Konover co-opts New Urbanism

by: commonweal

Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 11:46:04 AM EST

Imagine my surprise when I picked up my copy of the Tri-Town Post today and read that Konover has embraced New Urbanism.  According to their PR people, the River Oaks design is part of a development trend called New Urbanism.  "The mixed use design concept is a traditional neighborhood,"  stated senior Konover VP Stan Glantz.  "It is a return to the 1890s when people walked to the store.  It is very much a return to the days of the early stages of the automobile." 

Being a historian, I don't recall 100,000 sq. ft. Target box stores in the 1890s.  Also, does Target know that only people within walking distance will be going to their store?  If that is the case, why is Konover and the DOT looking to widen Route 10 to accomodate the increase in traffice River Oaks will attract?

Let me be very clear about this.  Konover's sudden embracement of New Urbanism is strictly a PR move to get their River Oaks project approved.  Check out the principles of New Urbanism and tell me if any of them encourage the development of big box stores, large asphalt parking lots, or the widening of roads to accomodate the influx of increased traffic.  Furthermore, how does a 100,000 sq. ft. Target meet the goal of "Human scale architecture & beautiful surroundings that nourish the human spirit"?

River Oaks will not be a traditional mixed use neighborhood.  It is a large, big box commercial development dressed up with a sprinkling of condos and apartments.  The developers of the Shoppes in Canton also promised a "traditional Main Street" development and even hinted that they might have some residential and office space included in their project.  But, lo and behold, when they started building the Shoppes, they announced that due to market demands they needed to build more big box stores and scrapped any mixed-use plans.

I hope Simsbury residents and town officials do  not fall for this obvious and desparate PR move by Konover.  Desginating Route 10 as a Village District and limiting the size of commercial development would be a good first step in truly embracing New Urbanism.  Actually building a neighborhood with the needs of the residents in mind first and not the needs of commercial clients would also be a positive step. 

Stay tuned for more and make sure to bring your boots -- I am sure the PR rhetoric is going to get very deep.


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