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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
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Can city life be exported to the suburbs?

Can city life be exported to the suburbs? | green streets | Scoop.it
Instead of building more typical suburban developments, in the past two decades builders increasingly have been bringing city life to the suburbs and exurbs. Street grids are plotted around central plazas surrounded by condos, apartments and shopping. Public transportation is arranged, parking garages are hidden from view, and all the things that people love about D.C. and cities like it are layered on: public art, sidewalk performers, outdoor movies, street festivals, block parties and food carts.

The spread of “town center” projects, particularly in the Washington suburbs, is making it harder to distinguish what makes a city a city. The urban neighborhood has become an exportable commodity.

By the end of 2011, there were 398 such city replicas — town center or “lifestyle center” projects — in the United States, most of them built in suburbs, in exurbs or on farmland alongside a highway. Since the 1960s, developers had promoted suburban shopping centers as safe, clean escapes from crowded cities. But with urban living back in vogue since the late 1990s, developers are trying to create it outside city limits...

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Why Cities Are Growing Faster Than Suburbs

Why Cities Are Growing Faster Than Suburbs | green streets | Scoop.it
It's not just millennials - families and baby boomers are also leaving their suburban homes.

For the first time in a century, America’s largest cities are growing faster than their suburbs. An Associated Press story widely covered in the media yesterday, including in Time, said the findings from new 2011 census estimates reveal a “dramatic switch” from the previous pattern of suburban dominance.

Between 1988 and 1996, central cities together had suffered an net out-migration of over two million people each year, while suburbs experienced a collective net gain of two to three million people each year.

A lot has changed since those bleak times for cities, from revitalization of declining neighborhoods to transit investment to a disaffection among suburbanites with long commutes and rising gasoline prices...

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Megacities: Three Ways to Fix US Suburbs from the Inside Out

Megacities: Three Ways to Fix US Suburbs from the Inside Out | green streets | Scoop.it
The US suburbs might be unsustainable, but changing the living arrangements of tens of millions of Americans isn’t as easy as simply changing their tastes in geography. Here’s three problems and three potential fixes for our neighbours in the sprawl.

 

Changing the living arrangements of tens of millions of Americans isn’t as easy as simply changing their tastes in geography. Sure, cities are getting more desirable for young, creative Americans, but how many can afford to stay in the city when they start a family and need to move out of their closet-sized studio? And can you blame the couple that wants their own patch of green without having to wake up the sound of garbage trucks and revelers at 4 AM?

The suburbs resemble that escape hatch from the pressures of city life. It’s the easy way out. Walking 5 blocks to the dirty, either freezing or boiling subway to wait for a train and get to the crowded and overpriced grocery store, or hop in your car, drive five minutes, and not have to carry your groceries more than 60 collective feet.

 

But the suburbs are far from perfection, breeding inefficiencies and inequalities of the economic, environmental and demographic form. They can’t be unbuilt though, so here’s a list of current problems and potential fixes for our neighbours in the sprawl...

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The American Dream, Revised

The American Dream, Revised | green streets | Scoop.it
A new exhibit explores radical solutions for the nation's housing woes.

Saving the suburbs might mean starting essentially from scratch.

An exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art, "Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream," presents five architectural solutions to renew a depleted American suburbia. At its heart, the show is not just about architecture and design, but about blurring the traditional lines that separate public space from private space, owning from sharing, residential structures from business structures, and suburbs from cities.

“Change the dream,” reads a sign at the entrance of the show, “and you change the city.”

“Foreclosed” is the result of a months-long process in which teams made up of architects, designers, community activists, economists and others looked at creating innovative solutions to development in five disparate suburbs around the country. The sites have in common “a significant rate of foreclosure, and a considerable amount of publicly held land available for development.”

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U.S. Cities Outpace Suburbs in Growth

U.S. Cities Outpace Suburbs in Growth | green streets | Scoop.it
U.S. cities are growing faster than the suburbs for the first time since the 1920s. Twenty-seven of the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan areas exceeded their suburbs in population growth in the nine months between July 1, 2011, and April 1, 2012, according to census data.

“This is the culmination of a trend that’s been going on the last several years,” says William Frey, a demographer and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Using other data sets, you can see that this trend was kind of starting already around 2007.”

But while the trends aren’t new, 2012 became the tipping point when cities finally overtook the suburbs. The data even showed growth in areas that historically had been declining in population. Midwest cities like Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis all gained in population in the past year.

But just because these cities are growing doesn’t mean that people want to be there. Experts say that even though the recent crash in property prices has made the suburbs more affordable, because of a lagging economic recovery, people can’t afford to move out of urban areas. Young families who would normally lead the exodus to the suburbs are “hunkering down” in cities, Frey says. Young professionals, especially, are living in low-rent apartments with roommates or moving in with parents rather than buying a house in the burbs.

Urban growth isn’t all bad. “The crash also gives younger people and other households a chance to give cities a second look,” Frey says. Denver, Washington, Austin, Seattle and Atlanta have become “youth magnets” — areas that have had an influx of young people looking for jobs.

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New evidence that smart growth my reduce local congestion as well...

New evidence that smart growth my reduce local congestion as well... | green streets | Scoop.it
We have long known that residents of smart-growth neighborhoods – those with central locations, walkable streets, nonsprawling densities, and a good mix of shops and amenities – drive significantly less than do residents of spread-out suburban subdivisions. But, writing in his blog hosted by Planetizen, Todd Litman reports on a new Arizona study that found that those attributes can reduce local congestion as well:

[The study] found that roadways in more compact, mixed, multi-modal communities tend to be less congested. This results from the lower vehicle trip generation, particularly for local errands, more walking and public transit travel, and because the more connected street networks offer more route options so traffic is less concentrated on a few urban arterials. This contradicts our earlier assumptions...

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Suburbs, Jetsons style: MoMA remaps America [SLIDESHOW]

Suburbs, Jetsons style: MoMA remaps America [SLIDESHOW] | green streets | Scoop.it

Sky gardens! Vertical neighborhoods! “Recombinant” houses that can be taken apart and reassembled! They’re all here, in a new show at the Museum of Modern Art called Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream, in which teams of architects, ecologists, and landscape designers reimagined suburbia.

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Rust Belt Cities: to Avoid Demographic Loss, Protect & Strengthen the Core

Rust Belt Cities: to Avoid Demographic Loss, Protect & Strengthen the Core | green streets | Scoop.it
A close look at population data reveals that, while the populations within central cities’ jurisdictional boundaries have declined substantially, their suburbs have actually grown. The result is that, if one defines “city” as the contiguous urbanized area within a metro region, regardless of political boundaries – the definition that matters to the economy and the environment – the shrinkage may vanish or be shown as far less than we think.

In short, “shrinking cities” have really been hollowing out more than shrinking...

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