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Stop Sprawl
Fall 2000 Sprawl Report

States at a Glance: Tennessee

Eastgate Town Center
Smart Growth Revives an Ailing Mall
The Village
Housing Eats Up Open Space, Fuels Sprawl

Eastgate Town Center
Smart Growth Revives an Ailing Mall

The Eastgate Town Center is located about five miles from downtown Chattanooga. When it was built in the 1960s it destroyed the city's downtown base -- only to suffer the same fate when a larger mall was built several miles further out. Using smart-growth concepts, residents, local officials and developers are all working together to bring this area of Chattanooga back from the brink of urban decay.

By 1997, store occupancy at Town Center was down to 27 percent and the mall was failing. However, when AT&T stepped in to lease one of the anchor store sites, local officials were inspired to attempt a full-scale revitalization of the mall. In January 1998, they invited local residents and business owners to a week-long planning process. The participants pushed planners to build a multi-purpose town center with both retail and residential opportunities.

Today, developers are creating housing, parks, civic buildings and a town square on what used to be vacant parking lots. Residents and workers will be able to enjoy a hiking trail to a nearby wetland and, hopefully, a proposed greenway. Thousands of jobs are coming to the area -- jobs that are within easy walking and biking distance of homes and shops.

In Chattanooga, local leaders and developers have recognized the value of an open planning process, and citizens are now leading the charge for smarter growth.

The Village
Housing Eats Up Open Space, Fuels Sprawl

The city of Brunswick is creating a "village" that will destroy the countryside. This development, four miles outside of Memphis, is suburban sprawl at its most damaging.

The 16-acre, housing-only project is being built on what used to be prime agricultural land. According to the Land Use Committee of the Shelby County Commission, any environmental damages to open space that occur as a result of the development are insignificant. In fact, the environmental damages are staggering. The housing project has leveled substantial areas of forest, used dirt mined from a tributary of Oliver Creek to raise the floodplain by approximately ten feet, and produced flooding in adjacent areas of homes and farm land. Siltation problems in Oliver Creek are dramatic -- so much so, in fact, that the developer has been cited for violating the state's Clean Water Act.

But the construction process is only the beginning: Traffic congestion and air-pollution problems can only increase as a result of the poorly planned placement of this development. Access to the Village is restricted to two-lane rural roads, with no bike paths and no public transportation. And because the development includes only housing, residents will be forced to drive long distances for every errand, and commuters will have little choice but to drive 30 minutes or more to jobs in Memphis and outlying communities.

States at a Glance | Introduction | Resources | Acknowledgments

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