Loudoun: Planning for the Creative Class, or Repelling It?

Loudoun County’s economic success depends upon its ability to attract members of the so-called creative class, County Administrator Kirby Bowers said during his State of the County speech yesterday. Accordingly, the county needs to address quality-of-life issues that appeal to these knowledge workers. Writes Megan Kuhn in Leesburg2Day:

Persuading knowledge workers to live in Loudoun is not just about the price of housing, Bowers said. It’s about, “Is Loudoun a cool place?” he said. The development of mixed-use centers with entertainment and nightlife is essential to attracting such coveted workers.

There are “cool” places in Loudoun County, but they are very small communities — Leesburg, Middleburg, Waterford, Purcellville — and they can’t absorb the thousands of knowledge workers flocking to the county. Indeed, the urbanized newcomers threaten to swamp and destroy the village-scale coolness exists in the county. Meanwhile, new development takes the form of scattered, disconnected, low-density development that is the antithesis of “cool.”

As creative-class guru Richard Florida explained it, creative workers value places with diversity and authenticity. Demographic monocultures — subdivisions of houses inhabited by nuclear families in the same income range and age range — do not provide diversity. Disconnected pods of houses and shopping centers, accessible only by car, do not lend themselves to the kind of spontaneous street art and personal interaction that Florida celebrates. Sterile office complexes set in isolated parks — what Florida labels “nerdistans” — are not the kinds of places where creative young people want to work.

Virtually everything that I’ve seen built in Loudoun County in recent years is calculated to repel the creative class. People may continue to move into the county because so little housing is being built anywhere else in the Washington metropolitan area, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t move somewhere else if they had half a chance.

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32 responses to “Loudoun: Planning for the Creative Class, or Repelling It?”

  1. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    “People may continue to move into the county because so little housing is being built anywhere else in the Washington metropolitan area, but that doesn’t mean they would move somewhere else if they had half a chance.”

    I think you mean “would NOT move somewhere else” and if that is what you meant, you are spot on.

    “Cool” is one thing, “Cool and Balanced” is another.

    A quite a few more could live in the nice, cool small enclaves that exist in Loudoun County if they lived IN them (inside the Clear Edge), not outside of them on 1, 2, 5, 10 or 20 acre lots.

    But most of the creative class is not looking for that sort of “cool.” If they were they would be in New Mexico, Colorado or Montana.

    What Loudoun County needs to do is work with Fairfax County to rebuild eastern Loudoun and adjacent western Fairfax into Five Balanced Communities: Greater Leesburg, Greater Ashburn/Broadlands, Greater Sterling/Cascades, Greater Reston and Greater Chantilly.

    These places could accommodate all the creative class citizens who might be induced to move into the National Capital Subregion for the next 30 years.


  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “creative class”

    places for the creative class to work


    places for the creative class to

    or places for the creative class to

    or places for the creative class to work,live and play?

    just curious…. 🙂

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Florida came to Richmond to discuss the Creative Class a few years ago.

    There are no new public schools built, the jail is still in shambles, and we still have the most regressive minimum water rate in the nation, but Richmond ‘leaders’ still think our most pressing need is a new arts center.

    The meals tax raise is still in place despite the lack of referendum.

    If you do not know what I am talking about, please take the time to read SaveRichmond.com and the longest running thread on RichmondCityWatch.com.



    If you are from elsewhere in Virginia and think you should not concern yourself with this, I urge you to rethink- it is the VIRGINIA Performing Arts Center that these fools are talking about.

  4. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    What a bunch of hogwash!

    This is yet another attack on The American Dream and the American family! The whole “gee, the suburbs are so uncool, un-cultured, bla, bla, bla …

    Gosh, what a surprise, twenty-somethings fresh out of college and mostly single aren’t drawn to a suburban home and suburban family lifestyle!


    Holy cow!! Stop the presses!!!

    My – – how “enlightened” we now are.

    Folks, hurry!!! We urban planners “gotta” change our human settlement patterns QUICKLY or we will miss out on “attracting” the “Creative Class” (do you hear the sound of a choir of angels growing louder in the background? Do you see the bright white LIGHT flooding your computer monitors?)

    Business lobby & their Developer “pals”:

    – I tell ya, it’s a =GASP!= C-R-I-S-I-S!!! We – must – cater – to -the (said in hushed tones of reverance and awe – – -THE “Cre-a-tive class.”

