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Thread: Outdoor mall disguised as a TND

  1. #1

    Outdoor mall disguised as a TND

    Tonight I was switching channels and came across my local Upper Merion township TV, a caption at the top of the tv screen caught my attention, it said "traditional neighborhood development", it was a presentational video of a new TND project in King of Prussia, PA, some guy was talking about a walkable traditional community, a cup of coffee in the neighbourhood, restaurants, nearby shopping, stuff like that, he said, you go 100 miles in any direction and you won't find a place like that, and that he was very excited to be a part of this project.

    When it finished I looked up this project on the internet and it appeared to be nothing more than an outdoor mall/lifestyle center with a significant amount of residential units though. The location of the future "TND" is surrounded by four limited access highways and everything around this site is as unwalkable as it gets, if you live there you will be able to walk to the high-end stores in the restaurants (i imagine retail rent would be very high, it's located next to the K.o.P. mall) and nothing else, no grocery, no pharmacy or anything. So it's basically like living in the mall. They had to go through the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to get rezoning approved. What's the point?

    Their websites do not mention TND, but the TV program used it to market the project to township residents. I think it's very sad, projects like this will pervert and kill the idea in the end.

    http://www.mypinwheel.com/accounts/p...ks/index2.html
    http://www.divaris.com/rereview/valleyforge05.html
    Last edited by javabean; 18 Sep 2005 at 2:19 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    those ugly monstrosities have appeared in michigan too.

    There is one in Novi callled Fountain Walk. It just totally sucks. It saturated the retail market. One of the biggest lease holders is an indoor skate park! imagine that they could not get enough $300 a square foot businesses and they have to rely on that for revenue!

    The other is in Lansing its Called Eastpoint crossing or something similar. That one surprisingly has many of the same stores found in nearby meridian mall. it seems to be healthy, it tries to look old tymey, but in realityt, it just broke up the big parking lot for several small ones.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian cmd uw's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by javabean

    When it finished I looked up this project on the internet and it appeared to be nothing more than an outdoor mall/lifestyle center with a significant amount of residential units though.
    So, would you rather have a clustering of low density residential and a number of strip retail centers developed in a standard suburban design? I think this plan grasps a number of great ideas and is walkable. The majority of the housing product is medium density within close proximity to retail corridors.

    The location of the future "TND" is surrounded by four limited access highways and everything around this site is as unwalkable as it gets, if you live there you will be able to walk to the high-end stores in the restaurants (i imagine retail rent would be very high, it's located next to the K.o.P. mall) and nothing else, no grocery, no pharmacy or anything. ]
    If you look at the plan you'll notice there are many retail pads that could accommodate a grocery store or pharmacy, etc. Where did you conjure up the idea that this plan would not have a grocery store or pharmacy?
    "First we shape our buildings, and then our buildings start shaping us." - Sir Winston Churchill

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by javabean
    The location of the future "TND" is surrounded by four limited access highways and everything around this site is as unwalkable as it gets, if you live there you will be able to walk to the high-end stores in the restaurants (i imagine retail rent would be very high, it's located next to the K.o.P. mall) and nothing else, no grocery, no pharmacy or anything. So it's basically like living in the mall. They had to go through the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to get rezoning approved. What's the point?
    [/url]
    The point is developers build projects that are financially feasible. A lifestyle center boasting successful national retailers and restaurants is financially feasible. A development modeled on a traditional neighborhood that features street shops, mostly on-street parking, and little apartments above the shops is not financially feasible, except in a few places like Manhattan.

  5. #5
    I have to agree with cmd uw. Although the development may not be perfect, particularly that it does not tie into adjoining developments, it is much better than typical suburban retail and residential developments. I think the development community is beginning to catch on to what constitutes a true mixed use project. Hopefully the design of these projects will only continue to get better, more walkable and more integrated into the surrounding development.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Another vote from the "it aint so bad" crowd. It is perfect? No. Is it better than typical power centers next to your average mall? Yep. I would I rather see positive incremental changes in design than no movement at all.

    jtmnkri, nailed it exactly. Folks....TNDs must be financially feasible. Sometimes, it works perfectly. Sometimes, it takes compromises. A pretty TND plan is simply a pretty TND plan unless people are 1) willing to finance it, 2) build it, and 3) use it.

