Where We Drive: Chain Stores, Strip Malls and Sprawl

The Hartford Courant's Tom Condon joins us to discuss development in CT.

Take a drive down Rt. 44 with Tom Condon, Tucker Ives and John Dankosky.
Photo:John Dankosky
Where We Drive: Chain Stores, Strip Malls and Sprawl
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Where We Drive: Chain Stores, Strip Malls and Sprawl

Why is it that Americans are so fiercely individualistic...so protective of their rights to be “different," but yet we all shop at the same few stores with the same products, in places that look the same?

If you’ve got a morning commute down a commercial thoroughfare, just look around...how many Dunkin’ Donuts do you pass? How many Walgreens or Subways? How did we get to a place where chain retail sprawl has become the norm?

Today, the Hartford Courant’s Tom Condon, a student of sprawl, joins me for a trip down Route 44. It’s part of my commute every day.

While it is by no means the most heavily commercialized section of road in the state - you see the same patterns as you do on the Post Road and the Berlin Turnpike.

We’ll look at how chain stores are taking over our landscape...and whether that’s necessarily a bad thing.  

*****This episode originally aired on May 15, 2013.*****



Email from Paul

I find it ironic that you are discussing the overabundance of Dunkin Donuts along Route 44. The Corbins Corner-Westfarms area lost its only free standing Dunkin Donuts last year. Then the Mall closed the outdoor entrance to the wing where the Dunkin Donuts is located. Now you must find your way through the mall to get to the store. We want a new Dunkin Donuts!

Email from Jen

I'm one of the downtown merchants who's worked for years to revitalize Main Street, Middletown - the old zoning didn't allow stripmalls with drivethroughs within a mile of downtown - but that's all changed now.

They just made it harder to get developers to tackle the complicated urban buildings on Main Street, and easier to go a few block away and replace a few historic house with a shopping center. The irony is that when you compare the tax revenue from one square foot of our downtown, it's a lot higher than you earn from the same space from a big box or strip mall. It's not just about national or local - we get more taxes from urban commerce, not malls, because it's denser.

Email from Gina

In 2011, I traveled to Chilean Patagonia for my honeymoon to experience a new world and a different culture. Lo and behold, we deboard the aircraft only to find a Dunkin' Donuts in the airport - in Santiago, Chile!

Much to my dismay, you cannot escape Dunkin' Donuts! My friends and I refer to it as the "New England Plague."