Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How One Parking Garage Exposed a NIMBY's Ulterior Motive

The Piazza is getting a new parking garage, you know, right around the corner from that other parking garage. Despite easy access to SEPTA's Girard Avenue El, Northern Liberties residents seem deeply attached to their cars. And neighbors already turning a blind eye to heinously bizarre street parking juxtaposed against fantastic architecture seem more than willing to accommodate suburban traffic as long as there's a place to stash their beloved Priuses.

A new parking garage on land that can accommodate one may seem benign. Despite Northern Liberties should-be proximity to Center City (Spring Garden really is just a few blocks from Old City), it's been an island since I-95 was built. But residents' lack of reaction to more parking exposes neighborhood groups' own hypocrisy and what they really expect of the city.


At the height of the building boom, numerous high-rises were proposed along the river. So many so that they could have created a densely urban neighborhood on par with West Market Street. 

What happened? 

The neighborhood bitched and moaned about shadows and access to the river until the economy collapsed. Then they all retreated west of the interstate to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. 

Well fuck that noise.

These NIMBYs didn't give a shit about shadows or river access - something that still only exists in Penn Treaty Park, a park never threatened by development - but were only concerned with potential urban density that threatened their precious parking spaces.

If Philadelphia wasn't afraid of being Philadelphia, this could have happened.
I guess I just can't grasp the new urban mentality. The mentality of those somewhere between suburban and urban. By the time you've accommodated all the ills that make the suburbs so intolerable you've created a microcosm of those suburban ills: parking structures, parking lots, and a sprawling lack of density.

By then, you've killed your neighborhood and turned it into Ardmore without the charm.

As cities grow - and Philadelphia is growing - that means taller buildings, more people, and less parking. That should be exciting to anyone living in a city. You can't move to a city, applaud yourself for being an urbanite, and then turn around and expect your Starbucks drive-thru. You have to learn to enjoy the urban experience. 

If you don't like it, well, that's why New Jersey exists.

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