I spent some time in a “super” center today. You know what I’m talking about – a warehouse the size of a city block that offers everything you could ever want except automobiles and health care. From an efficiency standpoint, I understand the attraction. These behemoths offer one-stop shopping. Need underwear? Check. Need Bananas? Check. Hell, I could see the bananas from the underwear section. Yikes.
So what’ s the problem? I suppose it’s that these stores are very imposing and poorly integrated into communities. They’re surrounded by massive, non-porous parking lots. Yes, I know, how else are people going to get everything they’re buying home if not in their automobiles . . .
What if these things were built underground instead of on land? While the battle of massive chain stores versus independent retailers wouldn’t be resolved, at least society would benefit from a planning perspective. Could you imagine acres of housing and community space existing above a one-stop shop? Man alive that would be great. Just hit “S” on the elevator and the door would open into the store; carry your supplies upstairs in reusable bags and you’re set. When you’ve finished changing underwear or eating bananas then you could go outside into a community park and walk the dog or catch up with neighbors.
I dream of places that do not yet exist. Nothing practical stands between my imagination and reality but the unwillingness of people to change and adapt. Let’s take these closed car dealerships and factories and turn them into vibrant, environmentally-friendly miniature cities. Let’s start tomorrow.