Big box stores aim for style |

Big box stores aim for style

Allen Best

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – About 15 years ago Wal-Mart wanted to move into Steamboat Springs, and city residents balked. Wal-Mart finally won, but was forced to compromise with its architecture.Now comes an Associated Press story from New Jersey that tells similar stories across the nation. Only now, local communities have become much more aggressive. For example, Freehold, N.J., insisted that big boxes would have to embrace traditional architectural styles: colonial, federal, Georgian or Victorian. While Wal-Mart balked, it ultimately deferred. Elsewhere, a Wal-Mart in metropolitan Denver has a timber facade, while one in Long Beach embraces art deco. Other international franchises also are responding. McDonald’s has an adobe-style outlet in Arizona, while The Home Depot has a seaside-theme store in British Columbia.Still, big boxes remain somewhat unpopular in mountain communities. Opponents across the country have become more successful in nixing the boxes. Efforts to block the stores have grown at a 21 percent annual rate during the last two years, reports one analysts. Still the country’s ‘cowiest’ town?STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – It sounds like a remake of the movie “City Slickers” repackaged into a format suitable for reality TV. This time, 10 novice wrangles were taken to Steamboat Springs and, as part of the film, the novices were assigned to assist the real cowboys to herd 100 head of cattle down Lincoln Avenue, the town’s main street, on a Sunday morning in June. Cattle are no strangers to Steamboat Springs, notes the town’s paper, The Pilot. At one time, it was known as the “Cowiest Town in the USA.” It must have been fun being a street sweeper back then.No Olympic free rideWHISTLER, B.C. Last year Whistler, in conjunction with Vancouver, was named host of the 2010 Winter Olympics. But the apples from this haven’t exactly been falling freely.A case in point is a 5,000-seat ice arena. While provincial authorities are offering $20 million toward construction of the facility, that’s hardly enough to cover the full costs, and so Whistler municipal authorities, already suffering through several years of economic backsliding, haven’t committed to the project. That means the project could instead be built somewhere along the road between Whistler and Vancouver. This is making some a little nervous.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism