Smart growth news – June 28, 2011

The Atlantic Looks for New Audience with Cities Site
Ad Week, June 27, 2011
The Atlantic, whose online push was key to getting the brand into the black last year, is launching another major expansion online, but with a new tack. In a first for the magazine, TheAtlanticCities.com is launching as a single-topic, standalone site. Coming in September, the site also is a departure in that it will be centered around Richard Florida, an urban studies expert who comes from an academic rather than a journalism background. Florida is the author of The Rise of the Creative Class, among other titles, and has a longstanding relationship with the magazine and its offshoots.

Sinking G.O.P. Poll Numbers May Put Florida in Play
New York Times, June 27, 2011
Mr. Scott’s unpopularity is mostly rooted in his aggressive push for large cuts in the budget and the public-sector work force, his decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail project, and the dismissive and even abrasive way he deals with those who disagree with him or ask a lot of questions.

Housing vouchers a golden ticket to pricey suburbs
Washington Post, June 25, 2011
“There goes the neighborhood,” one homeowner said when she heard that her potential new neighbor had a federal housing voucher known as a Section 8. But Jackson could well be Pinebrook’s salvation, a means by which landlords can rent an empty, crime-magnet of a house to a tenant with a steady, government-backed check.

Smart growth around the country

Florida: A Congressman’s Pet Project; a Railroad’s Boon
New York Times, June 27, 2011
Here in sun-parched Central Florida, workers are ready to break ground this summer for a 61-mile commuter rail project that the federal government ranks as one of the least cost-effective mass transit efforts in the nation…But the so-called SunRail project has survived, at least so far, a testament to the ability of one congressman to help push through hundreds of millions of dollars in federal spending, even at a time of deep concern over ballooning federal deficits.

Pennsylvania: Chalfont wants redevelopment to follow the road
The Intelligencer (Penn.), June 28, 2011
As the reality of the Route 202 parkway gets closer, Chalfont’s revitalization committee is ramping up efforts to bring businesses back to the community, where 24 percent of commercial properties are vacant…From revisiting zoning, to mapping where vacant and partially vacant properties are, to redoing its website, Chalfont “wants to make (the town) very friendly for businesses,” said Bowen.

New York: City Signs to Help Pedestrians (They Aren’t Just for Tourists)
New York Times, June 27, 2011
[T]he Bloomberg administration believes that residents and tourists alike could use a bit of help sometimes. So the city is planning a new system of street signage intended to help pedestrians get from here to there with as little confusion as possible. The goal, according to the city’s Transportation Department, is to promote pedestrianism. More walking means fewer crowds on the subway, and potentially more patrons in neighborhood businesses.

Maryland: Red Line gets federal go-ahead for next phase
The Baltimore Sun, June 27, 2011
The Maryland Transit Administration’s proposed Red Line in Baltimore has received U.S. approval to move to the next phase of development, a strong indication that the east-west light rail line will eventually qualify for federal funding.

Idaho: Caldwell plans downtown improvements with grant
Idaho Press-Tribune, June 28, 2011
By the end of the year, Caldwell officials hope to complete several projects that will improve the downtown area. The city received approval of a $500,000 Idaho Community Development Block Grant, issued by the Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor, to revitalize downtown. The money will be used to create a more pedestrian- and business-friendly environment.

Maryland: Task Force To Tackle Downtown Vacant Properties
Maryland Coast Dispatch, June 24, 2011
Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton, Jr. this week announced the launch of a pilot program to stimulate the revitalization of several downtown properties. Ireton has formed a Downtown Task Force to work with selected property owners with the objective of making their properties more marketable and more attractive to prospective tenants or buyers.

West Virginia: Follansbee in a Main Street State of Mind
Wheeling News-Register (W.V.), June 28, 2011
At the initiative’s outset, there were 18 vacancies among the roughly 120 storefronts and homes in the 12-block target area. Today, only eight remain empty. Including the new Sheetz location which opened in September, Stein and Paesano estimate about 80 jobs have been created in Follansbee – a town of about 3,000 – during the past year.

Pennsylvania: Smart growth extended to transportation
Lancaster New Era (Penn.), June 27, 2011
Since the 1990s, when Lancaster County planners first established “urban growth areas” to preserve farmland, there has been a push toward “smart growth.” On Monday, county planners took smart growth beyond land planning by formally establishing a Smart Growth Transportation program to fund transportation projects within designated growth areas.

Massachusetts: Planning group warns of gridlock on Route 128
Boston Globe, June 27, 2011
A potential traffic meltdown looms on a key stretch of Route 128 west of Boston unless steps are taken to get more commuters out of their cars and onto trains and buses, a new report warns. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council projects a 77 percent increase in traffic over the next decade or two along highway from the intersection with Route 3 to the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Opinion

Seize opportunity to revitalize downtown
Milwaukee Jounral-Sentinel (Wisc.), June 27, 2011
This land begs for something bold and imaginative. How about a new home for the Milwaukee Bucks? The site for Kohl’s corporate headquarters? Either would be a game changer for potential development of surrounding real estate.

Sean Maher: More jobs belong in downtown Boulder
Daily Camera (Colo.), June 27, 2011
There are more details involved that I’ve written about before and won’t repeat in this column. But the bottom line is the change will likely result in the building of more office space downtown. This will mean that some growing companies will be able to stay here instead of moving down the turnpike. It will also mean that companies in other parts of Boulder that would like to move downtown could find room.

Complete Streets