Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Allen has that Dallas doesn't.

***Originally posted March 30, 2010***

Someone told me about a dog park in Allen, TX located in the middle of a strip mall parking lot, and I was determined to find it. It turns out it's not so much a strip mall as a modern day towne square.

Towne squares are commercial and social areas within a civitas that are used for community gatherings. An example of a traditional towne square would be Downtown Denton, which features a historical building surrounded by various shops and restaurants. Allen, TX is the modern day example, exemplified by the Allen Events Center (http://www.alleneventcenter.net/) the centerpiece within the Village at Allen (http://www.thevillageshopping.com/index.html).

As the traditional market square is surrounded by shops and restaurants, the Village at Allen consists of big-name stores like Best Buy, Toys 'r Us, Tjmaxx, Super Target, Petsmart, and Dick's Sporting goods, among others. But it's not just an oversized mall! There's a kids' playground, fishing pond, park area, and canine commons. Hiking and biking trails are yet to come. But wait there's more! The Allen Avents Center is home to the Allen Americans, farm team for the Dallas Stars, and a weekly concert venue.

Other cute features include ease of automobile entry, but difficulty in exiting. They stole this idea from Las Vegas, where the walkways and carpets are labyrinthian, designed to keep you in as long as possible. To their credit, it works wonderfully. Restaurants, on the other hand, were few and far between, literally, as the food court is a short car ride away.

What I like about this is that the planners take full advantage of bringing people to an area and having them spend money. What I don't like is that Dallas has nothing of this sort, with the exception of Victory Park, which has plenty of its own problems already.

The West Village is very nearly this civic ideal. It features a mix of commercial and residential space. They made sure the restaurants have plenty of porch space to take advantage of our great weather. There are a always people walking around. What the West Village currently lacks is an area for community gathering, a place to enjoy the neighborhood without having to spend money, the streetcar notwithstanding.

Now that Hank Haney's Driving Range has moved, a large plot of green space is currently available for development. I await my disappointment when a large crane is put up in the middle of this land and a fortress of condominiums is erected upon it.

What would it take for Dallas to have a legitimate towne square? How about a Washington Square Park? Imagine someplace to walk your dog around, a destination to take your sweetheart, a place for tourists to go and not remind themselves of the assasination of a certain united states president.

Why can't we have an Allen Event Center?

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