Smart growth news – June 13, 2011

Fix it first
Twin Cities Daily Planet, June 9, 2011
A new report shows that our state is spending nearly half of its highway capital on expanding roads and less than the national average on keeping them in good shape. And the national average is pretty discouraging, too. According to the report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, only four states and the District of Columbia are doing enough to keep good roads good and make bad roads better. Minnesota isn’t among them. The state Department of Transportation has quibbled with some of the study’s Minnesota-specific findings, but its own projections show a near-tripling of highway miles in poor condition over the next two decades.

Repair Priorities
Hawaii Reporter, June 10, 2011
Anybody that’s owned a house knows that keeping up with the maintenance is critical. Patching a small hole in the roof now is a heck of a lot less expensive than ignoring it and having to replace the entire rotten roof down the road. Unsurprisingly, the same applies to our nation’s infrastructure, and specifically the road network that we rely on to get where we are going and move the goods to get our economy humming.

Are the Millennials Driving Downtown Corporate Relocations?
The New Republic, June 9, 2011
In spite of the U.S. Census data for the past decade showing continued job de-centralization, there is now much anecdotal evidence for the just the opposite. The Chicago Crain’s Business Journal reports that companies such as Allstate, Motorola, AT&T, GE Capital, and even Sears are re-considering their fringe suburban locations, generally in stand alone campuses, and may head back to downtown Chicago.

Virginia: Alexandria presents alternative to waterfront plan as protests continue
Washington Post, June 11, 2011
About 200 Alexandria residents marched through Old Town on Saturday and converged on City Hall to protest a $51 million plan to bring hotels and other new development to the city’s waterfront. Opponents of the proposed project, who have organized as Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, said they want the City Council to consider designs that include more parks, a focus on arts and Alexandria’s history, and have no hotels.

Minnesota: Two St. Croix River bridge plans follow far different approaches
Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 12, 2011
In an era of tight government budgets, it’s wasteful to build a bridge that doesn’t serve multiple purposes, said William Schroeer, of St. Paul, who is policy and research director for Smart Growth America, a nonprofit group that advocates sound economic development strategy. “In this era of $4- and $5-a-gallon gas, to spend money on a bridge that only cars can use — that doesn’t make sense,” he said.

LOCUS

National association releases smart growth course for real estate professionals

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) officially launched a new course offering at their mid-year meeting last week. “Smart Growth for the 21st Century” is designed to bring real estate professionals up to speed on the basics of smart growth – what it is, why home buyers want it, and how it can build their business. The four-hour course is now available to Realtors® associations nationwide.

“Our Smart Growth Program Advisory Group asked us to create this tool to help our membership lead conversations about their communities’ futures,” explained Joe Molinaro, the Managing Director for Smart Growth and Housing Opportunity at NAR. “Realtors® are deeply rooted in and knowledgeable about the places where they live and work. They are in a position to make a strong case for smart growth.”

The course uses the ten smart growth principles to explain how different elements of community design and public policy work together to create the communities demanded by a growing market sector. The course also lays out economic arguments for smart growth and engages participants with opportunities to practice explaining and promoting smart growth approaches based on their community’s needs.

A recent NAR poll found that the majority of Americans define their ideal community as including a mix of houses, places to walk, and amenities within walking distance or a brief drive. These ideal communities included cities (preferred by 19 percent of respondents), mixed-use suburbs (28 percent), and small towns (18 percent). According to Mr. Molinaro, developing a national course that could address each of these contexts was a priority for the Advisory Group. Course instructors are trained to tailor the materials and exercises to the specific needs of different communities, using case studies and examples that are especially relevant to the hosts’ geography, community size and market conditions.

Robert Johnston, Vice President of the Anne Arundel County Association of Realtors in Maryland, attended the first training and said, “I really appreciated the balanced perspective. So many times those discussions are one sided, and not realistic. This course is really grounded in the realities of the market.” NAR also provides interested Realtor® associations with a list of instructors and an application to apply for an NAR Smart Growth Action Grant to help defray the course implementation costs.

For more information visit www.realtor.org.

