The Changing Tides of Calhoun

So, as I’m sure lots of you’ve heard, another makeover to Calhoun Square is
in the works. The press release came across our desk just yesterday, along with
the artist rendering above. Frankly, I can’t pretend like I care much
about it today …

But here’s something I do find interesting: A few months back, while reading about the anniversary of Southdale’s opening (it’s the nation’s oldest mall, which
you probs already knew), I was reminded that the place was built by a total commie, Victor
Gruen, who so loathed the social isolation of suburbs, such as Edina, that he
sought to fix ‘em a proper town square. Of course, the reality is that these
shopping centers are too cold (as in: beige) and too manufactured to ever
achieve the organic, hand-made feel of a public meeting spot, such as our downtowns. Turns out, sunshine and fresh air are more important
ingredients than first imagined.

Which is precisely why I live in Uptown. Of course, the neighborhood
has plenty of haters, but it’s still the most walkable in all the T.C.
I’ve got three grocery stores within a quarter mile (which is, perchance, the "walkability"
threshold). I’ve got the lakes. I’ve got some of the best clothing boutiques
(Ivy and Local Motion) within three blocks, an upstanding new shoe shop (Luna Soles) around
the corner. We’ve got decent restaurants. One of them happens to be Chang Mai
Thai
, and that joint is on the biggest eyesore of a street (Girard) I’ve ever seen. So, I’m happy to see Girard will get a boost, in any case. I’m also happy to see an attempt will be made to make the mall better "integrated
to the Hennepin Avenue
streetscape." But still, I’m skeptical. The best neighborhoods aren’t
created by real-estate developers; they’re made by people. As I see it, it’s an
ugly, vicious circle we’re now operating in: the homogenizing influence of corporate
culture has infiltrated our homiest, most historic neighborhoods while, some time later, they started making facsimiles of the best ‘hoods (only with plenty
of parking). Bah!