Fake cities to replace real cities?

The WSJ had a fascinating story yesterday about the rise of mini-cities as a means by which to combat sprawl.

Even though these faux downtowns contain tinges of suburbia, they’re taking advantage of a growing backlash against the sprawl that rings Dallas and other U.S. cities. The reaction began in the 1980s with the rise of New Urbanism, a movement of architects and planners calling for a return to traditional towns where people work, shop, live and play.

They are describing, in many ways, Albemarle Place. More on Albemarle Place’s development here.

Might Albemarle Place’s “New Main Street” supplant Charlottesville’s Main Street? Doubtful, but … they are nothing if not ambitious.

It’s the New Urbanism — a high-energy environment mixing private elegance with a wealth of entertainment and shopping options. Simply step outside your door onto pedestrian-friendly Main Street. You’ll find all that makes this community special: mountain views, a vibrant night life, specialty boutiques as well as convenient shopping within a single town center.

Mighty bold. With rising construction costs, rising interest rates and a general market cooling, how will these designs pan out?

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5 Comments

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  2. Dennis June 4, 2006 at 20:55

    Yea, I read that article. These faux cities have positives and negatives. I would suppose that its easier to build the modern conveniences when starting from the ground up. But on the converse I hope it doesn’t cause us to remove resources devoted to our older city centers.

  3. TrvlnMn June 4, 2006 at 21:30

    I’ve heard the “live, work, and play” theme tossed around with these types of developments, but I really don’t imagine that there will be too many of the minimum wage food and retail employees that will be able to spend upwards of 250k for a condo at one of these places. So I guess that proves the lie to that slogan.

    Dennis, for my education… what sort of resources do you think they might draw away?

  4. Dennis June 6, 2006 at 22:31

    Well, I think that revitalize our older city centers require attention and money. Will these new city centers draw our attention away from rehabilitation of our older buildings? I am thinking along the same lines of how suburbs created an exodus from our older cities.

  5. TrvlnMn June 8, 2006 at 00:45

    Well, I think that revitalize our older city centers require attention and money. Will these new city centers draw our attention away from rehabilitation of our older buildings?

    That’s a fair concern. However in my opinion that’s an issue of will it draw private resources away from urban revitalization projects. Since I don’t think revitalization projects are (or should be) an active function of government. I think there’s been too much investment and ‘value’ put into the ‘city centers’ for private investment to walk away.

    If it has an impact any place at all it might be to slow down the ‘gentrification’ of some of the traditionally lower income neighborhoods, (which if the real estate bubble is deflating a bit might happen anyway) and then in cville with the issue of affordable housing always being discussed that might not be a bad thing.

    And again if it has any impact, it will be in further traffic headaches and commercial/retail business competition along the 29 corridor.

    In my personal experience of these types of developments they tend to have no more effect than that of becoming yet another new shopping area. And I’m always puzzled how Cville can manage to support all the businesses it currently has.