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
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
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.
Corporate Center (Downington) 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
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.