'Main Street' development accused of being not Main Street at all
The proposed "Tuckahoe Main Street" mixed-use project in Southampton, New York — 10 percent of which would be residential — is being called a mall in disguise.
On suburban Long Island, a developer's plan for a $30 million, 12.4-acre project — including a supermarket, 14 other stores, 7,000 square feet of offices, and a dozen apartments — has touched off a dispute over whether the project deserves to be designated as a "planned development district" (PDD), which would allow it to overcome current zoning.
The developer, Robert Morrow of Southampton Venture LLC, told the Town of Southampton that PDD status is appropriate because what he's proposing is "mixed-use." But critics see the 12 apartments (six of them affordable) as falling far short of justifying the project as either "mixed use" or "Main Street." The Suffolk County Planning Commission said "labeling the requested new zoning at the site as 'mixed use' is 'dubious,' because only 10 percent of the proposed floor area ... is dedicated to residential use," The Southampton Press reported Aug. 11 in an article available here.
Eric C. Cohen, in his "Sag Hampton" blog, available here, said the project is "basically a strip mall with some apartments, greenery and sidewalk cafes thrown in as window dressing." Cohen contends that "this is not a Main Street in any traditional sense of the word," noting that its dominant feature would be a 474-space parking lot. He argues that local governments are abusing the PDD process — giving developers permission to undertake projects that have nothing in common with a community's values and needs.
The PDD process has also been under attack in New Haven, Connecticut, where Yale University this year got the City to approve a new School of Management building that many consider at odds with the residential neighborhood it abuts. The New Haven issue is covered is a New Haven Independent article available here.