9/8 THUR 12:15 | Keynote Ellen Dunham-Jones


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In line with the conference theme, “What Will We Do Now?”,Ellen Dunham-Jones will open the conference with a discussion on how to transform the sprawl of suburbia into a more resilient and more urban future. Ms. Dunham-Jones co-authored
the book, “Retrofitting Suburbia”, which catalogs a full range of strategies from full-scale town center redevelopment to transformations of big box sites into churches, call centers, and public libraries to incremental strategies such as improving accessibility, so residents can age in place. Ms. Dunham-Jones is an award-winning architect, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a leading authority on suburban redevelopment. She teaches and researches contemporary architectural urban design studios and theory. Her insights and their potential
for application in Florida should be of particular interest as communities come to terms with sprawling development patterns in the face of fewer available resources needed to serve them.

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  • 1. U.S. home prices have lost 33% of their value since mid-2006. 28% are “underwater” – meaning their outstanding debt exceeds the homes value – AND – we have a glut of “zombie subdivisions”
  • US has twice as much retail sf/capita in shopping centers than Australia. Today – a lot of it sits empty, partly because we’ve been so over-retailed, and partly bc of the recession (although in truth it simply accelerated retail vacancy trends that were already in place.) Of the 1100 enclosed regional shopping malls, 1/3 are doing fine, 1/3 are in decline, and and 1/3 have died or are dying.So, ONE reason why people are thinking about retrofitting suburbia is simply to figure out what to do with all this vacant land. BUT, there are other imperatives as well:
  • …Many of these amendments may have been to allow apartments or town centers – but, rather than stimulating our economy with more new development, I think it makes much more sense to redirect growth back to existing communities…
  • -flooding, resiliency-energy will go up $100% over 20 yearsYes- we should – and we have been focused on our downtowns. But, there are several reasons for ALSO focusing on the suburbs. First, from the perspective of climate change;. The average urban dweller has 1/3 the carbon footprint of a suburbanite – mostly because suburbanites drive so much more and lose more energy from the greater exterior surface area of their detached buildings. So, as this map shows on a per capita basis cities – like San Francisco and Oakland are already relatively “green” compared to suburbs.
  • Similarly, suburbia’s highly auto-dependent, low density living has resulted in a doubling of the number of miles we drive –increasing our Dependence on foreign oil, despite gains in fuel efficient cars.
  • Public health is another reason for retrofitting suburbia. Researchers at the CDC and elsewhere have linked suburban development patterns with sedentary lifestyles and consequent increases in diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (as shown in these rather frightening slides) 1 in 3 children born in the US today are expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime - a percentage that has increased at the same time that the percent of children walking to school has dramatically declined.
  • Quite simply, more and more, the savings associated with “drive ‘til you qualify” housing are wiped out by higher transportation costs. This Since 2005, more poverty in the suburbs than in cities. The spike in gas prices in 2007 was a significant factor in the defaulted mortgages that led to the GFC.
  • Great new website… Boston area, see large peripheral areas where housing is taking up 45% or more of income. On the right, see the reduced gas expenses for residents living closer to the core.
  • The site allows for many queries. Here, I zoomed in a bit to see the correlations between large avg block size and high CO2 emissions. Changing block size and lifestyle patterns at this scale is daunting - to say the least!
  • OK. So, whether you love suburbia’s leafy privacy or hate its soul-less commercial strips, I hope I’ve made the case that there are plenty of reasons why it’s important to retrofit suburbia and reduce all this driving. But is it practical ?I think so, June Williamson and I have been researching this for over a decade and found over 80 varied, market-driven examples.What’s fundamentally driving this market is the new suburban demographics. We all think of suburbia as “family-focused” but it really isn’t anymore. Already in 2000, 2/3 of suburban households did NOT have kids in them – and the domination of the baby boomers and Gen Y – neither of whom are in prime child rearing years, means this trend will continue. Demographers predict that 75-85% of NEW households through 2025 won’t have kids in them. Instead, the market –even in the suburbs – will be for more urban living options – (so the boomers can “age in place” and Gen Y be closer to their future jobs.)
