Articles, Events, Thoughts and Resources on Sprawl Repair
Cataloged by Galina Tachieva


Regency’s retrofit: A model for Chesterfield?

Regency Square Mall in Richmond, Virginia is undergoing what’s called a suburban retrofit, a term used for taking aging malls, office parks and other suburban properties and transforming them into more sustainable, urban and mixed-use developments.

Both Regency Square and Chesterfield Towne Center opened in 1975 (back then the latter was the Chesterfield Mall), and the rejuvenation of Regency Square may offer a blueprint for Chesterfield Towne Center in the years to come.

Robert Gibbs, president of Gibbs Planning Group and author of the book “Principles of Urban Retail Planning and Development,” says Regency Square’s strategy may prove successful.

“I have seen those kinds of conversions work,” Gibbs says. “It’s when they turn the mall inside out and put the internal stores on the street.”

As department stores like Macy’s and Sears continue to struggle, Gibbs says the future is grim for the majority of America’s suburban malls.

“There’s about 2,000 of them, and we estimate that about 1,500 of them will close in the next five years, and that’s because they’re depending on department stores to stay open,” Gibbs says. “Without the department stores, it’s really hard to get people to go inside the mall.”

That said, Gibbs says malls in good locations can “right-size,” reducing their retail square footage and bringing in housing, entertainment and office space to create a walkable development where people can live, work and enjoy themselves.

City Building Exchange, New Orleans, Louisiana

March 8-10, 2017, Andres Duany and Galina Tachieva teamed up with a group of accomplished faculty and community leaders to discuss today’s most effective tools to enhance a community’s character, use city building as an economic development tool, and combat the specialization and professional silos that make city building a challenge.

Andres led a Three Urbanisms Walking Tour through the Garden District, Marigny and the French Quarter, and provided a keynote presentation on LEAN Urbanism: How Small Development Can Produce Big Returns for Cities.

Galina spoke on Sprawl Repair: Recycling Existing Suburban Development into Healthy Town Centers, answering questions such as why sprawl repair is important to a community, what are the common hurdles and challenges, what are the best models of sprawl repair and what potential actions a community can take for a successful implementation of sprawl repair.

Learn more here:

http://citybuildingexchange.com/uploads/5/4/7/5/54756721/cbe_brochure_sp17web.pdf

 

Urbanism Summit Miami 2017

On February 21, 2017, a diverse collection of change-makers, influencers and forward thinkers gathered to discuss the future of cities, their makers and dwellers.  The purpose was to share actionable ideas across disciplines in new urbanism and place making, and spark a movement of collaboration among new urbanism practitioners, investors, startups, policy makers and community.

Tachieva of DPZ, Cooper Copetas, architectural designer and George Cuevas, founder of CollabMiami, teamed up for a panel discussion on how to create co-working space in the context of suburbia that can support small and independent businesses.

Learn more here:

http://urbanismsummit.com/

https://www.facebook.com/events/542068492657980/

Shipping containers, oval swings and food trucks? How old Eastland Mall site could be reimagined

Jenna Martin of the Charlotte Business Journal wrote, “Think small to drive big, lasting results. That’s the current thought behind early efforts to breathe new life into the abandoned Eastland Mall property. That could range from small market-like businesses operating out of shipping containers and open, outdoor dining to a spot for food trucks or a place to hang out.”

As a sub-consultant to Jacobs Engineering’s Atlanta office, DPZ CoDesign is collaborating on the redesign of site of the former Eastland Mall, a 69-acre parcel owned by the City of Charlotte. They met with many of the key stakeholder groups in the East Charlotte area where this mall was once a major regional retail and social hub. This was also a week of re-assessing several prior design exercises.

On May 18th, 2017, the community celebrated the site’s past and explored the future during the exciting Eastland “days gone by” and Eastland “days to come” event. Neighbors gathered amid food trucks, a pop up park, cycle track, interactive murals and activities, to reminiscence and imagine new possibilities for the site as part of the evolving Eastland story.

