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Opening in Houston: a Ghost Town of Patchwork Surburbia

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Happening right now in Houston: MainStreet America, a $20M project billed as "a true game-changer for the consumer," "an inspiring world of discovery," and "a year-round destination for the entire family!" The project is not another Disneyland or miniature golf or anything else that can actually boast much in the way of fun, but rather MainStreet America, a tract of suburban showhouses where DIYers and aspiring renovators can learn about products, design, and home-tech capabilities. Basically a giant home-goods store disguised as a potpourri of provincial, uninspired single-family homes, the park consists of a dozen architecturally disparate vessels of merchandise, homes brimming with stuff that will never be used, creating an environment less lived-in than a dollhouse and just as artificial as any other manmade city. It's a crazy idea for a tourist destination, but, hey, with dozens of corporate sponsors looking to get in on this glut of free advertising, the wacky plan is likely to see at least a small surge of success. It gets weirder. Check out what there is to do at MainStreet America, below.

In this land of zero zoning laws, and perfect (read: absent) neighbors, visitors can peruse a 1,815-square-foot "coastal beach house" and, less than a block away, a 6,011-square-foot Greek Revival; there's a Spanish-style homes and, uh, "Old World" manors. Adding to the robotic qualities further, visitors are given some sort of hand-held device that allows them to get details about fixtures and finishes inside, from the drapes to the wall treatments. Utterly ridiculous? Sure, but that's reason alone to check it out. Grand opening festivities are slated for the first week of February; admission is $10 for adults.

· MainStreet America [Official Site]
· A New Theme Park Opens in Houston: Step Inside MainStreet America, a $20 Million Playground [Culturemap Houston]
· All Houston coverage [Curbed Houston]