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September 2012

There is a new star coming to Fenway. TOD becomes a neighbor

By: Francis DeCoste, TRA Chief Operating Officer

As spring emerges, Bostonians usually shift their attention on all the action going at Fenway. Although this year, with the performance of the home town team being less than stellar, a new star in the Fenway may steal the spotlight. At a recent Biznow gathering, developer John Rosenthal discussed plans for the start of construction of the 1.3 million square transit oriented development called the Fenway Center.

The project, located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, is a 4.5 acre assemblage which includes air rights over the Massachusetts Turnpike as well as ground up development on the surface parking lots between the Beacon Street and Brookline Avenue bridges. The development plan includes approximately 500 residences, offices, and a retail shopping center featuring a local grocery store.

Transportation is a major amenity for the Fenway Center. Located adjacent to the MBTA Yawkey Commuter Station, the MBTA Kenmore Square and Fenway Green Line Stations are just a block away. A component of the development includes what will be one of the largest private solar power plant in Massachusetts, which will provide a significant portion of the projects electricity and all the power needs of the new commuter rail station. Yawkey Station will become the first zero net energy commuter rail stations in the state. In addition, the Fenway Center will also feature over 30,000 SF of parks and green space, bicycle storage and share station, community space and a daycare center.

It has been a long time coming for the Fenway Center. But just like the Red Sox, good things are always worth the wait. Construction of the Fenway Center is expected to begin in mid 2012.

Spotlight on Sustainability: Planning for a self-sufficient Grand Traverse County, Michigan

Located in northwest Michigan and with a population of about 90,000 people, Grand Traverse County boasts a host of natural amenities and idyllic Great Lakes beauty. But like most places across the country, it has faced an economic slowdown in recent years.

Unlike most other places, though, the communities and local governments in the area decided to take advantage of the recession, using it as a chance to pause and assess what residents wanted for the future. That unique, forward-thinking perspective has helped Grand Traverse County create a vision for the region as a whole moving forward.

Coming out of an extended phase in which its local governments and planning commissions simply tried to manage growth, Grand Traverse County sought to create a system that would better account for expected development and direct it toward shared County goals. With the input of tens of thousands of the public gathered through surveys, public meetings, and discussions, the Grand Vision was born. Encompassing six priorities –transportation, growth and investment, housing, food and farming, sustainable energy, and natural resources – the Grand Vision is a commitment from local organizations and people to move towards a shared plan for the region.

The Grand Traverse County Master Plan and Housing Strategy, funded by a HUD Community Challenge grant, builds off of these six priorities and addresses the development of housing for families of all income levels and neighborhood corridor revitalization. {…}

Urban Roulette – Next American City

Earlier today, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn had vetoed a controversial bill that would have brought gambling to that state’s largest urban center. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowed to rally support in the legislature for expanded gambling, stopping short of threatening to seek votes to override the veto.

Both men are Chicago Democrats, and both nominally support casino expansion in a state that introduced gambling in 1991 and now has nine riverboat casinos. The new bill would increase that number to 13, create a single brick-and-mortar casino in Chicago, and allow for video slots at existing racetracks. Quinn believes the bill is too lax, and would open “loopholes for mobsters,” harkening Chicago’s past as a center for organized crime. Emanuel insists that a downtown casino is so lucrative an economic development tool that any delay in construction is depriving the city of valuable tourist dollars and a new source of educational funds.

The debate is just the latest in a decades-long controversy over what role, if any, casinos can play in the revival of America’s cities. The economic downturn has given states an impetus to open up new sources of revenue, with gambling often viewed as low-hanging fruit. Twelve states have expanded gambling options in the last three years, 22 now permit commercial casinos (up from two in 1974), and Hawaii’s legislature is currently considering plans that would leave Utah as the sole state without some form of legalized gambling. {…}

Boston officials approve Filene’s project

After a four-year work stoppage, the star-crossed Filene’s redevelopment is finally poised to move forward.

Boston regulators Thursday approved construction of a 625-foot residential tower, and the restoration of the original Filene’s building into offices and stores. The $620 million project also includes the renovation of a neighboring park that will add a new MBTA station entrance and an outdoor amphitheater.

Once complete, the Downtown Crossing project will become a new focal point for that section of the city, where boarded-up structures will be replaced with new shops and restaurants.

No tenants have been named, but developer Millennium Partners is planning to move forward with construction by the middle of next year. The company’s tower is taller and more slender than an earlier version proposed for the site. At a hearing at City Hall on Thursday, numerous supporters lined up to speak in favor of the project; no one spoke up to object. {…}

High-Speed Rail Is Definitely Green

Opponents of high-speed rail contend that it’s a boondoggle because of its $68 billion pricetag. But a recent UC Berkeley study provides evidence that a California bullet train might be a good investment, particularly when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases and fighting climate change.

The study, published recently in the journalEnvironmental Research Letters, was the result of two years of research by UC Berkeley civil and environmental engineering professor Arpad Horvath and Mikhail Chester, professor at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainable Engineering and The Built Environment. The study analyzed the environmental sustainability of a high-speed rail network compared to flying and driving. The authors concluded that the high-speed rail system, when it’s completed, will consume less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases and less pollution than autos or planes, even after accounting for future improvements in auto and airplane fuel efficiency and cleaner, greener technology.

“We’re not only looking at greenhouse gases, we’re also considering things like the potential for smog formation as well as human health respiratory effects,” Chester said in an interview. “What we’ve found is that high-speed rail would be a cleaner mode.” {…}

 

Are Dense Urban Neighborhoods More Resil

Are Dense Urban Neighborhoods More Resilient During Natural Disasters? | Streetsblog Capitol Hill http://ow.ly/djOEe

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