DPZ provided a popular exhibit based on the successional evolution of an existing flea/farmer’s market. A typical public open space can be surrounded and defined by food trucks and temporary market stalls, initially, transitioning to fun and funky shipping container groupings, and ultimately to vibrant shops and restaurants in the potential climax condition for a revitalized town center.

Read more here: https://www-bizjournals-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2017/05/19/old-eastland-mall-site-draws-crowd-thursday-as.amp.html

Great Idea: Building better suburbs through retrofit

Suburbs are becoming more diverse and connected to meet the needs of Americans of all ages in the 21st Century.

As part of the CNU series 25 Great Ideas of the New Urbanism, Public Square editor Robert Steuteville interviewed Galina Tachieva, principal at DPZ Partners and author of Sprawl Repair Manual, and Ellen Dunham-Jones, director of the Urban Design Program and Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Architecture and co-author, with June Williamson, of Retrofitting Suburbia. The series is meant to inspire and challenge those working toward complete communities in the next quarter century.

According to Galina Tachieva, “If anybody takes a drive outside of a city and looks carefully [they] will be shocked by the over-engineered, gold-plated, however—in many cases—already crumbling infrastructure that supports sprawl. And it will take a few generations to fix it. However, for us to be successful, we have to look at the roots of sprawl. Levittown changed the pattern of building communities in the United States because William Levitt created a normative product, the auto-dependent suburban enclave, which he could repeat easily. So we have to come up with normative step-by-step tools to retrofit suburbia in the way it was built.”

Suburbs increasingly view their auto-centric sprawl as a health hazard

The connection between the type of places we live in and our well-being should be obvious, but until recently there has been little hard data showing sprawl’s negative impacts on our health – both physical and mental. This is changing and not only health practitioners but also public officials and residents have started to acknowledge the importance of walkable, mixed-use environments.

Sprawl Retrofit Tools

Check out the new additions to the Build a Better Burb Toolkit to help municipalities, developers, citizens, investors and equity advocates

 

CNU group seeks to Build a Better Burb

The Build a Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council met in Miami to explore opportunities for promoting land-use diversity and transportation choice in the suburbs—with particular focus on the needs of smaller suburbs with less robust markets. A follow–up meeting will be held at CNU 24 in Detroit on June 11 viagra l.

The Council is gathering like-minded people and generating a toolkit on suburban retrofit to be distributed on CNU’s Build a Better Burb website. The first products are brief reports on specific challenges and solutions—such as this one on affordable housing tax credits.

In Detroit, the Council will discuss peer-to-peer idea sharing and problem-solving, and other topics related to this project.

Downtown Pontiac: ‘Nothing looks impossible’

Pontiac, Michigan, could be headed for a downtown revival, a CNU Legacy Charrette team led by DPZ Partners told citizens and officials. The keys to unlocking economic development are to transform the massive one-way Woodward Loop, also called the Wide Track, that currently sends traffic around downtown—plus allow more on-street parking and make pedestrian improvements.

If those changes are made, a market analysis shows support for 211,000 square feet of retail producing up to $55 million in annual sales.

The team—which also included Gibbs Planning Group, architects Archive DS, and Conrad Kickert of the University of Cincinnati—worked with with a diverse range of citizens and officials to create a plan. The event was sponsored by the City, CNU, and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Legacy Charrettes are designed to apply CNU’s placemaking expertise to make a lasting difference in the Congress’s host region—which is Detroit in 2016.

