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On Common Ground: Summer 2006


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New Urbanism is Blooming …

New Urbanism is Blooming

Perhaps the most valuable tool in the Smart Growth toolkit is New Urbanism. While Smart Growth principles support higher density, mixed-use, walkable environments, New Urbanism is proving to be the most successful method for making these Smart Growth goals achievable.

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  • 1. ▼ Repopulating cities ▼ Where New Urbanism is headed ▼ TOD time is here SUMMER 2006 New Urbanism is Blooming
  • 2. Looking to the Future and the legal language of zoning ordinances—did more walking not result in specific places that exhibited interest built into daily activities—point to an even greater with New Urbanism or beauty, or could be loved. New Urbanism has brought a renewed focus to the uniqueness that makes a place memorable. New Urbanism is finding acceptance as more future demand for this type of real estate. Local government officials increasingly are seeing New Urban development as a possible solution to the “growth wars” between developers P erhaps the most valuable tool in the Smart places. For decades, in spite of all the good inten- consumers are deciding that the particulars of a and anti-growth activists, and the most direct path Growth toolkit is New Urbanism. While tions for “quality development” and ”community place do matter and that the convenience and to achieving the built-environment portion of Smart Growth principles support higher den- character,” little attention has been given to what greater vitality of a mixed-use, higher density, Smart Growth. And planners are creating new sity, mixed-use, walkable environments, New the new places we were building looked like and walkable neighborhood more than offsets sacrific- regulatory and consensus-building tools that can Urbanism is proving to be the most successful felt like on the ground. Architectural historian ing the large lot. Several trends—the increased promote the best designs. While New Urbanism method for making these Smart Growth goals Vincent Scully has stressed the need to develop our market acceptance of condominiums, smaller represents a small portion of what is being built achievable. New Urbanism is finding increased “sense of the particular” in designing urban spaces, household sizes, the desire to avoid traffic conges- today, it promises to have a huge influence on acceptance in the marketplace and in the arena of to develop “an infinity of particular images of par- tion and the interest in leading a healthier life with what gets built over the next few decades. public favor—so necessary to achieve the govern- ticular places, loved and specific.” The plans in the ment approvals and permits required to complete a latter half of the last century—with the most-used real estate project. planning tools being the color-coded land-use map New Urbanism is an urban design movement For more information on NAR and Smart Growth, go to that aims to reform urban planning and real estate development toward building more human-scaled On Common Ground is published twice a year by the Government Affairs office of the NATIONAL and walkable communities. It is a reaction against ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR), and is distributed free of charge. The publication presents a wide the predominant development pattern of the mid- range of views on Smart Growth issues, with the goal of encouraging a dialogue among REALTORS®, elected to late-20th century—low-density, generic devel- officials and other interested citizens. The opinions expressed in On Common Ground are those of the authors opment types that are separated by use and tied and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policy of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, its together by roadways and parking lots. New members or affiliate organizations. Urbanism is strongly influenced by the traditional urban patterns that dominated up to the 1920s, Editor: Joseph R. Molinaro, Manager, Smart Growth Programs although it modifies these patterns to address the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® contemporary realities of the demand for larger 500 New Jersey Avenue, NW homes, the greater use of automobiles and large- Washington, DC 20001 scale retail formats. New Urbanism also attempts to create areas Distribution: For more copies of this issue or to be placed on our mailing list for future issues that are more appreciated and valued as special of On Common Ground, please contact Ted Wright, NAR Government Affairs, at (202) 383-1206 or 2 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 3
  • 3. 48 Mississippi Yearning On Common Ground Summer 2006 6 Shaping the Landscape The state of New Urbanism; where it’s been and where it’s going. by Brad Broberg 12 Now is the Time for TODs by John Van Gieson 18 New Life for the Old Mall The renewal of out-dated suburban malls into living town centers. by Heidi Johnson-Wright 18 24 Following the Path of New Urbanism New Life for the Old Mall Infill development boosts cities’ economy, character and appeal. by Jason Miller 30 Reflecting on Traditions New Urbanism is being used to build traditional neighborhoods. by Steve Wright 36 Getting the Codes Right Form-based codes may be 60 the key to future community plans. by David Goldberg 42 The Affordability Equation by Jason Miller Green is the Smart Choice 48 Mississippi Yearning 30 Building back, better, on the Gulf Coast. by David Goldberg 54 Back to the Future of Cities Building higher density or repopulating Traditional Neighborhoods existing cities is the true New Urbanism. by Brad Broberg 60 Green is the Smart Choice New Urbanism designs lead to self-sustainable and energy-efficient developments. by Christine Jordan Sexton 64 Smart Growth in the States 12 On Common Ground thanks the following contributors and organizations for photographs, illustrations and artist renderings reprinted in this issue: Battery Park City Authority; Dr. Jon Bell, Presbyterian College, Clinton SC; Dan Camp; Central Community Housing Trust, Urban Works Architecture and CharretteCenter; city of Pasadena and TrizecHahn Development; Cluts O’Brien Strother Architects; Congress for New Urbanism; Cooper Carry & Associates; Gale Communities; Shirley Gotelli; Seth Harry; Susan Henderson; Jaime CORREA and Associates; Kelley-Markham Architecture and Planning; Patrick Kelly; Kentlands Citizens Assembly; Steve Lawton; 24 Future Transit Needs Master Properties; Mike McCaw,; McGough Development; Metropolitan Council, St. Paul, Minn.; Metro Transit, Minn.; Jason Miller; Mississippi Department of Tourism; Montgomery County, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Affairs; Scott Morris; Ray Peacock, REALTOR®, CENTURY 21 City Wide; Ron Pollard; Portland Development Commission; Gordon Price; Frank Ooms; Milt Rhodes, AICP; David Rusk; Seattle Housing Authority; Sandy Sorlien; Stan Ries Photography; Gary Sutto; and Whittaker Homes. Infill Development 4 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 5
  • 4. Shaping the Landscape By Brad Broberg The state of New Urbanism; where it’s been and where it’s going. 6 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 7
  • 5. L attes and leisure suits tell a tale of two trends. When he looks into the future, he sees two pow- One went from a novelty to a national habit. The erful statistics roaring down the track that bode other—thank heaven—died in a disco inferno. well for New Urbanism. Number one, America is What do lattes and leisure suits have to do with embarking on a building boom that will last New Urbanism? All three faced—or are facing—the through 2030. Number two, the overwhelming challenge of gaining permanent mainstream majority of new households over the next 20 years acceptance. will be childless. The first stat speaks to opportuni- With two decades of progress in the books, New ty. The second speaks to demand. Urbanism is no longer the novelty it once was. The “A non-child household wants something … question is: On a scale of latte to leisure suit, where more than a suburban neighborhood,” said Nelson. does New Urbanism stand today? “I think that’s where the market is headed.” “I think it’s here to stay,” said Chris Nelson, pro- That’s not to say New Urban communities aren’t You can have good fessor and director of Urban Affairs and Planning at family friendly. They are. They’re just different— Virginia Tech. more diverse in form, function and appeal—than urban environments So does Robert Steuteville, editor of the New Urban News. “The trend has been growing and it’s the subdivisions that have dominated the nation’s new housing market for the last 50 years. where there is a good a sizable niche,” he said. “I definitely think it’s moving more into the mainstream and proving Pursued as urban retrofit, suburban infill and greenfield development, New Urbanism represents range of choices. itself.” a return to the way many people used to live—and Nelson has spent 20 years studying land-use a vehicle to apply many of the principles of Smart enough to the sidewalks that residents can greet planning, growth management and urban develop- Growth. Advocates cite its potential to reduce auto- passersby from their front porches. With homes San Diego, California ment policy and served as a HUD consultant under mobile use, create diverse housing and rein in pushed to the front, back yards become more two presidents. urban sprawl as well as its support for historic usable. Garages, served by alleys, are sited to the Kansas City. “The stereotype would be young sin- preservation, safe streets and green building. rear. Civic buildings are sprinkled throughout the gles/couples and empty nesters, but we’ve found Kentlands, a 352-acre community north of neighborhood and businesses can be reached in many, many places that is absolutely not the Washington, D.C., is “a great example of New without leaving local streets. A wide range of case,” he said. Urbanism done right,” said Nelson. Founded in housing types enables residents to find homes that “Families with kids love New Urbanist proj- 1988 in Gaithersburg, Md., Kentlands is home to suit each stage of their lives without leaving the ects—more than anything because of the sense of more than 5,000 people who enjoy a lifestyle far community. And everything—all needs of daily community,” said Klinkenberg. “I honestly don’t different than most suburbanites. life—is within walking distance. think it has any one niche appeal—other than to Kentlands reflects most key features of New Today, such communities account for just a frac- people who are generally a bit more active and Urbanism: Tree-lined streets form blocks interrupt- tion of the nation’s housing supply, but the door is outgoing.” ed here and there by small parks. Some lots are open for New Urbanism to break through in a big For the last five years, Klinkenberg and his firm narrow, others more spacious. Houses are near way. According to a report prepared by Nelson and have focused exclusively on New Urban projects published by the Brookings Institute, approximate- such as New Longview. Located on 260 acres of a ly half of the buildings in which Americans will historic former farm east of Kansas City, New Half of the places live, work and shop in 2030 will have been built Longview’s 1,100 homes consist of a mix of apart- ments, town houses, cottages and large single- people will call home since 2000—with most of the building boom con- sisting of residential construction. family dwellings featuring front porches, garages two decades from Here’s another way to state that stat: Half of the places people will call home two decades from in back and compact yards—all built in conjunc- tion with offices, shops, restaurants, an elemen- now don’t exist yet. now don’t exist yet, creating a very big and very blank canvas for New Urbanism to make a very tary school and a network of parks and trails. In big splash. Nelson believes there’s every reason to Bethesda, Maryland expect that will happen given the special appeal Kentlands, Maryland of New Urbanism to a fast-growing segment of the population—households without children. Between now and 2020, America will welcome 26.9 million new households, said Nelson, with 24.4 million of them being childless and more likely to seek alternatives to the suburban status quo. It would be a mistake, however, to think New Urbanism’s appeal is confined to any one market segment, said Kevin Klinkenberg, architect and principal with 180 Degrees Design Studio in 8 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 9
  • 6. If developers get the design right opportunity, said Nelson—provided potential opposition can be overcome. “A lot of local govern- ment to traditional Main Street design. In response, they are pioneering a concept that in the beginning, ments don’t want high-density around the sta- wraps big box stores inside a cocoon of neighbor- tions,” he said. “They want to maintain single- hood retailers, said Steuteville. the market will family homes with large lots.” Another challenge is to make New Urban com- reward them in Steuteville said the biggest lesson New Urbanists have learned is that “there is a tremen- munities more affordable. Right now, demand exceeds supply and prices reflect that, said the long run. dous amount of application for this idea. It seems almost endless.” Some people, he said, insist all Steuteville. However, as more New Urban com- munities are developed, competition should tem- development should occur in cities and if it per prices, he said. doesn’t, then it’s urban sprawl. “The New So should the ongoing spread of form-based Urbanists have taken that and said it’s not the codes, said John Norquist, president and CEO of location, it’s the design,” he said. the Congress for the New Urbanism. Rather than Along with greater appreciation for New forcing New Urbanists to spend time and money Urbanism’s range of application has come greater seeking variances to conventional zoning codes, acceptance that there is no single way to build a form-based codes support construction of mixed- New Urban community, said Steuteville. “The use neighborhoods by focusing more on the size, idea has evolved over time to embrace the concept form and placement of buildings and less on sep- of greater choice,” he said. “It’s not just about arating land uses (residential vs. commercial) and density. It’s about the urban form in general.” restricting density (housing units per acre). While that may represent a slight paradigm The advent of form-based codes reflects the shift, it provides necessary flexibility, said start of a fundamental shift away from the sprawl- Steuteville. “The density depends on what type of promoting principles that have guided growth and project you’re trying to build,” he said. “It makes development in this country for more than 50 no sense to have 100 residents per acre in a ham- years, said Norquist. “The fact that builders don’t let. What New Urbanists have found out is that hunger for separate-use zoning as much as they addition, New Longview is preserving several of you can have good urban environments where used to means local governments are much less the original farm buildings and converting them there is a good range of choices.” likely to keep it,” he said. into new uses. Cattle and dairy barns, for example, Steuteville said New Urbanists have “expand- It also means that like the latte, New Urbanism will house offices and a former mansion will host That’s not to say the elements haven’t evolved as ed their toolkit and become better at tackling a is here to stay. weddings and other special events. developers gain more experience with New whole range of problems.” For example, one of “We specialize in New Urbanism because very Urbanism. Take the retail component, for example. their biggest challenges involves creating town Brad Broberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer specializ- simply it’s what we enjoy doing and what we are Developers have learned that town centers won’t centers with enough shopping options to keep ing in business and development issues. His work appears passionate about,” said Klinkenberg. “We’ve had prosper if they are insulated from traffic even if people from driving elsewhere to meet their retail regularly in the Puget Sound Business Journal and the that inclination for years. When the opportunity people can easily walk to them. “The rules of retail- needs—all without compromising their commit- Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. presented itself via the marketplace to do this full ing don’t change just because it’s a New Urbanism time, we jumped on it. I personally couldn’t imag- project,” said Klinkenberg. ine doing anything else.” More and more designers, builders, planners Still, it’s critical that developers of New Urbanism resist straying too far from the formula, New Urbanism has gained considerable acceptance and developers are beginning to share Klinkenberg’s enthusiasm. “In general, New said Klinkenberg. Common mistakes include streets with cul de sacs, oversized lots and the omission of compared to where we were 10 or 20 years ago. Urbanism has gained considerable acceptance walkable destinations such as stores, cafés and compared to where we were 10 or 20 years ago,” he parks. “The advice we give people is don’t do it if said. “Back then, people [suspected] there would you’re half-hearted,” said Klinkenberg. “The half- be a market for it. Now, the development communi- hearted ones are the ones that struggle. And that’s ty recognizes across the board that there is market because buyers recognize it.” acceptance for it and that there is clearly a Nelson agrees. “If developers get the design demand.” right in the beginning, the market will reward them On the other hand, existing land-use regulations in the long run,” he said. Their biggest challenge, often conflict with New Urbanism’s embrace of high- said Nelson, involves creating a viable situation for er densities and mixed uses. “The biggest problem we retail. “A lot of these New Urban communities are have at this point is getting these projects approved … too small to support large-scale retail and so people in a fashion that they’re not watered down,” said have to drive to a shopping center,” he said. “That Klinkenberg. “New Urbanism is a system of doing has not been figured out effectively in my view.” things, and it works well as a system. But when you If retail is New Urbanism’s biggest challenge, start leaving out elements, it doesn’t work well.” then transit-oriented development is its biggest 10 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 11
