After-Market Towns in the Suburbs

The Times has a story in its Real Estate section about the self-conscious construction of a town center in the Long Island hamlet of Coram.  It sounds conceptually similar to a development that is now mostly completed in my own vicinity.  It’s a trend.  My main gripe about such after-market urbanism, if you will, is its tendency to produce results that are very aesthetically monolithic when compared to town centers that develop, organically, from the smaller contributions of diverse landowners working on the varied canvases of multiple land parcels.  Also, like ambitious redevelopment projects, the insularity of these after-market towns may or may not cause them to spawn similar development in the surrounding blocks; they may become, simply, islands amid a sea of sprawl.  But, at the end of the day, these projects are moving the building vocabulary of suburbia in a good direction: one that includes consciously planned streetscapes, smaller housing units, walkable blocks, and a vibrant commercial-residential mix.  To that, it’s hard to object.  And so, the conversation goes on.