Smart growth news – September 27

Planners, developers working to create upscale neighborhood downtown
La Crosse Tribune (Wis.), September 25, 2011
Call it a resurgence. Downtown La Crosse has added new businesses to once-vacant storefronts, attracted tenants to new high-end apartments and restored some of its oldest historic buildings — all during a recession.

Can You Visualize Nashua as a Livable City?
Nashua Patch (N.H.), September 23, 2011
Revitalizing a downtown requires some key ingredients — a bustling business economy, foot traffic, a mix of businesses with a diverse demographic draw, a sense that it’s clean and safe place to live and work, and most of all, liveability.

Cities Across U.S. Grapple With Tax Revenue Drop as Costs Rise, Aid Falls
Bloomberg, September 27, 2011
More than half, 57 percent, of municipal officials said finances were worse in fiscal 2011 than in 2010, the National League of Cities said today, citing a survey of municipal officials. Inflation-adjusted revenue is headed for a fifth- straight annual drop, while worker health-care and pension costs rose for more than 80 percent. Half said state aid has declined.

Schumer pushes for Ronkonkoma Hub funding
Long Island Business News, September 26, 2011
Schumer called on the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, to meet with and help identify federal funding sources to help secure money for three key pieces of the neighborhood’s revitalization: sewer infrastructure, roundabout construction at the LIRR station, and rehabilitation of existing, blighted properties around the train station.

State infrastructure bank floated to boost public-private partnerships
The Capitol (N.Y.), September 26, 2011
While President Barack Obama pushes for a federal infrastructure bank to jump-start private investment in public works, the Cuomo administration is considering a state-level infrastructure bank as well.

Mayors, city managers discuss possible county land bank
The News-Herald (Ohio), September 26, 2011
Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis spoke to the Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association Monday about the possibility of creating a County Land Bank to help deal with foreclosed and abandoned properties.

Kalispell Planning Board To Discuss Urban Renewal Area
NBC Montana, September 26, 2011
Kalispell residents may see a new project in the future, like renovations to the fairgrounds, or brand new city streets. But that largely depends on whether Kalispell leaders decide to expand the city’s Westside Urban Renewal Plan area.

Utah developers aware of the skepticism over Boise’s Downtown ‘hole’
Idaho Statesman, September 25, 2011
Zions Bank and Gardner Co. share a history of successful business projects and personal connections. Now the companies propose a building on the site of the failed Boise Tower that could reshape the Downtown skyline, build the bank’s Idaho presence

‘Cities have egos too’: The importance of national rankings
Winston-Salem Journal (N.C.), September 25, 2011
Rankings are an American obsession, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Don Martin believes. “Whether it’s sports or schools or universities or cities, we’re into rankings,” Martin said. So when Winston-Salem ranks well in a few national polls — as it did three times in the past month — people get excited, he said.

750 empty lots, vacant homes in Larimer
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 25, 2011
Perhaps the nearly 750 empty lots and vacant homes in disrepair, the buckling pavement, shuttered businesses and other visible evidence of years of disinvestment make the idea of turning Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood into a showcase of economic and environmental sustainability seem wildly ambitious. Yet, if the redevelopment plans that percolated from the residents themselves are realized, Larimer will be reborn as a green, downsized urban neighborhood

Job retention vs. creation
Cincinnati Enquirer, September 25, 2011
Within the past two weeks, Cincinnati officials found themselves scrambling to keep one flagship corporate headquarters in the city even as they prepared to announce the arrival of another.

Homewood beset by concentration of vacancies
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 25, 2011
Few communities are beset by a concentration of vacant properties as severe as that found in Homewood, where nearly 44 percent of the land parcels are empty lots, about twice the citywide rate. The 2010 U.S. Census reports that nearly 28 percent of the neighborhood’s housing is vacant as well.

‘Look at vacant property as an opportunity’
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 25, 2011
But if such numbers suggest southwestern Pennsylvania has dodged a vacancy crisis, they are misleading. Dense pockets of vacant and blighted properties are found across the region in poor urban neighborhoods and older industrial towns, such as Braddock, that have endured decades of economic hardship.

International: Why Toronto businesses are moving downtown
Toronto Star, September 23, 2011
The office building at 111 Richmond St. W. isn’t much to look at right now — a 1950s modernist box deep in the shadows of the financial district’s gleaming skyscrapers. But when its dramatic transformation is completed late next year, it will not only be the new Canadian headquarters for Google’s geeks, it will become the latest symbol of what’s being called Toronto’s “urban renaissance.”

Opinion

Hope in the cities
Times Union (N.Y.), September 25, 2011
Lots of uplifting news today from the region’s two biggest cities. No building collapses, tax increases or municipal folly. In Albany, a vital yet easily overlooked section of the city has the visible and energetic advocate it needs. Elsewhere in the city, there’s money available to people who want to buy houses. In Schenectady, meanwhile, there’s good reason for people who can afford the nicer neighborhoods to move instead into the ones that are struggling.

Why the Triangle needs a plan
The News & Observer (N.C.), September 25, 2011
Compared with other metro areas, the Research Triangle is relatively young. This provides us the opportunity to avoid many development-related problems experienced elsewhere. The big question is: Will we grab this opportunity while it is still available, or will we allow the Triangle to develop the way of Atlanta (or pick any other highly car-dependent, sprawling, polluted, congested metro area)?

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