  • 7. Now is the time for TODsHomebuyers are waiting Homebuyers are waiting in line for transit-oriented in line for transit-oriented development development By John Van Gieson 12 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 13
  • 8. Transit-oriented development provides The opposition got so intense that the local con- spanning three hours, twice a day,” said Anne the right mix of gressman, Rep. Tom Davis, threatened to withhold federal funding if the Washington Area Harrington, a Fairfax County REALTOR®. “If the developers do the same as they have done for the housing, shopping Metropolitan Transit Authority sold a 3.67 acre tract adjacent to the Vienna station to Pulte. The other Metro stops it will be good for the residents; they seem to provide a lively community for the and recreation choices. transit authority sold the land to the developer, in spite of Davis’ opposition, and the Fairfax County young and often single population, who want Metro access into the city and all the amenities of TOD advocates cite five principles of real tran- Board of Supervisors approved the project in life within steps of their condos/townhouses.” sit-oriented development: March. Transit-related real estate investments are 1. Location efficiency, a level of density that pro- “From the time this project was submitted until booming in Minneapolis, which opened the motes walking, biking, using mass transit and it was approved the project has become a much Hiawatha Line in 2004, 50 years and one week getting rid of a car or two; better project,” said Jon Lindgren, land acquisi- after the city closed its last streetcar line. The 12- 2. Increased transit ridership and less traffic; tions manager for Pulte in the Vienna area. mile line runs from downtown Minneapolis to the 3. Rich mixes of uses and consumer choices; MetroWest is a 56-acre community that will Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to the 4. Value creation and value capture by both pri- include 2,248 residences, 300,000 square feet of Mall of America, the nation’s largest shopping vate and public sectors; and office space and 100,000 square feet of retail mall. Ridership, 7.8 million passengers in the first 5. Creation of a sense of place. space. To acquire land for the project, Pulte full year, has exceeded projections by 58 percent. The story of mass transit in this country begins bought out the owners of the single-family homes A 1999 market study of new housing units near with the older subway, “L” and commuter train sys- that once occupied the site. Construction is sched- Hiawatha Line stations projected demand for tems in New York, Chicago, Boston and uled to start next spring. 7,150 units by 2020. As of February 2006, more Philadelphia, some dating to the 1800s. A second Changes that Pulte agreed to make included than 5,400 units had been constructed or were wave of transit systems developed roughly 30 years reducing building heights, accelerating develop- under construction. The city of Minneapolis had ago in Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Miami; ment of retail and office space, adding housing for processed permits for 7,000 additional units by 2008. and Atlanta. In the last decade or so mass transit retirees, and improving roads leading to the sta- Mark Garner, senior project coordinator for the systems have triggered revitalization of underused tion, which sits in the median of Interstate 66. Minneapolis Department of Community Planning, or blighted areas in places as diverse as Pulte also agreed to pay up to $2 million in fines if said 11 housing projects have been completed Minneapolis, Denver, Portland, Dallas and San Diego. the company fails to reduce by about 50 percent around neighborhood stations with 10 others TOD is booming—Ohland says about 100 cities the increased traffic the project will generate. under construction. He said the projects offer a and regions are building or planning transit lines— To encourage residents to ride the Metro, Pulte mix of condos and rental units, with some provid- but there are numerous pitfalls. Transit systems are is planning to offer them free transit passes. ing affordable housing. T he theory is, if you build high-density, expensive—the new Hiawatha Line light rail sys- “The biggest worry mixed-use, transit-oriented developments tem in Minneapolis costs more than $700 million— for the surrounding (TODs) that are pedestrian friendly and but the supply of federal funds to help pay for tran- area is the increase in located close to mass transit stations, they will nat- sit has not kept up with the demand. traffic density, and it is urally seek out the development. The “they” are Other complications include outmoded zoning already a nightmare primarily empty nesters and young professionals and parking codes that restrict developers and getting into Washington who either don’t want a single-family suburban increase costs; dealing with several regulatory during the rush hours; home lifestyle or can’t bear the thought of actually jurisdictions; convincing old-fashioned lenders to note the plural, as the living there. invest their money in new ways of developing staggered work day They are seeking a lifestyle that features hous- property; and opposition from neighbors who fear produces rush hours ing, shopping, entertainment and recreation con- that high-density, mixed-use developments will veniently located a short walk from the rail system increase their taxes, raise their housing costs or that takes them to work, or to other destinations if swamp their streets with traffic. they are retirees. “It’s a huge issue,” Ohland said. “A lot of neigh- They won’t need a car or hopefully will forego a borhoods don’t want their neighborhoods to second car, becoming heroes to Smart Growth change. In low-income neighborhoods they’re real- advocates in the fight against suburban sprawl, ly worried about rents being shoved up and hous- traffic congestion and pollution. ing prices being shoved up.” “Transit-oriented development is development Pulte Homes, which is developing the $700 mil- within a half-mile of transit,” said Gloria Ohland, sen- lion MetroWest project south of the Vienna Metro ior editor of Reconnecting America’s Center for Transit-Oriented Development in Los Angeles. “It pro- Orange Line in the Northern Virginia suburbs, started with a good plan and the good will of local TOD is breathing new vides the right mix of housing, shopping and recre- ation choices; it provides value for both the public and politicians but still had to make numerous changes to deal with issues raised by NIMBY (not in my life into areas that private sectors; and it creates a sense of place.” backyard) neighbors. have been served by mass transit systems. 14 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 15
  • 9. Hiawatha Square in Minnesota There is a huge pent-up and growing demand for Meanwhile, a Center for Transportation-Oriented housing in walking distance of transit stations. Development study completed last year projected demand for new housing at 88,000 units along the Hiawatha Line and a planned Northstar commuter Under construction in Jersey City is the $4.8 tury, losing 6,000 of its 80,000 residents and line. billion Liberty Harbor North, a 28-block project imposing high taxes on those who remained. Nationally, according to a 2004 report by the designed by New Urbanist guru Andres Duany, a In 1989, before there was much clamor about Center on Transit-Oriented Development, there is a Miami architect. The project plan includes 6,338 TOD, the city moved to revitalize itself by creating huge pent-up and growing demand for housing in housing units along streets designed to look like a downtown plan that emphasized higher-density walking distance of transit stations. Called Greenwich Village, 775,000 square feet of retail residential development around four rail stations. “Hidden in Plain Sight,” the study said there are space, 4.6 million square feet of office space, a 1.1 The city eased parking requirements and built a 3,341 transit stations now with 630 new ones likely million square foot hotel and a 175,000 square foot transportation center, a new library and a down- to be built by 2025, with 14 million people living school. town research park. within a half-mile of transit stations. glass-encased condo towers called Reflections, is “This is the finest example of architecture and Today, downtown Evanston is booming. “There will be potential to more than double the scheduled to open during the summer of 2006. planning Jersey City has ever seen,” Planning Economic activity is up, and property taxes are amount of housing in transit zones by 2025,” the McGough originally envisioned a different kind Director Bob Cotter told the Jersey City down. More than 2,500 new residences have been study concluded. of project but changed course after a potential “This is going to be one hell of a developed, including a dozen downtown high- If so, this would be a very good time to invest in investor told them they didn’t know what they were development project.” rises. A former Marshall Field department store TOD. Doubling the number of housing units near doing. So they changed course, and McGough Two rail lines, the Chicago Transit Authority has been converted into 55 condos and 43,000 transit stations would require building an average planners visited Portland, San Francisco, Purple Line and the Metra commuter line, run 290 square feet of commercial/retail space. of 2,100 units around each of the 3,971 current and Vancouver, Toronto and Los Angeles to learn what trains a day through Evanston. Most residents live The TOD theory holds true, and the key is to future stations. TOD was all about. within a short walk of transit and studies show keep building because they are here and they are Bloomington Central Station, under develop- “We really immersed ourselves in the world of that 74 percent of riders there walk or ride their seeking the opportune lifestyle that TODs offer. ment by the McGough Co. of St. Paul, Minn., is a transit-oriented development,” said Mark Fabel of bikes to the stations. John Van Gieson is a freelance writer based in 43-acre, $700 million project featuring 1,000 con- McGough. “We had to. We were learning and col- Despite its attractions, Evanston went into an Tallahassee, Florida. He owns and runs Van Gieson dos, a large hotel, 1.25 million square feet of office laborating together with Bloomington. This is a economic tailspin in the latter part of the last cen- Media Relations, Inc. and commercial space. The first phase, twin, public-private partnership from every level.” Bloomington Central Station is being built with Reflections in Minneapolis, Minnesota the assistance of $58.5 million in public financing. Hoboken, New Jersey Fabel suggested that’s a good investment. He said the tax base at the site now is $40 million. In 15 years it’s projected to be $700 million. TOD is breathing new life into areas that have been served by mass transit systems for many years but for various reasons had fallen into decay and decline. Two of the best examples are the Jersey City/Hoboken area, which offers spectacular views of Lower and Midtown Manhattan from its location on the west bank of the Hudson River, and Evanston, Ill., a leafy, older, inner-ring suburb fac- ing Lake Michigan just over Chicago’s northern border. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line, construct- ed largely on brownfields behind the glittering office towers lining the river in Jersey City, opened in 2000. Since then more than 4,164 housing units have been built along the line and property values have doubled. There will be potential to more than double the amount of housing in transit zones by 2025. 16 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 17
  • 10. NewLife The renewal of outdated suburban malls into living town centers By Heidi Johnson-Wright for the old Mall W here once there was an isolated, hulk of a building with many empty tenant spaces, there now sits appropriately-scaled, thriving retail outlets. Where there had been a sea of asphalt sur- face parking, one finds attractive public spaces that draw people in and verdant streetscapes that make them linger. Where visitors had been dependent on cars to take them to a moribund, traditional mall, there is now a flourishing town center serviced by public transit. Enclosed suburban malls—those places where dad bought a wrench at Sears, mom purchased a handbag at JCPenney and junior got a model airplane kit at Montgomery Ward—are frequently becoming a thing of the past. Taking their place are New Urbanism-flavored developments that offer a human-scale sense of place with compatible mixed uses. “All real estate is cyclical,” said Lee Sobel, lead author of “Greyfields into Goldfields: Dead Malls Become Living Neighborhoods,” published by the Congress for New Urbanism. 18 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 19
  • 11. Englewood, Colorado “There’s the initial honeymoon period, a hey- day, then changes in the market happen. Maybe there’s a point of stabilization, then possibly a falling on hard times,” said Sobel. Malls are unique; they are typically the largest commercial property in a town, county or city, Sobel points out. The approximately 1,700 mall sites nationwide range in size from 30 to 80 acres and sometimes even as much as 160 acres. Not many other properties in a community offer this amount of space for redevelopment. Yet not all malls that fit this description are grey- fields. The term, according to Sobel’s book, “hint(s) at a sea of asphalt separating a regional or super- This project regional shopping mall from its town.” More importantly, the term incorporated New denotes “economically obso- lescent malls … that offer Urbanist principles by large infill redevelopment opportunities.” creating spaces with “These types of greyfield malls are typically located at 18 hours of use. the outer edge of a first tier or at the start of a second tier the mall was in decline but decided to let the mar- suburb,” said Sobel. ketplace determine direction. “[It] had no direct While the mental image of control over the property although [it] did maintain a care-worn mall whose ownership of the property underneath the parking anchor stores have long ago structure.” pulled out is disheartening, As one of the first inner-ring suburbs of Denver, Sobel sees it as an “opportu- Englewood was pushing for lively retail develop- nity to give the community ment because its tax base was drying up. an identity, to retain resi- Several years before the last Cinderella City ten- dents and to bring back jobs ant left in 1997, the city advertised a Request for and revenue.” Proposals for redevelopment of the site. The pro- Successfully redeveloping posals came back for big box retail development a greyfield dovetails with that barely incorporated a light-rail station coming principles listed in the to the site. Charter for the Congress of That plan was scrapped. Eventually the city acquired ownership of the property and reached New Urbanism such as: com- munities designed to foster out to citizen groups, developers and planners and Enclosed suburban malls are pedestrian travel and transit use, spaces shaped by physi- came up with transit-oriented, mixed-use develop- ment for the old mall site. frequently becoming a thing of the cally defined and universally accessible public spaces and “The development community did not believe that this product would be successful [so] the city past; taking their place are New urban places framed by har- monious architecture and stepped up to make it happen,” Simpson said of the skepticism about New Urbanist redevelopment. Urbanism-flavored developments. landscape design. Englewood contributed $18 million to the $38 Although it has some national chain big box retail, City Center City Center in Englewood, Colo., is a mixed-use, million project. also has smaller local businesses. The architecture and scale transit-oriented development that embodies such “We acted as master developer of the project respect the nearby neighborhood streets. Public art, including an New Urbanist ideals. Previously the site of the [and] … created a not-for-profit development cor- interactive fountain, adds a nice touch. failed Cinderella City Mall, it features retail, poration,” said Simpson, explaining that the corpo- “Our goals were simple: long-term sustainability, mixed use offices, residential and civic functions integrated ration demolished the mall, completed environ- including housing, civic, culture, retail, large merchandisers and into the surrounding neighborhood via an internal mental remediation and sold property to retail and transit, and a ‘people place’,” Simpson said. street grid and appropriately-scaled buildings. housing developers. David Owen Tryba’s City Center master plan included a civic “Englewood’s story is a winding road,” said Bob The nonprofit development corporation main- center which incorporated a relocated town hall and library. The Simpson, community development director for the tains the property and acts much like a mall man- project created a public realm with bridges from the rail station city of Englewood. “The city had been aware that agement company. leading down grand stairways to a series of public plazas. 20 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 21
