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Help Me Quaker Green, You’re My Only Hope

Posted by whforums on September 4, 2008

For “whatever reason,” we’ve been written up in “My Midwest Magazine,” the in-flight magazine of Midwest Airlines (I know, I know – there’s a Midwest Airlines?).  Focusing mostly on the Quaker Green project (though also somewhat on Blue Back Square), the article essentially argues that, in this down economy and slow real estate market, West Hartford – and Elmwood particularly –  is a boom town.

And certainly there’s some truth to this.  If you take a look at what’s being said on the Greater Hartford Real Estate Blog and in the West Hartford News, it seems like there’s good reason to believe that the real estate market in West Hartford is at the very least percolating, and certainly not as badly affected as the national market generally.  But what’s particularly revealing about this article is not its supposed shot in the dark accuracy re: our real estate market, but instead the developer infused enthusiasm  that cynically seeks to portray the 60,000 of us as either a national salvation or, at the very least, some sort of new urban, old New England utopia.

The article argues that Elmwood is undertaking a “terrific upsurge in business development, with two new national chains building “in the area” (Price Rite and ALDI).  The article also says that with “business booming in Elmwood, there may be hope in an otherwise faltering real estate market.”  (Such that: America, on bended knee, speaks to us and says:  “Help me, Elmwood, you’re my only hope.”)  And who gets the credit for this boom?  Well, according to the author, “one developer polished a diamond in the rough – and transformed an enitre section of town in the process.”   In other words, if Elmwood is the Obi-Wan of a nation’s real estate crisis, we’re supposed to believe that Quaker Green is the Obi-Wan of Elmwood’s own crisis.

And if you’re buying all the optimism, the folks at Quaker Green would like you to know that 8 out of 20 condo units – and half of Quaker Green’s townhouses – are still available.  And I’m sure all of this sounds pretty good when you’re stuck on the tarmac in Milwaukee.

But let’s just imagine you are stuck in the tarmac in Milwaukee, and maybe you’ve heard something about some square … read about it in the New York Times or on some web ‘zine or something. Well, the article is quick to point out that the spaces in BBS, “a new, high-end live-work-play development,” are mostly being sold to “empty nesters … often as second homes.”  Doesn’t sound too live-work-play, does it?

You can check out the article here.  I’d be interested to hear your reactions – and I’ll start with my own:

We must resist the flattery of capital that develops “the news” in order to portray itself as each of our salvations.

One Response to “Help Me Quaker Green, You’re My Only Hope”

  1. Rick Liftig said

    You may have missed the Sunday NY Times article (about two months ago) which also touted the Quaker Green development (likely authored by the same person). No doubt about it, GDC’s decision to build a 40 million dollar project in the Elmwood section of town spoke volumes. It has served as a catalyst for re-investment in the area which at this point is looking better each day. As the units are sold, I expect to see a corresponding increase in retail foot traffic and use of the park. Residents of the complex love the proximity to local shopping, the highway, Westfarms and the Center. Plus the comdominiums border on Beachland Park. It’s a great draw and wonderfully affordable as compared to Blueback.

    So, to answer your question: Is it a glowing article? Darn right it is. Is it overhyped? Not in my opinion – there is a light year of difference in the appearance and vitality of Elmwood 1998 vs. Elmwood 2008. I expect over the next 20 years, you will see Elmwood rival the Center in vitality as aging baby boomers purchase the capes and ranches of Elmwood in order to downsize and yet still live independently.

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