A power center turns over a new leaf, only to find more grubs.

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About a year ago I explored one of the few retail typologies that seems to be growing in prevalence during this turbulent era: the power center. It’s essentially the only physical construction that suburban retail developers are building these days. And they usually look like little more than a strip mall on steroids—which, apparently, is …Read more…

Luring us back to the center, by whatever means necessary.

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After crossing the Thames River along Interstate 95, speeding westward past the compact, archetypically New England central business district to New London, Connecticut, a visitor will encounter an exit ramp leading directly to the city’s economically recovering downtown. Generally speaking, this should be the preferred trajectory for those of us obsessed with old town centers. …Read more…

Taking luggage to a whole new level.

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It’s hard for me to believe that I can offer anything about the New York High Line that someone else with a better knowledge base, commitment to the city, or insider’s connections hasn’t already said. It may still rank as the country’s premier greening of formerly neglected space in the past decade—a worthy successor to …Read more…

Where the sidewalk (investment) ends.

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As remarkable as it is to witness the revitalization of historic downtowns in cities of varying sizes throughout the country, it’s hard not to remain cynical when looking at how these transformations fit within the life cycle of American cities in general. Sure, many of our city centers command more interest and generate greater economic …Read more…

Back-of-the-envelope navigation.

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As I try to increase my volume of monthly blog posts, I owe it to both my readers and myself to bring back something I used to do regularly: a mini-post, which for me amounts to something less than 1,000 words. The fact of the matter is that I often try to write less, but …Read more…

When your domain is compromised, how do you take the high road?

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The impacts of government policies can be subtle, far-reaching and antithetical to their original good intentions. Identifying examples of this is part of my duty as a blogger. Sometimes, though, the evidence of a policy is right there in your face…called out by the person most affected.   This former home in Greenfield, Indiana (about 20 miles …Read more…

Parsimonious (but potent) pedestrian provisions.

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If you don’t have the money to make it aesthetic, at least you can make it functional. This seems to be mentality that Hoboken, New Jersey, America’s most walkable city, endorses in some of its streetscape improvements. Considering the high median incomes of this city of over 40,000 people per square mile, it’s a bit …Read more…

Dethroning the top brass.

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When it first opened in 1997, local and regional media acclaimed the Brass Mill Center of Waterbury, Connecticut for transforming a long-blighted, desolate, contaminated old industrial site. And, considering that the retail hub replaced an expansive collection of derelict buildings visible along Interstate 84, it probably improved Waterbury’s image not just to its natives but …Read more…

From the highest rooftops, a call to gimme shelter.

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The urbanist blogosphere is chock-full of rants on how new developments compromise pedestrian connectivity—not so much in terms of the final product (where I’m equally guilty of such tirades), but even during the construction process. These days, most mid-sized and large metro areas are gorging on the fruit, born from seeds planted long ago, through …Read more…