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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
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Washington D.C. – The Most Walkable City in the US?

Washington D.C. – The Most Walkable City in the US? | green streets | Scoop.it

new report from The George Washington University School of Business has unexpectedly named Washington D.C. the most walkable city in the U.S., trumping expected favorites like New York, which ranked second.

Respectively rounding out the top five were Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. Washington D.C. earned the title of most walkable city in the report not just because it has the highest percentage of office and retail space in its WalkUPs (Walkable Urban Places), but because they are almost evenly distributed between the central city and its suburbs, unlike aforementioned favorites like New York.


More details and information at the link.

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10 Techniques for Making Cities More Walkable

10 Techniques for Making Cities More Walkable | green streets | Scoop.it
In Jeff Speck’s excellent new book, Walkable City, he suggests that there are ten keys to creating walkability. Most of them also have something to do with redressing the deleterious effects caused by our allowing cars to dominate urban spaces for decades. I don’t necessarily agree with every detail, and my own list might differ in some ways that reflect my own experience and values. But it’s a heck of a good menu to get city leaders and thinkers started in making their communities more hospitable to walkers.


Visit the article link to read more details and examples of the author’s ten steps of walkability...

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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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The Resurrection of the Corner Store

The Resurrection of the Corner Store | green streets | Scoop.it
Can clever zoning bring neighborhood stores back?

At its peak (1950), Washington was home to 800,000 people, around 30 percent more than its current population. So there is no question that the city can accommodate significant growth without a departure from its traditional character. That’s why allowing accessory dwellings and alley-facing homes makes so much sense. As Alpert notes, households today are smaller, so that in today’s market the way to add capacity is with more units, particularly small ones.

I love the idea of bringing back corner stores and other small retail outlets in residential areas. Where legacy stores still exist today, they are much loved. The proposed rules governing what kinds, and when and where they are allowed, are apparently complex. There seems to be an attempt to favor existing clusters and corridors of retail establishments, for example; new ones would be allowed only at a certain distance from existing ones...

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New Urbanism Feature: Narrower Roads

New Urbanism Feature: Narrower Roads | green streets | Scoop.it

Walkability is one of the main features of new urbanism, and narrower streets are a part of this. (This article talks about how narrower roads often work better than wide ones.) For one, narrower roads force cars to drive slower, which makes walking safer. Other things that contribute to a community’s walkability are having buildings close to the street, having tree-lined streets, on-street parking, hidden parking lots, and rear lane garages.

By promoting walkability and building narrower streets, among other things, we build communities that are family-friendly and that encourage families to stroll through their community without worry or to let their kids go biking unsupervised. Just one of the ways we strive to make your life better and greener!

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How Walkable Streets can Boost the Economy

How Walkable Streets can Boost the Economy | green streets | Scoop.it
Walkable streets are not only fun and exciting places to be, they are also profitable. Research has found that by prioritising pedestrians through making streets more walkable, both property values and shop footfall increase.

Via Peter Jasperse
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How a California city is cleaning up, building green, & protecting residents from pollution

How a California city is cleaning up, building green, & protecting residents from pollution | green streets | Scoop.it
  Over decades, the 14-acre commercial flower nursery in Richmond, California became a severely blighted site, its old greenhouses falling into disrepair and its soil polluted with years of pesticide and herbicide applications. 

After the nursery closed, contamination posed an obstacle to redevelopment. Not a great place for housing, one might think.

But think again: these challenges are being overcome as the site is cleaned of contaminants and transformed into what will be the city’s greenest new residential development.

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Smart growth investment may be key to small cities' economic vitality

Smart growth investment may be key to small cities' economic vitality | green streets | Scoop.it

This recent report from the Center for Neighborhood Technology looks very interesting. Among other things, it seems to confirm exactly what Chuck Marohn (Community Growth Institute, Strong Towns) has been telling us about the economic imperatives facing smaller cities and towns in Heartland America: to become resilient, prioritize investment in smart growth and efficient transportation.

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A beginning agenda for making smart growth legal | Kaid Benfield's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

A beginning agenda for making smart growth legal | Kaid Benfield's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC | green streets | Scoop.it
When then-governor Parris Glendening announced a key portion of what was to become Maryland’s path-breaking land use legislation in the 1990s, he stood in the historic district of Annapolis, where Maryland’s State House is located.
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EuropaCity: A New Urban Center by Bjarke Ingels Group

EuropaCity: A New Urban Center by Bjarke Ingels Group | green streets | Scoop.it

BIG with additional team members Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec and Michel Forgue is chosen to design an 80 Hectare cultural and commercial destination, EuropaCity in France.


The new urban center EuropaCity is located between Paris and Roissy in France’s most populated region Île-de-France, and will offer a mixture of retail, culture and leisure on an unprecedented scale around the theme of the European urban experience, diversity and culture.

BIG’s proposal is an urban form combining dense city with open landscape and will become a cultural and commercial gathering point for the surrounding cities of the Triangle de Gonesse. Like a city that is carved into the landscape, the entire facility is covered in an accessible green roof with recreational areas, hiking paths and urban farming. EuropaCity will be directly linked to the coming Grand Paris Express Metro to Charles de Gaule airport.


“EuropaCity will be an experimental hybrid between urbanism and landscape design: Center and periphery overlapped in the simultaneous coexistence of a recreational open landscape of rolling hills superimposed on an urban neighborhood of walkable streets, plazas and parks. We find that Paris these years is taking on a holistic effort to ensure that the urban periphery is given equal opportunity to be as lively and inhabitable as its historic center. EuropaCity will be an important step in this agenda.” –Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.

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The Next Major Real Estate Cycle: Walkable Urbanism?

The Next Major Real Estate Cycle: Walkable Urbanism? | green streets | Scoop.it
How shifting demand could pull real estate developers (in cities and the suburbs) in a new direction over the next generation.

