Smart growth news – January 5, 2012

Federal HUD grant drives development in East Austin
YNN (Texas) – January 4, 2012
A large plot of land in East Austin will soon be developed into a mixed-income, sustainable community, thanks to a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Fed Urges Action on Housing
Wall Street Journal – January 5, 2012
The paper said some 60 metro areas had at least 250 foreclosed properties for sale by Fannie, Freddie and federal agencies—enough to efficiently execute rental programs. About two-fifths of properties held by Fannie could produce returns that justify converting them, it said.

Why Some Cities Are Healthier Than Others
The Atlantic Cities – January 5, 2012
Metro health is closely associated with commuting patterns. Metros where greater shares of people walk and bike to work do better on the Metro Health Index (.62). Conversely, the share of people who drive to work alone is negatively associated with the Metro Health Index (-.47).

Demand Grows for Smart-Growth Work Environments
New Jersey Future’s Fast Facts – January 4, 2012
According to a survey done by commercial real estate firm CBRE of tenants in its New Jersey properties, the three most important amenities sought by firms as they evaluate office space are: Easy access to a variety of food choices (22.4 percent); Access to transit (16.4 percent); and Access to downtown (11.9 percent).

GOP Candidates’ Transportation Infrastructure Talk Praises Tolls But Ignores Jobs
Huffington Post – January 4, 2012
President Barack Obama made improving transportation infrastructure a centerpiece of both his 2009 stimulus bill and 2011’s American Jobs Act, which died in Congress late in the year. Upgrading the country’s poorly maintained roads and bridges, the president argued, would have the dual benefit of improving business opportunities while putting people to work.

New York Governor Cuomo Proposes $15 Billion Infrastructure Plan
Transportation Nation – January 4, 2012
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to build, build, build. In his state of the state address Wednesday, he put forth a $15 billion plan to repair roads, bridges, parks, flood control, and municipal water systems.

In Visit to New Milford, Murphy Focuses on Infrastructure, Jobs
Housatonic Times (Conn.) – January 4, 2012
U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy (D-5th), who paid a visit to New Milford last week, is actively cal­ling for a long-term ex­­tension of critical federal transportation funding and has been pointing out that an experienced work force is available, many without jobs.

$186M to fund Joliet-to-Dwight high-speed rail
The Herald-News (Ill.) – January 4, 2012
The federal government on Wednesday gave a $186 million boost to the future high-speed railway through Joliet.

Local news

City council OKs ‘Merced Vision 2030’
Merced Sun-Star (Calif.) – January 5, 2012
The city’s growth will be restricted to expansion that will include UC Merced and the University Community housing project, but will remove two master community plans, Mission Lakes and Castle Farms.

Mobile City Council to vote on new development plan
Press-Register (Ala.) – January 4, 2012
Nearly four years after Mayor Sam Jones commissioned a new development plan for Mobile’s urban core, it’s on the verge of being officially adopted.

State DOT will include Columbus in passenger rail feasibility study
Ledger-Enquirer (Ohio) – January 5, 2012
Department of Transportation board member Sam Welborn wrote to inform the mayor that the DOT will include a feasibility study of passenger rail between Atlanta and Columbus into the DOT’s plan and finance a study with state money. That could help reduce the cost of conducting the local study and could reduce its workload, too.

South Beloit City Council makes plans to finish cleanup
Beloit Daily News (Wisc.) – January 4, 2012
The South Beloit City Council voted Tuesday to apply for an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency revolving loan for $20,000 for brownfield cleanup and remediation. The council also approved hiring Terracon Consulting Engineers to help the city plan remediation work.

Urban Land Institute’s Kitsap workshop to showcase local projects
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal (Wash.) – January 4, 2012
A workshop titled “Growing Great Neighborhoods” and hosted at the Kitsap Conference Center on Jan. 31 will showcase national land-use trends through local examples.

Neighborhood group plans to revitalize East Side
The Stamford Times (Conn.) – January 4, 2012
“We expect around 1,000 more people coming to this side of Stamford everyday once Chelsea Piers and NBC open,” said Steinberg of the sports complex and the sports media entity that will make their home on Blachley Road. “We have a lot of plans on how to make the East Side a walkable village where people will want to live, work and play in.”

Revitalizing Downtown Carbondale
WSIL-TV (Ill.) – January 4, 2012
Downtown Carbondale is making a comeback. City leaders say several businesses are moving in to empty store fronts on the strip, and that’s exactly the kind of momentum officials say they’ve been working to build.

Another New Idea for the Javits Center
Wall Street Journal – January 5, 2012
“Right now the Jacob Javits Center is not competitive,” Mr. Cuomo said, adding that it is smaller than convention centers in cities like Anaheim and Atlanta. “That hurts the New York economy.”…Under Mr. Cuomo’s plan, the 18-acre Javits Center site would become a mixed-use facility that could include housing, hotels and office space.

Closed Jefferson County schools get new life as apartment buildings
Courier Journal (Ky.) – January 4, 2012
He said old schools are appealing because they…are in urban neighborhoods and within walking distance of shopping and other services.

Opinion and editorial

Housing stock and the needs of seniors
New Canaan Advertiser (Conn.) – January 4, 2012
Apart from a small number of single-level homes and condos, New Canaan offers very little in the way of “senior-friendly” housing. The new construction trends of the past decade are totally disconnected from the needs of seniors, which will be our fastest growing population segment.

Why California needs high-speed rail
San Francisco Chronicle – January 5, 2012
Today, our country desperately needs new infrastructure development that will create jobs and economic growth while updating the American Dream and ensuring its environmental future. The answer is high-speed rail.