2016 June 22

Urban Retail: Essential Planning, Design, and Management Practices

George Gund Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

This fast paced program demonstrates how proven principles of retail development can be combined with the best practices of New Urbanism, Smart Growth, and architectural design to create successful and competitive mixed-use urban commercial centers. Ideal for developers, planners, investors, retailers, architects, and public officials, the program focuses on several topics, among them the required market demographics for various retailers, restaurants, and shopping center typologies including convenience centers, neighborhood centers, power centers, regional malls, and lifestyle centers. The impact of consumer psychographics and techniques for creating place-based brands will also be presented.
Instructors focus on the actual nuts and bolts of how to program, plan, and design competitive retail in historic downtowns, underperforming shopping centers, and new ground-up developments as well as repairing failed suburban centers. The course covers market research, branding, national retailer criteria, and site-selection principles. Participants will learn about streetscape, store planning, signage, tenant mix, merchandising plans, leasing, anchors’ roles, and successful new urban planning techniques, design criteria, parking, building, site planning, and developer requirements. The course will also review the synergy among residential, office, civic, and governmental land uses and retailer performance.
The instructors illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of many leading town centers built during the past 20 years. Discussions of trends and techniques for vertical integration of non-retail uses as well as retail storefront design trends and techniques will be featured, and the instructors will share inside secrets for shopping center planning and design and applications for cities and new towns. Also taken into consideration will be the integration of big-box discount retailers in the city and new town centers.
New features include:
Lessons learned from leading U.S. urban retail developer, Yaromir Steiner.
Lessons learned about creating timeless and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and towns from renowned architect Stefanos Polyzoides.
An overview of Robert Gibbs’ book, Principles of Urban Retail.
A look at the hot urban tenants for 2016.
Case studies for top urban town centers and historic downtowns.
Learning Objectives:
Explore planning and design techniques for revitalizing historic town centers and building new mixed-use town (lifestyle) centers.
Review the rise and fall of American cities as regional shopping destinations.
Apply nuts and bolts techniques for increasing retail sales through streetscape, parking, signage, and pedestrian movements.
Examine a successful New Urbanist model for integrating retail into existing historic downtowns, new developments, and suburban retrofits.
Gain an insider’s understanding of leading retailers and department store business models and site selection criteria.
Register Now

Pontiac Gets Expert Advice on Developing Downtown

Pontiac, MI – In advance of the upcoming Congress of the New Urbanism Conference in Detroit June 8-11, 2016, CNU hosted development charrettes in Pontiac and Hazel Park to build examples of how thoughtful planning can help revitalize communities.
In Pontiac that meant three days of public meetings mixed with sessions where architects and developers took ideas from residents and business owners and literally brought them to the drawing table. The experts donated thousands of dollars’ worth of consulting time and renderings to help guide the city towards the brighter future that is on the horizon.

Rent a car with driver in Geneva

Tremendous Economic Development Potential in Pontiac

The economic development potential for the city of Pontiac is tremendous. Just how great? How about a demand of up to 211,700 square feet of new retail and restaurant development producing up to $55.2 million in annual sales. That’s how great, said Pontiac native Bob Gibbs, urban planning and retail consultant director for Gibbs Planning Group of Birmingham.
“By 2021, this economic demand could generate up to $58 million in gross sales,” Gibbs said. “And that’s a conservative estimate.”
This message presented by Gibbs and others in downtown Pontiac Friday night came during the first of three days of an intensive design and planning program called, a Congress Legacy “Charrette” Project. It’s being done in the city by the Congress of the New Urbanism (CNU). It’s one of four such charrettes happening this week in conjunction with the international CNU 24 conference coming to Detroit in June. The other three charrettes were in Hazel Park, April 12-14; and April 15-17 in two Detroit neighborhoods – Grandmont-Rosedale and Vernor Crossing.

Build a Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council

milwaukeerevitalization

We’re taking Sprawl Retrofit to the next level. Next month, our movement’s leaders convene in the Miami Design District for the first-ever Build A Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council. Over two days, attendees will collaborate and strategize around how to transform sprawling suburbs into prosperous, vibrant, walkable places.

Help set the agenda for the next generation of suburban transformation. You are invited to join the conversation for leveraging the power of lean policies, sustainability, and small incremental development. With the goal of kick-starting projects and transforming more suburbs, the agenda will focus on five areas of opportunity: municipalities, citizens, developers, finance, and equity.

