Smart growth news – August 30

As Detroit’s offices fill up, suburbs feel pain
The Detroit News, August 29, 2011
When MyInsuranceExpert.com announced last week it is moving its headquarters and 85 workers from Troy to one of the downtown Detroit office buildings bought by entrepreneur Dan Gilbert, the online life insurance brokerage firm joined a growing trend. And most of downtown Detroit’s gain is amounting to some pain for the suburban office market.

‘Land Bank’ Knocks Out Some Foreclosure Problems
NPR, August 30, 2011
Cities have been tearing down crumbling, vacant houses for decades. The money for municipal demolition bills usually comes out of city budgets, but in Cleveland the housing crisis has started to change that equation.

Regional planners to apply for $5 million Sustainable Communities grant
The Tennessean, August 29, 2011
The Metropolitan Planning Organization and other regional planning groups have given notice to the federal government that the coalition intends to apply for a $5 million Sustainable Communities grant.

Planners eye downtown Indianapolis streetcar route
Bloomberg, August 29, 2011
A group of business and community leaders are working on plans for the first streetcar line in Indianapolis since the 1950s, with the aim of connecting several downtown attractions. The nearly two-mile route between sites near the downtown Circle Centre mall and the Indianapolis Zoo might cost $20 million to $25 million to build and equip.

What’s It Going to Take, an Earthquake?
National Journal, August 29, 2011
There are some 150,000 bridges in need of repair in the United States, according to the Department of Transportation. Last week’s 5.8 magnitude earthquake sent engineers out to inspect many of them along the East Coast to ensure their safety, a prescient reminder that bridge and road solidity can’t be taken for granted forever. “This is insanity. We can’t rely on earthquakes to make us take a closer look at our bridges and roads, and we certainly shouldn’t be in a situation where structural issues in 100-year-old bridges are going unnoticed,” said Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan.

Hitting the re-set button on state bike and pedestrian policies
Twin Cities Daily Planet, August 25, 2011
In 2010, the Minnesota State Legislature revised and adopted statewide transportation goals, seeking to foster an increase in the percentage of trips made by transit, bicycling, or walking. That same year, Minnesota was ranked fourth most “Bicycle Friendly State” in the nation by the League of American Bicyclists, based on a commitment to promoting cycling “through legislation, policies, programs, and by creating new places to ride, educating motorists and cyclists, and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation.”

Analyst casts doubt on economic benefit of downtown L.A. stadium
Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2011
The office that advises the California Legislature voiced doubts Friday about the level of economic benefit that would come from an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles, saying studies commissioned by the project’s developer “likely overstated” the financial boost it would deliver.

The Latest on Maryland’s Grand Anti-Sprawl Plan
The Infrastructurist, August 30, 2011
In April the Maryland Department of Planning released a draft of a statewide development plan called PlanMaryland. It’s basically an anti-sprawl plan, and the draft itself (pdf) makes no attempt to hide this position

Land purchased for revitalization
Tribune Chronicle (Ohio), August 26, 2011
The Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corp. has paid $375,000 for 4.9 acres of underdeveloped land on West Market Street between Mahoning Avenue and South Street that the agency hopes will be converted to apartments and offices along the riverfront.

ACC plans for Highland Mall envision ‘new urbanist’ development
The Statesman (Texas), August 28, 2011
In planning the future of Highland Mall, Austin Community College and its partners envision a “new urbanist” setting with classrooms, administrative offices and a mix of residential, retail and other commercial development. The portrait of a thriving public-private complex with perhaps 1,250 residential units and patches of open space emerges from four concept plans produced as the college acquired all of the land and some of the buildings at the North Central Austin site in a series of transactions totaling $41 million.

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