Smart growth news – November 22

A land bank helped Flint, Michigan, expert says, and could help New York cities, too
The Business Review (N.Y.), November 22, 2011
Daniel T. Kildee, founder of the Genesee County Land Bank in Michigan, told a group of about 80 public and private sector officials in Albany, New York, that land banks can help local counties, cities and towns make better use of tax-foreclosed properties.

Valley gets $3.4 million to study development
The Morning Call (Pa.), November 21, 2011
Developers have long tried to lure commute-weary homebuyers with signs that say “If you lived here you’d be home by now.” A consortium of Lehigh Valley planning groups has been awarded $3.4 million by the federal government to try to make that dream — of living closer to work and enjoying an improved quality of life — reachable for more people.

N.J. gets $5 million HUD grant for regional planning
The Star-Ledger (N.J.), November 21, 2011
Federal officials today awarded New Jersey a $5 million grant to develop regional economic plans for 13 northern counties to attract businesses and jobs to areas with solid residential communities and good transportation systems.

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Smart growth news – November 17

High-tech HQ leaving suburbs for downtown
Kansas City Star, November 16, 2011
It’s believed to be the first significant suburban company to make the switch downtown since a multi-billion-dollar revival began a decade ago. The firm said it thought a downtown location would boost the recruiting of younger and more tech-savvy employees.

Data show Maine population growing in suburban areas
The Morning Sentinel (Maine), November 17, 2011
Overall, the state of Maine experienced net growth during the first decade of this century. Richert said many urban areas in Maine had growth of up to 5 percent. But suburban areas grew faster. And that growth poses problems with agriculture and production in Maine

Brady District revitalization helped by TIF status
Tulsa World (Okla.), November 17, 2011
In 1993, when the city introduced “tax increment financing” in the Brady District, officials described it as the spark that would ignite downtown revitalization. And now, 18 years later, redevelopment is raging through the Brady District, where more than $80 million in construction is either under way or planned for the near future.

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Smart growth news – November 16

Congress strikes 2012 budget deal for some agencies
Federal Times, November 15, 2011
House and Senate negotiators have struck a deal on the 2012 budgets for five Cabinet-level departments, as well as NASA and a number of smaller agencies. The measure also would extend short-term funding for other agencies until Dec. 16 at close to last year’s levels. An existing continuing resolution expires Friday, meaning the new measure must pass before then to avert a partial government shutdown. Besides NASA, the $128 billion bill covers the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments.

A Kentucky City Reinvents a Faded Downtown
New York Times, November 15, 2011
Like so many other American cities after World War II, Owensboro’s pattern of residential and business development spread out from the downtown core….Of late, though, this city of 57,265 and surrounding Daviess County, where 96,656 people live, have invested in an array of business development initiatives in health care, transportation, education, and tourism and travel that focused on making the city and county more competitive in attracting residents and businesses.

New Urbanism: Comparing Songdo, South Korea to Belmar, United States of America
Forbes, November 15, 2011
I grew up in a small town of 6,000 in northeastern Pennsylvania—a county seat surrounded by dairy farms. We walked to the elementary school, the neighborhood store for a loaf of bread and maybe a soda, and weekly shopping trips downtown–3 blocks from home.

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Capital Region housing developers finding opportunity in infill housing: “We are not afraid anymore”

Cross-posted from our coalition member Empire State Future.

Throughout New York State demand for downtown living continues to expand as baby boomers are ditching the cul-de-sac and generation X and Y are re-envisioning their American Dream. The change in consumer preference has already driven a million people to the “City that Never Sleeps”, New York City, since 1990, with another million New Yorkers expected by 2035. As people continue to find the value and livability of urban living in New York City and many of New York State’s 61 smaller cities, reuse of existing commercial and industrial structures as well as infill development on abandoned and vacant lots will play a role in serving the increasing demand for residential units.

As each state-commissioned Regional Economic Development Council releases their strategic plans, major calls for smart growth are materializing. This is advantageous for numerous developers who have already made the transition to building residential properties in existing downtowns and on or near main streets. Over the next few weeks ESF is going to highlight a few of these projects from across the state to show what New York’s cities will have to offer in the years to come.