Not too long ago in Washington, D.C. – and still today in plenty of other cities – "walkable urbanism" was a niche real estate market. Developers weren’t all that interested in mixed-use, compact projects, of the kind where carless urbanites might live, work and grocery shop in strolling distance. And people didn’t seem to want to live in them anyway. But things have been changing in the capital. Now, argues real estate developer and George Washington University professor Christopher Leinberger, walkable urbanism is becoming the real estate market.

Washington’s evolution hints at what will happen in this next real estate cycle in cities everywhere, Leinberger concludes in new research to be presented at a conference on the topic next week. His findings build on an earlier study conducted at the Brookings Institution. In all, the Washington region now leads the nation with 43 distinct neighborhoods Leinberger has identified as “regionally significant walkable urban places” (in other words, those walkable places that also help power the metro economy as jobs centers). A mere .9 percent of the land in the entire Washington region is currently devoted to such places. But 34 percent of the region’s jobs are located there. And these places, Leinberger argues, represent the future of cities everywhere – for the coming wave of development in residential construction, in office space, in entertainment and in retail.

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Award-Winning German Development Aims To Be 'The World's Most Sustainable Neighborhood'

Award-Winning German Development Aims To Be 'The World's Most Sustainable Neighborhood' | green streets | Scoop.it
Energy efficient, pedestrian friendly, conveniently located, and full of green innovations, the eco-city Arkadien Winnenden makes a pretty good case for the title.

Economically depressed and the site of a tragic school shooting in 2009, the small German suburb of Winnenden didn't have much appeal despite its low home prices and proximity to Stuttgart. But an award-winning eco-friendly development is turning the town in a new direction.

The architecture firm Atelier Dreiseitl, which also recently transformed Singapore's Bishan Park, calls its new Arkadien Winnenden development "the world’s most sustainable neighborhood."

Formerly home to an abandoned factory, the site's contaminated soil was remediated and recycled, as was existing concrete. Each house in the neighborhood has a high energy-efficiency rating and priority was given to non-toxic, locally sourced materials during construction. The competitively priced homes are connected by pedestrian-friendly streets and shared public spaces, though they also have private gardens, terraces, and roof gardens...

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Can US communities learn from this European suburban retrofit?

Can US communities learn from this European suburban retrofit? | green streets | Scoop.it
In 2008, the substantially updated town center of Plessis-Robinson, a suburb of Paris, was named “the best urban neighborhood built in the last 25 years” by the European Architecture Foundation. A composite of six connected districts ranging in size from 5.6 to 59 acres, the revitalization comprises public buildings, retail, market-rate and subsidized affordable housing, parks, schools, gardens, sports facilities, and a hospital. Construction was begun in 1990 and took a decade to complete.

From the beginning, the concept was to develop a highly walkable environment, while using locally sourced materials as much as possible, and preserving wetland habitat. The town as a whole now contains seven parks and gardens amounting to over 120 acres of protected green space. (There are also three industrial and technology zones housing many of the town’s 240 companies and 11,000 employees.) Architecturally grounded in traditional French forms, the rebuilt sections look much as if they have been there for years...

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Most Americans Want a Walkable Neighborhood, Not a Big House

Most Americans Want a Walkable Neighborhood, Not a Big House | green streets | Scoop.it
It turns out most of us value nearby stores and parks rather than McMansions. Luckily, that's probably where we're headed.

The symbol of American success often involves having the biggest house possible, but our outsized fantasies seem to be shifting. According to a new survey, more than three quarters of us consider having sidewalks and places to take a walk one of our top priorities when deciding where to live. Six in 10 people also said they would sacrifice a bigger house to live in a neighborhood that featured a mix of houses, stores, and businesses within an easy walk.

For once, our preferences align with our impending reality; in the future, we may not have a choice whether or not to downsize our lifestyles. The housing bust exposed that the McMansion phenomenon is unsustainable, which has forced us to re-examine our priorities. In another study in 2010, the ideal number of square footage people desired for their houses dropped dramatically. It's becoming increasingly clear that the American dream of buying a big old house will need to be revised for the youngest generation.

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A City Authentic: Lancaster, PA and New Urbanism

A City Authentic: Lancaster, PA and New Urbanism | green streets | Scoop.it
Back in 2008, Lancaster, PA mayor Rick Gray bluntly stated "get ready for a sea change," when discussing plans to transform the city's downtown into a walkable, vibrant destination.

Via Ana Valdés
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Smart Growth America to provide free smart growth technical assistance to communities

Smart Growth America to provide free smart growth technical assistance to communities | green streets | Scoop.it

Smart Growth America is pleased to announce technical assistance will now be available to select communities interested in smart growth strategies – free of charge.

The new program has been made possible by a five-year technical assistance grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The grant will be used to provide direct technical assistance to communities across the nation on how to develop local solutions to help their communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place.

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Designing Walkable Urban Throughfares

Designing Walkable Urban Throughfares | green streets | Scoop.it

Communities are all about connection. The bond between families, neighbors, business owners, and public servants is shaped by the way a community's streets are situated. Traditional Main Streets, with their vibrant mix of commerce and culture — where mom-and-pop shops line the sidewalks, cars and trucks slow down to share the road with pedestrians and bikes, and people congregate in great gathering spaces — are the most outward expression of the strength of communal ties.

As the structure of our streets help pave the way in which our communities connect on a physical, social, and economic level, designing livable, walkable urban thoroughfares is one of the utmost priorities for any city or town.

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What is new urbanism? - Helium

In the 1920s, the U.S. cities were organized in an ideal structure of walkable neighborhoods. The entire city was walkable... Christina Pomoni (What is new urbanism?)
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