LOCUS

New LOCUS resources now available

LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors and Smart Growth America are pleased to announce new resources now available for LOCUS members and advocates interested in responsible real estate policy.

LOCUS is a network of real estate developers and investors who advocate for sustainable, walkable development in America’s towns and cities. By providing members of Congress with expert advice on current consumer demand and the many benefits smart growth strategies, LOCUS members can help more communities across the country develop in ways that are sustainable for the environment and the economy.

Visit the new LOCUS section of this site for information about LOCUS’ steering committee, the issues we work on, upcoming events and additional resources and publications.

If your company or organization is interested in joining the fastest growing network of smart growth real estate developers and investors, click here to learn more about becoming a LOCUS member today.

LOCUS

New study by National Association of Realtors finds consumers want smart growth amenities

According to a report released today by the National Association of Realtors, Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation. 77 percent of respondents said they would look for neighborhoods with abundant sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly features when considering buying a home. 50 percent would like to see improvements to existing public transportation rather than initiatives to build new roads and developments.

“Our members don’t just sell homes, they sell neighborhoods,” NAR President Ron Phipps said in a statement. “REALTORS® understand that different home buyers are looking for all kinds of neighborhood settings and that many home buyers want walkable, transit-accessible communities.”

The fact that home buyers want smart growth neighborhoods isn’t a new idea. LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors is a network of professionals who use smart growth strategies to create the neighborhoods consumers are demanding. Chris Leinberger, President of LOCUS, said in a statement, “NAR’s survey reveals what many real estate developers are seeing across the country: smart growth strategies are the best way to meet market demand for walkable neighborhoods with shorter commutes, diverse housing options and transportation choices. Demographic shifts in the United States along with the changing consumer preferences highlighted in NAR’s survey illustrate that consumers want neighborhoods with more walkable housing and transportation choices.

“Despite these emerging trends, federal policy often prevents real estate developers from meeting market demands for smart growth neighborhoods. LOCUS members are working with Congress to remove this red tape to help developers rebuild local economies with the strong neighborhoods Americans want to live in.”

Download the new study from the National Association of Realtors
NAR Study Finds Americans Prefer Smart Growth Communities [MarketWire, 4/4/11]

LOCUS

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston

A series of reports take a look at three metropolitan areas and find pent-up demand for walkable urban neighborhoods across the country. The reports identify regionally significant walkable urban places, or “WalkUPs,” and rank them based on economic performance, measured by the real estate valuations for each product type and the fiscal revenues generated for local governments, and by social equity performance, measured by accessibility, opportunity, and affordability for residents. Looking ahead to future opportunities, the reports also identify emerging and potential WalkUPs where new development could go.

LOCUS

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan Metros

A series of reports take a look at three metropolitan areas and find pent-up demand for walkable urban neighborhoods across the country. The reports identify regionally significant walkable urban places, or “WalkUPs,” and rank them based on economic performance, measured by the real estate valuations for each product type and the fiscal revenues generated for local governments, and by social equity performance, measured by accessibility, opportunity, and affordability for residents. Looking ahead to future opportunities, the reports also identify emerging and potential WalkUPs where new development could go.

LOCUS

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Atlanta

A series of reports take a look at three metropolitan areas and find pent-up demand for walkable urban neighborhoods across the country. The reports identify regionally significant walkable urban places, or “WalkUPs,” and rank them based on economic performance, measured by the real estate valuations for each product type and the fiscal revenues generated for local governments, and by social equity performance, measured by accessibility, opportunity, and affordability for residents. Looking ahead to future opportunities, the reports also identify emerging and potential WalkUPs where new development could go.

LOCUS

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: DC

A series of reports take a look at three metropolitan areas and find pent-up demand for walkable urban neighborhoods across the country. The reports identify regionally significant walkable urban places, or “WalkUPs,” and rank them based on economic performance, measured by the real estate valuations for each product type and the fiscal revenues generated for local governments, and by social equity performance, measured by accessibility, opportunity, and affordability for residents. Looking ahead to future opportunities, the reports also identify emerging and potential WalkUPs where new development could go.

LOCUS