The small Colorado town of Pagosa Springs is focused on revitalizing its downtown and supporting more mixed-use, walkable development to both address a lack of affordable housing and accommodate a large volume of tourists. There are a number of opportunities to make progress in the near-term, including turning a recent disaster in the downtown into a catalytic redevelopment opportunity.
Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities
An influx of visitors to Oklahoma’s Osage Nation and the City of Pawhuska has spurred an opportunity to establish a robust tourism industry. The community teamed up with Smart Growth America to identify strategic investments that would maximize the unique culture, history, and arts of the Osage.
Pittsburg, KS is turning to its rich history as a mining and manufacturing hub to forge a plan for sustainable growth.
The Angle Lake light rail station under construction in SeaTac, WA. A Smart Growth America workshop looked at the potential for new development around the station. Photo by SounderBruce via Flickr.
In early October, Smart Growth America traveled to SeaTac, WA to help the city figure out how to make the most of three light rail stations with an Implementing transit-oriented development 101 workshop.
The City of SeaTac has already adopted area plans for each of its SeaTac Airport, Tukwila International Boulevard, and soon-to-open Angle Lake light rail stations. “In 2016, with the opening of the Angle Lake Station, the City will have three light rail station areas, each with its own distinct attributes, opportunities and challenges,” said Todd Cutts, SeaTac City Manager. “The expert assistance from Smart Growth America will help guide the transformation of these areas and support the community in shaping them into active, interesting, and healthy places.”
Chris Duerksen (left) and Roger Millar (right) lead Alcoa, TN’s technical assistance workshop on smart growth zoning for small cities.
The aluminum industry brought jobs and new residents to Alcoa, TN over the last 100 years. Now the city is working to evolve and remain vibrant for 100 years to come. An update to the city’s development and zoning codes is one way they’re making that happen.
To get that project off the ground, the City of Alcoa and the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) welcomed Smart Growth America and Clarion Associates for a technical assistance workshop on September 1 and 2, 2015. Roger Millar, Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Technical Assistance, and Chris Duerksen, Clarion’s Senior Counsel, met Alcoa leaders and community members to talk about smart growth zoning codes for small cities. The workshop was designed to show how zoning code changes can help create vibrant town centers within small cities, as well as how more compact, walkable development can boost the local economy and reduce public expenses.
Knoxville wants to build on the success of places like Market Square (above). Photo via.
Downtown Knoxville, TN, is seeing a resurgence. New businesses and residents are moving to the area, and the City is working hard to bring similar success to neighborhoods throughout the city. Could investments in public transportation help?
To help answer that question, leaders in Knoxville welcomed Smart Growth America on July 15 and 16, 2015 for a technical assistance workshop on transit-oriented development. Chris Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Economic Development, and Dena Belzer, President of Strategic Economics, spoke with elected leaders, municipal staff, representatives from regional and state agencies, and Knoxville residents about how investment in public transit could multiply the city’s economic development successes.
Downtown Parsons in Tucker County, WV. Photo by Joe Flood via Flickr.
Tucker County, WV is a rural community known for its abundant natural beauty and historic downtowns. Now, staff from the county, townships, state agencies, and federal programs are working together to plan for Tucker County’s long-term economic growth.
To help begin to articulate a vision for county planning in a regional context, Smart Growth America held a Regional Planning for Small Communities workshop with the Tucker County Planning Commission on May 27 and 28, 2015 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program.
A station on the DART orange line. Photo via Wikipedia Commons.
The Dallas, TX light rail network (DART) is expected to add more suburban stations over the next decade, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) wants these communities to be transit-ready.
Transit works best when the stations are within easy walking distance of a mix of homes, jobs and shops—but when a station is planned for a suburban community, this compact, walkable development is rarely present. In fact, the zoning code often prohibits it.
To identify priority zoning code fixes that can encourage more mixed-use, transit-oriented development in proposed light rail station areas, NCTCOG brought in Smart Growth America to provide our Smart Growth Zoning Codes for Small Cities technical assistance tool.
The sun sets over Tollgate Rock in Green River, WY. Photo by Jonathan Percy, via Flickr.
When a small town has big plans for changing its development patterns, how does it put them into action? From fixing restrictive codes to working with the real estate community—what the first steps to smart growth?
On August 27 and 28, 2014, officials and residents from Green River, WY met with representatives from Smart Growth America for an expert-led workshop focused on implementing the ambitious vision inside the new Green River Comprehensive Master Plan. Provided as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program, the two-day event was designed to provide the City with tools to modernize its development codes so that they encourage the types of growth outlined in the plan’s vision.
The Green River Comprehensive Master Plan was adopted in January 2013 after a year-long public input process. The plan lays out the community’s long-term vision and serves as a blueprint for future growth and investment within the city and surrounding areas. For the implementation process, Green River leaders sought technical assistance from Smart Growth America, hoping to bring the city’s development codes into better alignment with the master plan’s principles. The resulting two-day workshop helped Green River identify high-priority code fixes to promote infill development and redevelopment, preserve and revitalize existing neighborhoods, and promote orderly development in suitable outlying areas.
The City of Salisbury, MD envisions its downtown as one that is both walkable and sustainable. To complement the city’s downtown revitalization efforts, Salisbury officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on June 11 and 12, 2014, as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. Promoting pedestrian and cyclist activity downtown is a priority for the city in order to encourage residents to visit the area and patronize local businesses. Through a partnership with Smart Growth America, the City of Salisbury and its residents worked to identify solutions to challenges facing pedestrians and cyclists navigating the area.
“We want more people knowing how to discover our Downtown businesses,” said James Ireton, Jr., Mayor of the City of Salisbury. “Smart Growth America will provide us with the resources to focus our efforts on making it easier for more people to live, work, and play Downtown.”
On the first day of the workshop, residents attended an introductory presentation that discussed the current state of Salisbury’s pedestrian and cyclist network and the importance of walkability in achieving the city’s vision of a revitalized Downtown. Residents returned the following day for a bicycle tour and then walking tour to provide insight on challenges cyclists and pedestrians encounter.
In January 2014, Salisbury was one of 18 communities selected by Smart Growth America to participate in the free technical assistance program. Stretching from New Hampshire to Idaho, these communities represent major cities, suburban centers, and rural towns alike.
“We are excited to be in an elite class of cities receiving this support from Smart Growth America,” said Salisbury City Council President Jacob Day. “Salisbury’s economy can thrive with greater investments in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and with a greater density of economic activity in the core. This grant will help us plan our evolution.”