Stumpf 2006 Apa
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Stumpf 2006 Apa

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Presentation to the American Planning Association on "breaking the rules" of downtown revitalization.

Presentation to the American Planning Association on "breaking the rules" of downtown revitalization.

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  • The intent of this presentation is to get people to think about how we encourage or discourage good design and practices in our downtowns, to perhaps give people a few ideas, and to begin a discussion about our roles as planners in downtown revitalization.
  • Is there anyone who cannot see that this is a mere shell? The sort of contrived diversity, false history, and rigid rules governing a dressed-up shopping center cannot create the essence of a true downtown with all of its good, bad, and even ugly. When we begin to impose rules on a downtown district, are we forcing it to become monotonous or indistinguishable from any other place?
  • What makes a downtown great? Can experiences such as these be planned, or to what extent are they random?
  • If we are going to define what makes a downtown successful then we need to acknowledge that success is economic as much, if not more than aesthetic. As planners we often fail to understand the economic side of the equation. This holds true both for the economics of property ownership as well as commerce.
  • Zoning codes – especially older ones – sought to remove industrial uses from downtowns. In many cases these are defined in a way that prevents artisans from setting up shop just where we would like them to be.
  • Activities such as the post office, city hall, the county courthouse, and other government offices are terrific traffic generators. Visitors to these places will often add other stops to their trips, generating sales for downtown businesses. Why do some places move these activities to the edge of town?
  • Signature attractions like conference centers and museums may contribute by bringing people into the downtown, but often fail to maintain the rhythm and flow of the street. Their unbroken expanses turn off shoppers and are seldom successfully mitigated. These buildings do not belong in the best locations for retail to locate.
  • Activities such as the post office, city hall, the county courthouse, and other government offices are terrific traffic generators. Visitors to these places will often add other stops to their trips, generating sales for downtown businesses. Why do some places move these activities to the edge of town?
  • Pocket parks are a wonderful feature where there are people to use them, where other park space may not be available, or where they are regularly programmed with activities. Parks built as an afterthought, with no plans for maintenance, or simply because the city thinks that a good downtown requires having a pocket park are seldom of much value.
  • Activities such as these are often regarded as a poor use of downtown space. On the other hand, they generate customers for downtown stores and restaurants.
  • Any other building of the same vintage might be considered a candidate for historic preservation.
  • Balconies add a vertical dimension to the street. Is the hazard a real one?
  • Build-to lines may be good at encouraging people to place buildings on the street, but there may be merit to some variation in setbacks.
  • Regulations vary from allowing only a certain material to prohibiting other materials like metal or EIFS. In reality, any material can look good when done well, or look bad when the underlying design is bad.
  • What is the purpose of prohibiting some colors or requiring only “muted shades?”
  • Is there a process in the community to allow a building owner to construct a covered arcade or project a marquee over the sidewalk?
  • Signs are informative. Signs can be fun.
  • Are these an eyesore or do they add life to the district?
  • People find these signs useful. Objectors often cite a safety danger. Even when real, it is possible to design around this concern.
  • “Somebody could lose an eye.”
  • Pennants hanging from light poles? What is this, a used car dealership? DOT’s hate this sort of thing.
  • Why not liven up the sidewalk?
  • Help the merchants increase sales, slow down traffic, and encourage people to stroll.
  • Street vendors add life. They can make up for the storefronts not filled with retailers. They increase the drawing power of the district. It is also an excellent way to incubate new businesses.
  • Traffic needs to slow down when the road is narrow and shared with people.
  • There are many ways to fill the voids when a wide street is made narrow.
  • What do we want to put first, the car or the built environment?
  • Besides slowing down traffic, they add visual interest.
  • Lighting professionals know that the amount of light and the way it is directed can create a mood. As planners we often fail to understand this and merely use formulas as a guide.
  • Angled parking adds stalls where they count the most – in front of businesses.
  • Traditional downtowns are made up of many small buildings. Large-scale redevelopment, sometimes favored by economic developers, will often stick out like a sore thumb.
  • By right, simple application process, administrative review, low/no charge. Is a process really necessary?