    Althogether now –

    Ohhhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhh!

    Like I said – what a load of manure we have being spread around.

    The “we need more taxpayer subsidized “amenities” crowd are salivating at their latest marketing campaign Talkin Points.

    By golly, this scam is a WINNER!!! Wa-hoo!


    I’m throwing the B.S. flag on this one.

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Ed, You are quite right, I meant “would NOT move somewhere else.”

    Anonymous, Richmond leaders might have thought of the Performing Arts Center as a magnet for the creative class, but Florida made it very clear that SOBs (Symphonies, Orchestras and Ballets) were not what attracted the creative class. Creatives are drawn to nightclubs, theaters, art galleries, festivals, concerts and other spontaneous, from-the-ground up “street” culture.

  6. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Reid, I didn’t hear anyone say we need more taxpayer-subsidized amenities. Permitting — not mandating, mind you, just permitting — mixed use, pedestrian friendly development wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

    It’s fine for you to prefer traditional suburban-style development. No one on this blog is talking about outlawing it. As long as a portion of the population wants to live that way, there’s a place for it. What I can’t figure out is why you’re so hostile to anything BUT traditional suburban development.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Frankly this blog really needs to move on from all this pop-sociology “Creative Class” crap. It’s been around for several years now. You don’t have to be gay, wear earrings and live in a gentrified, inner city townhouse or loft to be “creative”

  8. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Jim Bacon:

    The answer(s) to your question of Ried is (are) clear:

    One, Reid knows only one US of A Household in four meets the criteria for being a classic “SUBurban” household.

    Two, he knows that upon carefull anaysis the settlement pattern in not conducive to reasing children. See “A Yard Where Johnny Can Run and Play.”

    Three, he understands that he is being heavily subsidized and few could not afford the full price of disaggregation if costs were fairly allocated.

    Four, he is sure at some point someone will ask him to pay his fair share and so a good defense is a good offense.

    Five, he has invested so much in defense of the American Nightmare that he is prone to protest to much.


    It is all three and much more, but you know that.


  9. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun


    I completely appreciate the intelligence of allowing the free market to offer variety in the marketplace to serve different “tastes”. I am a member of the CBDA (Central Business District Association) of Virgnia Beach. I work with the VBDA (VB Development Authority) to help plan for multiuse, high density urban development as a option in my city – a largly suburban city. The most populated city in Virignia I mighht add (435,000 residents).

    I have been involved in Workforce Development for decades – I am a former member of the so-called “Creative Class”. I have been a technologist for all of my adult life. I have lived the life of a single male, developing bleeding edge solutions and working – – whatever – – to get the job done, the new toys built – operational, and optimized.

    Now, I am older. married. I have a family. I love the suburbs.

    I am standing up for the terrific lifestyle suburbs offer.

    The “Must Change Human Settlement” crowd of “enlightened” sages have an agenda to demonize the ‘burbs”.

    I reject that agenda.

    I also understand the whole “government subsidized amenities” scam going on between well-connected Deevelopers and the folks they pay to install into government, especially the “planning” roles.

    Trust me – the mantra of glorifying the “Creative Class” is embraced by the Deevloper Class as a terrific marketing tool to justify their quest for taxpayer subsidized “amenities” that will increase the value to their planned urban developements.

    Who pays for the street festivals?

    Ultimately .. that taxpayers.

    Who pays for the Performing Arts Theaters?

    The taxpayers.

    Who pays for the socalled free “public parking” decks? The taxpayers.

    Next, the Developers build “losts” for the “Creative Class” – “Lofts” is a marketing name for NO PARKING PROVIDED.


    The “free” taxpayer funded parking decks are soon filled with the residents of the urnab development “Lofts” – you know, especially built to “attract the Creative Class” – the so-called “trendy, upscale, urban life style…bla, bla, bla…

    Jim, it is a scam to enrich Developers and stick taxpayers with countless costs as these “Public-Private Partnerships” become the “norm”.

    And those that are appointed to the planning entities are magically folks in positions of power from banks, developers, builders, and those that make their profits off of exploiting urban development.

    Meanwhile – the urban is great (calling themselves “sustainable development”) crowd jump on the band wagon!

    Wa-hoo! it is a marriage made in heaven – both camps bashing the “burbs” as passe, and – non”creative”.