  • 12. Pasadena, California Old suburban malls can indeed become thriving people centers. serviced by multiple bus lines. It offers many activities of daily living within a walkable area. Architectural styles are linked together and the development respects the 1920s plan. In Chesterfield County, Va., Tom Jacobson, director of Revitalization for the county’s Our goals were simple: Community Development Department, is trying to use New Urbanism to turn the moribund long-term sustainability ... Cloverleaf Mall and surrounding undeveloped lands into a successful redevelopment. and a people place. The mall was built in 1974 in suburban Richmond at a freeway interchange. It was a “The task force developed a set of recommended three-anchor, T-shaped enclosed mall that was public improvement and descriptions for develop- very successful for years, serving much of south- ment opportunities, what the uses might be and the ern Virginia. Then two additional shopping cen- form of the buildings,” said Bill Trimble, a senior ters were built nearby and began competing with planner with the city, who conducted walking tours Cloverleaf. Signs of obvious decline began in the and had stakeholders taking pictures of good and mid-1990s. Today only 27 merchants—some of bad civic design. which are kiosks—out of a previous 70 remain. The preliminary drawings include formal The consensus disliked a large asphalt plaza in The food court, two sit-down restaurants and parks, boulevarded streets and linear pedestrian front of city hall and it craved places to dine and movie theater are all closed. and bike-friendly greenway spaces. Chesterfield attract people to the area. The initial proposal rec- “One can make wonderful observations also is considering tax increment financing and ommended an entertainment, retail and dining through hindsight. The mall owner had several financial incentives to partner with developers. complex without residential. It was revised to opportunities to expand the mall and didn’t,” said “We are looking at a town center concept with “This project incorporated New Urbanist princi- include about 400 housing units. Jacobson. condos and apartments over first-floor retail, high- ples by creating spaces with 18 hours of use. And When built, Paseo Colorado reconnected the “In 1998, the county did a comprehensive plan er density residential and small-lot single family, it’s different than other transit-oriented develop- city’s principle civic institutions: city hall, the civic and market study. The centrally-located site met all with elements of walkability. Other similar ments because of the civic presence. The civic auditorium and the public library. The project planning criteria for a regional, mixed-use node projects have been done elsewhere in the county realm is an anchor,” said Bill Moon, a principal stands out from other greyfield developments in that would include commercial, offices and resi- to great success,” said Jacobson. with David Owen Tryba Architects. “Previously, that it did not totally raze the old mall structure. dential uses. This was a typical commercial corri- There is strong support for the economic devel- Englewood had no place to celebrate. It now has Two levels of parking owned by the city under a dor built in the 1970s. Not the best period in opment side and less support for the residential public plazas and green grass for concerts and block area were maintained but renovated. American architecture or planning,” he said, elements because of concern about the higher events.” For municipalities looking to redevelop a grey- referring to the piecemeal commercial develop- density. The county is working with a strong In Pasadena, Calif., the upscale Paseo Colorado field site, Trimble advises looking at the big picture, ment along the corridor, with residential develop- stakeholders’ group to educate them that addition- shopping and residential development is rooted in a notion important to New Urbanist principles ments scattered to the west. al housing means support for stores and offices. the “City Beautiful” plan created during the 1920s. advocating publicly accessible areas and gathering Chesterfield County adopted a plan for revital- “The secret is to get the private interests to It replaced Plaza Pasadena, a downtown mall spaces. izing the corridor, whose anchor is clearly the reinvest in their businesses and residents to that failed to meet expectations since the time it “Think about the development of a district, not mall. The county met with the mall owner, who improve their homes and properties,” he said. “I opened in 1980. The flagging mall had hurt the just a project to be seen in isolation. And don’t went into bankruptcy, and the mall came into the feel confident. I think it’s going to work.” city’s revenue stream because California’s famed assume what works in one spot works in another. possession of a Canadian bank with no develop- So with these successful examples, it appears Proposition 13 capped property tax rates, forcing We were dealing with a 19-year-old mall one block ment expertise or interest. old suburban malls can indeed become thriving municipalities to be more dependent on tax dollars from city hall that is part of a larger civic center “It was clear the county needed to be proactive people centers using the New Urbanist touch. generated by retail. area. The [City Beautiful] plan is unlike other plans because the private sector just couldn’t make it Anticipating the need for redevelopment of the because it integrated the civic and commercial,” he happen. The county needed to partner with a Heidi Johnson-Wright frequently writes about Smart mall site, the city of Pasadena worked with stake- said. developer,“ said Jacobson, who worked with local Growth and sustainable communities. She and her holders to assemble a civic center plan in 1990 and Paseo is pure New Urbanism in that it lies with- stakeholders and a consultant to update a market husband live in a restored historic home in the heart a master plan in 1998. in a quarter mile of two light-rail stations and is study for the site. of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact her at: 22 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 23
  • 13. By Jason Miller T he popularity of infill development and redevelopment—building on vacant lots or razing dilapidated properties and building new—has grown rapidly over the past decade as buildable land becomes more scarce in the nation’s urban centers. Today, after decades of decline and pop- ulation loss following World War II, virtually every city of size in the U.S. is pursuing some form of infill development, whether it’s a small-scale, single- building project or reclaiming a 400-acre brownfield site. Despite the challenges that confront infill developers—economic realities, ecological contamination, and conventional zoning codes, to name a few— infill success stories abound. Communities are changing their codes, devel- oping public and private partnerships, and leveling the regulatory playing field to revive and rejuvenate their built environments. The locals are notic- ing the changes, and are coming back in droves as citizens of communities born of Smart Growth principles and built on New Urbanist design. Delivering an identity In Hercules, Calif., 16 miles north of Oakland, a 400-acre brownfield site nestled into San Pablo Bay has been transformed into a series of three sought-after, mixed-use neighborhoods. The neighborhoods—the Waterfront District, Central Neighborhood and New Town Center Neighborhood, lie on land formerly occupied by the Hercules Powder Company, a dynamite man- ufacturer that opened its doors in 1881 and closed them in the 1960s. In part because of the cleanup costs associated with dynamite powder contamination, and unstable bay mud 30 to 70 feet below the ground, the site—which was one of the largest undeveloped parcels of bayside land in the region—lay untouched until the late 1990s, when the city began to eye it as a possible infill opportunity. Responding to residents’ desire for a town center, the Hercules Planning Commission and City Council commissioned a form-based code to allow a traditional urban fabric. Called the Central Hercules Plan, the new code is delivering what conventional zoning codes never could, says Stephen Lawton, community development director for the city of Hercules. “The town coalesced around the Central Hercules Plan because the citi- zens wanted to have a place called Hercules. They looked to their govern- ment and said ‘We’re going to have a place here, not faceless sprawl.’ That plan and the way in which it was developed was the biggest breakthrough here. It was the first form-based code adopted by a California municipality.” Nearing completion, the new neighborhoods in Hercules are just one example of the de-industrialization taking place in this bedroom community of 23,000. The neighborhoods offer single-family homes with alley-loaded garages (some built in pairs as “attached duets”), mixed-use buildings, Infill development boosts cities’ economy, character and appeal 24 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 25
  • 14. live/work units, shops and restaurants, and a cor- surrounding San Francisco area, there is so little tioning our development as a transit village, a ner drugstore. True to its word, the city is guiding Residents chose to land yet available for development. The response, pedestrian community, a place where you meet the development to support the town center, therefore, should be to conserve the land, says and know your neighbors. grounding Hercules among the surrounding cities stay and become a part Balico, encouraging REALTORS® interested in “Both property values and prices have gone up and towns in Contra Costa County. “We’re delivering a heart for Hercules,” says of the new emerging selling infill development to work with all comers to address the challenges. as Hercules matures. But the credit belongs to the city of Hercules because of their great planning Lawton. “We’ll have an urban town square in a sub- urban location, a place where people can gather neighborhood. “Start by working with your city to develop public/private partnership programs. Tax incre- for what they want Hercules to be 10 to 15 years from now.” and meet their neighbors, and a place that feels ment financing can provide incentives for devel- owe part of its attraction to the urban conveniences like a center—because it is. That will add value opers to take on infill projects. In California, a Smaller is better that already exist and are planned for the near over the years, and give Hercules an identity.” redevelopment agency can help to provide finan- The Cotton District, in Starkville, Miss., proves term. Within the next two years, residents will leave Property values in Hercules since infill construc- cial assistance, too. In the end, cities have a that sometimes six square blocks is all you need to their front doors and walk to shops or restaurants tion began have already risen to the tune of 100 choice: They can help a developer make his num- achieve perfection. Developer Dan Camp, who within minutes. In 2007, a Capitol Corridor rail sta- percent, although part of that immediate increase bers work, or they can refuse and end up staring became mayor of Starkville in 2005, has been tion will provide access to an existing rail service is probably driven by regional growth, says Lawton, at dilapidated properties for decades.” working wonders in the Cotton District for almost that runs from Sacramento to San José. A ferry ter- pointing out that Hercules already ranks as one of When a partnership is formed, value rises from four decades. Early on, when the land was cheap- minal for the San Francisco Bay Water Transit the top two cities in California for property value previously underutilized land. With price points er, he began buying dilapidated buildings and System is currently in the planning process. A bus increases in new and existing houses. from $604,990 to $692,990, John Laing Homes— empty lots, and transforming them into low-cost route also is planned, completing a trio of motor- “Some portion of that initial increase is due to the one of several builders in the Hercules infill site— rental housing for students from Mississippi State ized transportation options. plan—and Hercules is a very nice place to be—but I draws local buyers primarily, especially those who University, which borders the site. And even The components of transportation, housing think its strength will be seen in its longevity. As the want a brand-new home that is priced competi- though the lots today sell for significantly more options and a walkable town plan with a recogniz- trees and buildings mature, real estate economists tively with the resale market. But it isn’t simply than they did almost 40 years ago, Camp continues able center adds up to a genuine result, says years from now will probably say this area has held the individual houses that drive potential buyers’ to create beautiful and affordable small homes and Lawton. “We’re creating a community here—not a and increased interest. rental units without any government subsidies. series of distinctly branded subdivisions behind its value more Once an infill project begins to take shape, sell In 1926, the Cotton District began to take shape walls.” than nearby to its strengths, counsels Christine MacIntosh, a when a local family built a cotton mill nearby and Ed Balico, a REALTOR® and Hercules coun- conventional REALTOR® with John Laing Homes. “We’re posi- filled the neighborhood with tenant housing for cilmember, is about to move his business, Hercules suburban devel- Waterfront Properties Inc., to a more suitable loca- opments.” In the com- tion: the Waterfront District. It’s a good fit because it shows support for the community and the redevel- We’re positioning our development as a transit ing decades, Hercules will opment effort, says the 21-year Hercules resident. “Not many people village, a pedestrian community, a place where embrace infill develop- you meet and know your neighbors. Hercules, California ment, because it’s hard to rezone it, and often coop- Cotton District, Starkville, Mississippi eration from the landown- ers is tough to come by. Most potential infill prop- erties are dilapidated or otherwise in decline. It’s a lot of work, yes, but your reward is a very lucrative business. “In 1991, a square foot of land in Hercules ran between 10 and 50 cents. Today, that same square foot is $20.” For Balico, infill devel- opment is the wisest way to use land, since, espe- cially in Hercules and the 26 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 27
  • 15. the mill workers. The houses were small, shoe- dard pavement, curb detail or dimension applied horned onto 25 by 100-foot lots. In its heyday, the throughout. “I designed my streets based on community boasted schools, shops, churches and whether my elderly mother could navigate them in rail facilities, but when the mill scaled back in the her big car,” says Camp. early 1950s and finally stopped production in 1964, Nobody seems to be complaining about the most of the housing languished and fell into disre- overall results, says Camp, even though the densi- pair. When urban renewal lines were drawn, some ty levels in some sections of the Cotton District of that housing was left out of the redevelopment hover around 50 dwelling units per acre. “Even plans. with all this redevelopment, we have residents who Camp started buying land in the Cotton District continue to live in the area. They did not sell; they in 1969, tearing down or restoring buildings as chose to stay and become a part of the new emerg- necessary. He started with small townhouses mod- ing neighborhood.” eled after those he’d seen in Alexandria, Va., As mayor, Camp has simply expanded his vision Dan Camp (above right) discusses the Cotton District development. Vicksburg, Miss., and New Orleans. He placed to the whole of Starkville, including the introduc- small rental units on irregular lots and became a tion of a joint transportation system between the fixture at the town’s planning commission meet- university and the city in fall 2006, designed to The Cotton District is ings, where he regularly asked for relaxed square make the city more pedestrian friendly. “We’re cre- footage requirements for the lots. ating bike paths and walking paths, trying to a neighborhood that is With each variance he received, Camp increased the neighborhood’s value, diversity, character and emphasize that Starkville is a ‘walking’ city.” Camp’s goal is to build up—not out. He and his greater than the sum beauty. Over the years, he has built mixed-use buildings with commercial uses on the ground city planner are currently working on a compre- hensive plan for Starkville, gearing up for a “great of its parts. floors and student apartments above, plus 135 cot- explosion” of buildings to be built in the coming tages, fourplexes, sixplexes—all adding up to more years, including five-story, mixed-use structures going to bring in evening music, develop some than 200 individual units. with commercial uses on the ground floor and liv- ambience and draw crowds that spill into the Every property is within walking distance of the ing units above. After a visit to Belgium in 2004, the street. We’re creating a place that didn’t exist university and downtown Starkville, and almost colorful and impressionable Camp returned to the before.” every property is a study in eclectic traditional Cotton District and began work on a new street, the As for market appeal, Camp points to the high- architecture using New Urban principles. playfully named Rue de Grande Fromage (“Street end elements found in his creations, many of Seemingly out-of-place ornamentation shares the of the Big Cheese”). Here, he’s started to build which boast products and custom millwork often same block with statuary influenced by Greek arti- small retail buildings with 350-sq.-ft. shops at not found in $250,000 houses. Even though most sans. Camp bends the rules—some would say street level and apartments above. of Camp’s properties are rentals, he fills many of breaks them—just enough to make things interest- “The first business to set up shop on the Grande them with cast-iron tubs, ceramic tile, pedestal ing. Even his streets seem homespun, with no stan- Fromage was a tamale bar,” says Camp. “We’re lavatories, eight-foot Spanish cedar entrance for between $250 and $400 per square foot. These doors, real stucco and the aforementioned mill- properties are popular because of their dignified work, in which he takes special pride. design and their high-end touches … and because We’ll have an urban town square in a suburban “The drawback to these properties is that they’re part of the Cotton District, a neighborhood they’re small: two beds, two baths and 750 square that is greater than the sum of its parts—however location, a place where people can gather and feet,” Camp concedes, “but I know I could sell small those parts are.” meet their neighbors. them for between $200 and $300 per square foot. We’re putting in condos in May 2006 that will sell Jason Miller is a freelance writer, editor and publishing consultant based in Concrete, Washington. Cotton District 28 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 29
