Thoughts from the road: Walkability in Knoxville

Last month, Complete Streets director Emiko Atherton traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee to speak in the Walkability Speaker Series, a series that highlights the benefits of walkability and explores strategies to cultivate more walkable environments. The series is a collaborative effort led by the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization with the support of East Tennessee Quality Growth, the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors, the Knoxville Chamber, and the Knoxville Chapter of the American Planning Association. Emiko and I were excited by the opportunity to scope out Knoxville and get to know some of the local champions of smart growth and walkability, since we’ll be back before too long as part of our Complete Streets Consortium Series.

Complete Streets

A Tennessee trio wins our first Complete Streets Consortium award



A green lane for bicyclists in Knoxville, TN. Photo via the Knoxville Mercury.

Building a connected network of streets that is safe for everyone, no matter how they travel, takes region-wide collaboration. Our newest technical assistance award is designed to help three agencies in Tennessee do just that.

Smart Growth America and our program the National Complete Streets Coalition are proud to announce that a partnership of agencies in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville, TN is the winner of our first-ever Complete Streets Consortium technical assistance.

Complete Streets Technical assistance

Announcing the recipients of our Small-Scale Manufacturing And Place-Based Economic Development technical assistance


The Gates Art Gallery building in Lowell, MA’s Acre neighborhood. Lowell is hoping to support small-scale manufacturing in the neighborhood. Photo by Richard Howe via Flickr.

Four communities are using small-scale manufacturing for downtown revitalization to create economic opportunity, and will receive free technical assistance from Smart Growth America, made possible by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Small-scale manufacturing has emerged as an innovative strategy in today’s urban economic development toolbox. For many cities, this new industry can connect residents to good paying jobs and economic opportunity in the neighborhoods they call home. Smart Growth America’s newest technical assistance program helps cities integrate small-scale manufacturing spaces into their economic development work.

Economic development Technical assistance

City by city, side by side: A look back at 2016’s free technical assistance

chattanooga
Participants at our 2016 workshop in Chattanooga, TN.

Last week we announced the six new communities that will receive one of our free standard technical assistance workshops in 2017. This program, now in its sixth year and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities’ Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, has helped more than 70 communities across the country use development strategies to meet their goals.

As we look forward to working with next year’s communities, we wanted to take a moment to look back on the diversity of faces and places we’ve visited this year.

Technical assistance

Case Studies in Smart Growth Implementation: Nashville-Davidson County, Tennessee

These case studies present Smart Growth America’s key findings and the lessons we’ve learned about smart growth implementation from a four-year technical assistance program funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The cases are meant to help communities that are committed to (or are exploring) smart growth but struggle with implementation. The cases highlight successful … Continued

Advocacy

Introducing "Amazing Place"

A new trend in local economic development is emerging. Talented workers—and the companies who want to employ them—are increasingly moving to walkable neighborhoods served by transit, with a vibrant mix of restaurants, cafes, shops, cultural attractions, and affordable housing options.

Economic development

Amazing Place

Many companies—from Fortune 500 titans to lean startups to independent manufacturers—are moving to places that offer great quality of life for their employees. As Smart Growth America detailed in our 2015 report Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown, these companies want vibrant neighborhoods with affordable housing options, restaurants, nightlife, and other amenities in … Continued

Economic development

With vision for a more walkable downtown, Alcoa, TN digs in to its zoning codes

alcoaChris 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.

Technical assistance

Newark, NJ; Hamilton, OH; Jackson, TN win 2015 National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement from U.S. EPA

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The City of Newark, NJ remediated the site of a former smelting plant to build a new—and now award-winning—park along the Passaic River. Photo via Archpaper.

Three cities have transformed the site of a former smelting plant, a neighborhood destroyed by tornado, and a near-empty historic downtown into vibrant, walkable places. Now, these projects have been recognized with the 2015 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Riverfront Park is the culmination of decades-long work to transform five miles of formerly industrial Passaic riverfront in Newark, NJ. The park’s land was once home to a smelting plant, and sat abandoned and unusable for years. Environmental remediation and an intensive public engagement process have created what will ultimately be 19 acres of parkland and Newark’s first—and so far only—public access to the Passaic River. In this community of color and predominantly low-income area, with few green spaces and a history of industrial pollution, the new park is game-changing. “When I was growing up, we had very few places to play, very few parks,” said Ana Baptista, a Newark resident, in EPA’s video about the project. “My daughters are going to grow up having a relationship to the water and the river that I didn’t have.”

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