Tuesday, April 17, 2012
From the day it opened in 1951, Walnut Creek's Broadway Plaza has embodied the evolving landscape of Bay Area suburbs.
It debuted as middle-class shops along new streets, parking lots on all sides. By middle age there were garages and a stylish Nordstrom. Now there's a glistening white Neiman Marcus and a proposed makeover that would make room for not only new shops, but also 200 apartments or condominiums.
The specifics vary across the region, but the punch line is the same. Even as advocates and naysayers quibble about whether suburbs should grow up as well as out, cultural pressures are priming the pump. More people seek urban life but not necessarily the rough edges of a San Francisco or Oakland. Well-located suburbs open to change are poised to see the result.