As Development Devours Greenery, ‘Park Scores’ Could be Key

Michael Kahn | Atlanta Curbed

[Midtown's "backyard," Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]

[Midtown’s “backyard,” Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]

With a surge of intown development in the last few years, many have praised the densification and urbanization of the Big Peach, or have at least awarded golf claps to its baby steps. Transit-oriented developments have become all the rage, as mixed-use centers spring up or are proposed along MARTA lines. But in an article in the Saporta Report, the question is posed of how, as the city grows denser, can we enhance access to parks, even as trends point toward developing land? Could the answer be so-called park-oriented development? The seemingly incongruous ideas of allotting space for development and creating more park space, the website posits, have to be addressed as more people forgo suburban sprawl in favor of the urban jungle. But it’s more complex than that.

By now we’re all familiar with the concept of the Walk Score. On a scale of 0 (Forsyth County) to 100 (Midtown, above a restaurant and next door to Publix), the scores tell you pretty quickly how easy it is to walk to important things in a neighborhood like bars, restaurants, bars, shopping and bars. Read more

 

Atlanta Called Out for Urban Sprawl

The report reveals implementing smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than $3 trillion over the next 15 years
Jennifer LeClaire | GlobeSt.com

[Midtown's "backyard," Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]

[Midtown’s “backyard,” Piedmont Park. Image via New Yatlanta.]

Would you believe urban sprawl costs the American economy over $1 trillion a year? That’s according to a new study from the New Climate Economy—and Atlanta is a huge culprit.

That $1 trillion includes costs from greater spending on infrastructure, public service delivery and transportation. The study also finds that Americans living in sprawled communities directly bear an astounding $625 billion in extra costs.

“Smart growth is not anti-suburb,” says Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, lead author of theAnalysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and SubsidizeSprawl. “Instead, it ensures that diverse housing options are available and incentivizes households to choose the most resource-efficient options that meet their needs. We are now seeing growth in demand by Millennials and the elderly for affordable, compact housing in accessible and multimodal neighborhoods.”

One study finding shows that sprawl increases the distance between homes, businesses, services and jobs, which raises the cost of providing infrastructure and public services by at least 10% and up to 40%. The report reveals implementing smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than $3 trillion over the next 15 years.

“For a real-world example of sprawl versus smart growth, compare Atlanta and Barcelona,” says Helen Mountford, global program director for the New Climate Economy. “Both cities have approximately the same population and the same level of wealth per person, but Atlanta takes up over 11 times as much land and produces six times the transport-related carbon emissions per person as Barcelona.” Read more

Wonderland Ballroom on The Market

Seth Daniel | Revere Journal

Owners of the Wonderland Ballroom have retained a broker and are marketing the property actively, with residential transit-oriented development as a focus.

TR Advisors of Boston has been retained as the broker for the Wonderland Ballroom site, as plans for the once-talked-about 196-room hotel for the site have been abandoned.

“Our thinking really is in terms of this being a residential model property and the c to the MBTA rapid transit Blue Line to provide an ease of living that doesn’t creep into the current Boston rental rates that folks are paying,” said Phil Jean of TR Advisors. “Part of the additional value is that you are at beautiful Revere Beach and development is coming now on the Beach side of the property and also across the street the Wonderland Dog Track is in a Master Planning process or will soon be undergoing that process. In our view, the Ballroom property, given its situation and proximity to the MBTA site, affords it a very unique and exciting development opportunity.” Read more

 

Millennials care most about affordability, convenience, food

Meghan Grau | The Daily Targum

Photo by Naaz Modan | A study conducted by a team part of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy found that millennials are more likely to move into smaller homes with the weight of student debt weighing upon their consciences. Millennials are not likely to dole out cash to cover commuting expenses but will do their best to live affordably in an area with a large selection of nearby amenities, according to a study from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

A team of Bloustein graduate students performed a study in the fall semester for their real-world client, the Somerset County Business Partnership, said Eliot Benman, one of the students involved.

The students advised Somerset County on how to create a community that will attract and retain individuals between the ages of 15 and 33, according to MyCentralJersey.com.

A previous report by the Bloustein School dean James Hughes describes challenges that counties on the edge of metropolitan areas may face in the future, said Benman, who is pursuing a master’s degree in city and regional planning.

The report prompted Somerset County planners to investigate and enlist the help of the students, particularly in understanding how to attract young, talented workers to the community, Benman said. Read more

Will the Land of Steady Habits Get on Board with BRT? 3 Days Until CTfastrak Launch

Joseph Cutrufo | Mobilizing the Region

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Bicyclists make their way through Salt Lake City traffic. Officials are pushing to promote more walking and biking as the Wasatch Front population is predicted to double in coming decades.CTfastrak, Metro Hartford’s new bus rapid transit system, will officially begin service this Saturday with nine days of free rides. The BRT system has been the topic of much conversation in Connecticut over the last few years, with more than its fair share of detractors. CTfastrak has been known to some as the “busway boondoggle” and the “busway to nowhere,” while others have wondered why the State didn’t build a light rail line on the corridor instead.

But state and local officials have been bullish on the busway, predicting that CTfastrak would spur economic development. And they were right: public and private investments have kick-started the revitalization of downtown New Britain, Newington cleaned up the former National Welding site to make way for transit-oriented development, and in Hartford, downtown buildings are being convertedinto apartments.

Connecticut is known as “The Land of Steady Habits,” so skepticism about a road designed solely for buses in a metro area where 81 percent of commuters drive alone shouldn’t be unexpected. But the opening of the busway will be an historic moment for Connecticut. CTfastrak is only the nation’s eighth full-fledged BRT system, and the only example of true BRT in the tri-state region. Read more

 

The Demise of the California Redevelopment Law

Frank V. Zerunyan | Public CEO

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Bicyclists make their way through Salt Lake City traffic. Officials are pushing to promote more walking and biking as the Wasatch Front population is predicted to double in coming decades.On June 28, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two bills that effectively dissolved all California Redevelopment Agencies (RDAs). Through the California Redevelopment Association and the League of California Cities, local governments challenged the constitutionality of the two laws (ABx1 26 and ABx1 27) at the California Supreme Court. Unfortunately for local governments, the Court ruled in favor of the state, holding that what the state created it could legally dissolve. Despite several attempts to delay and change the rules of dissolution, there has been no indication that the Governor or the Legislature is intent in changing the status quo.

The California Legislature enacted the Community Redevelopment Act in 1945. The Act permitted cities and counties to set up redevelopment agencies (RDAs) in order to assist local governments in eliminating blight through development, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of residential, commercial, industrial, and retail districts.  The Act was codified in 1951 and made part of the California Constitution, as well as the Health and Safety Code. At that point, it became known as the Community Redevelopment Law (CRL). The most important component of the CRL was the authority of local governments to use future increases in property taxes to subsidize or pay for current infrastructures and improvements. Tax increment financing (TIF) made it possible for local governments to use this public financing method to pay for community improvement projects. Read more

 

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