Monday, July 28, 2008

The grand opening

After a series of errands yesterday, the first of which was to secure some fresh, local fruit from The Farm Patch (they had local peaches - Mmmmm), Dave and I stopped off at the newest shopping center in Bryan. 

This Sunday marked the grand opening of Bryan Towne Center. Anchored by Target and hosting other stores such as Rackroom Shoes, Rue 21, Maurice's and Baskin Robbins (with room for many more), the new shopping center was buzzing with activity. Because it is less than 1 mile from our house, we were able to watch as the trees were torn out, the ground was leveled, and the building progressed. Though I'm not much of a shopper, I'll be honest in saying I was really looking forward to the opening. I feel a little guilty about it - all those trees gone, and did we really need another shopping center? But there are several reasons I'm pleased:
  1. Although I'm not a shopper, these stores will mostly likely bring in restaurants as well, giving Dave and I more dining choices within biking/walking distance to our house (anything to keep us out of the car).
  2. We don't have many shopping and dining options on this side of Bryan. Will the new center mean that others will also start biking and walking some of their errands (rather than driving to the other side of College Station)?
  3. Plans for this center include the future expansion of a road that, when complete, will cut some serious time off our bike ride to the university as well as shopping/dining in that area, making it SO much easier to get around by bike.
Am I being selfish? I mean all those trees, just gone so we can waste more money on stuff we really don't need. Or is this what we should be working towards - shopping areas closer to home, accessible by foot or bike?

I think this is another one of the "in the grey" questions. There's not really a right answer, is there?  Now that the trees are gone and the shopping center is here, I think the ball is in my court - to make responsible (simple, green, and frugal) choices about how I consume; and hope others do the same. 

P.S. Now seriously, what's a girl got to do to get a California Pizza Kitchen in this town? I know a really good spot that's not far from my house...

9 comments:

Joan said...

We've have several of those village type shopping centers anchored by larger stores popping up here. On the other hand if you travel a few miles, you see plenty of store vacancies. They are leaving to lease in the new shiny stores. I admit there are times I need to go to Target etc. As far as eating establishments, we've cut back a lot. I try to frequent independently owned restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries etc. but being a gray area the majority of them are a good driving distance from my house.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

You are very right, this is one of those things that doesn't have one right answer. Yes, it's horrible that the trees are gone, and likely, your town doesn't NEED another shopping center. But at the same time, the new center DOES make your lifestyle easier, which is definitely a positive thing.

I mean, I hate to admit this, but we chose our apartment based on local shopping options. There is a shopping center behind our complex that has a pet store (for critter food and litter), a couple of restaurants, a UPS store, etc. There are also 2 grocery stores and the farmer's market within a 15 minute walk from our place, and the community garden is a 5 minute walk.

Basically, there is nothing wrong with being excited that necessary amenities are nearer to where you live. I hope as you do that this will lead to more and more folks biking over to this new shopping center than driving across town.

eco 'burban mom said...

This is happening right now, down the street from our house. A golf course was torn down to create a shopping center. I am on the fence. The destruction of the property has cause the goose population on our lake to swell to record numbers and we have had deer and wildlife issues on the roads and at neighboring houses. I am guessing from the displaced critters (40 acres of golf course and forest have been demolished). On the flip side, I see a place within biking or walking distance for my soon to be of working age kids to easily find an afternoon or weekend job. Just because we aren't shopping doesn't mean other people aren't. Someone's got to stock the shelves and I would rather my boys work close to home. So, with the bad comes the good I guess.

Heather @ SGF said...

Joan - Yeah, I hate it when business leave big centers empty. They tend to stay that way for years. Thankfully, these are all new stores and didn't leave holes anywhere else in town.

Jennifer - I did the same thing when I first moved back to Texas. I picked an apartment smack dab in the middle (within walking distance) of everywhere I could ever want to go - bank, work, grocery, etc. It was the best place to live. Unfortunately, it wasn't big enough for our family (I went from just me and my dog to a hubby and 3 more pets). The studio apartment just wasn't going to cut it :)

Good for you for having the foresight to look ahead and choose a place that REALLY meets your needs, sustainably!

Eco-Burban Mom - it really is a mix of good and bad, but then the more I think about it, everything is. It will be nice for your boys to be able to walk or bike to work. It also helps the finances :)

CindyW said...

I had a few slices of Californian Pizza Kitchen pizza this weekend. Sure there were a ton of non-local and refined ingredients in them. But boy were they good!

Personally I love neighborhood stores that I can walk or bike to. I like a mixed use neighborhood - some locally owned stores close by neighbors. However Target doesn't exactly gives that neighborhoody feeling :)

So I am not sure about the shopping center you mentioned. On the other hand if the shopping center comprises mostly of small locally owned stores and restaurants, then it may be mostly good news :)

Green Bean said...

Now that's one of the reasons I chose to live where I live - in the SF Bay Area. Here, everything is so overdeveloped already, there are no trees to tear down, animals to displace or sadness to wear me down. It sounds silly but I grew up in an area that was somewhat rural. To go back there now it is unrecognizable. Targets and Costcos and Jamba Juices are every 20 feet.

That said, I'm sure it will be nice to be able to bike places and that is something we all need so we can use less gas, etc. As Joan said, I've seen lots of store vacancies in places further from residences. What can we do with all that empty space? Indoor farmers markets in the winter? Tear the buildings down for a community garden? We need to change the way we think. It will be a transition.

Heather @ SGF said...

CindyW - most of the center is still empty so it's hard to know just yet, but so far it's all chain stores, I think. Some of them I hadn't heard of, but I get that impression. Two of my favorite restaurants are small local places, but they just expanded so I don't see them starting up another location so close to the others. Would be nice though. I'll have to drop a hint next time I'm in :)

Green Bean - my mother says the same thing when she comes back here to visit. It's so different than when she moved from here in 1987. In many ways, however, it's so much better. Though it's far from perfect, people here are more tolerant than they used to be.

Michelle said...

It is already up - might was well make it as frugal as you can!

I was sucked into an online game of "tag". I am fairly new to blogging, so I don't know if this is like the dreaded chain letter or what, but I figured it was a good way to share some of my favorite blogs and you are my most favorite! So, tag, you are it (if you want to be).

Michelle @ www.leavingexcess.com

Heather @ SGF said...

Michelle - thanks for the link to your post. I just checked your site out too (it's great!) and added it to my rss feeds.