Will the prime square footage occupied by Borders have similar 'third place' potential once reclaimed? Will replacement uses provide the equivalent fusion business purposes of books, coffee, lecture and song?
One of the more interesting and exciting aspects of the "new urbanism" movement is that the next paradigm could well be much more than the return to the close-knit community of small villages and towns.
If our cities must be dense to be competitive and sustainable, we must also look with care to the potential displacement of uses, institutions or traditions -- not to mention the artifacts we will leave behind.
What if American cities legislated brighter color amid windows, balconies planted green and encouraged flags and hanging laundry? What if homeowner associations and rental contracts required vegetation and decoration?
Once a big idea is vetted -- whether in an authoritarian or democratic way -- what assures its success? Most particularly, what if, from Day One, the vision pushes comfort zones of the achievable; politically, legally or monetarily?