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St. Louis’ THF Realty Creating Anti-Pedestrian Sprawl in Colorado

Billionaire & Wal-Mart heir Stan Kroenke’s development company, THF Realty, is continuing to create more sprawl across the land. This time they are taking 2,000 acres of Colorado farm land and converting it to a generic wasteland of big boxes, massive streets and boring office parks.

To appease critics the project includes an 80 acre wildlife area for eagles. The remaining project will be a devotion to the automobile. The most glaring example is the last sentence from the following from contractor RG Brinkman:

“The Buckley Road Street Improvement consists of constructing 2 miles of major arterial roadway to connect the north end of the Prairie Center site to the south end. Buckley Road is an essential connection of the new residential construction occurring south of the Prairie Center project. This new construction includes all necessary utilities and paving required to serve the retail portion of this site. A pedestrian underpass with a skylight also is being constructed to allow for access to the future school.

A pedestrian underpass for the kiddies!?! Wow, that sounds really appealing — a street so challenging to cross we must put pedestrians underground. I can’t imagine spending $500 million destroying 2,000 acres and at not at least making it so people can walk from place to place without having to duck under roadways.

I found this quite telling as well:

The mass grading for the Prairie Center project consists of the mass overlot grading for a 250 acre commercial section of property. Approximately 1.5 million cubic yards of material had to be moved in order to provide the required elevations for the building pads and parking lots for the Prairie Center project.

That is some serious earth moving. But when you are plopping down 100,000sf big boxes with parking you just can’t keep natural grades like so many small town main streets.

If such a development was created fifty years ago or even thirty years ago I might understand, most planners just didn’t know any better back then. But in the last 20 years we’ve seen the rise of alternatives to this commonplace sprawl in the form of New Urbanism. THF Realty must know of New Urbanism and the concepts of making developments accommodate both pedestrians and cars. It just seems they ignore good planning in favor of continuing the old ways.

Additional Information on Prairie Center:

  • St. Louis Business Journal
  • Prairie Center overview
  • New Home depot (w/pictures)
  • Additional Information on alternatives to THF’s typical sprawl:

  • NewUrbanism.org
  • Congress for the New Urbanism
  • New Urban News
  • Wikipedia encyclopedia
  • Sierra Club on sprawl
  • EPA on Smart Growth
  • Smart Growth America
  • Project for Public Spaces
  • Remember, “this land is our land.” We are the ones that should determine the fate of our built environment. Will it be sprawl as usual or will we return to places for people?

    – Steve


    Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

    1. Smart thinking — no one has ever been mugged or raped in a pedestrian underpass before.

    2. Jim Zavist says:

      In this case, it’s not quite fair to “shoot the messenger”. Blame the local politicians. The sprawl on this edge of Denver is being driven by the almighty search and battle for sales tax dollars, along with a new freeway interchange. THF is building what the local officials planned for and want. It ain’t pretty, but like big boxes everywhere, it going to generate some serious new tax dollars.

      THF is in business to make money. If they didn’t build here, another developer would (see above). Conversely, if new urbanism is what the local citizens and their officials want and are willing to push for, then a developer will build that product (see http://www.belmarcolorado.com).

      Developers do not act in a vacuum. Voters elect officials who hire planners to create a community vision. If anyone slacks off, yes, developers will go for the lowest common denominator (aka maximize the return on their investment). It’ really quite simple. The bottom line, literaly and figureatively, is that developers are in business to make money, and if more money needs to be spent to satisfy local concerns AND the project remains profitable, it will be built. Make it a “non-profit” operation, and it will get no further than the talking stages!

      [REPLY – The elected politicians setting the vision sounds good but just isn’t the case in our region. The only vision they’ve set is to let developers do as they please. Vision through lack of vision. The general public is not fully aware of alternatives to typical big box sprawl so they don’t even know to ask for it. I have no problems with a developer making a profit, just how they make their profit. – SLP]


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