  • The second big dynamic of change is the sheer proliferation of what developers often refer to as ”underperforming asphalt” sites. I keep thinking it would make a great name for an indie rock band – but what it really refers to are under-used big suburban parking lots. When the postwar suburbs were first built, on cheap land away from downtown, it made sense to just build surface parking. But, now that they’ve been leapfrogged by further generations of suburbanization, the early suburbs now have a relatively central location. As such, it now makes sense to pay for a parking deck and build more densely – or will when credit returns. In the meantime, as more fail, redfields to greenfields…
  • Suburbia’s “newness” is often at odds with its traditional imagery 
  • -omportance of cheap space!!Grande Orange – this is a little L-shaped strip shopping center in Phoenix that was simply given a fresh coat of bright paint, a gourmet grocery and restaurant in the old post office. Never underestimate the power of food to turn a place around! Real estate ads now routinely mention “walking distance to Grande Orange” because it provided its suburban neighborhood with what sociologists refer to as a “third place”. If home is the first place, and work is the second, a third place is where you hang out and build communal bonds. As suburbia has become less family-focused, there’s a hunger for more third places.
  • Approx 40 mall retrofits so far: this exemplifies the trend of reinhab with “meds and eds”.Other malls have become office bldgs, arts complexes, megachurches
  • While re-inhabitation tends to help with social sustainability, to get environmental benefits, one tends to need to redevelop and urbanize these properties into mixed-use, walkable, transit-served neighborhoods.
  • Sarasota: Mall: $22,000/yr/acre in prop tax. 4 story m-u:70,00014-story m-u: $800,000 (it’s .75 acre produces more than the 21-acre Wal-Mart and 32-acre mall combined AND 3yr payback on infrastruc vs 42Big box produces approx the same as single-family house ($8,500/acre vs 8,200)
  • But densification won’t work everywhere. Sometimes, regreening is the better answer.
  • More and more places are turning to organic farming to revive health and property values – and new urbanists are leading the pack. There is a growing suburban farming movement in Boulder and Philadelphia where people are intensively farming their front and backyards and coordinating farmer’s market participation over the internet. A dying – but not dead mall in Cleveland started growing organic veggies under its skylights three weeks ago – reinventing the food court! And a billionaire in Detroit is investing $30 million to convert the first 70 acres of abandoned proerty in Detroit into commercial farms – as a way to stimulate the economy AND to reduce the city’s footprint, allowing the surviving parts of the city to work more efficiently.
  • There are other examples of dead retail spaces being turned into parks – as they too increase property values.
  • We need to start strategizing retrofitting at the metro scale: where should we target re-greening, re, re…Miami’s R2G proposal for a transit-oriented park system is equally ambitious
  • Bamboo bike – made by growing bamboo in the needed shape – was designed by Monash student Alex Vittouris
  • But densification won’t work everywhere. Sometimes, regreening is the better answer.
  • Bristol CT, Glen Cove, LI, Waco, Amarillo, and Sugarland TX have all engaged private developers to redevelop their public land into new town centers.
  • We need more “instant urbanism” of this variety: guerrilla tactics to temporarily spur redevelopment. Underemployed architects, planners, and engineers are using crowdsourcing to temporarily spur redevelopment
  • 9/8 THUR 12:15 | Keynote Ellen Dunham-Jones

    1. 1.
    2. 2. Source unverified<br />U.S. home prices have lost 33% of their value since mid-2006; 28% are “underwater”; and the term “zombie subdivision” has entered the dictionary in 2010. <br />
    3. 3. 1100 shopping malls: 100+ dead, 200 sick 50,000+ strip malls, 11% vacancy rate <br />Retail square footage/capita in shopping centers:<br />U.S.A. 23sf (up from 15 in 1986)<br />Canada 13sf<br />Australia 11sf<br />Sweden 3sf (largest in Europe)<br />Discretionary shopping as % of GLA: <br />1971: 25.7% , up to 31.9% in 2010 <br />350,000+ big box stores, 300 mil vacant sf<br />
    4. 4. 1100 shopping malls: 100+ dead, 200 sick 50,000+ strip malls, 11% vacancy rate <br />Yet, according to the 1000 Friends of Florida website, Florida DCA has approved more than 2500 amendments to Future Land Use Maps. this is close to 1 million new dwelling units and THE EQUIVALENT OF 270 NEW REGIONAL SHOPPING MALLS.<br />IS THIS SOLVING OR PERPETUATING A PROBLEM? <br />350,000+ big box stores, 300 mil vacant sf<br />
    5. 5. imperative :<br />climate change<br />On average, urban dwellers in the U.S. have 1/3 the carbon footprint of suburban dwellers.<br /> Interpolation from various studies<br />
