Forward to the Past

Grapevine Lake project takes aim at the automobile

However Lakeside progresses, it won't get there overnight. If the city approves the project, it will likely take three or four years, as it did at Seaside, to achieve a critical mass of housing. Alan Stewart expects that it will take five to 10 years before construction is complete. Eventually, Lakeside might have apopulation of up to 2,000.

Traditional neighborhood planning won't bring back the Bedford Falls-like hometown so many of us mistakenly search for in today's suburbs. But it could do a world of good toward shaking us free--or at least freer--of our cars, resulting in great gains for the environment, the economy, and our well-being.

And even the aspect that seems hardest to imagine now--the ability to live and work in the same neighborhood-- begins to look feasible if you consider the computer-driven potential for working at home or from remote "telecommuter" offices. Some entrepreneurs are setting up suburban "office hotels" where people can use an office and communicate with their employers and colleagues via fax and modem; such hotels would fit beautifully into the commercial centers of Duany's traditional neighborhood developments.

It will be an especially satisfying irony if it is technology that finally puts us back on the sidewalk.

Mark Alden Branch, a former senior editor of Progressive Architecture, lives in McKinney.

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