CNU Councils gather high-level practitioners for discussion on placemaking, community building, policy, and design. The Build a Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council will focus on the intersection between sprawl retrofit, suburban design, small incremental development, sustainability, and fast, cost-effective tactics that can kick-start projects.

The Build a Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council is open to all practitioners who have been active in suburban retrofit. Please feel free to share the opportunity to register with your colleagues, friends, and connections in sprawl retrofit and placemaking.

Venue: Palm Court, located at the heart of the Miami Design District, will serve as a fitting site for inspired conversation. More Information.

Accommodations: The Miami Design District is located between downtown Miami and Miami Beach, putting a full range of accommodations within reach. More Information.

Registration: $150 for CNU members and $175 non-members.

Questions: Email Will Herbig, will@cnu.org.

START: Saturday, March 19, 2016 – 07:30
END: Sunday, March 20, 2016 – 15:00
LOCATION: Miami Design District | Miami, FL

Council to study building a ‘better burb’

CNU is reviving a tradition of intimate discussions with top experts next month in Miami with the Build a Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council.

For a decade, top new urbanist thinkers met in intimate Councils to work on problems, conduct high-level discussions, and immerse themselves in the art and craft of building communities. Five years after the last Council, CNU is reviving the tradition next month in Miami with the Build a Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council.

Many of the world’s top thinkers on reshaping and improving the suburbs will attend, rolling up their sleeves along with everybody else. These leaders include Galina Tachieva, author of Sprawl Repair Manual; Ellen Dunham-Jones, coauthor of Retrofitting Suburbia; and Lynn Richards, president and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

As a bonus, this Council will meet at Palm Court in the Miami Design District, a remarkable urban revitalization area that employs suburban retrofit ideas—including connecting big box stores to residential and workplace areas.

Smart Design = Smart Policy: Eezy-Peezy? Not so fast

See if this sounds familiar:
The city planning staff, maybe working with an expert team of design consultants, comes up with what they think is a no-brainer solution to a high-profile problem. Say, a proposal for much-needed multifamily development to address workforce housing demand. Or a plan to fix a blighted block with a mixed-use project that checks all the Smart Growth boxes. Or perhaps a senior-friendly cottage court adjacent to an existing single-family neighborhood of larger lots and homes.

Retail Parking: A View from Google Earth

Last year I shared how Google Earth can be used to understand parking utilization. In response, readers suggested that Google Earth can be used for walking audits and offered that Remote Sensing Metrics is another resources for parking utilization data. Patrick Holland, a Master’s in City and Regional Planning student at Ohio State University, Gala Korniyenko, a Master’s of Urban Planning student at the University of Kansas, and Brittany Port, an Ohio State University graduate of the Master’s in City and Regional Planning program, along with myself, looked at Google Earth image after Google Earth image to understand parking utilization at large scale retailers.

Charrette: A Social Innovation Lab

When you think social innovation, you might think micro loans in developing countries, or hand-ups to help people in from the fringes here at home. Or a wide range of ways to build social capital or how charitable institutions backstop community with philanthropy. But for those of you who are working in the city planning trenches every day, using collaborative design workshops to engage the people, you’re really running a form of social innovation lab.

Defining, Promoting and Helping to Implement Design Excellence

The Community Design Center of Rochester (CDCR) is a non-profit organization of design professionals promoting healthy, sustainable communities by encouraging quality design of the built environment and thoughtful use of built and natural resources. We do this by providing technical assistance and access to educational and training opportunities that increase awareness about the built environment, the impact of design and the importance of good urban planning. By actively engaging through partnerships in city and regional initiatives that include guiding communities in creating vision plans and encouraging community involvement in planning and developing processes, CDCR plays a critical role as an advocate for good design in the Greater Rochester Region.

2015 November 18

Sprawl Repair for Florida’s Communities

DPZ Partners’ Galina Tachieva and Codina Partners’ Ana-Marie Codina Barlick will discuss how form-based codes and other planning and design tools can help Florida communities repurpose and revitalize their most auto-dependent zones into walkable and vibrant mixed-use nodes.

