neighborhood (there are also a couple more empty retail spaces in this same spot after recently opening)…and this is no where near the shopping centers and not at the Town Center. It is WITHIN Stapleton. There is also separate small retail/office/restaurant mixed-use area on the south side of Stapleton that many residents enjoy (again, not at a shopping center and within a short walking distance of hundreds of homes). Across the street from this is a live/work building where several folks have their business on the ground level and live in a beautiful multi-story unit above. My friend’s insurance agent is one of those people that has his insurance agency on the street and he and his family live above. Most of my neighbors walk or bike to the Town Center to get food, walk to the park to enjoy the outside or the many activities (farmers market, outdoor movie, carnival, etc), or take advantage of the other retail and business establishmets. My mother just made a comment last weekend while visiting by saying, “Jeesh, there are so many people out and about walking to somewhere around here.” People here are teased if they take the car to anything that’s within 1 mile. I see Stapleton residents with grocery bags in red wagons walking home with their children in strollers. I have pretty much everything I need within 1 mile (grocery store, my barber, my insurance agent, my dentist, 1 doctor I have, my vet, other various retail stores and businesses I need, my cleaners (not the one at the storage center), and many restaurants that I ride my bike or walk to) and I am in the heart of Stapleton — NOT at the edge like the shopping centers are. These large REGIONAL shopping centers are supposed to serve a REGIONAL area of Denver metro – not just Stapleton. 3 friends of mine that live in Stapleton ride their bikes to work downtown Downtown IS close. It’s only a 10-15 minute drive and 25-30 minute bike ride. One of them called me to pick him up the other day due to a family emergency. It took me 11 minutes to get to his office downtown. I only use my car to go to the airport (which will change when the rail stop at Stapleton opens) and visit family in other parts of the metro area. The new Town Center on the east side of Stapleton is still scheduled and Forest City is about to have a new natural foods grocer sign a lease (they have a signed commmittment so far) after they get a few more other retail committments. This new town center will be surrounded by hundreds of homes. There are 2 more Town Centers planned on top of the the other 2 (not including the 2 regional shopping centers).

    I can’t see how someone believe this is suburban. The garages are in the alley. The lots are small. Every possibly type of residential architecture is here. My one block street alone is comprised of 3 builders with completely different architectural styles, and not one house on the street is duplicated. At the end of my street are duplexes and on the other side are townhomes. One block down are condos. These homes and the streets they sit on look nothing like new suburban communities throughout the country. There are several condos, duplexes, and apartments that are intermixed within the single family homes (but non-Stapletonites don’t seem to distinguish the condos very well due to the good architecture).

    Like I’ve said, we need to give Stapleton time to develop the mixed-used developments throughout the community that have always been planned (hence the deliberate empty lots that are scattered throughout). The housing crisis and economy has slowed things down. I challenge folks to actually RESEARCH the Stapleton plan that Forest City must adhere to and Denverites have actually written…. before making judgements of a development that IS STILL IN PROGRESS. In this day and age, you think that many of America’s old and nice urban communities could start off with all that density immediately? We are talking about 4.5 square miles here! The largest urban redevelopment in the nation. Only slight changes have been made to the original plan. Stapleton continues to win numerous national and international awards for its urban design, sustainability, and community efforts. A walkable, dense, and park abundant community has occurred already for most of Stapleton….and it will only get better as time goes on.

  • Stapleton Resident

    By the way, Stapleton builders are all built green builders (the only master plan community to be completely built green in this part of the western U.S), they are all energy star certified, and 2 builders are completely solar power standard (including my builder). They all have the high construction standards – higher than the county (i.e. 2X6 construction, much higher R-levels, etc). These homes are built well! There are also quite a few Stapleton commercial buildings that are leed certified (including the JC Penney).

  • Stapleton Resident

    Also, the bus stop that moved only moved 1 block away. I see a lot of folks take the bus here. I see people walk with their suitcases to the park and ride to take the airport shuttle. There is a carpooling club here and there has been a car sharing program. Once again, quick to judge before becoming completely informed.

