May 10, 2005

Lowe’s Revises Plans … for Charlotte

Lowe's is planning a new store on Rte. 30 in Framingham; and as far as I know, the Planning Board is allowing them to use the same old big-box, suburban-sprawl sort of design that has made the Golden Triangle an aesthetic nightmare: unattractive, car-oriented and incredibly pedestrian hostile. Even when sidewalks exist, the streetscape is unpleasant (no one wants to walk by endless asphalt parking on one side and 4 lanes of whizzing traffic on the other side, with no attractive screening on either side). Although one Planning Board member urged Lowe's to site their new store at the street, instead of set back with the parking in front, I don't think any other town officials joined in.

Pity. We're losing a major chance to begin the process of transforming Rte. 30 to more of a park-once, walk-to-many-destinations boulevard. Instead, it's just another tangle of parking lots with no sense of place.

In Charlotte, N.C., meanwhile, the Charlotte Observer reports:

Lowe's has made substantial changes to its plans for a home improvement store on South Boulevard....The plans also move the garden center to the South Boulevard side of the store, next to a new 5,000-square-foot retail building that could house a coffee shop, a deli or other types of neighborhood retail. As in the previous plan, the store would still have parking on the roof and be lined by up to 60 condominiums.

The store will also include a pedestrian entrance on South Boulevard.

Here in Framingham, meanwhile, the main post office doesn't even have a pedestrian entrance, or pedestrian walkway from the sidewalk to the door; you've got to walk through the parking lot to get there. And the Lowes will make things worse, since it will knock down the old New England Telephone building that at least presents a decent front to the street.

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