2015 October 15

ROWE ROME 2015: The Best of Both Worlds, Regenerating the Light City

House of Representatives, Rome, Italy

An International Conference on Urban Design

The ideal thing would be to have a good American
suburb adjacent to a very concentrated Italian
town, then you’d have the best of both worlds.
Colin Rowe

For the last half century, urban design has been devoted to the reappraisal and the regeneration of the existing city, considered in its traditional form as a dense, compact fabric. Research, design methodology and implementation in this vein have been significant from both a qualitative and a quantitative point of view.

During virtually the same period, however, the urban fringe – the light city or “ville légère” – was instead notoriously neglected as a subject unworthy of serious urban debate. This situation has arisen despite the fact that the lower-density zone, between the urban core or the dense periphery and the proper agricultural land has become a ubiquitous phenomenon in the landscape, affecting people around the globe. Different national and geographical contexts have resulted in a variety of configurations and organizations: from the formal suburbia, typical of the Anglo-Saxon metropolises, to the favelas and other illegal settlements in developing countries, to the semi-spontaneous, semi-illegal perimeter, mostly of onefamily houses of the Italian “città diffusa”. Until fairly recently, all have shared a common fate of being deliberately ignored or simply overlooked as having insufficient value or only marginal impact on the discipline or profession.

Main stream studies and criticism have supported a negative attitude towards low density settlements, considered costly, environmentally unfriendly and generally non-sustainable. Recent studies, however, have successfully critiqued this conventional wisdom and in so doing have propelled the debate between city vs. suburbs to new and promising levels of discourse.

Whatever the specific parameters of this argument may be, however, two circumstances cannot be overlooked. First, there is widespread pressure for urban sprawl due to powerful cultural, economic, social, anthropological factors. Second, official policies have tended to deny the underlying causes, which have generated this phenomenon rather than proactively addressing them. The urgent challenge will be, it seems obvious, is to offer solutions that are able to positively guide the making of low-density landscapes while addressing the same set of needs and desires, which made them attractive in the first place.

Most importantly, the conference organizers believe, the ville légère, suburbia, middle landscape, città diffusa, campagna abitata, arcadia, along with all the varieties that exist already have a relevant role in the morphology and in the functioning of metropolitan areas as well as in the ordinary lives of millions of people. In most cases, however, their performance is unsatisfactory both in concept and application. The complexity of the problem on the one hand and the unexpected opportunities on the other has typically been underestimated. Rather than adopting mere prohibitionist policies, it is proposed that contemporary urbanistics should study and implement regenerating actions through critical design efforts.

Today, several important contributions converging from different research and practice areas are beginning to emerge: descriptive and evaluation studies on sprawl; transect and other typo-morphological research and projects; sprawl repair and retrofit classification and case studies; densification and morphological and functional redevelopment; studies on lowdensity and garden city design; studies on lean urbanism. This is an ambitious and wide range of potential contributions, not too wide or ambitious, however, if one considers their profound relevance to urbanistics.

Ideally a more inclusive and comprehensive idea of urban design could offer to the “suburb” something comparable to the disciplinary production it has been providing to the “concentrated town”. Then you would actually have the best of both worlds.

Retrofitting Sprawl: Addressing Seventy Years of Failed Urban Form

Chapter 12: Occupy sprawl, One Cul-de-Sac at a Time

Sprawl should be repaired but it will happen incrementally, slowly, at a micro scale, one element at a time. There is a need to challenge outdated regulations, bringing more flexibility, adaptability, and enterprise to subdivisions and cul-de-sacs. Galina Tachieva p. 241

Four types of sprawl

Drivable suburbia, or sprawl, also is not just one, big, lumpy “thing.” It’s fine to use the basic term as a starting point, but it’s important to also see the nuance that is found in the typical suburban environment.