Monday, October 16, 2006

Children Not Welcome

This weekend was a big one for Boulder. The Buffaloes finally posted their first win of the season - beating Texas Tech 30-6! And, the long awaited Twenty Ninth Street had its grand opening. While the Buffs didn't disappoint (for once), the mall certainly did.

When I moved to Boulder nearly eleven years ago Pearl Street Mall, the city's outdoor mall, was the place to shop. GapKids, Ann Taylor, and Abercrombie & Fitch were represented as well as some great local shops like Weekends and Peppercorn.

Over the years, stores have come and gone. The opening of Flatiron Crossing meant the closing of GapKids. I'm not sure when Ann Taylor moved on but I do know Abercrombie's lease was not renewed and Weekends grabbed the opportunity to move into the (much larger) space.

Still, no matter what tenant occupied which space, Pearl Street Mall has always been very kid-friendly. From the Ben & Jerry's at the corner of Pearl and Broadway to the life-sized metal frogs in the Kids Sculpture Garden to the incredibly talented balloon animal guy (donations, only please) who is a regular fixture outside of Peppercon -- Pearl Street Mall gets us. And, by us I mean all parents who just want to sip a Mocha Frap while watching their kids just be kids.

Twenty Ninth Street? Mmmm...not so much. They have a cool planetary "area," but no touching or climbing on the planets, please. They have a sorta cool planetary water feature, but don't bother with this one unless you've been a recent contestant on World's Strongest (Wo)Man. Oh, and look both ways before you go to the Apple Store because Twenty Ninth Street has a road running through the mall! So, what do they have for kids? Gymboree. So, good luck with that one if you're looking for frugal fun.

Of course, the local paper only had good things to say about the new mall. They were also quick to point out that most of the traffic at the new mall was from locals, as opposed to tourists like on Pearl Street, and that Twenty Ninth Street is Boulder. Really? Because the Boulder I know eschews national chains like Border's and Peet's and promotes a healthy, pedestrian, lifestyle where dogs and children alike can roam without the fear of being run over by some jackass in a shiny new Mercedes.

Then, again. I am living in the New Boulder. The New Boulder that takes dedicated open space and turns it into urban sprawl. The New Boulder that welcomes big box retailers and forces out the little guy with ridiculous rental prices. The New Boulder that is more concerned with attracting Left Coasters than providing affordable housing for the invisible people who keep this city humming. In a nutshell: the New Boulder sucks hairy buffalo balls. But, what do I know? I'm just a bleeding-heart liberal.

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