    Bla, bla, bla…

    Jim, it is s cookie cutter strategy being used across our nation – a strategy to use tax funds to subsidize the profits of politically connected developers, bankers, law firms, and urban planners.

    Frankly, life in affluent suburbs in nice neighborhoods beats crime filled, crowded urban living any day of the week.

    The “Creative Class” is just another marketing strategy to try to revive the economically failed urban centers. The small living spaces and high rents are the reason smart folks fled to the ‘burbs in the first place.

    The urban Liberals and their quest to force “multicultural diversity” upon everyone was the icing on the cake.

    No thnaks.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Take a moment and read this article in The Post;

    “Breaking Free of Suburbia’s Stranglehold”

    Families Simplify Lifestyles in Quest for Meaning That Constant Hustle Obscured


    Is Loudoun County really an example of The American Dream or is it The American Nightmare?

    At the end of the day it’s not cheaper, closer, or more fun to live in Loudoun County….it’s marketed and sold in those terms but that’s not the reality.

    I have just one question….are the gates around all of those “gated” communities there to keep the yuppies in or eveyone else out?

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I was hoping someone else had already read the “breaking free” WaPO article…. which, I think was a load…

    like Reid.. throwing the BS flag..

    the article was about the “terrible” quandry of trying to maintain a very expensive gated community lifestyle in Loudon, and trying to figure out each month where the mortgage payment was going to come from..

    and the solution.. .. why, of course, a cheaper non-gated subdivision .. in … quess where?… Loudoun…!!!

    where they still commute to their NoVa jobs…

    I too like Reid… get a whiff of weird odor from the concept of a “creative class”….

    I’m reminded by the country folks I know.. who… are “in touch” with Mother earth as well as it’s critters.. and raising kids AND crops.. bluegrass music, REAL home cooking… mending clothes… watching snakes slither across front lawn… possums in the attic… and funerals where gospel songs are sung…

    and then I realize that these things are not real to the “creative class” because in their minds.. these things are the Waltons and it’s just a rerun TV program…

    I’ve recommended it many times.

    When you need to take a trip – give yourself a 1/2 day extra – and get off of the interstate for half day or so.. and see how real people live beyond the urban regions and their commuting suburbs.

    and then if you’re brave (or stupid or both) .. swagger in to the local eatery and ask what part of town the “creative class” lives….

  12. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Reid, You make a number of valid observations. I would just ask you to distinguish between Richard Florida’s theories about the key role of the creative class, and how well-connected elites use his theories to promote their own agendas. (And please note, while I think Florida has many valuable things to say, I’ve been highly critical of his latest book.)

    As for the suburbs, what can I say? I live in the ‘burbs myself because I have a nine-year-old to consider. I hope to move back into the city, but not until he’s out of the nest.

  13. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Anonymous 2:42 p.m.: I’ve been tracking the “creative class” theory far longer than most. The first edition of Bacon’s Rebellion almost five years ago featured a book review of “The Rise of the Creative Class.” I also reviewed “The Flight of the Creative Class” far more negatively. Bacon’s Rebellion has served as a forum for exploring the issues raised by Richard Florida. We are not salivating, Pavlovian fans. But we also acknowledge that Florida offers valuable insights.

  14. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Jim, yes – [heavy sigh] … there is a “Creative Class”. As I wrote, I was once one of them. I also agree that our nation is a better nation if we foster opportunities that will encourage creative individuals to join our communities – and hopefully, breath new life into existing the existing “status quo” regional economies.

    See EMR, I used the “regional economies” lingo. Hopefully you are pleased by that grudging nod to the validity of the theories of “regions” as the new “competitive economic engines”, replacing anachronistic political subdivisions and “sovereign” political entities often created when our nation was still an agrarian economy.

    Yes … migration from agrarian economy – to mass production – to WWI & WW II – to mass consumerism – to the birth of the car – to the birth of the ‘burbs – to the death of rotting core “inner cities” – to failed “urban renewal” policies of the ‘70s – to “greed is good in the ‘80s – to outsourcing and “undocumented labor in the ‘90s, to the prayer that the US can corner the market on “knowledge workers” – while the replacement of our manufacturing base migrates to a non-sustainable service sector economy . . . at least “sustainable in the sense of maintaining the standard of living once enjoyed by a prosperous and hard working, productive middle class

    You see Jim, what we have today is far too often a stacked deck in each metro-region, with the entrenched and institutionalized “players” attempting to control the “board”. I’m referring to the entrenched “business leadership”. The breed of politically manipulative wealthy elites that view the “Creative Class” as new sheep to be shorn to enrich and “sustain” their place in the peaking order on the top rungs of the local business ruling class “ladder” – their “right” to live in their pampered life of privilege and luxury.