  • 16. Grandview Commons in Madison, Wisconsin New Urbanism is being used to build traditional neighborhoods By Steve Wright 30 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 on Traditions SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 31
  • 17. W hen Don B. Smithson shares his enthusi- “My family has been in the building and devel- “From the developer’s perspective, building asm about New Urbanism, he speaks from oping business for over 50 years,” said Smithson. compact, mixed-use projects affords a more diverse the voice of experience. “We have seen many changes in our industry over and flexible range of product types to offer in the When the principal of Wood Ridge Investment those years. Those changes pale in comparison to marketplace—improving sales velocity and market Properties advocates for Traditional Neighborhood the changes that New Urban development has and responsiveness,” Harry said. “[TND offers] a Development (TND), he cannot be dismissed as a will give to our way of living.” reduced reliance upon the automobile in serving “right out of college” idealist or some “not in touch “Over the last 60 years, we have segregated our- daily needs, which is not only appealing in an with the real world” academic iconoclast. selves,” said the developer of Carothers Crossing— increasingly congested landscape, but also helps a 700-acre, 3,000-unit community 14 miles from expand the market appeal at both ends of the life- downtown Nashville. “Sprawl has dictated where cycle spectrum—the very young and the very old. we should live, based on our social and economic [New Urbanism] highlights the financial benefits of status. As a New Urbanist, this practice is unac- working with a diverse portfolio of building types ceptable. I can’t tell you in words how exciting it is and revenue opportunities, to help mitigate risk to see a $150,000 home not only co-exist but excel and enhance long-term return on investment.“ with a $750,000 home.” Harry credited the city of Nashville for stream- With New Urbanism you have a complete commu- “Affordability is always an issue and our model lining TND projects. He said thanks to Nashville nity to live, work and play.” allows us to continually re-adjust our threshold tearing down barriers to traditional projects, In the Hurricane Katrina-devastated Gulf product to maintain a consistent ‘floor’ to our pric- Carothers had all its zoning in place a mere 180 Coasts, teams of New Urbanists have worked with ing, while still allowing us to expand the envelope days after a public charrette held to design it. citizens and government to create TND plans that at the top of the price spectrum,” Smithson said of “We have worked on ensuring that our regula- will enhance the quality of life when towns are the TND dynamic that allows for a consistent mix of tions—zoning code, subdivision regulations, rebuilt. incomes and housing types in the same community. building code, safety standards—don’t limit the “The city of D’Iberville has taken the determi- Carothers Crossing’s architect Seth Harry said ability to create sustainable growth. Removing the nation to achieve grandiosity for itself, its citizens because the development is being built compactly, barriers to innovative infill and compact, walka- and anyone interested in its development. In spite as a TND should, 60 percent of the total acreage ble, greenfield development is as important, if not of their general state of emergency, the city of has been preserved and can be rehabilitated as a more important, as offering incentives,” said Rick D’Iberville has had the courage to dream: with a natural habitat. Bernhardt, executive director of Nashville’s Metro renewed downtown in which order, beauty and It also features TND principals such as being Planning Department. urban harmony are its basic principles,” said developed as a walkable, mixed-use community Bernhardt said for government, New Urbanism Jaime Correa, the architect of the Mississippi with a locally based commercial district that serves is attractive because it encourages efficient use of city’s rebuilding plan. neighborhood and community needs. land and fiscal resources while creating a quality Correa has nothing but praise for D’Iberville’s “We’d like to see Carothers become a focal point living environment. “resilient people taking the courageous decision” around which a real sense of community can coa- “I find New Urbanism attractive because of the to rebuild their city’s physical structure with urban lesce, while setting a standard and precedent for quality of the community it creates,” he said. spaces that have order, human dimension, a bal- all future development in the immediate area.” “Fifty years of conventional suburban develop- anced mix of land uses for the enjoyment and serv- Harry, one of the pre-eminent town planners in ment has demonstrated that the built environment ice of the community; places where pedestrians New Urbanism, said more and more developers are impacts our interactions in our community. With feel at home and where building types are local choosing TNDs as the best way to develop new sprawling development we spend more time jour- and built with an understanding of their cultural towns out of greenfields. neying and less time enjoying the destination. and geographic limitations. North New Town Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri Building compact, mixed-use projects affords a more diverse We’d like to see and flexible range of Carothers become a focal product types to offer point around which a real sense of community in the marketplace. can coalesce. 32 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 33
  • 18. The advertisements and marketing play up the benefits of Traditional Neighborhood Development and New Urbanism concepts, know- ing this strongly appeals to potential homebuyers. Features that are highlighted include: • A diversity of architecture; • Homes with recessed garages and welcoming front porches; • Parks interspersed throughout the neighbor- hood with gazebos, waterfountains and plen- ty of open space; • Pedestrian-friendly features like wide side- walks and walkable distances to parks and retail establishments; • A town center with retail shops like a local market and bank; and • Traffic calming measures like narrow streets and street interconnectivity. “When Grandview Commons was proposed … ironically, it faced a much more difficult entitle- ment process than standard ‘sprawl’ development faces,” said Brian Munson, principal designer for Traditional Neighborhood Development is a creative Vandewalle & Associates, the master planner of plan that should revitalize the area and supply a the development. Alderman Ken Golden, a plan- ning commission member, stated at the approval foundation for the future. ‘Why do we make it so difficult for developers to build what we tell them we want them to build, Michael Diaz, a graduate student at New York hoods with a downtown as interesting and enjoy- and why is it so easy to build what we don’t?’ To University’s Real Estate Institute worked with able as [nearby] Bay St. Louis,” said Dover Kohl Madison’s credit, they have taken this to heart Correa in the Gulf Coast and predicts that TNDs Project Director Milt Rhodes. “My hope is that the and implemented a series of zoning districts to will help the ravaged region in its redevelopment, original purpose of the site, a technology zone facilitate TND. renovation and economic repositioning. developed to support efforts at the nearby Stennis Veridian President David Simon said his com- “The development practices of Traditional Space Center, would be operating in a way that pany educates buyers, builders, city officials and Neighborhood Development or ‘New Urbanism’ uti- lizes creative solutions to maximize land use, build pulls in new businesses and employees and creates a new hot-bed for creative thinking.” others about TNDs by hosting “Urban Tours”— bus rides through Veridian’s traditional neighbor- TND steered by New Urban strong communities and provide mixed-use econom- The New Town of Stennis covers more than hoods to discuss the merits of TNDs. The Grandview Commons TND developer also design is a direction a lot of ic prosperity. The proposed D’Iberville project will 2,000 acres that will become at least seven distinct revitalize the area from an economic standpoint neighborhoods with a mix of housing, retail, office, hosts talks, panels and presentations at industry associations and civic groups including commis- communities are taking. through a variety of new businesses and establish- civic sites, preserved land and more—all serving ment of community investment,” Diaz said. the technology center. sions and councils plus best practices presenta- “Furthermore, provided D’Iberville’s location to “The site’s proximity to a rich coastal culture tions to environmental and other conservation expensive section and a segregated less expensive the region, the proposed development will act as a and great environmental amenities establishes a groups. They are successfully spreading the word section, he said. “People are getting tired of driv- stronghold for future development and growth,” he long-term community that will over time become a about the advantages of New Urban development. ing every place just to meet their needs. Families added. “With the large scale nature of this project, location to be known worldwide,” Rhodes added. About 25 miles from downtown St. Louis, would rather be riding bikes, rollerblading, walk- TND is a creative plan that should revitalize the “The Technology Quarter will be within walking Whittaker Builders are developing New Town St. ing. This is the direction our company is going in.” area and supply a foundation for the future.” distance of more than 50 percent of the housing Charles: 5,700 units on 750 acres planned by Traditional Neighborhood Development steered In Mississippi’s Hancock County, the New and the town center will be nearby—providing Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company. by New Urban design is a direction a lot of Urbanist firm Dover, Kohl & Partners was already walkable access for more than 75 percent of the “Why am I doing this? The main reason is I communities are taking, and more and more are working on a huge TND east of NASA’s Stennis residents within the new town.” want to live in something like this—I’m building heading down the path to livable, walkable and Space Center before Katrina hit. Because so many In the Midwest, Veridian Homes is building this for myself,” quipped developer Greg family-oriented areas. houses were lost in the area, the firm is working Grandview Commons, a TND just 15 minutes from Whittaker. “I truly think it’s the right thing to do. even faster with developer Stennis Technology Park Madison, Wisconsin’s downtown. Veridian is so We moved our corporate headquarters to New Inc. to get site work underway so new homes can confident that New Urbanism will sell, that its Town. More than two dozen employees have Steve Wright frequently writes about New Urbanism’s be built in the New Town of Stennis. advertisements for Grandview Commons focus on bought here within walking distance to work.” TNDs. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in “In 20 years when the site has matured, I would more than the typical marketing of price point, “We have homes just over $100,000 and homes the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: hope that the town has several vibrant neighbor- number of bedrooms and garage spaces. up to $1 million and it’s all mixed—it’s not like an 34 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 35
  • 19. Form-based codes may be the key to future community plans By David Goldberg O nly weeks before Katrina laid waste to key of Euclid v. Ambler Realty—divides the normal sections of his historic town, Gulfport functions of the city into districts restricted by use. Mayor Brent Warr had come into office In the beginning, zoning was rationalized as a with a promise to overhaul the city’s zoning and way to separate homes from smokestacks, stock- development practices. Even he didn’t realize yards and other noxious uses. Today, critics say, it what a dramatic revision that would be. is used to separate compatible uses from one After the storm, Warr recognized quickly that another. Not only are houses forbidden to locate the conventional zoning and other codes—which near shops, but even different housing types are Getting the called for strict separation of uses, deep setbacks segregated from each other, so that large houses and auto-oriented streets—were unlikely to recre- are separate from small houses, stand-alone hous- ate the human-scale feel of the city’s walkable, es are segregated from apartments and townhous- one-of-a-kind historic fabric. es, and so on. The radical separation of uses When the Mississippi Renewal Forum brought requires a car trip for every activity, and so zoning 110 New Urbanist designers and planners to the and development codes demand wide roads and coast for eight days, Warr was there day and night, on-site parking for every building. Conventional sharing his ideas and vision and absorbing all that zoning could be regarded as the DNA of sprawl. he could from the visiting experts. At the end, he As an alternative, planners and designers look- Codes Right had a large part of his answer, a new approach to ing to meet the growing demand for more walkable, guiding development known as form-based codes. traditional town centers and neighborhoods have “It’s the best way we know to get something been developing form-based codes. Conventional like the traditional look and feel,” says Warr. zoning fixates on isolating uses and controlling And conventional zoning, as critics would have density, while saying very little about how a com- it, is the best way to continue stamping out the munity should look and feel. However, form-based typical, asphalt-heavy development patterns the codes regard use as only one factor in making an Gulf Coast was seeing before the storm. Typical appealing community. While conventional zoning zoning—referred to as “Euclidean” after the relies on huge books of text, form-based codes Supreme Court case that legalized it, The Village make use of graphics and illustrations along with 36 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 37
  • 20. That communities strictly traditional styles or ventured into mod- from the deep ernist techniques and materials, the net effect would be cohesive, walkable neighborhoods that South to the would stand the test of time, even if the uses with- in the buildings changed, as many surely would. once-wild West Duany himself says he got the idea from prac- are looking to tices that were common in the streetcar suburbs and new towns built into the 1920s. Some trace form-based the origins of such codes in North America to the era of Spanish colonization, when King Philip codes shows issued the Law of the Indies, a compact guide to the appropriate location for settlements, the Form-based codes are that something dimensions of the central plaza, street layout and the best way we know to the features of key buildings. big is afoot. get something like the How form-based codes work In order to apply a form-based code, a commu- traditional look and feel. nity first has to decide through a planning exer- son, planners “calibrate” the code based on the cise what kind of place they’re coding for. That is, characteristics of the place where they’re working, text to indicate what kind of place is envisioned— planners decide where on the scale from most by going into the field and measuring, say, the whether a town center, a neighborhood with a walk- rural to most intensively urban each area falls. In usual setbacks of houses or street widths and other to shopping district, a sleepy village or a bustling doing so, most rely on some version of the rural- features of the local places that the community central business district. And while zoning codes to-urban transect, a concept borrowed from eco- would like to emulate. These are then incorporated often exist independent of, and sometimes in oppo- logical studies that categorize wildlife habitat. The into the standards for each transect zone, or T-zone. sition to, a community’s plans and vision, form- transect describes a range of human habitat, from Ideally, the roads that cut across many transect based codes are designed to be a blueprint for mak- rural hamlet, to the larger village, to the more zones would change designs to reflect each environ- ing a shared vision for a place a reality. complex town and finally the densest urban cen- ment. That is not the case with U.S. 90 on the “A lot of communities are rewriting their general ter. By historic convention and function, each Mississippi Coast, for example, which roars through plans with high-minded goals of sustainability, environment has its own standards for the ele- community after community at the same volume walkability, et cetera, but they’re not rewriting their ments of human settlement: building, street, lot, and speed. “One of our most important recommen- zoning ordinances,” says Peter Katz, president of land use, amount and character of public and dations,” said Sorlien, who helped calibrate the the Form-Based Codes Institute (www.formbased- open space, etc. Townhouses, for example, might codes for each town, “was that U.S. 90 should, and former director of the Congress for “The classic neighborhoods and most-visited be out of place in a rural hamlet, but they are change as it moves through the zones. In rural the New Urbanism. “If you know what it is you places we all love are illegal under most zoning appropriate, and even necessary, in a town center. zones it can be a high-speed highway, because there want to see built, and you know what it looks like, codes,” says Sandy Sorlien, one of the authors of In lectures on the topic, Duany likens it to aren’t people walking, shopping or children play- form-based codes make it easy.” the SmartCode manual, a guide to the form-based footwear: The shoes you would wear to muck sta- ing. As it gets to town the design needs to reflect the code created by the firm of Andres Duany and bles would not be appropriate to wear to a black- speed you want people to drive. That may mean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, two founders of New tie ball. narrowing the lanes, on-street parking and round- Urbanism. “Adopting the SmartCode makes it These environmental features can, and do, vary abouts. Rural areas don’t have curbs and sidewalks, legal, after it’s customized for local character. It’s from region to region and city to city. For that rea- but when it [the road] enters town it does.” really quite flexible.” Though the SmartCode is only three years old and form-based codes generally are a recent phe- Courtesy of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company nomenon, the modern take on them emerged 25 years ago, when Duany and Plater-Zyberk designed Seaside, Florida. The husband-wife team wanted the new town to have the form and comfort- able function of a traditional Southern town, but they did not want it to have the overly master- planned look of a place designed by a single archi- tect. After studying the places they admired, they developed a code to guide how buildings would work together to create streets that were appealing without being uniform, specifying how buildings should line up along the street, requiring entrances and windows rather than blank walls, etc. Within these guidelines, whether an architect employed 38 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 39
