It takes a (Southern) Village: New urbanisim in North Carolina

The weak beam of my bike headlight was no match for the dark of the Highway 15-501. Although I could usually see the white stripe delineating the shoulder from the rest of the road, I couldn't distinguish the dark silhouettes of roadkill from the black asphalt. The landscape to the south of Chapel Hill was patchwork of woods, empty fields and McMansion developments, so it wasn't uncommon to encounter deer carcasses or the bodies of squirrels or some other slightly larger and usually very putrid rodent-like creature flattened along edge of the highway. I had visions that the front tire of my bike will hit some bloody thing and slip on the rotting carcass. I'd lose control and sprawl out across the pavement, roadkill for the next semi plowing along the highway.
I moved to North Carolina to work on Edwards� presidential campaign which was headquartered in Southern Village, a suburban enclave located off Highway 15-501 a few miles south of Chapel Hill.
Photo 1: Map of Southern Village, located off Highway 15-501 a few miles south of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Fortunately, for my sake, the planners who had designed this particular suburb had taken to heart new urbanist principles and had centered the development around a small commercial district. Southern Village's "Market Street" included a church, movie theater, gym, spa, luxury linens store, florist, a few restaurants, and what made possible my survival without a car in North Carolina, an outpost of the community owned grocery Weaver Street. They forgot, in their master plan, to include a drug store, so when I needed to get a prescription filled or buy a box of tampons, I found myself navigating the unlit shoulder of the freeway that separated the suburban paradise where I lived and worked from downtown Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
While I applaud the architects of Southern Village for choosing to include some commercial space in the enclave, a better plan would have been to actually integrate their new construction into the preexisting city structures of Carrboro or Chapel Hill. Instead, they chose to an "exclusive" isolated community separated from the more racially and socio-economically integrated urban structure. (Try and find a single non-Caucasian person featured in one of the photos on the Market Street promotional website). Although "SoVo" lacked a physical gate, it had the barrier of the highway to out keep less desirable elements.
Photo 2: Downtown Southern Village's big box construction disguised by faux historic storefront details.

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