    I am really not worried about pseudo-TND projects stealing the thunder from "real" ones. First, there are no "real" ones, it is all a point of perspective. Second, if the elements "we" like are successful, then the designs will gain traction over time.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by transformer
    Although the development may not be perfect, particularly that it does not tie into adjoining developments, it is much better than typical suburban retail and residential developments.
    But there are lots of real suburban downtowns in the KoP area of the Philadelphia suburbs that in some cases struggle to survive. Norristown, Phoenixville, Conshohocken, and the towns on the Main Line all have true, walkable, urban Main Street districts that run the gamut of underutilization. You can look at this kind of project and say that it's a step up from your typical strip mall, or you can look at it and say that it's a step down from the towns it continues to bleed dry.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I am not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it might not be a real TND, but then again, in today’s society, this might be the next best thing. It does seem to have many of the elements that we would look for including pedestrian access, mixed uses, and the potential for a real sense of community.

    But then again, like Passabout commented there are a lot of real downtowns in the area that could use many of these business.

    I guess I would like to mention that I think that it is more so a perception of downtowns and what they have the opportunity to offer, at what point does it become more cost effective to build new than revamp an existing building, and if you build it, will the shoppers come.

    As bad as this is going to sound, I almost wish that these developers would purchase the land and buildings in a CBD, find temporary locations for the existing businesses within it, close off most of it to traffic, renovate the buildings to meet today’s standards, use infill development to create added space and maintain the street wall, and have a crazy big grand opening. By going through and doing a clean sweep might be the key to change local perceptions of a downtown.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    But there are lots of real suburban downtowns in the KoP area of the Philadelphia suburbs that in some cases struggle to survive. Norristown, Phoenixville, Conshohocken, and the towns on the Main Line all have true, walkable, urban Main Street districts that run the gamut of underutilization. You can look at this kind of project and say that it's a step up from your typical strip mall, or you can look at it and say that it's a step down from the towns it continues to bleed dry.
    What you are complaining about is market saturation and protectionism. The OP was commenting on design elements ("fake" TND design).

    TND is not only about infill. TND is also NOT about stopping new development. TND is about building better greenfield development (not making the same mistakes over and over). It is a recognition that new construction projects are going to happen and it really is simply an attempt to make them better.

    Should Seaside have been built when there were alternatives downtowns nearby? What about Kentlands? etc.
    Last edited by mallen; 19 Sep 2005 at 11:47 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    I am not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it might not be a real TND, but then again, in today’s society, this might be the next best thing. It does seem to have many of the elements that we would look for including pedestrian access, mixed uses, and the potential for a real sense of community.
    Pedestrian access to what?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by javabean
    Pedestrian access to what?
    Pedestrian access from the residential units to the surrounding uses and other residential units. It is far better than some of the ones that are a single use or have the residential component separated from the commercial component.

    There is the potential to live in one of the units and walk to meet friends at one of the restaurants or for one of the other activities. That is something that is not feasible with many of the suburban communities.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    TND is not only about infill. TND is also NOT about stopping new development. TND is about building better greenfield development (not making the same mistakes over and over). It is a recognition that new construction projects are going to happen and it really is simply an attempt to make them better.
    You're right, my complaints are more about the merits of TND in the first place, not whether this is "real" TND.

    I would argue that greenfield projects can and should have pedestrian connectivity with their environment. For another example in suburban Montgomery County, there's another mixed use development called Station Square that's being built near Lansdale. It's on a greenfield site in an outlying township, but within walking distance of the town. As the name implies, it's across the street from an underutilized train station (that currently serves the employees of the single company who's property abuts it). Forgetting the fact that its big sell is its "TOD," as a "TND," I think it succeeds a lot better. Is this infill? The property has been an open field on the edge of town for the past 20-some years, and was probably a farm before that.