  • 21. Form-based codes regulate primarily through specifying the types of buildings that are appropriate to a given street or neighborhood. Form-based codes regulate use to an extent, but That was one appeal for Ventura, Calif., which is primarily through specifying the types of buildings finalizing a code for a downtown district that is that are appropriate to a given street or neighbor- expected to be one of four areas with form-based hood. This can allow a place to evolve over time, overlays, says William Fulton, a Ventura council but without radically altering the character. “Think member and a leading expert on planning in of the warehouse districts that have morphed into California. “In a mixed-use district, this gets us out trendy arts districts with street-level shops and gal- of micro-managing what goes on inside buildings,” leries and lofts above,” she reflects. “The form of he says. Traditionally a slow-paced oil- and agricul- the buildings hasn’t changed much, but the inter- ture-oriented town, set between the ocean and the nal uses have all changed. Under use-based zon- mountains, Ventura has become a favored landing ing, such a change would be considered drastic, place for Santa Barbara commuters, with growth because the land-use category has gone from tensions mounting as a result. The city has decided industrial, at one end of the spectrum, to residen- to manage growth by steering it to the four desig- tial, at the other, although to the average onlooker, nated higher-density zones and paying careful the place looks pretty much the same.” A form- attention to urban design through form-based based code could help to encourage such adapta- codes, Fulton said. tion by removing many of the regulatory hurdles to be cleared. Working out the bugs Lesson number one is that it is hard to make a “It is because of the reliance on the automobile Indeed, because such codes, and the process In adapting their approach, Ventura can look to form-based code work as an overlay if you don’t that California is figuring out more quickly than that produces them, have the potential to reduce the experience of Petaluma, Calif., the first to adopt amend the citywide zoning ordinance to adjust the other places that this isn’t working anymore,” says the regulatory head-banging and ad hoc decision- the SmartCode by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. That process to accommodate it, both Moore and Crawford. “Because of the state’s issues with making, they are growing in popularity, says Paul Bay Area town adopted the code in just nine Crawford, who worked on the codes, agreed. “One transportation, air quality and housing affordabil- Crawford, a California planner who now has months, after a seven-year effort to complete and of the things we were trying to do with this code is ity, planners statewide are looking for ways to helped to write 22 of them. A veteran of a county adopt a more conventional, use-based plan and avoid making people go through multiple process- accommodate increased density and more com- planning department and author of 80 convention- zoning ordinance for redeveloping 400 acres of its es, variances, et cetera, to build something that pact urban form in ways that are acceptable, if not al zoning plans before turning to form-based codes, downtown. For the citizens who had been pushing otherwise meets the plan and the code,” Moore preferred, by citizens. The form-based codes are Crawford developed California’s first code for mightily for a way to code their vision for the area, says. “But we’re having to invent interpretations of likely to be more successful at implementing that Sonoma in 1999. “When a community is clear the code was a godsend, said Mike Moore, the the code that allow something to work.” vision than conventional zoning codes.” about what kind of development fits and what city’s community development director. But imple- And while it is relatively easy to write a form- In storm-ravaged Gulfport, the new approach doesn’t, it makes the decision-making more pre- mentation has been a little sticky, he said, in part based code for an undeveloped greenfield site or represents both the future and the past, Mayor Warr dictable for everyone involved,” says Crawford. because of the haste with which it was adopted. to fill the gaps in established pattern, it is much says. “In some areas that had tremendous damage more difficult to write as a guide to transition we’re calling restoration districts—we can’t really from, say, a low-density strip retail or light indus- call them historic preservation districts because trial district to a walkable neighborhood. That can there’s not much left to preserve—we’re going to require an almost parcel-by-parcel assessment, lean heavily on the form-based code.” While the Crawford says, which can take time and money. city is likely to make the code an optional overlay, “The shortcomings are a result of the time it was he is confident it will be used. “I’d lay 70 to 80 per- done and what was known then,” notes Crawford. cent odds that form-based codes will shape a lot of As the momentum for form-based codes builds, what gets built or rebuilt in Gulfport.” the innovators are watching closely and learning That communities from the deep South to the from the early adopters. “There’s huge interest once-wild West are looking to form-based codes and optimism,” says Crawford, “but not enough shows that something big is afoot, says Sorlein. track record, so practitioners have to carefully “This is a sea change in land use, after 50 or 60 monitor how they’re working to make sure they years of not building this way. There will be a live up to the potential.” learning curve at all levels so we will all struggle And momentum clearly is building, says together to figure it out and make it better. That’s Fulton. “We’re on the verge of an explosion,” what makes this fun and exciting.” Fulton predicts. “In the next couple of years we’ll David A. Goldberg is the communications director for Smart see dozens of form-based codes adopted. It may Growth America, a nationwide coalition based in seem ironic that California, in many ways the Washington, D.C. that advocates for land-use policy reform. motherland of automobile-oriented design, is In 2002, Mr. Goldberg was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at blazing the trail in coding for mixed-use districts. Harvard University where he studied urban policy. 40 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 41
  • 22. Clover Ridge in Chaska, Minnesota The Affordability Smart policies, creativity and New Urban designs deliver Equation By Jason Miller cost-sensitive housing options In Chaska, Minn., Clover Ridge is taking steps living spaces are unbelievably quiet—a big selling V irtually every area in the country is grap- design providing affordable options to innovative pling with the challenge of building and public-private partnerships, many communities to prevent that from happening. The approach point for these options. maintaining affordable housing opportuni- and regions are tackling the ever-difficult afford- here is two-pronged. In Clover Field—the neigh- To help curtail the swift increase in property ties. It’s not an easy task, especially since the very ability equation. borhood’s first phase—most of the housing is mod- values found in virtually every well-executed definition of “affordable” changes from city to city ular construction. Each home’s structural compo- Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND), and town to town. Escalating production and land Something for every budget nents are assembled in a Wisconsin factory, then Chaska officials created the Chaska Community costs, market trends, transportation challenges While most New Urbanist neighborhoods pro- trucked to the building site for completion. This Land Trust (CLT), a community-based, nonprofit and established development patterns all merge vide a superior mix of housing types, their best computer-driven approach creates a more solid organization that is dedicated to creating and per- together to further complicate attempts to provide intentions of offering a wide variety of housing house with truer lines, and helps to manage build- manently preserving affordable housing opportu- housing that everybody can afford. But with hous- price points often falls victim to market demands. ing costs. The savings are then passed to the nities (defined in Chaska as housing appropriate ing prices rising beyond what many working peo- As a result, their lower-end dwellings suffer an homeowners. And since the two-story homes are for households earning 80 percent of the median ple can afford, the need for affordable housing has upward creep, sometimes even before the units composed of a bottom floor with ceiling joists, plus income in the region), while allowing individual never been more immediate. From New Urban are completed. a top floor with floor joists (with additional sound- homeowners to build equity in their property. proofing material between the two layers), the two 42 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 43
  • 23. Here’s how it works: The CLT owns the land provider of quality affordable housing and the pro- underneath the houses in Clover Field. Each home- ject’s builder. owner owns his or her house, and has a lease to put “Our goal is to add ‘life cycle’ housing to Clover the building on that lot for 99 years, with an option Field; that is, housing for single individuals, cou- for adding another renewable period of 99 years. ples and families with children—and anyone who When the homeowner sells the house, he receives finds themselves moving through those cycles the equity off the house alone—not the land, which while living here. We will maintain the quality of keeps the property affordable for decades because the housing; it will fit into the community very the most important and most volatile piece of the well.” puzzle—land value—is removed from the equation. Ringwald points to the recently completed The housing unit increases in value, but not expo- Clover Condominiums as another score for afford- nentially, the way land can increase. ability. With prices ranging from $129,900 to “Because of the way it preserves affordability in $169,900 (remarkable for the Twin Cities metro perpetuity, our CLT approach is truly fiscally con- area), “the condos are a great example of how we servative and socially liberal,” says Kevin intensified land use and produced units in there. Ringwald, AICP director of planning and develop- , Right now the units are affordable for anyone mak- ment for the city of Chaska. “It’s very socially pro- ing 60 to 70 percent of the median income. That gressive, and it has broad support of both the busi- gives people a real choice.” ness community and the residents.” Clover Field has become known nationally for its As for rentals, an affordable apartment building affordable housing strategies, so much so that is in the design stage, with construction slated to Ringwald found himself relieved when a builder begin in summer 2006. The Sinclair, an award-win- approached him to build higher-end housing. ning 115- to 120-unit project, will offer approxi- “We’ve been seeing some more expensive homes mately half of its units to families earning 50 per- go in, now, which is good, because we wanted a cent of the area median income for a family of four, place where everyone can live. Initially it was says Alan Arthur, president of Minneapolis-based affordable and mid-range housing, so this gives us Central Community Housing Trust, a nonprofit a better mix of price points.” Portland, Oregon Selling the Clover Condominiums is a pleasure, says Gayle Dungey, a REALTOR® with DuToit Family REALTORS®. “We market to the walking and biking trails, the Southwest Metro Transit (bus) line on site, the Clover Ridge Elementary School. The Sinclair apartment building will be next door and will have 12,000 sq. ft. of retail on the ground floor. Then there’s the Chaska Community Center with its theater, workout facili- ties, café and art exhibits. While the neighborhood is very fam- ily-oriented, we aim at single young professionals and snow- birds for the Clover Condos. Where else can the average work- ing young adult in their 20s and 30s possibly find this kind of sought-after lifestyle for that price?” New Urbanist neighborhoods It needs to be a collaboration provide a superior between the building industry, mix of housing types. the public policy makers and the housing advocates. 44 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 45
  • 24. The Other Side of the Equation Rebuilding Gulf areas with affordability in mind The partnership factor No single real estate or government entity is The next small thing: Katrina Cottages going to solve the affordable housing dilemma by New York designer Marianne Cusato and other itself, says David Rusk, an urban policy consultant New Urbanist architects are taking important steps based in Washington, D.C. “My position is that toward true affordability. Their series of “Katrina this needs to be a collaboration between the build- Cottages” are small, well-designed, real homes ing industry, the public policy makers, and the designed to provide emergency housing for Gulf housing advocates, understanding everyone’s Coast communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. points of view and interests, and reaching an Montgomery County, Maryland And they put the FEMA emergency trailers to understanding of how to tackle it. The issue of shame in looks and cost. affordable housing can’t be left to the nonprofit Cusato conceived the first design in October sector alone, or to government funds, which, par- more than 40 units must be “moderately priced”; 2005 at the Mississippi Renewal Forum. The ticularly at the federal level, are drying up fast.” i.e., affordable for moderate-income families, Forum, a component of Mississippi Governor One strategy that Rusk supports is the creation which is currently defined as those making Haley Barbour’s Governor’s Commission, studied of inclusionary zoning codes (IZCs) within each $58,000 annually (the annual median income in 11 Mississippi Gulf Coast communities that were municipality. An IZC is a local government the area is $90,000). Of those moderately priced units, the Montgomery County Housing badly damaged or devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and produced recommendations for appro- The Katrina Cottages requirement that a modest proportion of new development be set aside for lower income, work- Opportunities Commission (the county’s housing priate rebuilding of the towns’ neighborhoods. A model of Cusato’s Katrina Cottage was constructed idea is meeting with ing households, under conditions that are realistic for that housing market and that are fair to authority) buys up to one-third; local nonprofits can buy the remainder. The bulk of the develop- in Mississippi and trucked to Orlando in January 2006, where it was displayed at The International worldwide enthusiasm. builders in terms of sustaining their profitability. That “fairness” often comes in the form of den- ment is market-rate housing. The DHCA accepts applications from interested and qualified buyers, Builders’ Show and greeted with much enthusi- sity bonuses; essentially, permission for the and sometimes holds a lottery to decide who gets asm. Another Katrina Cottage by South Carolina Built with SIPs, Katrina Cottage II provides 470 sq. builder to build more units per acre in order to first choice of a given property. designer Eric Moser has since been built in Pass ft. on its main floor, plus a 300 sq.