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Acres of preserved farmland and prairie are making Carlisle, IA a beautiful place to live, and that’s a key economic development strategy for Carlisle Mayor Ruth Randleman.
Carlisle is located just outside Des Moines, and like many suburbs across the country Carlisle is working to set itself apart as a great place to live, work and raise a family.
“We like to think that as we enhance our community, businesses will find it an attractive place to come,” explains Randleman, who is an Advisory Board Member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “Plus it will draw people for the workforce. If you watch growing, thriving communities, there’s always that vibrancy and quality of life that foster the businesses and then the businesses then foster that back for the citizens.”
Fourth of July in Carlisle, IA. Photo by the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce.
This post was originally published on The Tomorrow Plan Exchange, a community forum for discussing, sharing ideas, and imagining a more sustainable tomorrow for Greater Des Moines. The post was authored by Ruth Randleman, the Mayor of Carlisle, IA, a member of The Tomorrow Plan’s Steering Committee and an Advisory Board member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.
As a member of The Tomorrow Plan Steering Committee, and as a mayor of a metropolitan area community that is addressing the issues required to move a community forward, I hope to add a perspective from an “on the ground” and “in the trenches” view on the often misunderstood and overused terms of “smart growth” and “sustainability.”
When he took office in 2005, Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory knew he had to turn around a city that had been on a slow, precipitous decline since the 1960s.
It was a lofty task by any stretch of the imagination, even before the recession. But by implementing smart growth strategies and examining how neighborhood development affects economic potential and residents’ quality of life, Mallory has his city back on track.
At the recent New Partners for Smart Growth conference, Mallory touted how his administration embraced a wide range of community improvement initiatives, like tearing down enclosed sidewalks to add ‘eyes on the street,’ and renovating important public spaces to spur economic development and rehabilitate the damaged public perception of downtown Cincinnati.
Detroit is changing. The popular story of the last half-decade has largely revolved around the economic fallout of the troubled automobile industry, interspersed with tales of population drain and abandonment. Based on this narrative, it might be easy to dismiss Detroit, to write the city off as a once-great but now-fallen metropolis of yesterday.
Easy, that is, unless you’ve been following the news. A New York Times article from a year ago picked up on the massive influx of young, educated people even in the face of massive out-migration, while a Forbes article from July of this year highlighted the development in downtown Detroit, largely centered around Woodward Avenue, the spine of the downtown area.
These news stories are beginning to touch upon what people familiar with the new movement in Detroit already know: Detroit is rebuilding. But this time, developers and investors are taking a different tack, focusing on downtown, mixed-use, and transit-oriented development strategies, shifting the city away from the large manufacturing development that has characterized Detroit for so long.
Bedrock Real Estate is at the forefront of this new strategy. “We’re going to continue to fill up Detroit, downtown Detroit. There’s no longer this need for manufacturing plants. You don’t need these big, huge buildings anymore,” says Jim Ketai, Managing Partner of Bedrock and member of the Steering Committee for LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors. “So we are recreating Detroit. It’ll be a new Detroit, something different than what Detroit once was.”
To give people the kind of in-demand housing they want near jobs, shops and schools, America needs to invest in a diversity of transportation options and make it easier to build transit-oriented development, says Michael Lander of the Lander Group, an urban development firm based in Minneapolis, MN.
Helping meet that pent up demand won’t just be good for Lander’s bottom line, but will also enhance the quality of life for prospective residents in these new transportation-rich neighborhoods.
“High-density development really doesn’t work relying totally on single occupancy vehicles, so creating new transportation options and other ways to move around is critical to creating good urban places,” Lander says, adding that, “Our urban residents are looking for green spaces, certainly, open space, transportation connections, [and] ways to move around in their life to work and to services without using their car.”
With the successful opening of the Hiawatha light rail line last year, which connected downtown Minneapolis with the airport, as well as the nearly completed Central Corridor line between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Lander says there is a real opportunity in Minnesota to reap the benefits of transit-oriented development. And when that development takes root, many more local businesses and property owners will benefit from added sales and a greater “sense of place.”
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is on a mission to support economic development in his city, and he’s using smart growth and downtown development strategies to accomplish that goal.
“People were slow to embrace some of the changes we were proposing because they didn’t necessarily see how, say, the development of a street car would lead to more jobs,” Mallory says in Smart Growth America’s first “Smart Growth Stories” video interview. “They didn’t necessarily see how investing so much money in downtown allowed for improvements in neighborhoods. So I’ve had to explain to people that downtown is the engine, the economic engine, for everything that happens in our entire region.”