Dec 15, 2022·edited Dec 15, 2022Liked by Addison Del Mastro

I lived in Cary in the 1970s through the 1990s and saw a lot of that growth. It may not look like it now but Cary actually pioneered the idea of mixed-use development. Kildaire Farms in Cary, started in the 1970s and planned in cooperation with the town, was the first "planned unit development" community in North Carolina and possibly the south (excluding the NOVA area). At the time it was very innovative, a mixture of housing types and retail all in one development. It was still car-based, but innovative for the time. Unfortunately the original developer went bankrupt and the new developer did more "normal" suburban patterns to finish it out but in the older parts you can still see mixed housing, generous common areas and recreation amenities, and retail within walking distance (though the road the retail is on has become a stroad so not recognizable as the original vision). It's my sad observation as a fan (and former homeowner) of that community that most people seem to prefer the normal suburban pattern. Even people who live in the older mixed part live like they are in a sprawly suburb, seldom using the amenities near them and usually driving to more distant shopping, dining, parks, etc.

Cary has since hosted many subsequent planned unit developments, each successive one looking more like what we identify as sprawl today than the previous. Developers build what people want and the failure of the original Kildaire Farms developer was seen by other developers as a cautionary tale.

Now the pendulum may be swinging back as new urbanist developments are popular, however in my observation while they are attractive their commerce areas are mostly boutiques and not useful for day to day life and commerce, and their residents still have to drive other places for most of their daily needs like groceries or eating out.

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Yeah. I saw an article saying this area isn't an unplanned sprawlscape but rather a sort of accidental blurring of a lot of distinct planned communities. Kildaire Farms sounds a little like Reston, where I live in Fairfax County. It was sort of a proto-New Urbanist attempt, and while some of the land use is superior to standard suburbia, the underlying notion that people would live and work within the community never panned out.

Today one of the issues seems to be that New Urbanism has become popular but also watered down (by developers, not by the actual New Urbanists), so a lot of what people see called New Urbanism is far below the quality of the real stuff.

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