Municipal Placemaking Mistakes 02: Context and sequencing FAIL

My first post in this series explored quantity vs. quality and how cities routinely throw their favor in the wrong direction. Today we consider big picture thinking and how the steps you take in the course of your efforts are not the end, but the means.

Mistake #2: Failure to understand the proper context and sequencing of the three steps of placemaking.  

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Chicken or the Egg: Who takes the lead on incremental suburban retrofitting?

A proposed Trader Joe’s in Boulder, Colorado, brought up an interesting question this week in a spirited exchange on the Pro-Urb urban issues listserv: In auto-centric places where streets and infrastructure lack any sense of meaningful pedestrian amenity, who should take the lead on turning things around?

That is, should developers be required to build urban, pedestrian-oriented buildings fronting streets that are currently engineered as high speed arterials, in the hopes that, over time, a critical mass of new urban construction will foster the political will necessary to overhaul the infrastructure in further service of pedestrians and bicyclists? Or should the infrastructure be required to change first before any demands are placed on the private sector?

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Municipal Placemaking Mistakes 01: Quantity over quality

Today we begin a PlaceShakers experiment. Through a series of periodic posts, Nathan Norris will explore how cities hinder their own placemaking efforts, wasting time and money by investing in tools, policies and programs that deliver lousy results. In the process, we’ll be looking to you to help flesh out the content through examples, personal experiences and links to additional resources. The goal? A one-stop, crowdsourced primer for cities and towns seeking advantage in an ever-competitive world.

Mistake #1: Judging urban development projects on their quantity of budget/unit count as opposed to the quality of their functional design details or return on investment.

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Fair Trade Placemaking: Are you being compensated for your choices?

Over a decade ago Andrés Duany of DPZ taught me that, more times than not, NIMBY opposition stems from a sense that proposed development is not of equal or greater value to what would be lost.

Tony Nelessen, the inventor of the Visual Preference Survey, confirmed this lesson a few years later when he came to my town and conducted one.  Continue Reading

Why Generation Y is Causing the Great Migration of the 21st Century

Just after the close of World War II, the last Great Migration in the United States — the move from the city to the new suburbs — began to emerge, fueled by new roads, low congestion, and modest energy costs. It was a new beginning, a chance to shake off the past, and it came complete with the promise of more privacy, more safety, and easier financing.

Not surprisingly, Americans bought in.

After that, it didn’t take long for the preferred retailers to do likewise, abandoning the city and following their customers to the suburbs. The suburban single family home on a large lot became synonymous with the American Dream.

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