Options for Empty Big Box Stores

There are now three vacant “big box” stores in the Brattleboro - Keene area. There are none in the Pioneer Valley, an expert said. Examples from around the country offer a model for how this land could be used. In Keene, a Shaw's supermarket and its acres of parking lots are vacant. There is a vacant Home Depot in Brattleboro. In Hinsdale, New Hampshire, which borders Brattleboro, a Wal-Mart sits empty.

In Mashpee, Massachusetts, a vacant big box store was converted to a residential and commercial neighborhood with flower filled parks, narrow streets, wide sidewalks, and multi-story buildings of the kind found on Main Street in Northampton. Apartments are upstairs from stores.

In Detroit, Michigan, the local government is converting hundreds of acres of vacant buildings and pavement to farmland.

Tim Brennan is director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. “I am not aware of any big box type stores that are vacant here in the Pioneer Valley,” he told the Valley Post on February 3.

In Detroit, “under Mayor Dave Bing’s leadership, 7,121 structures have been ordered demolished and 8,966 have completed the entire demolition process.” That's according to:


Farming is expanding rapidly in Detroit, according to:


In 2002 in Mashpee, Massachusetts, a vacant supermarket and parking lot were made into a thriving, walk-able neighborhood. There are “before and after” photos at:

www.terrain.org/articles/28/tachieva.htm (Scroll about half way down the page, or search the page for “2000s: transformed”.)

Sprawl is a major problem in the Valley. A Trust for Public Land report, "The Connecticut River: Quintessential New England," tells a shocking story with numbers: the number of people living in the entire length of the Connecticut River valley grew just eight percent from 1980 to 2000. But the amount of developed land grew 33 percent from 1982 to 1997.

There is a map at www.ValleyPost.org/node/137 (scroll down to the bottom of that page). Made by the Trust for Public Land in 2006, the map shows the Pioneer Valley/ Brattleboro/ Keene section of the Connecticut River watershed. Land outside the watershed is light green, meaning streams in that area do not flow to the Connecticut River. Dark green land has been protected from development, in many cases by www.LandTrustAlliance.org. On the map, red land is vulnerable to being paved with McMansions, Wal-Marts, parking lots, roads, and ChemLawns. Click on the map to enlarge it.


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