    The push to promote and foster the growing myth surrounding the “Creative Class” has been eagerly embraced as a terrific new sales pitch to be exploited to justify more “multi-use, upscale, urban redevelopment”, euphemistically (nod wink) called “revitalization”. Wa-hoo, bring on the “brown field” urban renewal! Let the local “housing Authority” whip out that “power of eminent domain” card and “assemble” large “tracts of land” for well-connected “partners” from the “business community”. Whip out that public debt “credit card”, and have the local IDA or EDA “float” hundred of millions on new tax free bonds to “encourage” “new development”. Bring on the trendy “new development” that will “attract” the “Creative Class”. The Developers and land speculators (and money lenders and major law firms) are licking their chops; salivating at the prospect of reaping massive “ROI” by buying up low rent, decayed sections of failed urban experiments – slapping on a coat of fresh paint, laying down new laminate ‘hard wood’ floors, and bringing back the late ‘50s to mid ‘60s post modern “chic”. Add some glass, some new lighting, and taxpayer subsidized “street scapes” and “parking decks” – and the “old money” smiles as they sit back, spinning their webs on the golf course and “closing the deal” on their boats – or their “summer homes”, far from the prying eyes of “the locals”.

    Yup, smiling coyly while they fleece local taxpayers so they can continue reeling in more obscene profits – all the while living high on the hog, wining and dinning the local government “leaders”. Courting whatever passes for “culture” in their local metro-region. My what good “Corporate Citizens” they are – see how much the “donate” to local “arts”? See how they “promote” a welcoming and enticing “environment” for the “Creative Class”? My, how altruistic they are – such “Community leaders”. The form regional organizations and hand each other “awards” to “recognize” their “contributions” as the “give back” to “our community’.

    Of course, for “investors” they are counting on the next generation of “Creative Class” to provide the energy and innovation that will enable the existing power structure to remain “on top” – as I said, controlling the board. They form regional organizations to “foster Entrepreneurship” – they float their money as the source for “Capital to “fund the Creative Class”. They leech off their dreams of exploiting the “Creative Class” because they know they no longer have the drive, the knowledge, or the will – to compete on their own innovation. No, they now have “sage wisdom”. They understand that all they need do is “pick the right horse”, and when “their horse” (members of the Creative Class”) crosses the finish line first with some new wiz-bang technology or “must have” idea – they will reap the profits. Sycophants living like bloated remoras, sucking the life from the innovative and energetic “Creative Class”.

    The upscale “retail leaders” smile, early anticipating their “well deserved” profits from selling “stuff” the soon to be wealthy “Creative Class” – more consumer luxuries, more expensive cars, more large screen plasma TVs, homes, lofts, more “upscale” stuff. Cash registers will keep ringing – and the local status quo business “leaders” will have the “sustainable” economy they so depend upon – because, secretly, they know they don’t have what it takes to actually compete on their own anymore – or to develop innovation from their own tired and last generation backgrounds and thinking.

    Ah yes, exploiting the “Creative Class”, one of the last gasp hope of the entrenched Status Quo to stave off any true competition – and any eventual loss of their “dominant local market share”.

    My, how “enlightened” they are for “helping” the “Creative Class” to “proper”. For “creating a place” that will be the “right environment” to capture the next source of new ideas to be exploited, the next source of “talent” to be infused within their local “business community” and the “region’s economic engine”. Ahhh, the energy of youth. The “cool” that only twenty somethings with “bright futures” can exude. Certainly that is a legitimate reason for using tax funds to capture such a “vital” spark for jump-starting stagnant “economies”?

    The humor is that while this scenario has played out for generations, elites fool themselves into believing they have “discovered” something “new”, LOL!

  15. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    very good post.. Reid..

    I’ve got many not pretty thoughts about this concept but suffice to say… I don’t think this is an idea that unites us as a society that equally values all individual contributions…. and the danger is that this is politically exploitable.

    .. this appears to me to be little more that crass classism..and I do wonder if this kind of thinking has anything to do with the Private schools/voucher idea.

    .. is it equal gender/diversity opportunity but classism?

