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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: Pennsylvania

TJ Maxx Warehouse
Warehouse Brings Jobs, Smart Growth
Oaklands Corporate Center
Oaks Bulldozed for Offices

TJ Maxx Warehouse
Warehouse Brings Jobs, Smart Growth

When is building a major warehouse and distribution facility considered smart growth? When it provides jobs, transportation options and environmental benefits like those created by a new TJ Maxx warehouse to be built next to the Northeast Philadelphia Airport.

In a truly innovative approach to environmental remediation and job creation, TJ Maxx and the city of Philadelphia have agreed to locate the facility on a 122-acre municipal landfill that has been unused for over 20 years. As a part of the proposed development, the landfill will be carefully cleaned up and protected to meet current environmental standards.

In its place, TJ Maxx will build a 1 million square-foot warehouse and 1,500 square feet of office space. The company chose the spot in part because of its proximity to public transportation. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority runs frequent bus service very close to the property. In addition, because the facility is near existing homes and businesses, some workers may be able to walk or bike to work. This project clearly shows that smart growth and economic development can go hand in hand.

Oaklands Corporate Center
Oaks Bulldozed for Offices

The Oaklands Corporate Center outside of Philadelphia used to be heavily forested. Settlers named the area in recognition of the beauty of its oak trees. But that natural beauty is being demolished by sprawling housing, businesses and retail shopping developments. The last haven of forested land in the area, the 200-acre Downington woods, fell prey to development in the early 1990s, and development is continuing on this land today.

Bulldozing Over Beauty: Outside of Philadelphia, some of the region's last open space is being paved over for new developments.

About one mile north of the town of Downington, this forest is being rapidly bulldozed to make way for 517 housing units. The Strubble bike trail, which used to run through trees and natural habitat, will now run through housing tracts. The wildlife in the area, which used to have hundreds of acres to roam, will now only have access to the paltry 70 acres that the Brandywine Conservancy managed to wrest from the developer.

Though there's less room for wildlife, there's more room for cars. The development will add at least 1,000 new cars to local roads. Removing much of the forested area to build this auto-dependent development will reduce the natural air-filtration that the trees provide and leave the area vulnerable to water pollution from stormwater runoff.

What is most troubling about this development is that there were alternatives. Conservancy groups offered the developers $5 million to purchase the land. These groups hoped to preserve the woodlands for wildlife and for future generations of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Although the developer was seeking to sell the land, and the amount offered was twice the original purchase price, the developer said no.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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