Stumpf 2006 Apa Presentation Transcript

  • 1. The Great Downtown Enabling Revitalization by Breaking the Rules
  • 2. Does planning create great places or homogenous places?
  • 3. Unique Engaging Exciting Inviting Unexpected Active Vibrant
  • 4. Economics and Aesthetics: Not always opposed to each other
  • 5. Industrial Arts Jerome, AZ Estes Park, CO Are activities such as glass blowing or ornamental iron work an industrial use?
  • 6. Where do we place the city’s anchors? Aberdeen, SD Beloit, KS Kearney, NE
  • 7. The bad side of public spaces Jamestown, ND Cincinnati, OH Large public buildings can suck the life out of the street, even when designed by a famous architect.
  • 8. Some uses simply do not belong downtown Hattiesburg, MS
  • 9. Pocket Parks Russell, KS Rock Springs, WY
  • 10. Automobile Sales and Repair Where do you go when your car is being fixed? Top: Trinidad, CO Bottom: Mandan, SD
  • 11. Why are we so quick to take down gas stations? Ogallala, NE Salida, CO Hays, KS
  • 12. Are balconies a public nuisance? Albuquerque, NM Top: Durango, CO Bottom: New Orleans, LA
  • 13. Uniform setbacks were never universal Mineral Point, WI
  • 14. Façade Materials No metal buildings. Jackson, MS Hot Springs, SD Right: Alliance, NE
  • 15. Too many colors? Too bold? Buena Vista, CO Tucson, AZ
  • 16. Encroachment on Public Property Santa Fe, NM Baraboo, WI
  • 17. Projecting, Pole, and Rooftop Signs We have created exceptions for ‘historic’ signs because they have become iconic. Will anybody ever describe the signs we allow today as iconic? Tucson, AZ Salina, KS Williston, ND
  • 18. Neon and Moving Signs Salida, CO Jackson, WY Ocean Springs, MS
  • 19. ‘ A’ Frame Signs and Menu Boards Idaho Falls, ID Buena Vista, CO
  • 20. Dangling Things: Pennants, Wind Socks, Flags, Etc. Silverton, CO Georgetown, CO Santa Fe, NM
  • 21. Street Banners Manhattan, KS Aberdeen, SD Often the bane of transportation departments, suspended banners can help to create a festive environment and inform the public of upcoming events.
  • 22. Advertising on Public Property Russell, KS Hot Springs, SD Top: Ocean Springs, MS Bottom: Marshfield, WI
  • 23. Outdoor Merchandise Displays San Francisco, CA Toronto, ON Placing merchandise on the sidewalk blurs the line between public and private space. It encourages people to take their time, stroll, view the merchants’ wares, and enter the shops.
  • 24. Street Vending Madison, WI New Orleans, LA
  • 25. Narrow streets are not all that bad Downieville, CA Bay St. Louis, MS An American woonerf?
  • 26. You can make any wide street narrow Palmyra, WI
  • 27. Do roads really need to follow a straight path? A jog in the road can create visual interest and slow traffic, which is as good for business as it is for pedestrians. Trinidad, CO Columbia, MS
  • 28. Obstacles can be intriguing Mazomanie, WI Cincinnati, OH
  • 29. How much light do we really need? Too little? Too Much? Carmel, CA Chicago, IL
  • 30. Is angled parking all that bad? Buena Vista, CO Columbia, MS
  • 31. Bypassing Downtown Chadron, NE Hazen, ND We are often told that bypasses divert truck traffic which only detracts from the experience of visiting downtown. In reality, it diverts much more.
  • 32. Streets – One Way Parallels When does the width of the right-of-way and the volume of traffic justify removing half of the potential customers from in front of a downtown’s businesses? Toronto, ON Jackson, MS
  • 33. Redevelopment – Large or Small Scale? Delafield, WI
  • 34. Process Easy  Cheap  Quick  Necessary
  • 35.
    • Michael Stumpf, AICP, CEcD
    • R.A. Smith & Associates, Brookfield, WI
    • www.rasmith.com
    • [email_address]
    • (262) 317-3202