Tuesday, November 23, 2004


An' Another Thing

Like Weymouth, I think the New Station Landing development in Medford, MA ( http://www.bankerandtradesman.com/pub/4_153/residential/188727-1.html) is another classic example of smart growth mislabled as new urbanism. Like I said in the previous entry(http://newurbanprogress.blogspot.com), there has to be some distinction. New urbanism is smart growth, but smart growth is not new urbanism.

In this case, I would say that New Station Landing is a vast improvement over a suburban office park, or strip mall, but it seems like its going to fail miserably with housing choices. Note all the "market rate" and "quality high end residential" comments within the article. This development isn't even pretending to cater to the middle class. With no mention of affordable housing, it leads me to believe that there will clearly be no low-income units, or affordable housing units with a price cap.

Housing choice, as in the mixture of housing types that welcome a true array of incomes is a CENTRAL tenet of new urbanism. Moreover, the single income monoculture that might result from such a development will drive up real estate prices around this site. The end result is a very posh development with little to no environmental impact (smart growth), but a less than diverse urban population (new urbanism) that makes good places great.

I'm not completely against gentrification. In fact, I agree with new urbanism founding father, Andres Duany, that gentrification needs to happen to some extent so that developers and investors will make money back on their investments and the neighborhood remains stable. But to me, this development is another upscale project that will price out the lower and middle income members of what is now a working class community. Let's not forget Jane Jacobs. Diversity makes great streets, blocks, neighborhoods, cities, and regions.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Station Landing development is another exciting example that developers in New England are starting to "get it." But, who is going to live over those retail shops on the lower floors? Not the shop owners and employees. -Mike

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