Editor’s note: This post was written back in July of 2005, then promptly forgotten about before being published. It was rediscovered in October of 2006, spellchecked and posted for your enjoyment.
It seems logical that density is good and sprawl is bad. There are many reasons for this, including reduced energy use. However, when one hears about developments such as East Village – Las Vegas, one can’t help but be struck by the disconnect between logic and our actions. East Village is yet another lifestyle complex that offers a mixture of retail and office space. Some also offer residential space, but that does not appear to be the case with East Village.
One of the most notable features of the graphic portraying an overhead view of East Village is the ample parking. It appears that the parking lot is going to take up more space than the development. Why is it that so many people find such novelty in these types of fabricated communities–so much so that they will drive their cars there and walk through the parking lot with the Las Vegas sun beating down on them–but will not seek out real, existing communities like this to live in?
Once in a while, I find myself in Topeka on business. Topeka has a downtown area that is well maintained, pedestrian friendly and pretty much deserted. With the exception of a couple establishments, if one wants to find some real variety, one must hop in the car and drive several miles on the highway to Wanamaker Road. This area of town has many of the finest chain restaurants America has to offer. They all have ample parking too. So, the residents of Topeka are pretty much guaranteed to have the same dining experience as someone who lives in any of the other areas of the country with a dead or dying downtown area, or no downtown at all. Yes, I like to bash chain restaurants. At least with all the staff training these corporations give, a chain restaurant dinner might have a fighting chance if they choke on their 28 ounce steak.
I hold Topeka up as an example not because I dislike Topeka, on the contrary, I find it quite sad that what infrastructure that might have existed in years past to support a downtown area has been largely replaced by highways and cookie-cutter retail outlets built on cheap land.
Is this what people really wanted? Perhaps. But, if it is, why do people enjoy visiting lifestyle complexes like East Village so much? Is it just for the novelty? After all, many people enjoy theme parks, but it is doubtful that they would want to live in a place where guys walk around in animal costumes all the time. Well, maybe some of them would…
Graphic lifted from curbed.