Sears at Landmark Mall: all dressed up and nowhere to go.

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We’re all aware of the abysmal condition of the national corporation Sears Holdings Company and its two flagship department stores, Sears and Kmart. I’ve covered both numerous times. For the last decade, the parent company, in a desperate attempt to induce profitability, has shed its lowest performing locations, one after another. But none are well-performing, …Read more…

Petworth: where the development climate is anything but Frosty.

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In a district of rapidly escalating land values, the natural tendency is for extrusion. Buildings start to stretch upward, growing taller and taller to cram value into a patch of land that, even absent an edifice, is worth a lot. Despite the legal limitations to building heights, Washington DC still demonstrates this phenomenon perfectly. It is a …Read more…

Pedestrian upgrades: best intentions aren’t always enough to make the grade.

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As pedestrianism intensifies and its strongest advocates promulgate the newest and best practices, we predictably witness compelling or examples well beyond the big-city antecedents. Not surprisingly, we witness the same incremental improvements in accessibility for persons with disabilities, often in tandem with pedestrian upgrades. This should come as no surprise: after all, sidewalks should serve …Read more…

How parochial can public education get?

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Though it sits on a prominent corner in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington DC, this repurposed old school building doesn’t hold a candle in opulence to some of the neighboring churches on 16th Street: It’s unlikely that many would consider it an ugly building, though I suspect historic preservationists would pull their hair out …Read more…

Delaware Water Gap: a landmark border crossing or simply a pretty place to pay a toll?

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Within the lower 48, one the humblest of great border crossings is the Delaware Water Gap, separating Pennsylvania and New Jersey.My use of an oxymoron—“humblest” coupled with “great”—is deliberate. Because in most respects (certainly from a flatlander like me) it’s a geographic marvel, yet, outside of the surrounding region, little evidence suggests that it’s a …Read more…

Murals for Mayberry. Or Peapack-Gladstone.

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Over the last decade or so, we’ve witnessed an explosion of murals on the blank sides of buildings. Not surprisingly, it began as a largely big-city phenomenon, most prominently in Philadelphia, whose Mural Arts Program has achieved international recognition for the time, effort and artistry expended on these majestic, multi-story tableaus. (It has also spawned a …Read more…

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