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Monday, April 8, 2013 01:46 pm

Pedestrian design

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that a company that runs stores called Country Markets built a new one in the middle of Springfield that sits on the street like a roadside vegetable stand. In March, Steve Patterson, a St. Louis architect who blogged about the project at UrbanDesignSTL, criticized the indifference the new store shows to pedestrian shoppers. I heartily endorse Patterson’s gripe, because they echo the complaints I made when the project was announced in 2011.

The City of Springfield, recall, fronted the firm a fifth of the project's cost in TIF money. In my column A double shot of urban-type feel I noted that local planning and development agencies in cities across the country set the parameters within which developers may work as a condition of their getting TIF money. The object is to shape projects so they add to their neighborhoods and not only to the city’s tax roll. As was reported by the SJ-R’s Dave Bakke,they didn’t even try.

Honestly, it’s enough to make a grown man weep sometimes. When the officials responsible for the built environment assume that a city has no right to expect developers to add something to it in return for the privilege of taking money out of it, jobs creators become town destroyers.

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