DEVELOPMENT AND LEADERSHIP FOR CREATING WALKABLE MAIN STREET VILLAGE
The Walkable Main Street Village may be a proposed project best developed by a group of local citizens who form a cooperative and a coalition that includes existing business owners of this defined area, downtown merchants, residents of the downtown apartments and other interested residents of Garland Texas. That’s a sizable group of folks. We all share some common goals of making this area healthier and more attractive--doing so is in the personal best interests of all these people. Together we could make this project happen and in such a way that it won't cost millions in bond issues and other expenses for taxpayers.
The realization of this vision could become an example that might be followed in other areas of our city as well as in other blighted urban areas across the USA.
Documents associated with this proposed project:
Explore a growing body of knowledge about an exciting ongoing project to create a plan for building a vibrant sustainable mixed-use neighborhood!
Visit the "Sustainable" tab of Lovinggarlandgreen.org.
This project is proposed to leave things in place in the area and to build around them. Furthermore, this project is dedicated to preserving as much of the currently existing green space in the area as possible. One of its purposes of this project is to promote urban agriculture and the value of a local plant-based economy. Yes, plants can support industry and new businesses. In fact, plants and urban agriculture are among the few sustainable ways to grow local economies by actually creating new locally-based products and developing local sustainable markets for these new products.
Commercial builders do not make their money by preserving green space.
What most commercial developments in the USA do is to bring in chain stores to the local area, encouraging local residents to buy goods they often don't need and even go into debt to purchase. Most of the money local citizens spend for these goods is sent overnight on a daily basis to the corporate headquarters where these chains are located. The lion's share of the money earned by these places does not remain to be recirculated within the local economy--some studies indicate as little as 15% of all the money taken in by these chains remains in the local economy. As for the jobs provided by these chain stores: by and large most of these jobs do not pay a living wage. The commercial builders who create these retail centers make their money by building concrete and steel structures and laying down asphalt and more concrete on the ground and then charging rent to the chains who put in their businesses in these places. Often this translates into using cheap construction materials and unsustainable designs with little or no green space.
As far as I'm concerned, we need to stop supporting these unsustainable business practices that tend to harm, not help, the majority of local populations. We need to turn our focus to projects that are truly local in nature and that will support local economies as a priority as opposed to supporting business entities who are not anchored in the local economy, who give lip service with minimum wage jobs and who build concrete and asphalt expanses that ultimately pollute local groundwater.
What we don’t need for the Walkable Main Street of Garland Texas is another slick commercial/retail development. This Walkable Main project offers something new and entirely different. Among other things, it offers sustainable connectivity to people already living and working in and within walkable distance of the proposed area for development.
The proposed area for Walkable Main Street already has more than its fair share of concrete and asphalt. We hope to add as little as possible of those unsustainable materials to this area. The only new buildings proposed for this area would primarily include the following:
1) Residential with the addition of approximately 30 to 50 homes—all at 1000 square feet or less (the size all but one of the homes currently in this area). These homes would be clustered in groups of 10 on a lot sharing common green spaces and built according to the sustainable design principles of architect Ross Chapin’s pocket neighborhoods. Any parking spaces associated with these homes would be made of permeable surfaces such as crushed granite.
2) There would also be a few farm buildings associated with at least one urban farm proposed for this area in part of the currently available space between Austin and State Streets.
3) Perhaps the addition of one locally owned walkable grocery store might be included. However this walkable grocery store could be located on the downtown Garland Square in one of the vacant storefronts and thus reinforce walkable connectivity between the Walkable Main Street Village and downtown Garland. This would not be styled after a modern convenience store but more along the lines of the old time grocery stores in look and feel—a style and charm similar to the interior of Roaches Feed and Seed of a bygone era—a style more in keeping with the exterior of the store fronts around the square. Perhaps it could even be established as a neighborhood cooperative.
Furthermore, we believe the preservation of a large part of this green space is important not only for the people who might move into the area as residents, it is also essential for several 100 residents currently living and slated to live in the urban apartments being built for our downtown area only a block away. Currently the people living in the downtown area of Garland have no green space of any size within walking distance of their apartments. This area is largely one huge expanse of concrete—not exactly designed for healthy living. Walkable Main Street Village would provide a walkable connection to green for them. It might be interesting to do a study that calculates how much usable green space is available within walking distance to all the residents and proposed residents of downtown Garland.
The careful development of Walkable Main Street Village as a sustainable mixed-use area with an emphasis on preserving and enhancing green spaces—especially using them for the development of urban agriculture—is a path that will help all (both economically and physically) who live and work in this area. In fact, this area would also be beneficial to all the people living in the DFW area because of educational benefits that could be provided to visitors regarding urban agriculture and sustainable living within an urban environment. This is a unique and huge opportunity available to us here in Garland. It will be interesting to see the direction, if any, that the development of this project will take.