    I don't think protectionism or infill are the only options to bolster existing town centers, because I do think greenfield projects can complement and enhance them if done correctly, as Station Square seems to promise. Development in general-- TND or otherwise-- needs to be aware of its surroundings.

  13. #13
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    I think the one thing developers overlook in these types of projects is any reasonable access to pedestrian-oriented transit like a train or rail or even express bus stop. Otherwise, yer still drivin and parking. So in that respect, it is just a cool design for a shopping mall with some apartments. At least it's somethin' tho...

    Has anyone heard of a development in McKinney, TX called something like Brac? It will be designed after a city in Bosnia of the same name. Kind of fun but I think there are still no public transit options.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    As bad as this is going to sound, I almost wish that these developers would purchase the land and buildings in a CBD, find temporary locations for the existing businesses within it, close off most of it to traffic, renovate the buildings to meet today’s standards, use infill development to create added space and maintain the street wall, and have a crazy big grand opening. By going through and doing a clean sweep might be the key to change local perceptions of a downtown.
    But if they did that, then they wouldn't be able to keep "those" people out. You'd have people doing political leafletting, sidewalk preachers, street vendors...all the stuff that makes a real downtown interesting and authentic to real urbanistas and frightening to xenophobic suburbanites. As a society we are relinquishing control of the public realm to private developers who can exert a degree of control over it that city governments cannot.

    I used to work a mile or so north of this, just out of the airphoto. Its about as car-oriented an environment as any you'll find in America. A new walkable environment is rather unique here, unless you count all the walking you can do in the two huge malls. There are busses that stop at the malls, and they could also route through this. Still, I don't think I'll ever be shopping there. The whole elitist way they present the shopping really turns me off. Its just so self-indulgent and narcissitic. I seem to be more and more disgusted by the pursuit of luxury goods as I get older.
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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Looks like all the parking is structured. I have NO problem with it. Seems like it will be an interesting neighborhood. It is up to the town/county to better connect it to surrounding areas, not the developer.

    It could a lot worse: http://www.villageatmayfaire.com/town/tcMapDetails.cfm

    Nothing but a strip of stores centered on a "Main Street," surrounded by acres of surface parking.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    This is a scene from the island of Brac in Croatia. Now that is a place I would like to spend some time in, even if it is a reproduction in Texas!

    See this link for more pics of this beautiful island. See it before the world discovers it and spoils it.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

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    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt View post
    But there are lots of real suburban downtowns in the KoP area of the Philadelphia suburbs that in some cases struggle to survive. Norristown, Phoenixville, Conshohocken, and the towns on the Main Line all have true, walkable, urban Main Street districts that run the gamut of underutilization. You can look at this kind of project and say that it's a step up from your typical strip mall, or you can look at it and say that it's a step down from the towns it continues to bleed dry.
    I agree completely, passdoubt. The TND that I am living in is not walkable, and was built together with a big box mall with a bunch of useless chain retailers (no grocery store).

    Just one mile away, there are several underutilized traditional urban neighborhoods with existing, walkable street grids and main streets. The focus of redevelopment efforts should be there. Many of these neighborhoods are empty, bordering on desolate, yet they have huge potential.

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Pedestrian access from the residential units to the surrounding uses and other residential units. It is far better than some of the ones that are a single use or have the residential component separated from the commercial component.

    There is the potential to live in one of the units and walk to meet friends at one of the restaurants or for one of the other activities. That is something that is not feasible with many of the suburban communities.
    Yes, but, a place is not really walkable if you are limited only to the driveways of the development itself. Can a pedstrian access surrounding areas safely? By safely, I mean not having to walk along high-traffic thoroughfares, and not having to brave an isolated trail through the woods alone. Does a pedestrian have access to more than a 1/4 mile of walkable space?

    Trust me, I am living in a TND and it is probably the least walkable place I've ever lived. We are totally boxed in here - surrounded by 6 lane roads, office parks, surface parking lots and big box malls.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 26 Oct 2006 at 1:45 PM. Reason: double reply

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    Quote Originally posted by california dreams View post
    Just one mile away, there are several underutilized traditional urban neighborhoods with existing, walkable street grids and main streets. The focus of redevelopment efforts should be there. Many of these neighborhoods are empty, bordering on desolate, yet they have huge potential.
    its more financially feasible to built a new develoment than sort out the existing ones...
    cheaper to built new than rehab old buildings, more profit from attractive big box stores etc.

    plus i'm sure some people want to live in a mall!

