Kent McDill | Creative Loafing

(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.No one has ever accused a fast food restaurant or a drugstore chain of contributing charm to the public’s design conversation. These utilitarian structures tend to take up whole blocks, with lots of paving to accommodate drive-through functions and parking.

The old-fashioned pattern of long, narrow storefronts strung together close to the sidewalk is much more interesting to observe. Variety is the spice of shopping, and fortunately, both St. Petersburg and Tampa have streets such as Central and MacDill avenues enjoying a retail renaissance.

Two inspired young urban planners -— Chuck Marohn and Jim Kumon — have taken up the cause of promoting this pattern of urban redevelopment, barnstorming around America under the banner of “Strong Towns.” Their novel approach to directing healthier communities is to focus on the economics of growth — where we, the public, will get the most ROI. Read more