The girl and I headed up to Dayton just before the break (mostly picking up rental car #1) and headed down to the new upscale outdoor mall in Kettering, The Greene. We stopped into Potbelly for a bit of lunch before wandering the complex in search of commerce on a hot summer day.
The complex has a whole bunch of mixed-use space - restaurants, shops, central park space, movie theater, offices, and apartments - that makes for an interesting little stroll. It's a stepford sort of planned community with a balance of commercial and non-commercial space that could, in theory, make for an interesting and easy enough place to live and work.
They've got all sorts of things going for them:
- loads of free parking (things that people in real cities lack)
- beautiful, scenic views (of I-675)
- nearby entertainment (the movies, the comedy club - both on site)
- loads of available food (not like that crappy downtown Cincinnati without any sort of grocery)
- a decent enough library
- good schools nearby
- a nearby rec center and disc golf course
- safety-ensuring police force (we saw one cop on a bicycle and one on a Segway - both seemed real nice and friendly)
In all honesty, walking around The Greene made me wonder what's in store for our cities in the future. If we continue to sprawl outward, building ever fancier and fancier mallspaces, drawing commerce from the city centers and leaving behind just empty buildings devoid of tennants, what are we going to have in a few decades? Are we going to end up with dozens of cities just like Detroit where the city is a hollow shell, empty of all but the heartiest downtown residents and nearly devoid of tourism in that formerly glorious heart?
How can we continue to build shopping centers that do nothing but give us more hours to kill and places to spend our money? Will we all end up in the service industry, selling imported goods simply so that in our off hours we can visit malls other than the one where we work to spend those earned dollars?
It was kind of a disconcerting way to spend an afternoon, honestly, when it should have all been about bumbling across the Gem City