    More and more streets will be integrated with the surrounding neighborhood, and many streets already are.

    I can’t believe the ignorance.

  • Stapleton Resident

    Another response… Stapleton’s pools ARE open to the public. Stapleton residents have to pay for a season pool pass and outside residents pay a fee for use each time. Other Denver city pools do the same. These pools are very nice and expensive to keep up. Stapleton residents paid for the infrastructure of these pools, so they are fairly given the discount…just like city residents in other parts of Denver are given discounts over non-city residents. Everything at Stapleton is open to everyone.

  • Stapleton Resident

    Sorry, I keep reading posts as I do yard work…

    The comments about income levels is also insulting. I live in an area where there is a 1 million dollar house, $300k – $700k houses, and affordable low income condos for 120k all within the same 5 block area of each other. 2 blocks from my house will be a low income building or low income townhomes in the next couple years. It is only 1 block from 900k houses.

    Ridiculous comments. These people are similar to making comments on the design and functionality of a skyscraper BEFORE it’s finished and before seeing the plans for it. The Forest City / Stapleton Denver site does not explain the uses of everything in Stapleton.

    Founders Green is named after all the Denver community members and residents that founded the new Stapleton community and wrote the Stapleton GREEN master plan book – which Forest City has to adhere to and has to get city and community approval before making any changes.

  • I believe you that Stapleton has the potential to be a true walkable, urban community. We’re just saying that it’s not there now.

  • Greg

    It sounds like Stapleton Resident is saying that it is there now – a true walkable, urban community.

  • Stapleton Resident

    As I’ve tried to explain before, it’s a work in progress… In some spots of Stapleton, it is truly a walkable community and you have everything within reach. Other spots will need to finish development before the implementation of neighborhood-wide integration of shops, retail, easy access to transit, etc, etc.

  • manchaniel

    I was at CNU 17 and visited Stapleton which I found to be far short of the mark – the so called arterials are way too wide, the architecture leaves a bit to be desired and the TWO big box centers were a shocker. Nonetheless, Stapleton is much better than most communities built in America in the last 60 years. It does have a palpable sense of communities – and it does have some elements of mixed use. The schools in particular are impressive in how they are fully embedded into the community and they actually can be reached by walking MOSTLY safe and comfortable streets. In evaluating an evolving community like Stapleton it important to understand that this community is almost 10 years old and that the UNDERSTANDING of how to design and finance an urban place has evolved significantly in that time. Even with that evolution the engineers – I am an engineer – (from the city) are still demanding their ridiculous and bogus traffic study that predict 30,000 vehicles on the main arterial in Stapleton (hence the oversided 4 lanes) and the the city still do not understand basic things like how an alley operates so in order to build narrow alleys the developers had to make the alleys private. The point is there are many back stories to what we see on the ground. The think about Stapleton is that it sets the stage for beating back some of the antediluvian codes and financial regulations that still makes it so difficult to do good urbanism in American.

  • Another, different Stapleton resident

    I just moved to Stapleton two months ago and we love it. It’s a great development with lots of families, and yes we do like parks and no we’re not a bunch of morons who can’t understand “new urbanism”. Yes, there are some big box developments around the fringes, they were some of the first things put up after the new airport opened, long before the rest of the development started going. But in between there is a nice little neighborhood center with some independent shops and great restaurants. This is a mile from my house and I live on the northeastern edge of Stapleton. Yes, I ride my bike there. Any weekend you’ll see tons of bikes, bike trailers and walkers in this area. A lot of people take the bus and a lot of us are looking forward to the Stapleton light rail stop once Fastraks finally gets completed.

    What would you rather have a bunch of suburban sprawl and culdesacs? this development is only five or six miles from downtown, depending on whether you are on the east or west side. Most of the commenters come off like a bunch of know-it-all elitists. Yes, I’m a mom and I enjoy the park and gee, I even understand the concepts of new urbanism and good planning. I think the developer did quite well considering they also have to make money and it’s not even built out yet. Maybe you think 99% of us don’t “get it” but I bet it’s more because we don’t like listening to a bunch of “holier than thou” preachy types.

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