Smart growth news – November 15

Tech firms give downtown a new vibe
Northern Nevada Business Weekly, November 14, 2011
A handful of businesses are slowly changing the perception of downtown Reno. Longtime Reno residents still can call up images of gamblers walking Virginia Street cradling buckets of quarters and nickels. That image is changing as a growing number of software development and technical-services companies take downtown office space.

Add education to Zappos’ downtown investment forays
Las Vegas Sun, November 10, 2011
Hsieh (pronounced “shay”) said he was drawn to the program for several reasons, including a hope that the teachers will consider working and living downtown, where the company will move its headquarters in 2013. “We are excited about our partnership with Teach For America as well as the opportunity to help bring more energy and passion to downtown Las Vegas,” Hsieh said.

Baltimore-Washington region’s aging infrastructure a roadblock to growth
The Gazette (Md.), November 11, 2011
From both the public and private sectors come calls for more mass transit, including rapid bus transit. For Montgomery County, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s recommendations include expanding transit, bike paths and sidewalks “to achieve more sustainable, less congested communities.” The commission also recommends “building future homes near transit [to] create more opportunities for people to avoid driving.”

Smart growth
Birmingham Business Journal, November 11, 2011
As the economy continues to sputter and stall, many startups are finding that quick growth – or even cheap growth – isn’t always smart growth.

Council approves 30-year plan to grow city
San Jose Mercury, November 10, 2011
The approved plan is a change from the city’s prior growth model, previously covered through to year 2020, that anticipates the creation of 470,000 jobs as well as residential and urban development in North San Jose. Among other things, the plan calls for “urban villages” where people would gather to live, work and shop.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan CEO says move to downtown Grand Rapids boosted business in West Michigan
Business Review West Michigan, November 10, 2011
Executives say the relocation of 300 employees to downtown from the suburbs into the former Steketee’s building on Monroe Center has built a greater presence in West Michigan and has changed the local view of Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Quantified: The Price of Sprawl in Florida
Streetsblog, November 14, 2011 shows that Florida communities pay dearly for “growth” that is often sold as a win-win. In reality, every dollar generated by new development in Florida costs taxpayers $1.34-$2.45. The more rural the setting, the higher the cost.

Dallas Encourages Downtown Street Vendors
NBC Dallas, November 14, 2011
They say street vendors make other cities more vibrant and could do the same in Dallas with the right rules to help encourage those small businesses.

Apartment project planned for south end of Monon
Indianapolis Business Journal, November 15, 2011
Lusk said the impetus for the new project was a pair of studies conducted in the last year that said housing was a major need in the community at the south end of the Monon Trail. One of the studies was conducted by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Opinion and Editorial

An urban legacy in need of renewal
The Boston Globe, November 12, 2011
The principles she outlined – human-scaled mixed-use neighborhoods, moderately dense with access to transit, with lots of activity for “eyes on the street’’ and the “sidewalk ballet,’’ typified by Greenwich Village, where she lived – are all uniformly embraced by planning professions today, and the movements of New Urbanism and smart growth. Jacobs, who died in 2006, left us the owner’s manual for the livable city. The public is now intimately involved in the planning and development process.

Let’s make excellent public transit happen
The Arizona Republic, November 15, 2011
In 2004, the public voted to expand our transit system, including a 57-mile high-capacity transit system by 2026. Twenty miles of this system are built as light rail connecting three cities and thousands of daily riders to their destinations. Metro and its member cities are actively looking for ways to accelerate the remaining 37 miles to keep our commitment to voters. However, we need continued local, regional and federal support to do so.