Do great civic spaces evolve or can they be invented? A look at the impact of "Disney-esque' developer Rick Caruso, the creator of The Grove, a successful retail complex in Los Angeles.
"The question, though, is how great civic space is created: Can it be invented whole or does it need to evolve? [Developer Rick Caruso] proudly admits that the Grove, like all his properties, is a mediated environment...The irony, of course, is that great streets are rarely scripted. Rather, they develop, changing and adapting over time."
"Here we start to see the influence of Hollywood, and even more important, of Disneyland, whose Main Street is an obvious precursor to the Grove...the Grove exists at the intersection of the town square and the movie set, a vision of a past that never was...according to Caruso Affiliated properties, 17 million people visit annually, more than come to Disneyland, and they spend an average of $126 per visit..."
"If you squint a little, there's almost the impression of a city center, a quasi-public space that's commercial, yes, but also communal...The Grove, after all, is controlled by a company whose goals may not be consistent with those of the community. Is it then a public space?"
"So what does it mean when neighborhoods get scripted?.. Why jog through a shopping center or walk your dog on a fake street when there's a real one only a few hundred feet away? The answer has to do with the nature of those real streets, which all too often in Los Angeles have been constructed for the car."