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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.”

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Smart growth news – November 10

New England Chauvinism: Another Liberal Heresy From Mitt Romney’s Past
The New Republic, November 9, 2011
The past decade has seen the spread of a faith concentrated in the country’s more progressive-minded cities: the religion of smart growth…Less well known is that, as governor of Massachusetts, he was a smart-growth acolyte. He hinted at this predilection during the campaign in 2002. “Smart growth, or purposeful planning, is a concept that will be in the governor’s office if I’m elected,” he said.

Ginnie Mae Passing Freddie Mac as Second-Biggest Mortgage Funder
Business Week, November 9, 2011
For most of their existence, the government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been the nation’s largest backers of residential home loans. Now a distant cousin is challenging their reign.

Federal aid coming to cities to help boost smart growth in cities north of Boston
Boston Globe, November 10, 2011
The consortium’s goal is to advance equity and sustainability – principles embraced by the smart growth movement, which underscores the importance of concentrating growth in pedestrian-friendly areas with a mix of residential and commercial development. “There’s a way to grow smart in every community, whether that community is urban, suburban, or rural,’’ said Draisen. “These grants will help communities tackle a range of challenges head-on.’’

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Smart growth news – November 9

Trending: Voters approve smart growth projects

Mixed-use draws strong following in Cocoa Beach
Florida Today, November 9, 2011
Reacting to shuttered storefronts and abandoned buildings, city voters hope that adding apartments or condos will economically rejuvenate their flagging downtown. By a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent (1,774 votes to 1,133 votes), residents approved future mixed-use development — blending residential units with today’s commercial properties — across 24 square blocks in the downtown area.

City voters give thumbs up to renewed downtown
Beaverton Valley Times (Ore.), November 8, 2011
Beaverton voters appeared to be comfortable with a measure to create an urban renewal plan to help revitalize Beaverton’s core business and commercial district.

Streetcar, rail get go-ahead
Cincinnati.com, November 9, 2011
Cincinnati voters narrowly gave a green light Tuesday to the long-debated streetcar project, clearing the way for construction of the Downtown-to-Over-the-Rhine line to begin by early next year.

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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.”

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Smart growth news – November 3

Obama Says Crumbling Infrastructure Is Costly to Economy, Threatens Growth
Bloomberg, November 2, 2011
President Barack Obama said the deterioration of the nation’s highways, bridges, airports and ports is costly to U.S. business and threatens future economic growth.

US House speaker promotes transportation projects
Businessweek, November 1, 2011
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner spoke in favor Monday of pumping federal money into transportation construction and speeding regulatory review of those projects — comments that seemed to resonate in a region longing for new bridges to ease traffic snarls.

Transportation secretary ‘optimistic’ about infrastructure’s chances in Congress
The Hill, November 2, 2011
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday he’s optimistic legislation funding infrastructure projects could pass the Senate. “I’m optimistic, I think that if senators — both Republicans and Democrats — really are listening to people in their states they know that people are hurting,” he said Wednesday on MSNBC.

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Smart growth news – November 2

Senate passes $182B spending bill for agriculture, transportation and housing programs
Washington Post, November 1, 2011
The Senate has approved must-do legislation to fund the day-to-day budgets of five Cabinet agencies, kick-starting long overdue work to add the details to budget limits agreed to by President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans this summer.

Senate votes to spare money for bike paths
Associated Press, November 1, 2011
Republican senators failed Tuesday in their third effort in less than two months to eliminate federal money for bike paths, walking trails and other transportation enhancement projects.

City’s 20-year bike plan obsolete after 4 years?
Seattle Times, November 1, 2011
Just four years after Seattle published its $300,000 Bicycle Master Plan, city officials are considering spending an additional $400,000 to revise it. The 2007 bike plan, a 174-page document produced for then-Mayor Greg Nickels, was supposed to be a 20-year blueprint to help Seattle build a $240 million cycling network as good or better than Portland’s.

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