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    Quote Originally posted by bluehour View post
    its more financially feasible to built a new develoment than sort out the existing ones...
    cheaper to built new than rehab old buildings, more profit from attractive big box stores etc.

    plus i'm sure some people want to live in a mall!
    Some people, indeed, do...Google "Santana Row" and "Bay Street Emeryville."

  20. #20
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bluehour View post
    plus i'm sure some people want to live in a mall!
    Yeah, they're almost as weird as people that want to live on a main street.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    1. This development seems far from ideal BUT if more developments like this are built in proximity to each otehr at some point they may well connect and form something approaching urbanity.

    2. I've been to Phoenixville. Pretty; very, very pretty. Lovely downtown surrounded by nice neighborhoods. Why DO people prefer to live in the crappy new developments compared to there. Can anyone explain this to me?

    3. RE. the pretty town in Croatia. Would your plannign laws even allow such a place to be built ex-novo? Do you think it would do well commercially?
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  22. #22

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    3. RE. the pretty town in Croatia. Would your plannign laws even allow such a place to be built ex-novo? Do you think it would do well commercially?
    Aren't most new towns in Europe built along very similar lines as North American ones?: monolithic land use patterns by single developers (or governments) with rigidly "Euclidean" zoning, but with austere modernism in architecture and plenty of accomodation for private automobiles (albeit, with more transit). There was an absolutely horrible article in Architetcural Record which in passing discussed the planning for vast new neighborhoods outside Madrid. It mentioned 10,000 apartments, no trees, single use zoning, the whole horrible panoply of modernist planning. At least North Americans drape a veneer (a very thin veneer) of traditionalist pastiche over its megasuburbs. There is no humanizing touch at all in the photos I saw of suburban Madrid.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM View post
    Aren't most new towns in Europe built along very similar lines as North American ones?: monolithic land use patterns by single developers (or governments) with rigidly "Euclidean" zoning, but with austere modernism in architecture and plenty of accomodation for private automobiles (albeit, with more transit). There was an absolutely horrible article in Architetcural Record which in passing discussed the planning for vast new neighborhoods outside Madrid. It mentioned 10,000 apartments, no trees, single use zoning, the whole horrible panoply of modernist planning. At least North Americans drape a veneer (a very thin veneer) of traditionalist pastiche over its megasuburbs. There is no humanizing touch at all in the photos I saw of suburban Madrid.
    Just from visual observation, I would say that 50-70% of completely new European developments are simialr to the US in division of uses, road-boundedness albeit with greater density (more expensive land) and, as you indicate, mroe mdoernist buildings at least for non-residential. The NU/TU orthodoxy is beginning to penetrate here too but it's still a minority optiuon. The less grandiose projects (i.e. piecemeal development) are a mix but generally tend to be finer-grained and, in the case of Madrid, say, not too alienating / isolated / car oriented.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  24. #24
          bluehour's avatar
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    Europe has quite a diversity of types of architecture and planning so it is difficult to compare Madrid with Croatia. These things are not centralized by the EU government. Each Nation would have its own planning laws with varying degrees of zoning used.

    TND and New Urbanism have been championed in the UK by Prince Charles and there is a good level of interest and some uptake. As Luca said.

    Ireland has been wholeheartedly following the US model of sprawl with limited use as of yet for TND or mixed use or new urbanism. People are buying into horribly designed 200 house developments so there is no pressure for anything better.

    The Netherlands is a very good place to look for TND and indeed for wacky themed new builds. The Dutch have been doing themed developments since atleast the 1970s. I visited one in Helmond, outside Eindhoven, where all the houses are like trees. Read a great article recently about the success of the massive gov't push for new build towns in the1990s in the Netherlands. One of them was themed to be made up of castle houses with moats-- the Dutch version of a gated community. The article reference is at home so if anyone is interested PM me.

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