  16. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    To All –

    Bright, talented people who are
    driving the new, cutting edge
    technologies want to live in areas
    that have a sense of place.

    Those people are a driving force in
    our economic success.

    Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colorado;
    Charlottesville, Virginia and
    Portland, Oregon attract these

    The outer suburbs around the Greater Washington DC Metroplitan
    Area has tough challenge trying to
    offer in their communities the
    quality of life found in the above
    mentioned cities.

  17. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Perhaps a good job for the Creative Class would be to take the lead on figuring out what we need to do about transportation.

    That way. .they could clearly demonstrate their superior intellect…

    I’m also waiting for the creative class to form their own political party.. I’ve got some mottos..

  18. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse


    I agree with Larry, good post!

    I am pleased that you have been prompted to refine your thoughts rather than just belittle those who suggest that there is reason to question SUBurban settlement patterns.

    You make a number of good points but none challenge the need for Fundamental Change in goverance structue to achieve functional democracy at levels and with powers that reflect contemporary economic, social and physical reality.

    Your points also do not challenge the need for Fundamental Change in settlement patterns.

    The Business As Usual types, as you point out, are skilled at using the latest buzz words like “creative class,” “new urbanism” and “transit oriented development” to line their pockets and thwart the emergence of governace structures and settlement patterns that make citizens happy and safe.


  19. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    yeah.. the thought crossed my mind… Who IS .. responsible for putting together transporation and land-use nirvana for the Creative Class?

    Is this supposed to be a minion army of planners and engineers toiling away to meet the lifestyle needs of the “Creative Class”?

    Dumb me.. I thought the Creative Class was going to do all this work…


  20. Anonymous Avatar

    and what about adding “a sense of place” to the list of all-time stupidest phrases….

  21. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Bursting out laughing at work, coffee came out my nose when I read this:

    and what about adding “a sense of place” to the list of all-time stupidest phrases….

    Too funny!

    P.S. EMR, I will get back to addressing your points when i have some free time, after work …

  22. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “sense of place”

    yeah.. I hear about this all the time.

    Town meetings in Farmville… SW Va, outer kookamonga.. all about citizens in crisis… want to know what has happened to their “sense of place”.

    I think in one place they found the answer… the county had discretely scattered green boxes around the county thus depriving the Saturday social time at the county dump…

  23. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    To The Bacon Crowd-

    A sense of place 1s a unique location or a setting with distinctive or unusual geographical, historical or
    architecutral features and qualities that humans find a
    unqiue connection such as:

    -the National Mall, Washington, DC
    -Colonial Williamsburg, VA
    -Blowing Rock, NC
    -Concord, Mass
    -Sedona, Arizona
    -Cannon Beach, Oregon
    -San Francisco, California
    -Portland, Oregon

  24. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    What is the legitimate role of government in using taxpayer money with regard to “sense of place”?

    I don’t see that item on the annual country budget…

  25. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Roger, you write that a “sense of place” is:

    . . . a unique location or a setting with distinctive or unusual geographical, historical or
    architecutral features and qualities that humans find a
    unqiue connection . . .


    But what we have now is the “must change human settlement” crowd and their ‘friends’ in the taxpayer-subsidized development crowd thinking they can “B – U – I – L – D” such “places”.

    It is the notion that they can fool the “Creative Class” by building new “Town Centers” that will attract the “Creative Class”.

    It’s like building Disney World or Busch Gardens facades and attempting to pass them off as “historical” features. You know .. a “sense of place”?

    Rich Developer 1: “Yupper, I can build a place with a “sense” of unique history. I’ll slap on some “unique” architectural facade – you know, like the chich gay community-look I saw when we all took that taxpayer funded junket to “study” Greenwich Village in New York? Man .. those Broadway Shows were okay, but remember those strip joints we went to off Times Square?

    I’ll buy out that poor section of our city and replace it with a new areas those doopey “Creative Class” kids will flock to. We’ll convert that old factory we used to have into one of those … wadda they call ’em? Raves? You know, where the kids go to dance all night, do drugs, and score a piece of …{deleted} before they stager home in the dawn’s early light??” Man .. I wish I was young again.

    Banker “friend” #12: “Oh .. Oh …(excited) I’ll float the bonds – how’z $1.3 Billion sound? Let’s see, $1.3 Billion times 6.6% interest – yeahh babbby! Now your talk’in! Momma’s getting that new Mercedes – and I’ll finally get that 256-foot Morgan sailboat I’ve had my eye on. Sweeet? Who wants to go sailing?”

