Chamber Executive Magazine Touts Smart Growth

The quality of life and business growth in downtown Charlottesville, VA, can be attributed to historic and current investments in walkable neighborhoods near jobs, shops and schools.

The Summer 2012 issue of Chamber Executive Magazine features an article outlining the business benefits of smart growth from Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute.

The former governor of Maryland, Glendening spoke at the American Chamber of Commerce Executive’s annual convention last year in Los Angeles, where his ideas about the impact of future gas prices, real estate values and demographic changes were met with interest and enthusiasm.

In Lodi, Calif., a town of 60,000, a $4.5 million project to make its sidewalks and streets more walkable attracted 60 new businesses, reduced storefront vacancies by 12 percent and increased downtown sales tax revenue 30 percent.

Silver Spring, Md., revitalized its central business district over a five year period. A $360 million public-private investment in a mixed-use town center served as the initial catalyst. Annual property tax revenue eventually increased by 30 percent, nearly $1 million greater than pre-project levels.
Were those outcomes coincidental? Hardly.

During my eight years as Governor of Maryland, we focused extensively on the issues of managing sprawl, adding transit-oriented development and increasing sustainability. Collectively, these focus areas formed a basis for the nation’s first modern “smart growth” policies.


Smart Growth Stories: A Tale of Three Cities

What kinds of investments allow cities to rebound and jumpstart local economic growth?

Bombed out.

If you were feeling cynical, that’s how you might describe the current state of downtown Reno, Nevada. Take a walk down Virginia Avenue and see what I mean. Go past the forlorn casinos, the shuttered liquor store, and the homeless loitering near the 4th Street bus station. Search in vain for a downtown restaurant or bar that is not attached to a gambling institution. And then, when it is dark, walk in the shadow of the National Bowling Stadium, a building designed for a sport whose own history unfortunately mirrors that of the town in which it stands.

Bombed out.

A few years ago, that’s how you might have described Woodward Avenue in Detroit. People were fleeing the city then, a trend that had continued since the Motor City’s initial decline in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Great old buildings, monuments to a forgotten past, may well have outnumbered the residents and businesses for which they were fashioned. It was the scariest of places – the loneliest of places.

Bombed out.

Almost two decades ago, that’s how you could have literally described part of Oklahoma City. Or as current Mayor Mick Cornett told it at a conference earlier this year, “That’s all people knew about us.”

Each of these places has struggled with decline. But where there is barrenness, there is always a chance at renewal. All across the country, towns are looking to make a comeback. In my role at Smart Growth America, I talk with community leaders and representatives almost every day who ask the same questions. How do we create jobs? How do we attract new residents and new businesses? How do we change our reputation for the better? And then how do we avoid falling down after we’ve gotten back on our feet?


InfrastructureUSA interviews Geoffrey Anderson on smart growth

Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoffrey Anderson took to the Internet airwaves yesterday on InfrastructureUSA’s blog, emphasizing the need for state, local and federal policies to take into account the interrelatedness of economic, transportation, housing, social and environmental issues. “Obviously weʼve had a transportation program at the federal level for 50 years, putting in … Continued


Will state transportation agencies stick to their plans and fund top priority projects?

A new report from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign examines proposed state-level transportation spending in each of the 50 states, breaking down expenditures into four main categories – road and bridge maintenance, bike and pedestrian projects, public transit and new bridge and road capacity. Its findings suggest a serious change in direction from past practices. “It’s … Continued


Proposed House Appropriations Bill Would Defund Smart Growth Program, Slash EPA Funding

WASHINGTON DC — In language that puts politics ahead of public safety and economic development, the House of Representatives’ Fiscal Year 2013 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill zeroes out funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s smart growth program and reduces EPA funding overall by 17 percent. “Though House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers … Continued


CPEX forum highlights economic promise of transit, planning in Baton Rouge area

Stakeholders and key decision-makers from Baton Rouge and the Greater New Orleans area came together Tuesday on the LSU campus to discuss how the city and region could best harness transit and planning measures to enable economic development and the creation of great Louisiana neighborhoods. The engaging policy forum was hosted by the Connect coalition, … Continued

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Subdivisions go urban as housing market changes

Changing demographics and shifting consumer demands have deeply impacted the real estate market, causing developers to put a greater emphasis than ever before on the creation of smart growth neighborhoods within easy distance to jobs, shops and schools. From millenials to baby-boomers, Americans are moving away from large-lot suburban housing and looking to take up … Continued

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