Omaha Developer Sells “Walkable Main Street” of Parking Lots

This development in Omaha is being as a "walkable" "Main Street." Image: Lockwood Development via Strong Towns
This development in Omaha is being billed as a “Main Street.” The white space is parking. Image: Lockwood Development via Strong Towns

As the downside of sprawling development becomes better understood, some developers are getting better at greenwashing sprawl.

Here’s a pretty great example from Omaha, Nebraska. Charles Marohn at Strong Towns came across a story about Lockwood Development’s new office park in the Omaha World-Herald. And he was so taken aback by the disparity between the rhetoric and the actual design, he had to write about it:

It uses all the current buzz words….

Mixed use. Redevelopment. Independent living. Walkable. Main Street.

Do those words mean anything? Sadly, Omaha’s Sterling Ridge Development — a so-called “Main Street” concept — is not even a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a wolf in wolves’ clothing.

My favorite quote from the article, where words are simply objects with no real meaning, is this one: “The architects said the idea is for the multipurpose campus to be a walkable community where people work, live, play and worship.”

How quaint.

Fortunately, Marohn says, World-Herald readers seem to see through the flowery language. “This is not a ‘Main Street’ scheme,” wrote one. “It’s an office park defined by vast stretches of surface parking.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Wash Cycle shares a great new video explaining how protected bike lanes are changing the way people get around in American cities. Exit 133 reports the epic urban-planning battle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses will be turned into an opera. And Bike Portland says a local animal shelter is refusing adoptions to folks who plan to bike their new pets home from the shelter.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

It Just Got Easier for Cities to Design Walkable, Bikeable Streets

|
We probably haven’t seen the last of engineers who insist on designing local streets like surface highways. But at least now they can’t claim their hands are tied by federal regulations. Last week, the Federal Highway Administration struck 11 of the 13 design rules for “national highways” — a 230,000-mile network of roads that includes many urban streets. The rule change eliminates […]

The Regions With the Most Potential to Build New Walkable Development

|
To get the economy humming again, America’s metro regions need to build more walkable places, according to a new report from a coalition of real estate developers. The report from LOCUS [PDF], a group of developers and real estate investors who specialize in building walkable projects, examines which regions are seeing the fastest growth in walkable urban […]

How Parking Permits Can Improve the Politics of Walkable Development

|
Residential parking permits are often referred to as “hunting licenses” because while they grant permit holders the privilege of parking on the street, there’s usually no limit to how many permits can be issued. If there are more permits in a neighborhood than available on-street parking spaces, there’s still going to be a parking crunch […]

All the Best Places in Cleveland Are Illegal Under Its Current Zoning

|
Cleveland’s first zoning code was written in 1929, and since then it’s been amended in ways that have eroded the walkability of the city. City leaders acknowledge that building compact, mixed-use neighborhoods has basically become illegal under the current zoning code. But in an exciting development, Cleveland is looking to overhaul its regulations to make the city a […]

What To Do When Main Street Is Also a State Highway

|
Like thousands of small towns across America, Jena, Louisiana’s main street is also a federal highway: U.S. 84. That’s actually been a positive thing overall for this town of about 3,000, which relies on passers-by for business. Until recently, U.S. 84 was simply a two-lane road through Jena’s historic downtown, indistinguishable from any other road, […]

MassDOT Mistake: How Not to Rebuild Main Street

|
This op-ed was written for the Berkshire Record, where it is being published in two parts, last week and this week. John Massengale is co-author of Street Design, The Art & Practice of Making Complete Streets (Wiley & Sons, 2013) and New York 1900, Metropolitan Architecture and Urbanism, 1890-1915 (Rizzoli, 1983). He is an architect and urbanist in New […]