Sunday, July 19, 2009

Isn't This Era Over?

I visited a developer's website today looking for information on a new local PRC (Planned Retirement Community). The following image is from their featured project, a 55+ community on Long Island (company's name removed):

When is this era going to be over? I see about a thousand things wrong with this picture, and I'll detail the most egregious:
  • Isolationism, in this case for retirees. The project is geographically isolated from anything besides other homes, and some light industrial uses. It has no amenities whatsoever within comfortable walking distance, despite the website's bragging about how close residents are to "one of the most picturesque waterside villages on Long Island".
  • Density, in an awful way. The project places 174 units on 28 acres, or 6.2 DUs per acre gross, far denser than the typical for Long Island. The project replaced a single light industrial business and some virgin forest. This places approximately 300+ residents about 1.7 miles from a downtown and 2 miles from any supermarkets. At least most of them are no longer commuting, as job centers are much, much further away.
  • Deceiving arguments to dupe locals. In a 2002 article about the zoning charge from industrial to residential, the developer argued that "the development would reduce commercial traffic" as homes instead of as the larger industry that could have replaced the smaller one on site. Great argument - instead of the 50-100 workers commuting to and from work generated by the would-be new industry, we have 174 units with upwards of 300 cars leaving all day long to: go to work, go to the supermarket, go to the doctor, go to the drug store, go out to dinner, go to a movie, go to a play, go to the beach, etc., etc., etc.... but I bet that's still less than the one industrial business would have produced.
  • Concern for the pedestrian falls short. Even though there are "public spaces" and walks for residents around the lakes, there are absolutely no sidewalks along the "streets", which are really parking lots. Good thing nothing is nearby - even if it was, you'd have to hike across the asphalt.
  • Cookie-cutter architecture. All white, three unit types, all buildings almost the same size... does it get worse than this?
  • Blatant Photoshopping!!! You'll have to take my word since I do not want to reveal the location, but the subdivision entrance road does not disappear into green as shown - the two lane local road leading to the neighborhood is only about 100' southeast of the lower lake, and should run diagonally across the lower right corner of the picture (the lower right homes in the picture back up to a small buffer along the road)
Oy ve - I feel sorry for the isolated seniors who bought into this at the height of the market - what's going to happen if, God forbid, they can no longer drive?


  1. Howard,
    I read this today perhaps you've already read it,
    It's interersting that Poundbury is portrayed as a "phony film set" by this particular architect but comforting that the Prince of Wales exhorts the profession to "look back, learn from the past." Old cities, good ideas!