December 27, 2005

Big Box vs. Walkability

Toledo, Ohio is running into a major conflict between planners' vision of a pedestrian-friendly village for the Westgate section of the city and Costco's desire to build a store in the area.

"Mayor-elect Carty Finkbeiner ... urged Costco Corp. and the plaza's owner to look nearby for an alternative site for the big-box store," the Toledo Blade reports. "The store and accompanying smaller buildings run contrary to the 'shopping village' concept advanced two years ago by "Walk Westgate," a consultant's report that suggested reconfiguring streets and allowing denser development to support small businesses and a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere."

Note that Finkbeiner isn't trying to turn Costco away, but hoping they'll look for a site in the city that's better suited for such buildings. A representative of the plaza responded that the Costco will be built keeping Walk Westgate principals in mind.

Interesting how the debate there has shifted to what types of stores and development will best create a walker-friendly village atmosphere, instead of still arguing whether such pattersn are better than sprawl. I wonder if there's any chance planners will get to that stage when discussing development along Rtes. 30 and 9 in Framingham/Natick....

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