-ft. loft. It can accommodate the affordable units without cutting As for resale, the DHCA maintains a control Christian, Mississippi. sleep four comfortably. into his profits. The numbers change among period of 30 years for for-sale properties, and 99 “Even though it’s the same size as a trailer or The Katrina Cottages idea is meeting with municipalities, but the desirable, denser outcome years for rental property owners. Within these con- mobile home, it’s a small house,” says Cusato. “The worldwide enthusiasm, says Cusato, who has field- is one where affordable housing can be created trol periods, homeowners are allowed to sell their spaces are designed in the way we’d design a ed interest from Kansas City, Kans., (officials there with the New Urban and Smart Growth goal in units, but the DHCA sets the price based on a con- house—a logical sequence of spaces, appropriately want to use them as homeless shelters) to as far mind. sumer price index escalation from the original defined rooms, properly sized windows. It’s a real away as Ghana. “There’s a market for affordable Most inclusionary zoning laws are in higher- purchase price, while allowing for improvements house—just smaller. We design them to be more housing, because it really is true that less is more. density areas, such as California, Vermont and made to the units. After the control period is over, dignified, so people will take pride in them.” Some people don’t want a huge house; they want Denver. One of the most mature and effective pro- owners can sell their units on the open market, but How can something that looks this good be built only what they need.” grams is in Montgomery County, Md., where a the DHCA gets a share of the “excess profit,” and installed on site for the same or lower cost as a If Cusato and her colleagues have their way, moderately priced dwelling units (MPDU) pro- which is what the controlled price would be, plus FEMA trailer, for which the U.S. government those needs will be met soon. Teams are working to gram was adopted in 1974. Since its inception, the the owner’s property improvements. spends between $70,000 and $140,000? Size, for create a portfolio of Katrina Cottages that cater to MPDU program has created more than 12,000 The DHCA’s efforts are bolstered by the starters. The emergency-housing version of the virtually every life stage. Designs currently in MPDUs in the county. Affordable Housing Conference of Montgomery original Katrina Cottage is 308 square feet—the development include: Aimed at first-time home buyers, Montgomery County (AHC), a 15-year-old nonprofit advocacy same size as a FEMA trailer. Construction tech- • Emergency cottages: 300 to 400 sq. ft. County’s MPDU strategy is an inclusionary zon- group, which brings together representatives from niques under consideration range from modular to • Affordable cottages: up to 500 sq. ft. ing approach and one that is badly needed, says the community on an annual basis to study afford- mail-order kits to structural insulated panels • Cottages for the elderly: 500 to 600 sq. ft. Elizabeth Davison, director of Montgomery able housing issues, funds and awards prizes for (SIPs)—all of which deliver houses with construc- (includes a side door that can lead to a County Department of Housing and Community unique designs that speak to the affordability fac- tion costs lower than that of conventional stick- caretaker-suite module) Affairs (DHCA), which administers the MPDU tor and hosts roundtable discussions to further the built, on-site houses. The emergency-housing ver- • Affordable family cottage: 800 to 1,100 sq. ft. program and others. dialogue among housing experts. The organiza- sion of the Katrina Cottage can be built for $35,000; Stagnant, single-price-point housing that does- “As with many large, high-growth metro areas, tion’s mission is “to keep the issue of affordable even after installation, that cost should stay under n’t flex to meet residents’ needs is the norm these prices have been bid up and it’s hard for middle- housing on the front burner and to identify solu- $60,000. days, says Cusato, but that isn’t what homeowners class people to find suitable housing. In the past tions to the growing problem,” says Barbara But it doesn’t end there. A design team that need. “We rarely stay at the same station in life, we were dealing with young people just starting Goldberg Goldman, a co-chair of the organization. included such luminaries as Andrés Duany, Steve financially, but that’s what’s being built out there out, or elderly or disabled people, or what were “Housing is an inalienable right. It goes hand Oubre, Susan Henderson, Eric Moser, Steve right now. The idea of starting with a smaller house called the ‘working poor’; now we’re well into the in hand with health care and education. It affects Mouzon and Matt Lambert recently introduced the and adding on to it makes sense. middle class who can’t afford housing here. It’s every facet of our economy and our lives. And it is ingenious Katrina Cottage II (there are 10 Katrina “We need to take back the word ‘affordable,’ and beginning to affect companies and industries who incumbent upon the private and public sectors to Cottage designs thus far; two are built), a “Grow remove the taboo associated with it. We shouldn’t are trying to attract a work force. join together to make sure that everybody’s needs House,” which, like other Katrina Cottages, may think less of anyone because of where they live, Montgomery County’s MPDU program affects are addressed.” remain on-site as a permanent dwelling that can be and they shouldn’t think less of themselves. I think almost all development in the county, stipulating Jason Miller is a freelance writer, editor and publishing expanded into a full-sized house over the years. it’s fully within our ability to change that.” that 12.5 percent of every new development with consultant based in Concrete, Washington. 46 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 47
  • 25. The Gulf Coast First, New Urbanists organized an intensive planning and design workshop. Leland Speed, director of the Mississippi ing, retail and other issues from all over the coun- Development Authority, to talk about how he try if they would give up a week of their lives and might help the rebuilding. their usual billing rate to spend a week with 200 “I came as quickly as I could,” Duany recalled. other people in a casino ballroom in devastated Arriving for the meeting, Duany learned partici- Biloxi. Commitment needed to be swift as the pants would include Jim Barksdale, the founder charrette for 11 towns was only a couple of weeks and former CEO of Netscape, whom Barbour had away. Almost immediately, he had more top-shelf named to head his Commission on Recovery, volunteers than he could accommodate and ulti- Mississippi Rebuilding and Renewal, and the governor. mately most would be compensated at a reduced Yearning The governor was delayed as he finished tour- rate through a grant from the Knight Foundation. ing with President Bush, and in the meantime, On Oct. 11, 2005, about 100 out-of-state experts Duany and Barksdale talked about which town his converged with a similar number of Mississippi firm, DPZ, might work with. However, when the practitioners at the Isle of Capri, a casino hotel By David Goldberg governor arrived, tired and exhausted, he was very whose flooded lower floors were undergoing renova- clear on his vision. He wanted to do all towns. This tion. Many of the locals were storm survivors them- is when it multiplied from Duany’s own firm, DPZ, selves, such as Allison Anderson and her husband Building back, better, on the Gulf Coast to the Congress for New Urbanism, the New Urbanists’ national organization. John, two architects from Bay St. Louis who took a week off from sorting through rubble and helping The governor reiterated his vision. “We will their neighbors pick up their devastated town to H urricane Katrina had it in for Mississippi’s was a planning and design discipline populated by coastal heritage. In a single day, Aug. 29, people who had made a career of visiting, studying, impose nothing. We will illuminate the choices devote every hour to the charrette. Numerous local 2005, the storm obliterated large portions measuring, analyzing, drawing and just plain lov- and create tools that the municipalities may use if elected officials also would participate, even as they of 11 towns along the Gulf of Mexico, a strand of ing American towns, particularly of the South. they wish … Do what you do.” struggled to restore basic operations. pearls that ran from Bay St. Louis and Waveland on Timing was ideal; more than a few years earlier Doing what New Urbanists do meant, first, The charrette crew would share the hotel, one the west, through Gulfport and Biloxi to Pascagoula and there is little chance that the movement could organizing an intensive planning and design of the only occupied buildings in central Biloxi, on the east. have gathered, on a moment’s notice, 100 top- workshop known as a charrette—bringing an with relief and construction workers, taking their For coast residents, personal losses were com- notch practitioners skilled in designing places array of development experts, land planners, meals in an improvised canteen. They were divid- pounded by the fear that the unique fabric of those based on New Urban principles. But that is exactly architects, transportation engineers, environmen- ed into teams, one for each town, plus teams spe- towns was gone forever: the live-oak-shaded down- what happened seven weeks after the storm, when talists, retail and marketing experts, together with cializing in cross-cutting regional and social town streets, the Creole cottages, the boardwalks, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s commission the client who could be either a municipal govern- issues, transportation, communications, coding the unique Southern mosaic shaped by a conspira- on rebuilding convened the week-long Mississippi ment, private developer, affected members of the and architecture. cy of local climate, topography, culture, custom and Renewal Forum to kick-start plans for bringing the community or all of the above. The method allows On the first day, the team leaders were given a time. They had reason to fear, having seen what coast back, better. potential challenges and conflicts to be raised and helicopter tour of the devastated coastline. The modern zoning codes and building practices had The linchpin of the effort was Andres Duany, a addressed through a series of plans and refine- video they would show to the rest of the group that wrought in the wake of Hurricane Camille in 1969: founder of New Urbanism who is perhaps best ments, with everyone in the same room. Duany set evening was a relentless, soul-crushing testament a low-grade, could-be-anywhere sprawl of strip known for designing Seaside, Fla., along with wife about organizing what is likely the largest char- to the task before them, physical evidence of the centers and off-the-shelf subdivisions. and partner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, in the early rette ever attempted. stark statistics: 70,000 homes lost; 220-plus killed It was almost miraculous, then, that their hour of 1980s. Duany tells the story like this: Days after the Duany asked more than 100 architects, town and tens of thousands displaced; more than 30 need arose at a point when the New Urbanism storm, architect Michael Baranco of Jackson, planners—including his firm’s top competitors— million cubic yards of debris; 10 of 12 casinos (an movement was reaching maturity. After all, this Miss., called Duany to ask him to come meet and experts on transportation, environment, hous- economic mainstay providing 14,000 jobs) 48 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 49
  • 26. Biloxi, Mississippi workers in the seafood, hotel, gaming and other For Waveland, which was almost completely industries; and many others. leveled by Katrina’s storm surge, the team recom- At the same time these communities faced mended ways to rebuild as “an informal, bare-feet these enormous challenges, FEMA delivered kind of place where kids and dogs are as safe in advisory flood maps that would have made it diffi- the streets as they are in back yards,” eschewing cult or impossible to rebuild in key areas. the “Disneyfication” that might otherwise occur, Undaunted, the teams pressed ahead, spurred on given the town’s rare stretch of public beach by the tremendous outpouring of hope, vision and unspoiled by a busy highway. gratitude from the local participants and citizens. Pass Christian received plans for a new, flood- Working from a set of shared principles and meth- proof city hall and town square and a set of strate- ods, professionals who often had never worked gic actions for restoring the devastated tax base. together before produced proposals, plans and Following suggestions from citizens and the drawings at lightning speed. These would be post- perpetually engaged Mayor Brent Warr, Gulfport’s ed for discussion and critique by local officials, team drew up proposals to reconfigure and shore representatives of various trades and advocacy up port operations while integrating a “Monte interests and citizens, then reworked, posted and Carlo-style” casino and tourism destination into critiqued again. With the approval of the governor an expanded downtown and a network of green- and the sense of urgency inherent in the short ways and parks. time frame, getting decisions that would other- Biloxi’s team urged rebuilding demolished East wise take months and years took hours and days. Biloxi, a historic neighborhood of small single- The ultimate output was prodigious. Proposals family cottages fending off inevitable proposals to None of us wants to look back 20 ranged in magnitude, from huge—moving an “condo-ize” it; converting roaring U.S. 90 into a years from now and realize that existing freight line—to tiny, as in the “Katrina cottage,” a 308 square-foot house designed as a genuine beach boulevard; and establishing firm design guidelines for the casinos that could now we failed to take advantage of the potential replacement for the FEMA travel trailers being used as temporary housing, later expanded be built on land. opportunity we have right now. to a range of styles. Recognizing that not every spot was safe for rebuilding, the teams often had to make tough recommendations, while offering destroyed; his- towns, what they wanted back and what they did- appealing alternatives. Retail expert Bob Gibbs toric neighbor- n’t. They held public meetings in Quonset huts, outlined ways to attract retail from the old subur- hoods in Biloxi Army-style tents or other improvised civic struc- ban strips into the town centers, making them and Gulfport tures, dropped in at Red Cross shelters and scoured shopping destinations for tourists as well as locals, flattened, along with town centers in Waveland and for evidence of the charm of the lost places. “The while the Pass Christian team drew up plans to Pass Christian, and half of one in Bay St. Louis. people of Bay St. Louis were clear during the char- revive a devastated, beach-front Wal-Mart as the Barksdale, the head of the governor’s commis- rette,” recalls Bill Dennis, the team leader for that heart of a walkable village, with ocean-view hous- sion, reiterated their charge: “None of us wants to beach town. “They wanted their town back to how ing above and parking hidden behind Main- look back 20 years from now and realize we it was—not only before Katrina, but before Camille Street-style shops. allowed ourselves to get locked into a rebuilding as well. In other words, they recognized that Proposals for the individual towns were as process that failed to take advantage of the oppor- sprawl-based zoning had slowly eaten away at the diverse as the towns themselves. tunity we have right now … I hope we give it our history and character of their town and now would best shot this week, that everybody is as creative not let them rebuild their traditional neighbor- and as open as they can be. We want to do it right. hoods.” And we want to do it for the long term.” Bay St. Louis wasn’t alone in its desire to undo The commission also included formal guidance what was done. In Biloxi, casino gambling was to regard environmental justice and individual property rights as fundamental considerations; to approved in 1992 without any real plan to manage the impact on its waterfront and downtown. Other Professionals make sure the options included zoning and build- ing codes that would preserve historic character, development patterns also were spreading, includ- ing the condo craze, new transportation routes and who often had make communities safer from future hurricanes the shift of the economic center of gravity—all were never worked and allow those who lived there to return, regard- transforming the coast, impacting the downtown less of income; to expand transportation options; to and sprawling farther and farther north. The chal- together before protect the wetlands and other ecological features; and many other features of Smart Growth. lenges were enormous: To revive the towns as cen- ters of retail, tourism and civic life; to integrate produced proposals, The visiting professionals went out to the com- munities to see for themselves and hear from citi- casinos into waterfront neighborhoods; to harness the appeal of the Gulf without giving over to plans and drawings zens about what they cherished about their lost upscale high-rises; to supply affordable housing for at lightning speed. 50 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 51
