Smart Location, Not Smart Development

(Boston Globe, submitted 1/20/06)

January 20, 2006

Boston Globe
letter@globe.com

Dear Editor:

In a 1/18/06 Globe OpEd, "Turning the Corner on Housing Crisis," Office for Commonwealth Development Secretary Douglas Foy wrote that the "market has been a powerful driver of more housing in smart locations." He asked readers to consider "the 'mixed-use' developments -- projects with homes, stores and restaurants, and office and laboratory space all in close proximity -- already in the pipeline..."

His first example was Assembly Square, Somerville. A curious choice. This 145 acre parcel is home to three established big box stores and another five recently opened or soon to open - including another IKEA store. Last weekend, rainy, with the Patriots in the playoffs, the roads to the Stoughton IKEA were backed up for two miles.

Certainly, housing is planned for Assembly Square, but who would want to live in a sea of big box stores, parking lots, traffic, and vehicular air pollution? The Orange Line runs through the site, but does not stop. Bus transit is very limited. Assembly Square big box developers will consider office space only after they have branded the site as a big box paradise, when office space will be a hard sell.

The location may be smart, but the development is not.

Sincerely,

David Dahlbacka
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18-Feb-2007