24 January 2009

Developer's Circle: Dante's Inferno Revisted

Nobody in this town has ever said no to a developer. We spend tax dollars to encourage sprawl, and then it comes back to us as air pollution.
~ Don Steuter

There is a special circle of the Inferno dedicated to developers. Or there would be if Dante had known any developers. I do not think I have yet met a developer I liked. This need to tear down, rip apart and rebuild ugliness where beauty once rested is one I simply do not understand. As a native of southern Virginia, I have watched countless acres of beautiful, rich farmland give way over the years to steel girders, concrete and increased automobile traffic.

Equally, I have seen these same tabernacles to the American consumer fade away. And believe me they do not age with the grace and dignity of a Painted Lady or Federal-style home. No, these monstrosities show forth the truth of what they are: soulless, dirty grey concrete corpses.

This has always been something I have been acutely aware of ever since I was a child, fascinated by the beautiful old buildings in the historic section of town (which is really most of the town) and horrified by the ugliness of the glittering new shopping Mall. Since developers are the masterminds behind these monuments of consumerism, they have returned to the forefront of my thoughts lately because of two experiences I had this week.

I begin to wonder whether developers are shortsighted as a matter of course. Twice this week, at two separate stores, I had to drive around for a long time (one place: forty-five minutes!) to find a parking place. Let us forget for a moment that urban sprawl is intrinsically bad for society and the economy in the end. Let us pretend that I am actually a fan of sprawl. It strikes me that to build over twenty retail stores and restaurants and in turn build only two garages with limited retail parking is, well....stupid. If someone could explain this, I would be most appreciative.

As for all y'all developers: I have two words that will cure you of this dreaded disease you seem to have: STOP IT! ;)

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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