A few weeks ago I saw this artist’s rendering of a development in a place called Berlin, Massachusetts:
I skipped past it and the accompanying article a least a dozen times before I really noticed what was being claimed: That this rural/suburban town was becoming a mixed use community. I looked at the picture:
You see it, don’t you? Maybe Berlin, Massachusetts is the new Seaside or whatever, but this is just every bad suburby, sprawly, apartment building built in the last 15 years, but with people superimposed in the foreground mostly doing very stupid things to be doing in what is just the same parking lot we’ve been building around horrible balloon frame and drywall apartment buildings for 50 years.
This inverts what we get in cities, or in Springfield at least.
After the 2011 tornado destroyed one of the most beautiful blocks of 19th century buildings in the city a Boston based developer told us we were going to get this:
And it would create scenes like this:
But what we are actually getting is a CVS:
The same bait and switch happened at Union Station as well. The promotional video promised us an exciting mix of cafes restaurants and shops, see:
With scenes like this:
The reality is a Dunkin’ Donuts, a Subway, and a little convenience store.
I get it. But they knew all along that the most likely outcome wasn’t a Paris brasserie and Lord and Taylor.
Maybe tone down the metro-chic from now on so the difference isn’t so embarrassingly stark.