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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Orthodox Heresy: How "American" is mixed-use, anyway?

I can't resist. Reid and I have an ongoing debate about urban development. While we are probably closer to agreement that we sometimes realize, we do have our differences.

This whole Wal-Mart thing is a good case in point. Wal-Mart has proposed to redevelop an abondoned mall on a very rough area. Their proposal involved the city of Avondale Estates annexing the land that the mall is on, which would have given the city the tax revenue.

Unfortunately from what I can tell, middle-upper class white people in Avondale Estates voted down this proposal in the name of "smart growth". This decision was stupid for two reasons. The most immediate reason is that Wal-Mart will now go directly to the county for approval. Chances are pretty good that the county will approve this, resulting in the Wal-Mart still being built, yet with Avondale Estates getting none of the tax revenue.

Secondly, while the upper-middle class white people of Avondale Estate would rather have a quaint "lifestyle" center that is more New Urbanist in nature, the majority lower-middle and middle class black people in the area would benefit much more from the Wal-Mart.

I am not a shill for Wal-Mart (in fact I hate Wal-Mart because of the poor customer service) but I recognize that they fill a great need, particularly in lower income neighborhoods.

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