    6. 6. imperative :<br /> dependence on foreign oil<br />The Joint Chiefs of Staff’s office sees reduced energy consumption as a national security issue. <br /> Col. Puck Myckleby, 2010 <br />Vehicle miles traveled per capita doubled between 1983 and 2007, an increase more than five times population growth, while consuming 30% of all developed land in the U.S.<br />Reid Ewing, Growing Cooler, 2007 <br />
    7. 7. imperative :<br /> health<br />Suburban development patterns have been linked with sedentary lifestyles, dramatic increases in obesity and consequent higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. <br />One in three American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes and car accidents are the leading cause of death amongst persons 0-24 years old.<br />Centers for Disease Control, Healthy Communities Initiative<br />
    8. 8. imperative :<br />affordability<br />Average U.S. household spending on transportation is 19% of income. <br /> -12% in “walkable urbanism” <br /> -25% in “drivable suburbanism”<br /> -30% for those in the lower income 1/2 of U.S. households (2004)<br />Government pays 20-40% more per household to provide road infrastructure for suburban densities <br />Center for Neighborhood Technology<br />
    9. 9. Housing + Transportation Affordability Index<br />Center for Neighborhood Technologies, http://htaindex.cnt.org<br />
    10. 10. Housing + Transportation Affordability Index<br />Center for Neighborhood Technologies, http://htaindex.cnt.org<br />
    11. 11. dynamic :<br /> demographic<br /> shift<br /><ul><li>75-85% of new households through 2025 will not have children in them (various researchers)
    12. 12. 77% of Millenials/Gen Y say they want to live in an urban core (RCLCO 2008 survey)
    13. 13. 75% of retiring boomers say they want mixed-age and mixed-use communities (RCLCO 2009 survey)</li></li></ul><li>Source: Dunham-Jones, Williamson<br />dynamic: <br />leapfrogging & recentralization<br />Early suburbs, formerly on the edge of metropolitan development, have been leapfrogged so many times that they now have a relatively central locationand are prime sites for transit service and retrofitting. <br />
    14. 14. dynamic: <br /> underperforming<br /> asphalt (we’re not as --built-out as we thought)<br />2.8 million acres of greyfields to be available for redevelopment by 2015. If ¼ were redeveloped, we could meet half our housing needs. <br /> A. Chris Nelson, 2006<br />Perimeter Center Mall, Atlanta (right)<br />
    15. 15. strategy: <br /> Re-inhabitation<br />space for community-serving uses that cannot afford new construction <br />“third places”<br />food as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization<br />keep the lights on <br />
    16. 16. from grocery store to library<br />North Branch Public Library<br />Denton, Texas<br />Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle Architects<br />Peter Sieger<br />
    17. 17. from strip center to hip “third place”<br />La Grande Orange Groceria, Phoenix AZ<br />Bob Lynn, Kris and Craig DeMarco<br />Photo by Robyn Lee<br />
    18. 18. Meds & Eds: From dying mall to revived mall and university medical center<br />One Hundred Oaks, Nashville, TN<br />Source unverified<br />
    19. 19. strategy:<br /> Redevelopment<br />densify<br />urbanize<br />green the infrastructure<br />
    20. 20. From grocery anchored strip mall to village center<br />The A&P Lofts, Old Cloverdale, Montgomery AL<br />City Loft Corporation, McAlpineTankersley Architecture, The Colonial Company<br />
    21. 21. 1985 2005 2025<br />Source: Dunham-Jones, Williamson 2009<br />from strip center to “attachable urbanism”<br />Mashpee Commons, Cape Cod, MA<br />1988-present<br />Cornish Assoc. Ltd / DuanyPlater-Zyberk & Co / Imai, Keller Moore<br />
    22. 22. transit triggers infill of an office park<br />University Town Center, Hyattsville, MD<br />Prince George’s Metro Center, Inc.<br />Parker Rodriguez<br />RTKL Associates <br />WDG Architecture<br />
    23. 23. a large farm estate adjacent to the village of Hyattsville<br />University Town Center<br />1940<br />
    24. 24. Highway triggers a mall, the office park, and buffer buildings<br />University Town Center<br />1980<br />
    25. 25. First retrofit triggers four more<br />University Town Center<br />2020<br />(revised 6/10)<br />
    26. 26. New Main StreetNnNEw<br />
    27. 27. from 69 houses to TOD with 1,174 d.u., 1mil sf office, 190k sf retail and green infrastructure<br />MetroWest, Vienna, VA<br />Pulte Homes, Lessard Arch Group, EDAW<br />
    28. 28. before<br />“after”<br />Infilling edge city with new form-based zoning over multiple parcels<br />Downtown Kendall / Dadeland, Kendall, FL<br />Miami-Dade County Urban Design Center<br />Dover Kohl & Partners<br />Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co.<br />
    29. 29.
