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 till recently there has not been too much 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.

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.

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.

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.

Beyond the white picket fence

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.

Putting People First: 10 Steps Toward Pedestrian-Friendly Suburbs

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

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.

Lean Sprawl Repair – Mall Retrofit

As a comprehensive method for transforming car-dependent environments into walkable, diverse communities, Sprawl Repair includes small-scale and inexpensive interventions. Sprawl Repair works at multiple scales, from the region to the neighborhood and the building, and utilizes a variety of tools that are cost-effective, incremental, and can be quickly implemented. This paper will demonstrate how a mall, the most promising contender for Sprawl Repair, can be retrofitted in small, efficient steps, creating much-needed, cheap space for incubating new businesses and artisan uses, as well as providing affordable student housing.

Getting to know LEED: Neighborhood Development

Is your local grocery store within walking distance…and is there a sidewalk for you to trek there safely? Does your neighborhood boast high-performing green buildings, parks and green space? Do bikes, pedestrians and vehicles play nicely together on the road? LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) was engineered to inspire and help create better, more sustainable, well-connected neighborhoods. It looks beyond the scale of buildings to consider entire communities. Why? Because sprawl is a scary thing. Here’s the antidote.

Picturing Smart Growth – Visions for Sustainable Communities Across America

Cities and towns across the country are embracing smart growth as a better solution to meet the needs of their growing populations. Smart growth principles accommodate growth and development while saving open space, revitalizing neighborhoods and helping cool the planet. Just look at this vision of how smart growth concepts could help give a lifeless street new vitality in the town of Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Rotunda owners right to turn the mall inside-out

While I greatly respect the views of the city officials who think otherwise, their position in favor of a more traditional, inward-facing mall are not in sync with well established community development best-practices.

Transect for Sprawl Repair

Human settlements are resilient and successional in nature. They change, going through cycles of regression, deterioration and advancement. Even the most cosmopolitan cities started as meager hamlets on crossroads, but then grew and matured, while regenerating their physical environment multiple times throughout their histories. Today’s image of American urbanism is inseparable from the image of sprawl: endless, soulless, wasteful, but most importantly, malfunctioning. This predicament may signal a pivotal point, as has happened in previous civilizations, when quantitative and qualitative changes converge and the paradigm shifts towards better human habitats.

The Sprawl Repair Method – How to Transform Sprawl into Complete, Balanced Communities

In 1963 Constantinos Doxiadis published the book Architecture in Transition. No mere contemplation on architecture, the book boldly called for a transition from traditional urbanism to new settlement patterns that would accommodate the car, its movement, and its speed. Doxiadis recognized the contrast between human-scaled and automobile-scaled development.

The opportunity that Apple is missing to build a better neighborhood

I never intended to become so knowledgeable about Apple, Inc.’s new “spaceship” headquarters being developed in Cupertino, California. Really, I didn’t. But the design seemed to me to be way overscaled for humans and particularly wrong for a classic slice of California sprawl that is begging to be retrofitted into a more walkable and people-oriented environment. Apple is already a world leader in consumer technology; this was its chance to be a world leader also for community-oriented sustainability.