Cleanup study could lead to west-side development in Tucson

Tony Davis | Arizona Daily Star

This area west of the Santa Cruz River, which holds two old landfills, has long been the target of development.

This area west of the Santa Cruz River, which holds two old landfills, has long been the target of development.

Drive down Cushing Street just west of the Santa Cruz River, look south, and you’ll see plenty of bare dirt covered with a few spare desert shrubs.

This is Tucson’s land of broken dreams, a place where study after study and committee after committee have looked for decades at possible development to turn the west side into a magnet for tourists, culture lovers and shoppers. But little happened, and most plans sat on the shelf.

Now, a consultant hired by the city is looking at the potential for cleaning up one of the area’s biggest lingering problems — two municipal garbage landfills dating to the 1950s — and turning an eyesore into an asset.

IRG LLC of Denver will spend about 10 weeks evaluating the costs and benefits of making 27 acres of this property habitable for development, as well as the merits of development itself.

Part of this property, bordered by Cushing on the north and Mission Lane on the south, is supposed to be the site of the Tucson Origins Heritage Park. That’s a longtime centerpiece of this area’s redevelopment hopes that has been largely stillborn since about 2008 due to lack of funds in the Great Recession and its aftermath.

Officials are hoping for some kind of private, “mixed-use” development of homes and businesses on the rest of the site.

The Denver consultants will return with recommendations to neighbors, city staff and the City Council. The council along with possible future private investors would make the ultimate decision on the area’s fate. Read more

 

A 20/20 perspective on 2020, and even 2040, in Northwestern Indiana

Ty Warner | NWI Times

Local contractors and others peer over a solar panel array on the roof of the Porter County Career and Technical Center in August. The group participated in a Solar Ready II tour hosted by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

Local contractors and others peer over a solar panel array on the roof of the Porter County Career and Technical Center in August. The group participated in a Solar Ready II tour hosted by the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

Whenever you take a road trip (as my family recently did), it is, of course, important to get to your final destination. But what makes any road trip memorable are the opportunities along the way that enrich your trip while still getting to where you want to go. It’s the same with the future of Northwest Indiana.

The region is not operating in a vacuum. Within the past five years, regionally minded citizens of Northwest Indiana came together in unprecedented numbers to plan the region’s “road trip” not just for the next five years, but for the next 25. That future, laid out in the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan: A Vision for Northwest Indiana, is fresh and compelling, and shapes not only what we’ll be doing for the long term, but also how we approach opportunities in the short term.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission has seized opportunities to launch several recent initiatives which will have results in the next five years and yet move the region down the road toward its envisioned future:

– NIRPC’s Creating Livable Communities program was recently established to fund plans to enhance the “central places” of our communities. Seven Northwest Indiana communities are already benefitting from the $400,000 put toward their planning efforts, and NIRPC plans to enhance the program within the next couple of years for a new round of funding. Read more

 

Are Water-Neutral Growth Policies the key to Building Sustainable Communities?

Mary Ann Dickinson | National Geographic

Plans are underway to completely rebuild the Metro Center on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)We’re accustomed to waiting in lines for a football game, to buy movie tickets or perhaps to get a seat in the most coveted professor’s class. But what if we had to wait in line to move? What if we had to be granted access to a city where we found a great new job or the family dream home we always wanted?

This idea isn’t so far-fetched; in some places, it’s already an unfortunate reality. In the seaside village of Cambria, California, 666 families and individuals are currently waiting for permission to move into their single family homes. Many have been on the wait list for upwards of 20 years. As recently as this summer, the San Diego Union-Tribune was fielding letters suggesting that the city close its doors to new residents.

Why have communities resorted to such extreme measures? The answer is simpler than you may think: they don’t have sufficient water supplies to hook up to new homes and facilities. Planners and decision-makers are increasingly challenged with the task of accommodating new water customers with existing and possibly limited water resources. This tension can also place limits on overall economic growth, deterring businesses from investing or expanding operations that can create jobs and bring opportunity to cities. Read more

 

Garden State’s unified public-private vision

Plans are underway to completely rebuild the Metro Center on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)Jennifer Mazawey | Real Estate Weekly

 

In development, we often laud “public-private partnerships” – ultimately an overused blanket term for projects in which a state or local government is in some way financially vested.

But, the reality is that very few strides are made in real estate and development without at least peripheral support from the state or local governing bodies. And, here in New Jersey, the public and private sectors have set the table for what has become perhaps the smartest and most effective development climate in the nation.

New Jersey has benefitted from the presence of several forward-thinking, innovative developers, to be sure, but policymakers have clearly done their part to incentivize projects that will have the greatest positive impact to their communities. Read more

L.A. coalition wants to keep housing affordable near public transit projects

John Schreiber | My LA News

Photo by John Schreiber.With at least $40 billion in transportation projects being built or planned in the Los Angeles area over the coming years, a transit-focused coalition urged city leaders Tuesday to keep housing near transit corridors affordable for those most dependent on public transportation.

Three-quarters of people in the Los Angeles area who use public transportation to get to work earn less than $25,000 a year — compared with the $60,000 median annual income for greater Los Angeles residents in 2014, according to the Alliance for Community Transit.

Those lower-wage earners could be priced out of neighborhoods near transportation hubs if city leaders fail to enact policies to protect them, according to an ACT white paper, which says research has shown that transportation projects tend to drive up nearby housing costs. Read more

Sacramento Gentrification Is Getting the Streetcar Boost

Rachel Dovey | Next City

Sacramento streetcar rendering from a report prepared for the city by URS Corp.With cranes dominating skylines nationwide, redevelopment and displacement are often portrayed as the yin and yang of city makeovers — one a dark but inevitable counterpart to the other. But gentrification, as Susie Cagle wrote for Next City last year, is not necessarily “an act of nature.” Usually, it’s the culmination of policy and investment choices. With that in mind, as California’s capital paves the political landscape for a streetcar — an attempt to both spur and piggyback on new development — city leaders have some decisions to make.

To realize what’s at stake, you need to understand the city’s geography, which I wrote about last year. Sacramento’s downtown, occupied from 9 to 5 by state workers, was the after-hours home to some of the city’s lowest earners — mostly renters — when census data was collected last. But according to long-range planner Tom Pace (with whom I spoke for that 2014 article), many state workers still commute in from the suburbs, meaning that the central core needs more housing of all kinds. Through an arena, several mixed-use projects and an intermodal transportation facility, city leaders want to fill the area with walkable development. The streetcar, which will get a $30 million boost from property owners along its proposed line, is part of that vision. Read more

 

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