  • 27. There are many citizens officials and won preliminary acceptance of the village design concept for the store. The town of pain and effort of rebuilding. However, this effort is unceasing. Even those with the best intentions both within and outside Moss Point hired the firm of HOK to lead and coordinate a follow-up charrette for its town cen- often don’t consider the overall effect of one devel- opment in isolation. The overwhelming need for the region who want to ter area in late April, focusing on design and traf- fic plans, and how to implement them with the the basics—shelter, food and services such as schools—often render moot any delay in favor of a see success. SmartCode. In Bay St. Louis, the county-sponsored long-term vision. When John Nolen, the great workshops aimed at implementing the charrette American planner of the 1920s, was asked at a plans in late April, and a civic group from Arkansas Congressional Panel what American cities needed is planning to build a new community hall to reach their potential, he replied, “Everything at designed by charrette team leader Bill Dennis. once.” That is the situation that is faced in the Bay The one sour note was struck in Biloxi, where St. Louis and Gulf regions: only with constant team leaders Stefanos Polyzoides and Elizabeth effort by the local citizens, along with unstinting Moule withdrew from further participation in late help from volunteers, will everything that needs to Every town, meanwhile, received a March, writing in a letter that officials were happen come about. new, unified development code, cali- “allowing casino operators to drive infrastructure Fortunately for many of the well-loved cities brated to its unique features, that would and design decisions, promoting unchecked real and towns along the Gulf Coast, there are many shape redevelopment according to the estate speculation and up-zoning—all incompati- citizens both within and outside the region who historic and hoped-for character, rather ble with a community-based design approach.” want to see success. The vision portrayed by the than the generic sprawl that otherwise “We feel very strongly,” they added, “that every planners, born of the communities’ own aspira- would result. The charrette also pro- effort should be made to restore the existing East tions, was compelling: A part of the country that duced an architectural “pattern book” Biloxi neighborhoods, keep the less advantaged draws from the best of its past, from its climate and that is a how-to guide for building in residents in place and invigorate their livelihoods. landscape, while also taking advantage of a veri- ways that are appropriate to the region’s … The scenario that is being set in motion pre- table blank slate to install the infrastructure of a climate and tradition. cludes providing for near-in worker housing, the likely future, from telecommunications to modern “I couldn’t imagine any group of peo- ment in the impoverished area that locals already restoration of beloved neighborhoods and a more transit, that will ensure a high quality of life and ple ever getting all the things done they were sup- are acting upon. The success of the third, in St. sensitively designed casino district.” City officials, successful economy. posed to,” Barksdale said at a public review session Bernard Parish, inspired officials in New Orleans to for their part, have said in the local media that As Duany told an audience in Mississippi, “If at the end of the charrette. “It’s not just pretty little invite Duany to lead a charrette in the Gentilly dis- they do not intend to discard the goals of the you play your cards right, the Gulf Coast can skip frou-frou stuff. There’s serious thought behind this trict, which was pending at press time. The DPZ plans, but that they feel the need to allow develop- the past and the present and become a model for about how we can live together, work together, community-based plans will feed into a larger ment to move forward quickly to get the economy the future. If you do anything less, you’ll always shop together and get to know each other in better regional plan for southern Louisiana being crafted moving and restore the tax base. be pining for what was lost.” ways … People have been delighted with the by Peter Calthorpe and John Fregonese, the high- Charrette team leader Bill Dennis sums it up As the communications director for Smart Growth America, amount of concern and caring these people have profile Smart Growth planners behind Envision best. The Renewal Forum was a starting point—a David Goldberg participated in the Mississippi Renewal shown.” Utah, Portland’s 2040 framework and other notable vision that the future can be better and worth the Forum and three other rebuilding workshops in Louisiana. regional efforts. The view six months later In Mississippi, meanwhile, nearly all of the com- The early success of the Mississippi Renewal Forum and the attention it received helped to rein- munities have made progress toward implement- ing at least some of the Renewal Forum proposals, The Gulf Coast can skip the force a perception that Mississippi had surged ahead of Louisiana in recovery efforts. But it wasn’t particularly the development codes, dubbed SmartCode. Meanwhile, representatives of the past and the present and long before Louisiana, which suffered far greater charrette teams have continued to make trips and become a model for the future. damage, turned to leading thinkers in New remain engaged, often at their own expense. Urbanism and Smart Growth to help guide their Subsequent training sessions have been held to rebuilding plans. The Louisiana Recovery help local officials learn to use the new approach to Authority, using privately raised funds, hired zoning and development codes. Duany’s firm to conduct model charrettes for three After a follow-up charrette in late February, to communities: St. Bernard Parish adjacent to New gather more community input and work through Orleans; the city of Lake Charles; and Vermillion planning details, Gulfport is adopting the Parish in Cajun country. SmartCode as an optional overlay for some areas, The first, in Lake Charles, so energized the local though it is likely to be mandatory in the former citizens and government that the mayor and city historic district, Mayor Warr said. In Long Beach council adopted nine resolutions to implement the and Pass Christian, individually tailored charrette proposals. The second, in Cajun country SmartCodes are set to take effect this spring, giving south of Lafayette, produced an attractive model for homeowners and businesses a framework for the relocation and future growth of areas that flood rebuilding. Pass Christian team leader Laura Hall regularly, as well as ideas for economic develop- and others also have met with Wal-Mart real estate 52 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 53
  • 28. BACK TO THE FUTURE of cities Building higher density or repopulating existing cities is the true New Urbanism By Brad Broberg 54 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 55
  • 29. I n 1947, the New Haven Chamber of Commerce plenty of food for thought about the past, present and Belmont is not that it’s a patently bad idea, That’s Smart Growth. However, it’s not neces- was concerned about how to meet future and future of every American city. but that it too often occurs outside the central city sarily “Smarter Growth,” said Belmont. His demands for housing in the industrious While Rae’s book bids adieu to urban life as it rather than inside it, where existing urban infra- biggest beef with New Urbanism is that its most Connecticut city. The chamber commissioned a existed in New Haven’s heyday, it concedes that it structure can be leveraged to maximize Smart common form—greenfield development beyond study to determine how the city should respond. is “entirely possible to seek an urban future—in Growth payoffs. the central city—almost never provides enough “Don’t worry,” the study concluded. “You’re not New Haven and other such places—that recaptures “The performance of New Urbanism is coming density to significantly reduce reliance on cars, a going to have that much demand for housing.” much of what was desirable [about] urbanism.” up short of what [proponents] promise,” said fundamental goal of Smart Growth. Plucked from history by author and professor Rae’s conclusion is cause for a collective, “That’s Belmont. “It’s like an SUV that gets slightly better That’s also Price’s quarrel. “The big thing is Douglas Rae, that anecdote what I’m talkin’ about,” from the Steve Belmonts of mileage than a Hummer. The only way to obtain transportation choice,” he said. “If it’s just an describes the experience of the world. Belmont, a Minneapolis architect and the benefits is by developing high density at the urban form [of development] that doesn’t deal many American cities over author of “Cities in Full: Recognizing and Realizing core.” with transportation, it doesn’t solve the problem.” the last half-century. “The the Great Potential of Cities in America,” believes When pursued in that setting, New Urbanism is In fact, said Belmont, it compounds the prob- vast majority of American that revitalized central cities, not urbanized sub- all about going back to the future, said Belmont. lem by siphoning growth away from the core. cities east of Denver are a urbs, represent the best way to achieve what he “If it were applied in the right locations, it would “When you spin off higher density development good bit less dense than they calls “Smarter Growth.” be the old tried and true urbanism,” he said. [away] from the central city, you’re definitely were 50 years ago,” said Rae, In a report prepared for the Great Cities Alliance Conceived 20 years ago as an antidote to undermining transit ridership,” he said. “No mat- who teaches management entitled “The Truth About Smart Growth,” Belmont sprawl, New Urbanism strives to create neighbor- ter how hard you try to provide good transit sys- and political science at Yale writes, “For the social and environmental good … hoods and communities that are more dense, tems in the suburbs, you just can’t do it.” University and for a time policymakers should let suburbs be suburbs as con- walkable and diverse than the typical suburban Granted, plenty of suburbanites commute by served as New Haven’s chief stituted prior to the 1960s and as still preferred by development. They offer a mix of housing types bus and train to work, but they continue to use from apartments over storefronts to single-family their cars for virtually all of their other daily trips, The presence of a supermarket and homes. They incorporate traditional designs with homes that feature front porches close to the side- said Belmont. On the other hand, the central city possesses a “natural transit superiority” that other routine retailing within walking walk and garages served by alleys at the rear. And they integrate businesses, restaurants, civic facili- encourages residents to make broader use of tran- sit because stops are closer, waits are shorter and distance is an essential characteristic ties and parks to create a more self-contained environment. riders can reach more destinations without trans- ferring, he said. of any urban neighborhood. administrative many suburbanites: bedroom communities of sin- officer. gle-family homes. Then cities would gain the Rae is the advantage in the competition for … those who pre- New Urbanism is author of “City— fer townhouses or apartments to detached homes, Urbanism and those who would rather walk than drive to every- all about going Its End,” a case study of the day destinations, those who are amenable to a lifestyle marked by routine transit use.” back to the social, economic and political If that sounds like a shot across the bow of New Urbanism, so be it, said Belmont. “New Urbanism future. If it were causes and con- sequences of as routinely practiced is more style than sub- stance,” he said. applied in the New Haven’s Ouch! Is that fair? Gordon Price thinks so. “New right locations, rise and fall. Rae Urbanism is basically new suburbanism,” said presents a vivid, Price, director of The City Program at Simon Fraser it would be the nuanced and University in Vancouver, Canada, and a former city detailed history councilman. “You can create little patches, but old tried and of urban life in the community that’s not serious urbanism. It’s fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far.” true urbanism. where he lives That doesn’t have to be the case, though. The and works—with knock on New Urbanism from people like Price 56 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 57
  • 30. Transit is not, however, the only transportation On the other hand, maybe you do. project’s housing units and has arranged for seven option available in fully realized urban environ- “Neighborhood self-determination is not a consti- flex-cars to be stationed there for residents who ments, said Price. Such neighborhoods offer res- tutionally guaranteed right but a political product opt to forgo a personal vehicle, said Price. idents many different transportation choices as of the 1960s,” writes Belmont. “Some issues are Rae, too, has witnessed creative examples of they go about their daily activities. Ideally, he too consequential to the health of the city and the New Urbanism in action such as the conversion of said, people should have at least five options— metropolis to be decided by neighborhood a dead New Haven mall into a condo/apartment feet, bike, transit, taxi and vehicle—and the abil- activists. Density should take its place among complex. By the same token, he’s also aware that ity to mix and match them according to the these vital issues.” some people “just want their two acres of grass nature and circumstances of the trip. “Proximity The density of most American cities is less than [and] it’s hard to imagine anything government and mix and density and connectivity are really 5,000 people per square mile, said Belmont, which can do about that.” what’s key here,” he said. is less than half the density required to sustain Rae believes immigration just might be the cat- And so is the corner grocery. The presence of neighborhood retail. “Attempts to recentralize are alyst needed to make central city neighborhoods a supermarket and other routine retailing within not going to be successful quickly, but I still argue come alive again and catch the eye of people with walking distance is an essential characteristic of that’s the direction we should be going in because a taste for urban living as they choose where to any urban neighborhood—new or old, said there’s a tremendous amount of grossly undevel- live. “The trick,” he said, “is for cities to attract a Belmont. He calls retail and transit “the twin oped land in the cities—even in a city like New significant fraction of each future generation that assets that minimize automobile dependence and York,” he said. makes that choice.” ownership.” One approach is to find creative answers to Brad Broberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer special- Weaning people from their cars benefits arguments against increasing neighborhood den- izing in business and development issues. His work society in many ways ranging from curbing con- sity such as lack of parking. In Vancouver, a devel- appears regularly in the Puget Sound Business Journal gestion and reducing pollution to making the oper is selling parking spaces separately from his and the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. country less dependent on foreign oil. What’s more, the ability to live without a car can save people thousands of dollars a year—money they The trick is for cities to attract a significant can spend on better housing. “That’s a really powerful choice for people,” said Price. fraction of each future generation that makes Assume, for the moment, Belmont is right about the wisdom of revitalizing central cities ver- New Urbanism their choice. sus urbanizing the suburbs and about the neces- sity of nurturing transit and retail to make that happen. What’s the next step? “Higher density,” said Belmont. “Central cities that maintain low- density residential zoning are a big part of the problem. They’re funneling growth to the suburbs in greater percentages than they need to.” If that’s true, the solution is simple. Change the zoning. Of course, that’s much easier said than done—a political fact of life Price is quite familiar with after serving six terms on the Vancouver City Council. “You don’t just go into a neighborhood and say, ‘Hey, we’re here to change the character of your community,” he said. It is entirely possible to seek an urban future that recaptures much of what was desirable [about] urbanism. 58 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 59
  • 31. Battery Park City in New York Green is the Smart ChoiceNew Urbanism designs lead to self-sustainable and energy-efficient developments By Christine Jordan Sexton I n the same neighborhood that saw the worst attack on American soil, a new type of urban living is beginning to thrive. Just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, new construc- tion in the lower west side of Manhattan has peo- ple thinking differently about what it means to live in the city. That’s because the new ultra high-rise apart- ments, condominiums and commercial buildings being erected in Battery Park City are sustainable, constructed to negate the impact a building has on society as well as its occupants. The green build- ings are tucked in a bustling area of lower Manhattan that provides the ultimate “live, work reduction of energy use realized by putting these and play environment” with access to a bustling principles into practice, say LEED advocates. financial center, open green spaces and the harbor. Green building performs and enhances many It’s also a prime example of what a new itera- facets of energy reduction and limitation of waste. tion of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and The proposed LEED-ND rating process is Environmental Design) Green Building Rating weighted toward promoting neighborhoods that System® hopes to accomplish: bringing green to are compact in design, close to transit, mixed use, urban America or promoting sustainable buildings a mixed housing type and pedestrian and bicycle in communities that are developed with New friendly designs. The rating system is being devel- Urbanist principles in mind. oped by the LEED-ND Core Committee and the The US Green Building Council, the Congress LEED-ND Corresponding Committee. for New Urbanism and the Natural Resources It’s a product that is long overdue, according to Defense Council are advocating a new rating sys- real estate and development consultants. Al tem (for neighborhood development) called Doyle, a partner and creative director at the LEED®-ND that would encourage these types of Seattle residential real estate firm called neighborhoods. Fusionpartners, says the new standards could be a It will be piloted this fall and the final LEED- tremendous asset to homeowners who are attract- ND Rating System, will be published in 2008. ed to master planned neighborhoods and green Similar to LEED-NC and other LEED products, buildings but have no real assurances today that LEED-ND will act primarily as a certification developments pass muster. basis, a stamp of sorts for builders who wish to “This is something that needs to be done,” construct environmentally sound neighborhoods believes Doyle, who said that rating systems like within a relatively self-sufficient and sustainable LEED ensure that standards are met “and it’s not community that integrates into a region economi- just something that is coming from the cally, ecologically and culturally. REALTOR® or developer.” The benefits of development and growth utiliz- Pam Lippe, president of New York City based ing these New Urban principles have a variety of green consulting firm, e4 inc., agrees with Doyle, positive effects on the communities in which they but says the latest LEED product offers more than serve. None of these is greater however, than the standards for homeowners. 60 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 61