    City Council Member “Friend”: Gee … we can finally move those unsightly poor people out of our Town Center. Good. So, how much more tax revenue will I have to spend once this is all done? I’ve got a lot of votes to buy. So, how much will my support net me in my next campaign?

    Rich Developer #1 and Rich Banker #12 smile and say together: “More than you can spend brother, .. more than you can spend.”

    City Council member laughs and says: Are you sure?! We all know how good I am at spending other people’s money.

    All: Burst out laughing.

    They order another round – the Banker and City Councilman knowing the Developer will pick up the tab.

  26. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Larry, for the most part, there is no legitimate role for government in creating a sense of place. The main thing the government can do is get the hell out of the way. Government destroys sense of place through zoning codes that mandate the soul-less development pattern that prevails across so much of Virginia — strip shopping centers, residential areas as demographic mono-cultures, buildings surrounded by seas of parking lots, streets designed for the movement of cars to the exclusion of pedestrians, and everything tucked away in disconnected pods.

    Virtually every developer of a major project that I have talked to is keenly interested in creating a sense of place. Their challenge is overcoming barriers and obstacles imposed by zoning codes and government regulations. Over time, individual homeowners and property owners, left to their own devices, will embellish the vision of the original developer. That’s why the greatest places often are the oldest. The single greatest neighborhood in Richmond is the historical district of Church Hill, whose St. John’s Church goes back to the time of Patrick Henry’s give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death speech.

    To those who find “sense of place” to be a laughable phrase… Here’s Wikipedia’s definition: “The term sense of place has been defined and utilized in different ways by different people. To some, it is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not, while to others it is a feeling or perception held by people (not by the place itself). It is often used in relation to those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as to those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging.”

    Key words: “foster a sense of authetnic human attachment and belonging.” It’s an intangible concept but it’s very real. A sense of place is a big part of why people will pay twice as much money per square foot to live in a house in Georgetown or Old Town Alexandria rather than a tract house in the suburbs.

  27. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Jim Bacon –

    Good posting about the critics of
    my useage of the phrase “sense of

    All across Virginia, Norfolk’s Ghent, Williamsburg, Richmond’s Church Hill, the Charlottesville’s Mall,
    Fredericksburg’s downtown and great neighborhoods, Abington, Staunton’s historic districts,
    Arlington’s Shirlington and Alexandria’s Old Town offer us
    neighborhoods, downtowns and
    special places with a sense of
    place, a historical connection
    with who we are.

    A great failing in many parts of
    Virginia is that new construction
    and developments over the last 50
    years have not built upon our
    architectural history and sense of
    place – they have destroyed it in
    some ways.

    Those writers who decry our sprawl,
    but then find a “sense of place”
    to be a laughable phrase are using
    a double standard to express their

  28. Anonymous Avatar

    I wrote the post about “sense of place” being a stupid term. I hope Reid Greenmun didn’t make too much of a mess when the coffee came out his nose.

    The term has totally been hijacked by the developers. How can Reston Town Center, which looks like a movie set, which has the same Gap, Banana Republic, Williams Sonoma, Talbots, as every other “town center,ever have a “sense of place?” It could be anywhere. And it is everwhere.

    Personally, I’d take Maple Avenue in Vienna any day. It reminds me more of Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park than some fake “urban living” development in Fair Lakes.

  29. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    To All –

    Paragraph 2 – (7:16 am posting) …
    “the Charlottesville Mall,” should
    read “Charlottesville Mall,” …
    sorry about that.

    I do not agree with you at all
    anonymous (12:24 p.m.)… consumer demand is driving the development of mixed-use projects with town centers ..not some ploy by developers …for such projects are create livable communities.

    There are not enough Maple Avenues
    in Virginia to meet our growing
    needs …. thus the need to build
    new projects.

  30. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    To All-

    Paragraph 2- (2:54 posting) ….
    “for such projects are create livable communities..should read “for such projects
    create livable communities.”

  31. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    There’s a place in Fredericksburg known as the 2400 Diner.

    I can tell you flatly that this is not a haunt of the “creative class”.

