Smart growth news – November 4

Poverty tightens its grip in America’s cities, new numbers show
Kansas City Star, November 2, 2011
The population in the nation’s extremely disadvantaged neighborhoods — those where 40 percent or more live below the poverty line — has risen by one-third in the last decade, according to a Brookings report out today.

Blueprint for a New American Home
Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2011
The new American home is taking shape. Tough recent years are leaving their mark on home design, just as the housing-boom years sent square footage soaring and stamped a distinctive “McMansion” style on neighborhoods across the country. Big home builders, smaller architecture firms and even bathroom-fixture makers are adjusting to the shift toward more practical features and away from the aspirational.

Detroit native Dan Gilbert bets big on the city’s rebound
Reuters, November 2, 2011
In all, Gilbert controls 1.7 million square feet in Detroit, including four office buildings and two parking platforms in a four-block area of Woodward Avenue. His plan: To leverage his wealth and connections to create a cluster of entrepreneurial companies in downtown that will lure other start-ups away from Chicago, New York and Silicon Valley. He calls his vision “Detroit 2.0.”

Downtown Wichita on its way up
The Wichita Eagle (Kan.), November 3, 2011
“Downtown is cool,” Farha said. “There’s a lot happening, and a lot getting ready to happen downtown.” Enough happening — with Intrust Bank Arena and Old Town as anchors — that one Wichita real estate analyst calls the last three years of development downtown a “remarkable run.” There are new hotels anchoring an entire city block of planned redevelopment, new business headquarters, new businesses and housing on the drawing board.

Philadelphia mayor takes aim at vacant properties
Housing Wire, November 2, 2011
Nutter and Fran Burns, who serves as Philadelphia’s licenses and inspections commissioner, unveiled a new program last week that forces vacant property owners to either bring their property up to code or face hundreds of dollars in fines and the possible seizure of their real estate. So far, Burns and Nutter identified 25,000 vacant properties throughout the city that either lack a license or remain abandoned because of city code violations.

Austin council gives initial approval to downtown plan
Austin American-Statesman (Texas), November 3, 2011
The Downtown Master Plan lays out the vision of a more walkable, more densely populated, more family-friendly downtown served by a rail system and with more tall buildings and a revitalized system of parks. The 200-page document seeks to clarify the city’s development policies and reconcile some emerging conflicts, such as how to preserve downtown’s live music scene while expanding a population that might get cranky about the noise outside the window.

New transit group to draft regional plan
Austin American-Statesman (Texas), November 3, 2011
A Central Texas “transit working group,” first created by the City of Austin in 2007 to vet a proposed urban rail plan…The mission, according to new member John Langmore, is to take the area’s amorphous and various transit and toll lane plans and, in conjunction with a Capital Metro-run study called Project Connect , formulate a more concrete regional blueprint by May.

Public invited to reshape urban areas
Kitsap Sun (Wash.), November 3, 2011
The new order requires the county to revisit the urban growth areas and include any new information available since 2006. The two goals, Baker said, are to define the minimum density for urban developments and to recalculate the amount of land needed for urban growth through the year 2025.

Development, growth are central in Loudoun County elections
Washington Post, November 3, 2011
Even as the board has worked to moderate the county’s growth over the past four years, controversy over proposed development projects has been evident. In July 2010, the board signed off on a plan for Kincora Village Center, a $2 billion mixed-use development at routes 7 and 28. When supervisors cast their 5-to-4 vote, the county boardroom was filled with frustrated residents holding signs that said “You were elected to say no to unnecessary development” and “Taxpayer relief, not more taxes.” Sell says that smart growth is necessary and that Loudoun needs to attract businesses to increase the tax base and lessen residents’ financial burden.

50 Rock Hill leaders tour Durham for growth ideas
The Rock Hill Herald (S.C.), November 3, 2011
“I walked into that building, and I thought, ‘That’s what we could do with the old Cotton Factory,'” Williams said Wednesday of the old textile mill in downtown Rock Hill.

Downtown issues key in Spartanburg City Council race featuring incumbents, newcomers
The Herald-Journal (S.C.), November 2, 2011
The Herald-Journal asked all candidates two questions on how to make downtown more attractive to potential business owners and how to increase the city’s tax base. Q: Specifically, how do you propose making downtown more business friendly? Stone: I’d like to see the city offer a one-stop shop for business owners who want to open a business in the city. They should know exactly what’s expected — what rules and ordinances they need to follow and know exactly what they need to do. I would certainly like to see the city be more active in recruiting and going out to attract shops, restaurants, even residential opportunities downtown.

Coalition members in the news

Cascade Land Conservancy rebrands self — Forterra
Seattle P-I, November 2, 2011
Forterra represents our holistic approach to land conservation, which recognizes that healthy lands, great communities and strong strong economies are all equally necessary to create a sustainable region,” said its president Gene Duvernoy.

Advocate: NJ job growth plan lacks standards
Asbury Park Press (N.J.), November 3, 2011
Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed strategic plan for growth in the state is promising, but there are some aspects that need to be clarified, planning advocates said Tuesday. Representatives of Trenton-based New Jersey Future said they had three concerns with the plan that otherwise, as executive director Peter Kasabach said, “does a good job of laying out values.”

MetroWest Projects Get Federal Funds
Worcester Business Journal (Mass.), November 3, 2011
Business planning projects in areas including Millis and several communities in the MetroWest region have received a combined $550,000 federal grant. The funding comes through a Sustainability Communities Regional Planning Grant given to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council by the federal Office for Housing and Urban Development.