    30. 30. Downtown Kendall / Dadeland<br />1970<br />
    31. 31. Downtown Kendall / Dadeland<br />1995<br />
    32. 32. Downtown Kendall / Dadeland<br />2020<br />
    33. 33. breaking up the superblocks with a street grid pegged to the mall’s internal “streets” and parks at intersecting parcel anchor points <br />
    34. 34.
    35. 35. Mizner Park, Boca Raton, FL; Cooper Carry Architects, 1990<br />From dead mall to mixed-use downtown with linear park Source: Dunham-Jones, Williamson, 2009<br />Before<br />
    36. 36.
    37. 37.
    38. 38. Before<br />From dead mall to green downtown<br />Belmar, Lakewood,CO<br />Continuum Partners<br />ElkusManfrediArchitects, Civitas Inc.<br />Van Meter Williams Pollack Architects<br />
    39. 39. before - Villa Italia mall<br /><ul><li>140 subtenant leases
    40. 40. PPP with City of Lakewood, Lakewood Reinvestment Authority, Continuum Partners
    41. 41. Infrastructure delivered by Developer, paid back out of sales tax collected on site</li></li></ul><li>Belmar<br />1975<br />
    42. 42. Belmar<br />1995<br />
    43. 43. Belmar<br />2015<br />
    44. 44. <ul><li>2002-8 fiscal and economic impact on Lakewood of $207.2 million ($49.5 million in 2008 alone), including a fiscal impact of $10.6 million
    45. 45. 9 acres of public space and parks including a 2.1 acre park, 1.1 acre plaza
    46. 46. 8 bus lines come through the new downtown
    47. 47. 2/3 complete in ‘09: 1.1 mil sf retail, .9mil sf office, 1300 residential units</li></li></ul><li>8 of 13 regional malls in the Denver Metro area have been retrofitted or announced plans to be.<br />Retrofitting does NOT imply the wholesale redevelopment of existing neighborhoods. <br />Rather it provides existing neighborhoods with urban nodes on targeted underperforming sites-raising the question, how to connect the dots?<br />Source: Dunham-Jones, Williamson, 2009<br />
    48. 48. from commercial strip to multi-way boulevard and new downtownPalm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City, CA; Freedman, Tung & Bottomleysource: Dunham-Jones, Williamson, 2009<br />
    49. 49. From 32-mile commercial strip to 16-municipality regional redevelopment collaboration<br />State Road 7/US 441, Broward & Miami-Dade Counties, South Florida Regional Planning Council and others<br />
    50. 50. Columbia Pike, Arlington County, VA, Ferrell Madden Associates, Dover Kohl & Partners<br />form-based codes to induce densification & transit along a commercial strip<br />
    51. 51. retrofitting land use, transportation and energy on a commercial corridor<br />Cambie Corridor, Vancouver, BC, Vancouver City Planning Department<br />
    52. 52. strategy: <br /> Re-greening<br />reconstruct local ecology, daylight culverted streams, and clean run-off<br />add parks to increase adjacent property values<br />food and energy production<br />carbon sequestration<br />
    53. 53. Suburban farming: growing organic veggies in the front yard - or inside the mall – or on foreclosed neighborhoods<br />
    54. 54. from shopping center to wetland w/ new lakefront property investment<br />Phalen Village, St Paul, MN,U.Minn CALA (Dowdell, Fraker, Nassauer) and City of St. Paul<br />Before After<br />Source: Dunham-Jones, Williamson, 2009<br />
    55. 55. from mall parking lot to TOD with condos, senior housing, and daylit creek park<br />Thornton Place, Northgate Mall, North Seattle, WA: LEED-ND pilot program <br />Mithun Architects for Stellar Holdings & Lorig AssociatesSource: Dunham-Jones, Williamson, 2010<br />
    56. 56. Using the bioswale as a park improves both water quality and property values<br />Thornton Place, North Seattle, WA: Mithun Architects for Stellar Holdings & Lorig Associates<br />
    57. 57. Amateur photographers protesting for the right to public space on the Astroturf green <br />at Downtown Silver Spring, MD, July 4, 2007<br />
    58. 58. strategy: <br /> Next Steps<br />Remove obstacles and increase incentives for retrofitting <br />Conduct greyfield audits and target retrofitting strategies at the metro scale<br />Improve architectural quality and the design of “instant urbanism”<br />Develop new research, tools, and technologies <br />