  • 32. “That’s one of the market needs, but the other The Solaire was completed in 2003 and building green can be anywhere between $50 side of it is the developers may in fact want to achieved LEED gold the following year. The and $70 a square foot in a LEED building or “over develop that way [green] but they don’t really Authority subsequently mandated that commercial 10 times the additional costs of building green.” understand what goes into a LEED development,” buildings also be built to green standards. “There To help offset the initial increased costs of said Lippe, who represents a client who is consid- was uncertainty whether developers would warm to smart sustainable buildings, Gov. Pataki intro- ering applying for the LEED-ND pilot. the challenge,” said Cavanaugh, who noted that on duced a tax credit for building green. The Green Indeed, “green” is not an image that many peo- the list bid for property in Battery Park City Building Tax Credit provides for tax credits to ple have when they think of the area adjacent to between seven and 10 of the “top developers” in owners and tenants of eligible buildings and ten- Ground Zero. Yet, when built out to completion in the area bid on the project ant spaces which meet certain green standards. 2009, Battery Park City will have more square Green building design assists in keeping living The credit became effective January 1, 2001, and footage of sustainable development in one place spaces cool in the summer and warm in the winter by is allowable for taxable years 2001-2009. It is than any other place in the world, said James utilizing many natural elements. This positively capped at $25 million. Cavanaugh, president & CEO of the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority. affects the ability to downsize mechanical equipment such as air conditioners and heaters, again reducing While Battery Park City helps pave the way in the Northeast, the High Point developments in Green building performs It’s appropriate that the 92 acres of land along the southwest Manhattan waterfront lead the energy use and costs. Green buildings often use less than half the energy of conventional structures. Seattle on the West Coast also are being recog- nized for the mix of green and New Urbanism. and enhances many facets nation in the development of high density green. To that end, the Solaire uses 35 percent less ener- The neighborhood has been featured in a PBS of energy reduction. The 92 acres were once rotting piers on the Hudson gy than a similar building designed to state code documentary and also was featured at the Life in waterfront. The New York State Legislature in 1968 requirements, according to Battery Park City officials, the Urban Landscape Conference in Gothenburg, tures that Phillips was going to sacrifice in order to created the Authority, empowered it to issue bonds and 65 percent less electricity during peak demand Sweden last year. build green nor did he have to. and directed it to create, coordinate and maintain a periods. The reason: the building has 382 solar pan- And, it’s no wonder why. The former low-income “You don’t want to live in something that is an balanced community of commercial, residential, els. The Solaire also has an onsite wastewater treat- housing neighborhood, in the center of West Seattle experiment or looks strange,” said Phillips. “You retail and park space. Infill was complete in 1976 ment facility and a storm water reuse system. with some of the best views of the city, is being want a neighborhood where people walk around and development in the area began in the 1980s. There are dozens of reports and analyses of the transformed into a mixed-income, multigenera- and there are front porches and they relate to the Under the direction of New York Governor costs and benefits of designing sustainable build- tional, pedestrian oriented, green community. neighbors and there is a social cohesion.” George E. Pataki the Authority in 2000 published a ings. Generally speaking it’s accepted that the ear- The redevelopment is being spearheaded by Phillips’ observation is that home prices in set of residential guidelines that required any devel- lier in the process it is decided to build green, or the Seattle Housing authority, which is selling High Point continue to escalate. “A builder sold 24 oper bidding on residential buildings to build green sustainable, the lower the costs. A report called land to private and not-for-profit homebuilders. houses in the first three months in the $390,000 to and meet LEED silver standards, although the “Green Building Costs and Financial Benefits,” by The 129 acre neighborhood was redeveloped with $420,000 range. They have done real well and I requirement has subsequently been upped to gold. Gregory H. Kats, suggests that the benefits of a drainage system that has been designed to pro- would say the response has been really strong,” he tect and enhance the water quality of the state’s said, adding that the homebuilder was surprised most important salmon stream which the neigh- at the ease in which the homes sold. “The prices The benefits of development and growth utilizing borhood teeters on. The natural drainage system uses specially engineered soil along with grass keep increasing, too.” Lyle Homes and The Dwelling Company are New Urban principles have a variety of positive and plants to treat the runoff from the roadway and housing. The system provides greater oppor- two other area companies that are beginning to build in High Point. Lyle Homes Vice President effects on the communities in which they serve. tunity to cleanse the runoff than the traditional Reg Willing said his company is just beginning to piped and centralized management approach. develop 41 homes. While the company has built To complement the clean environment there are homes to BUILTGREEN three-star standards 35 “breathe easy” rentals in the community that before, the homes in High Point will be at least are rented to parents whose children suffer from four-star rated, he said. Willing said the company asthma. The children’s progress is tracked by the will take what it learns from building in High University of Washington’s School of Public Point and apply it to future developments. “It’s a Health and Seattle’s King County Health change that we are implementing company wide. Department. There also are homes built by some This development is going to open our eyes to the of the area’s preeminent builders that will sell for way we are building.” $600,000 said Seattle Housing Authority senior The Dwelling Company marketing manager developer Tom Phillips. Those homes also must Noree Milligan says interest in the redeveloped meet certain green standards. Builders are neighborhood has been high. required to meet the BUILTGREEN™ three-star “I think that people just view it as responsible certification. The standards were developed by the homeownership,” she said, adding, “Why Master Builder Association of King and wouldn’t you want to live in a green neighborhood Snohomish counties as well as local government. if you could?” Phillips said people in Seattle “are really respond- Christine Jordan Sexton is a Tallahassee-based free- ing” to High Point, and he attributes the communi- lance reporter who has done correspondent work for the ty’s success in part to attractive streetscapes and its Associated Press, the New York Times, Florida Medical traditional neighborhood design. Those weren’t fea- Business and a variety of trade magazines, including Florida Lawyer and National Underwriter. High Point development in Seattle SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 62 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 63
  • 33. smartGrowth Compiled by Gerald L. Allen, NAR Government Affairs in the states COLORADO FLORIDA INDIANA KANSAS MISSOURI NEVADA NEW JERSEY A developer has announced a plan to In March, Randal Park, a community The city of Carmel, partnering Officials and residents have An ambitious renovation in Several cities in the Las Vegas Construction of the new $16 develop a $100 million residential planned for Orlando’s eastern fringe, with a developer, broke ground in mixed feelings about the Columbia is under way to Valley have recently consid- million Cranford Crossing and retail development on 77 acres won preliminary approval from the city March on Carmel City Center, high-density, mixed-use transform the former Diggs ered policies that limit or out- mixed-use village in Cranford is in Littleton that for decades housed council. The project would include three designed to serve as a new down- Bauer Farm project in Packing Co. meat packing law the development of gated progressing rapidly. Situated an oil research facility. Littleton neighborhoods with as many as 1,870 res- town for the city. When complet- Lawrence’s northwest edge, plant into a mixed-use com- communities and walled sub- directly across from the Village will be an urban-style devel- idential units, 350,000 square feet of ed, Carmel City Center will some three miles from plex of art studios, offices, divisions. Las Vegas and Cranford train station, Cranford opment zoned for as many as 900 retail space, 100,000 square feet of include the Carmel Performing downtown, with city com- shops, restaurants and Henderson have recently Crossing will feature approxi- residential units; although the devel- offices, a seven-screen movie theater and Arts Center, a 1,600 seat world- missioners voting 3-2 for apartments. The city’s his- updated zoning codes and mately 21,000 square feet of opers say only 600 to 700 units prob- 29 acres of parks. The 712-acre develop- class concert hall, 500 seat per- site rezoning and a prelimi- toric preservation commis- their comprehensive plans to ground-floor space and 50 luxu- ably will be built. The development ment is earning early comparisons with formance theatre, outdoor nary plan. Opponents of the sion purchased the site, discourage gated communi- ry for-sale condominium homes also will include 200,000 square feet Baldwin Park and Celebration because of amphitheatre, restaurants, retail, plan were troubled by its which consists of a two- ties and encourage develop- in two buildings that will incor- of retail space. This was not the first its “New Urbanism” design features, office suites and luxury resi- divergence from the level, 31,016-square-foot ers to build walkable, con- porate a downtown New proposed use of the land, with the including a mix of houses, townhouses dences. The retail shops, restau- Horizon 2020 vision, which historic brick structure built nected communities with Urbanism design. In addition, Littleton city council rejecting a plan and multifamily units built around a town rants, residential units and office recommended low-density in the 1920s and features parks, shops, restaurants, the company has pledged to put forth by a home builder and a center in a walkable community. Houses suites anticipate opening in the development for this area. solid construction, industri- workplaces and other ameni- build Cranford’s first municipal- large chain retailer after many resi- in Randal Park will feature porches close fall of 2008, with a hotel projected The 43-acre project will al skylights and a conven- ties close to homes. Boulder ly owned parking garage, pro- dents voiced objections. The new to the street and garages along backyard to open in the spring of 2009 and include a total of about 200 ient location near down- City enacted a six-month viding 310 spaces to be shared plan calls for a denser, urban-style alleys. Nearly half its acres can’t be the Carmel Performing Arts single-family homes and town. The complex could be moratorium on gated commu- by commuters, shoppers, retail- development, but without giant developed because of wetlands and other Center and Theatre opening in multifamily units, with lofts ready for tenants in early nities to give the city council ers and residents. Cranford retailers and more than three times restrictions. The first phase of the project the fall of 2010. The site upon above retail and apartments 2007 and also dovetails time to enact an ordinance Crossing is the largest redevel- as many housing units as the first could be finished by 2008, but it’s unclear which Carmel City Center will be atop garages, plus stores, with the ongoing revitaliza- outlawing them. New designs opment undertaken in historic proposal. Architects for the develop- how quickly the other phases would fol- developed was purchased by the offices and space for reloca- tion of the Columbia north- being favored in the Valley Cranford’s downtown business er have stated that Littleton Village low. An aspect of the project that was con- city of Carmel, along with sur- tion of the Lawrence central neighborhood. tend to be dense mixed-use, district in more than a century. will be developed on a traditional sidered favorable was an agreement by rounding farmland property for a Community Theatre, all pedestrian-friendly neighbor- In 1995, the project was one of street grid with no cul de sacs and the developer to pay in advance for the total of 80 acres. This property within walking distance. hoods with no gated commu- four honored with a Smart will have traditional city boulevards construction of eight new classrooms at a previously contained a deteriorat- One concern that has been nities and few walls that are Growth Award from New Jersey and a park that will feature art shows local middle school, estimated to cost ing strip mall with an old empty expressed is that the new interconnected by narrow Future as a forward-thinking and farmers markets. about $1.3 million. grocery store as its anchor. stores would compete with streets, village squares, parks development that will improve downtown businesses. and open space. the state’s communities while preserving its natural areas. 64 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006 SUMMER 2006 ON COMMON GROUND 65
  • 34. smartGrowth in the states (continued) ® NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS urges you to Get Smart, Get Involved ® Smart Growth Resources for REALTORS ® NEW YORK TEXAS VIRGINIA WASHINGTON and REALTOR Associations The Congress for New In October 2005, the El Paso city In James City County, Seattle Mayor Greg Urbanism (CNU) and the council called for a complete construction of the New Nickels recently signed Center for Neighborhood rewrite of the city’s subdivision, Town development is in legislation to shape the NAR has many resources designed to help REALTORS and REALTOR ® ® Technology are stepping in to zoning and building ordinances. “high gear,” with plans future of Seattle’s greater associations take a strong leadership role in guiding their community’s help make the case for tearing Its charge is to incorporate calling for the mixed-use downtown area. The legis- growth and improvement. Take advantage of these benefits: down Buffalo’s Skyway in the Smart Growth and New development to more than lation will contribute more name of urban revitalization. Urbanism principles as part of a double its retail and office than $100 million to afford- ▼ Both organizations have new strategic plan to encourage space and build up to 250 able housing. The legisla- Smart Growth Action Grants included the Buffalo Skyway, more parks and open space in housing units. The pedes- tion encourages more Get up to $3,000 to help your association take action. along with similar roadways in development. Proponents of the trian-friendly develop- housing immediately adja- Seattle and Louisville, in a plan argue that the city’s cur- ment will add about cent to the traditional ▼ study on removing infrastruc- rent standards are years out of 314,000 square feet of downtown commercial Land-Use Initiative Get a free analysis of pending land-use legislation. ture barriers to boost land val- date and encourage developers retail and office space core, and increases the ues and investment. Describing to build sprawling neighbor- during 2006, adding to capacity of the area for new ▼ the 50-year-old Skyway as hoods that have no form and are the 243,000 square feet of jobs by allowing for more Smart Growth Surveys “brutally ugly” and “unneces- completely automobile-depend- space in place at the end commercial development. NAR will split the cost of conducting a poll on sary,” John O. Norquist, presi- ent. In January, city officials, of last year. In addition to The mayor’s Center City growth and land-use issues in your area. dent of the CNU, said he’s residents and citizens gathered retail and office space, Strategy moves Seattle for- happy to get involved in plan- for an assessment of the city’s construction is under way ward on two major policy ▼ Community Growth Updates ning its demise. The 5,800-foot- current regulations by a team on the New Town United goals: promoting afford- NAR compiles up-to-date information and details on a long Skyway is a key part of from the Urban Land Institute Methodist Church and a able housing and encour- variety of community growth issues, including: Buffalo’s transportation infra- Foundation. The panel is recom- new James City County aging “Smart Growth” in structure, carrying more than mending that El Paso revise its Community Building. The the city and the region. The • Transportation • Schools 40,000 vehicles a day between codes to include new standards development will also fea- Center City Strategy will • Open space downtown and points south aimed at developing neighbor- ture affordable housing spur more contributions to • Community design over the Buffalo Ship Canal hoods with parks and other units, with costs of the affordable housing by pro- and Buffalo River. amenities. The panel also rec- new homes between viding incentives to build ommends that the city adopt $105,000 and $140,000. housing units. new policies to encourage the The development will be preservation of historic build- fully built out by 2009, 12 ings and to redevelop aging years after starting. neighborhoods. Visit for more details, or contact Hugh Morris, Community Outreach Representative, ® NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS , 202-383-1278, 66 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2006