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


Sprawl Retrofit Tools

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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

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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.

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’

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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

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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

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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.

Tremendous Economic Development Potential in Pontiac

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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

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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’

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

PARK(ing) Day

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PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

Retrofitting Sprawl: Addressing Seventy Years of Failed Urban Form

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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

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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.

2015 June 11

CNU Utah Sprawl Repair Webinar

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Sprawl Repair can be defined as transforming fragmented, isolated, and car-dependent development into “complete communities.

Sprawl remains the prevailing growth pattern across the United States even though experts in planning, economics and environmental issues have long denounced it as wasteful, inefficient, and unsustainable.  Sprawl is a principal cause of lost open space and natural habitat as well as increases in air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure costs, and even obesity. It also plays a primary role in the housing meltdown plaguing the nation. This begs the question: is it possible to repair our sprawling suburbs and create more livable, robust, and eco-sensitive communities where they do not exist?

Galina Tachieva is an expert on sustainable planning, urban redevelopment, sprawl repair, and form-based codes. As a partner and Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, Architects and Town Planners (DPZ), Tachieva directs and manages the design and implementation of projects in the US and around the world.  Galina is also the author of the Sprawl Repair Manual, an award-winning publication and the first of its kind to focus on the retrofit of auto-centric suburban places into complete, walkable communities.  Hailing from Bulgaria, where she received her degree in architecture, Galina later completed her master’s in urban design at the University of Miami, Florida.  She is certified AICP, LEED-AP, and is a CNU Fellow.

2015 June 5

Stranded Real Estate Assets: Changing Economy, Changing Land Use

The War Memorial, Trenton, New Jersey

Once New Jersey’s model of economic development, large office and retail suburban centers are increasingly underutilized and causing a drain on the local economies. Local leaders find it difficult to create consensus and a shared vision for development, in part due to antiquated land use practices. PlanSmart NJ’s 4th Annual Regional Planning Summit, Stranded Real Estate Assets: Changing Economy, Changing Land Use will bring together experts in planning, redevelopment, and infrastructure to reveal the magnitude of the problem and explore methods to break through common barriers to transform New Jersey’s suburbs into resilient and livable communities where people can live, work, and play.

11:50 – 12:50 pm: Keynote Speaker: Galina Tachieva, AICP – PRESENTATION
Galina Tachieva, author of Sprawl Repair Manual will describe how suburban corporate office parks and retail centers can be repurposed and redesigned to function better in the regional context. She will demonstrate how bold actions can lead to more resilient and equitable communities.

WHAT IS PLANNED DENSIFICATION?

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Planned Densification is a process for implementation of locally-appropriate levels of density over time, in key locations, allowing market supply and demand to coevolve. Density is increasingly desired by municipalities and urban betterment programs–but it is becoming harder to accomplish. Does density belong everywhere? No. It is best designed into key locations, such as near large transportation investments and other infrastructure investments wherein density increases ROA and ROI. Indeed, density in these key locations can sustain lower density elsewhere in a municipality.

Beyond the white picket fence

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With more people gravitating toward cities than ever before, new urban morphologies are proliferating throughout the developed and developing worlds. Roger Keil, a professor at Toronto’s York University, has spent his career thinking about the implications of this process. I spoke with him about Suburban Governance: A Global View, a newly released book he co-edited with University of Montreal professor Pierre Hamel.

Community Design

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RPA’s community design work focuses on promoting sustainable and equitable development patterns by directing as much of the region’s growth as possible to established villages, towns and cities.

RPA works with individual communities throughout the region to demonstrate how both public investment and private development can help them achieve their local objectives for community development and quality of life. The community design program engages this challenge in several ways: by creating vision plans and land use regulations for individual communities, through training programs that build local capacity and by providing resources such as model codes and guidelines. In addition, we have developed an extensive Community Design Manual that aids civic groups and residents in shaping their communities in the absence of professional planning staff.

In recent years, RPA has developed growth and sustainability plans for Bridgeport, Conn., Somerville N.J., and Orange County, N.Y.

Putting People First: 10 Steps Toward Pedestrian-Friendly Suburbs

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The University of Utah estimates that 2.8 million acres of parking lots and other greyfield areas are ripe for redevelopment, and 1.1 million acres are available in underutilized shopping areas, such as strip malls and vacant storefronts (Dunham Jones and Williamson 2009). Transforming these landscapes will be a 21st-century planning and development priority in the United States.

Lifelong Communities: A Framework for Planning

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In June, 2014, ARC, joined by community and tactical urbanism partners, created a temporary Lifelong Community on two-blocks of Atlanta’s historic Sweet Auburn Avenue. Over a period of three days, The “Sweet Auburn Living Beyond Expectations” project demonstrated many of the elements that help create a Lifelong Community.