    59. 59. State Policies Advancing Retrofitting<br />Virginia requires new development to contribute to the efficiency of the street network by meeting Connectivity Index thresholds.<br />Illinois requires state agencies to use an index of the combined cost of housing + transportation in screening applications for housing, economic development, & transportation investments. Similarly, HUD is calling for mortgage underwriting to factor in location efficiency.<br />New York, California, Marylandhave smart growth bills requiring coordination of state agencies’ investments according to regional plans that lay out conservation areas and development areas in relation to transportation plans.<br />South Carolina and Florida have each introduced Commercial Revitalization bills to facilitate the redevelopment of dead shopping mall sites in a walkable manner.<br />California requires ghg projections with comp plans<br />California has proposed that all retail over 90,000sf (big box) submit economic and community impact plans.<br />
    60. 60. Local Incentives for Retrofitting<br />RE-ZONING and EXPEDITED PERMITTING to incentivize mixed-use.<br />PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP SAVVY to creatively fund appropriate improvements, includingUSE OF PUBLIC LAND,TIFS, PILOTS, SALES TAX REBATES, etc.<br />DEPARTMENTAL COORDINATION and CONSOLIDATION between planning, building, emergency, health, and economic development departments. <br />PERFORMANCE INCENTIVES for conformance with LEED-ND or raising WALKSCORE.COM scores.<br />SUBURBAN COALITIONS for collective political clout and problem-solving.<br />LEADERSHIP AWARDS and DESIGN COMPETITIONS to broaden recognition of new ideas.<br />To be most effective, all of the above need to be combined with DISINCENTIVES FOR CONTINUED SPRAWL. <br />
    61. 61. Long Island Radically Rezoned, T. Holler, K. Mulry, S. Peters, A. Serra <br />Build a Better Burb Peoples Choice winner, 2010<br />
    62. 62. Grafting 5 more floors on top of the mall and extruding the atrium<br />Surrey Central City, Surrey, BC, Canada, Simon Frasier University<br />Bing Thom Architects, Inc<br />source: Dunham-Jones, Williamson, 2009<br />
    63. 63. technological innovation: The Schweeb, the Straddle Bus, and the Bamboo Bike<br />
    64. 64. strategy: <br /> but what do we do now?<br />Leverage public land to get good development patterns approved – and wait<br />Engage in pre-emptive or anticapatory retrofitting, or employ contingent zoning<br />Encourage temporary events and tectical urbanism<br />
    65. 65. Recapturing traffic islands for redevelopment while making walkable intersections<br />Fort TottenMetroRail stop, Washington DC Planning Department<br />Source: Washington DC Planning Dept website<br />
    66. 66. From 3-story regional mall to affordable TOD w/ anticipatory growth<br />Englewood CityCenter, City of Englewood, Miller Weingarten Realty, Trammell Crow Residential, David Owen Tryba Architects, Calthorpe Associates<br />Sources unverified<br />tool:Antipatory Retrofitting: <br />Lay out parking lots as future building sites with utilities and trees lining the “streets”<br />
    67. 67. 2-day “Art Installation”<br />Build a Better Block, <br />Go Oak Cliff, October 2010 <br />Oak Cliff, Texas<br />Source unverified<br />
    68. 68.
    69. 69. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES <br />CNU Sprawl Retrofit Initiative: Active list-serv, website with examples and model legislation. For info go to: http://www.cnu.org/sprawlretrofit<br />Sprawl Repair Manual: Book by Galina Tahchieva of DPZ. Prototypical solutions at the regional, neighborhood, and building scale.<br />Greyfields to Goldfields: 2002 book by Lee Sobel and CNU based on 2001 study of regional mall study by Price Waterhouse Cooper<br />Malls into Main Streets: 2005 report by CNU to guide local officials and owners/developers through the process.<br />Suburban Transformations, Paul Lukez, 2007<br />Big Box Reuse, Julia Christenson, 2008<br />10 Principles for Reinventing America’s Suburban Business Districts, Geoffrey Booth, et al, ULI, 2002<br />“Retrofitting Suburbia”, Places 17:2, Summer 2005, theme issue guest-edited by Dunham-Jones and Williamson<br />Retrofitting Suburbia Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Retrofitting-Suburbia/29939207705?ref=ts<br />CNU 20, May 9-12, West Palm Beach, FL – entire track on suburban retrofitting<br />