I was researching “Paris height limits” the other day. (I’m heading for the City of Light in February – actually, to “La Defense,” the corporate centre just outside the ring road. Like most places these days, it wants to be more ‘sustainable.’ If you have observations or references about La Defense, send ’em along.)
Anyway … the first item up was, curiously, about Washington, D.C. (another low-lying city influenced in its origins by Paris) – a post by a blogger, KWest, who writes A Portable Snack. Says KWest, unabashedly:
Yeah, I’m pro-development.
But not just any development.
I’m pro-dense, urban, well-designed, well built development.
He was writing about his neighbourhood, Columbia Heights, in the U and 14th area, which I covered extensively in Price Tags 95:
I sent KWest a link, and, since he’s particularly interested in the nature of urban retail, he picked up on the question of how the big-box format can fit into an urban environment. On 14th Street, a major experiment is underway:
Columbia Heights is pushing the boundaries of high-density urbanism by incorporating the big box into village-oriented retail – a Target superstore will be joining other chains in a complex opposite the Metro station.
There been a lot of negative things said about the big box retailers coming to Columbia Heights, but as it stands now, everyone in the neighborhood who can, drives to Virginia or Maryland to go to Target and TJ Max, so the local retailers are already competing with them. Why not keep the tax revenue in DC and create more employment locally?
And if that echoes the debate over the Canada Tire and Wal-Mart controversy in Vancouver, then here’s his take on gentrification, with an American slant:
And I always find the “condos for the rich” debate silly: the rich don’t set foot in the city unless they have to; middle class two income government worker couples like my wife and I live in the condos.
In DC, there are a lot of politicians (like Marion Barry), the entrenched old-guard (who I consider the actual “conservatives” in our political atmosphere) who don’t want anything to change because it erodes their power base, who make a lot of political hay by pitting the poor against the “yuppies”, the poor against development, the poor against everything.
Which is ashame, since the tax revenue, jobs, and economic opportunity that development brings will benefit the working poor more in the long run than trying to keep it out. But I’m sure it’s the same everywhere.
Food for thought – though I’m sure people will digest it differently. In any event, I’m adding “A Portlable Snack” to my Favourites menu. Read more »