    Years ago, there used to be a place called the Paris Inn in Fredericksburg – ironically right next to the train station that is now a VRE stop for the “creative class” and believe me – the Paris Inn would not suit the folks today who think they belong to the “creative class”.

    My point is that a “sense of place” is, as the correspondents have pointed out, not a constructed fascade…

    Members of the Creative Class would call the 2400 Diner and the Paris Inn.. abomindations that should be torn down and replaced with something “cool”… and hip.

    In my mind.. the Creative Class is really.. in thin disquise.. sons and daughters of Yuppies…

    and their idea of a “sense of place” is very.. very different than say.. a guy who has lived 35 years in Farmville…

    it’s a totally bogus concept ..

    in the CONTEXT of the discussion

    you don’t design and build things that provide a “sense of place”

    Folks of that mindset would tear down the 2400 diner and replace it with a “Cheesburger in Paradise” and then call it a proper “sense of place”… for the Creative Class.

    geeze.. I can’t believe my generation was THIS stupid.. when we were this age…

  32. Groveton Avatar

    This creative class babble is making about as much sense as the clear edge and the new urban areas.

    What do the members of the creative class do? What jobs do they hold? I keep getting the mental picture of Maynard G. Krebs reciting poetry while snapping his fingers and listening to bongo drums.

    Somebody said something about technology innovation. Then somebody said Austin or Charlottesville or Portland.

    For technology it’s really the valley in SF. From San Amteo to San Jose. That’s still the hottest technology creation area in the US. By orders of nagnitude. Austin is nice, Portland has promise and Charlottesville is getting started. But a quick drive down 101 past Oracle, Seibel, Stanford, HP, Xerox, SUN MIcrosystems, Silicon Graphics, Yahoo!, Google, Cisco and many more is quite an experience. You just have to wonder …. how did they do this? How did they make this miracle?

    I believe the valley is a combination of good universities (Berkeley and Stanford specifically but with support from schools like San Jose State) coupled with a strong business environment in SF and Oakland and some very smart regulations by government. For example, California’s virtual prohibition on enforcing non-competes keeps the technically creative class attracted. Finally, there is a mature set of money boyz (the Sand Hill Rd crowd) who really know how to get from concept to start up to company to pay day.

    And here’s the best part ….

    There’s nearly no sense of place at all – at least not in the valley. Bascially towns with some sururbs running down 101. SF is interesting but quite a hike. Half Moon Bay has scenery but it’s a bit of a run as well.

    Mostly, it’s just the opportunity to do cool work with cool people at cool companies and maybe make a lot of money if you get lucky. That’s about it.

    So, where does Virginia stand with this kind of issue? Pretty much up manure’s creek without a paddle. Our major universities are all in the wron places. They are in rual and semi-rural areas without a scale business community. Our scale business communities – NOVA, Richmond, Tidewater don’t have the universities. This dispersal has led to an immature venture capital market. Finally, the bonheads in the legislature routinely pass the laws requested by the company managements rather than the people they employ.

    It’s just plain broken.

    The fix it plan:

    1. Pump money into George Mason and Christopher Newport. Vast majority of money spent on process and systems engineering.

    2. Tie these universities to local employers. Combine the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology with George Mason.

    3. Apply for federal grants in the areas of telecommunication, systems engineering, biometrics, optics, sensor networking, etc.

    4. Scour the state for top math students aset up a loan program so that they can borrow money sufficient to attend school.

    5. Establish a mandatory one year intern program where the students must spend one year working inside a real corporation.

    6. Have the counties provide high technology office parks with fast networks. Run the next generation video conferencing and collaboration and let the people liev near any of these parks. Make them nice and rent them to companies at low rates. Build bike paths from the offices to the residential areas and between the office parks. Build gyms there.

    7. Sell the Virginia R&D capability to companies outside of Virginia. Get them to buy into the network.

    8. Continue to pressure Verizon to deploy FiOS and pressure the cable companies to build out their next generation networks.

    9. Maintain net neutrality at all costs.

    10. Link the schools into the state network. Let reseachers teach a class at the high school or college level. build excitement for what is going on.

    11. Build lots of bars and night clubs (playing local live music) near the networked office parks. Run shuttle buses between the office parks. Let ’em get liquored up and still get home safely – preferebly with some company.

    12. Keep the rednecks out. This whole setup is for the people working in the new technology companies not for any Tom, Dick or Harry looking for a good time. Make the clubs membership only. Issue the membership cards at the companies.

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