Or…Portland, Eugene, Ashland, Corvallis – any number of Oregon towns with that special something that Salem so sorely lacks.
Laurel and I cruised around Bend one day last week. Our first stop was the NorthWest Crossing development. We were charmed.
We were involved with the effort to convert Salem's Fairview Training Center property into a sustainable mixed use development. So far it hasn't come to much, aside from the admirable progress of Pringle Creek Community on a small portion of the site.
Cars and garages are relegated to alleys. It's amazing how much better a street looks when it's people-focused rather than automobile focused. The alleys are the least attractive aspect of NorthWest Crossing.
This part of the development faces a large open area, left largely natural. As a laudatory description of NorthWest Crossing notes, most subdivisions plat the lots and leave whatever is left over as open space. Here, by contrast:
"The plan, developed by Walker Macy's Doug Macy, Mike Zilis, and David Aulwes, is organized around a large central circular park with mature pines ringed with higher-density homes, creating a distinctive heart to the community and a memorable identity. The plan begins with these placemaking elements, which contrasts with the conventional model of blanketing a parcel of land with lots then trying to carve out open space from the unbuildable remainder."
A dog boutique featured a convenient hitching post. We got some lattes at a coffeehouse, sat outside, and enjoyed hearing "cute dog" as a girl and her mother drove by in an open-air Jeep.
Later we drove to the Old Mill District. Shopped at REI (don't have one in Salem). Watched my wife browse at a Chico's (don't have one in Salem). Ate at the yummy Café Yumm! (don't have one in Salem). Then went across town to the Whole Foods Market (don't have one in Salem).
See the pattern? There's a lot that Salem doesn't have, and Bend does, along with Eugene and the other cities I mentioned.
But we have no trouble finding a parking space in downtown Salem. Not much of a silver lining, but Salemites take whatever solace they can get after visiting a town like Bend that makes us realize what we're missing.