Suburbs

Smart Growth and The New Newspeak

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It’s a given in our representative system that policies adopted into law should have popular support. However, there is a distinction to be made between adopting a policy consistent with what a majority of people want, and pushing a policy while making dubious claims that it harnesses “the will of the people.”  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

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Vietnam may be the next China. With a nominally communist government, Vietnam has liberalized its markets and is prospering from an increased reliance on exports. Vietnam's gross domestic product per capita is still only about $3000, but has been among the faster growing economies over the past 10 years. Vietnam is well positioned to capture any growth that might be diverted from China’s east coast urban areas as labor costs there rise and concerns increase about the influence of that country’s powerful state-owned corporations.  read more »

The Republican Party's Fatal Attraction To Rural America

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Rick Santorum’s big wins in Alabama and Mississippi place the Republican Party in ever greater danger of becoming hostage to what has become its predominate geographic base: rural and small town America. This base, not so much conservatives per se, has kept Santorum’s unlikely campaign alive, from his early win in Iowa to triumphs in predominately rural and small-town dominated Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and Oklahoma.  read more »

Don’t Bet Against The (Single-Family) House

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Nothing more characterizes the current conventional wisdom than the demise of the single-family house. From pundits like Richard Florida to Wall Street investors, the thinking is that the future of America will be characterized increasingly by renters huddling together in small apartments, living the lifestyle of the hip and cool — just like they do in New York, San Francisco and other enlightened places.  read more »

Housing Affordability: St. Louis’ Competitive Advantage

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Things are looking better in St. Louis. For decades, St. Louis has been one of the slowest-growing metropolitan areas of the United States. Its historical core city has lost more than 60 percent of its population since 1950, a greater loss than any other major core municipality in the modern era.  Nonetheless, the metropolitan area, including the city, added nearly 50 percent to its population from 1950. The fate of St. Louis has been similar to that of Rust Belt metropolitan areas in the Midwest and East, as the nation has moved steadily West and South since World War II (Note).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Moscow's Auto-Oriented Expansion

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Moscow is bursting at the seams. The core city covers more than 420 square miles (1,090 kilometers), and has a population of approximately 11.5 million people. With 27,300 residents per square mile (10,500 per square kilometer), Moscow is one percent more dense than the city of New York, though Moscow covers 30 percent more land. The 23 ward area of Tokyo (see Note) is at least a third more dense, though Moscow's land area is at least half again as large as Tokyo.  read more »

Unintended Consequences of the Neo-Traditional City Planning Model

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Since the early 20th century, the almost universal adoption of the automobile by US residents has had a profound impact on how we plan and design communities. The widespread use of the auto not only spurred development outside of traditional urban centers, it minimized the need to blend multiple land uses into compact areas.  read more »

Why Downtowns Fail and How They Can Come Back

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To many Florida developers in the last decade, downtown condo towers seemed to make a lot of sense. They were sold as the logical locale for active seniors and millennials, great affordable starter homes, and best of all, investments.  Reinvigorating downtowns became fashionable currency in many of Florida’s second and third tier cities.   read more »

Time to Rethink This Experiment? Delusion Down Under

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The famous physicist, Albert Einstein, was noted for his powers of observation and rigorous observance of the scientific method. It was insanity, he once wrote, to repeat the same experiment over and over again, and to expect a different outcome. With that in mind, I wonder what Einstein would make of the last decade and a bit of experimentation in Queensland’s urban planning and development assessment?   read more »

New Urbanism vs. Dispersionism

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The Florida real estate developer, unburdened of state regulatory agencies, may now focus his efforts on pleasing the investment community and the local market.  I recently played the role of real estate developer interviewing two consultant teams vying to help me create a new fictional community.  Fortified with readings in both the New Urbanist camp and the Dispersionist camp, each team of students pitched their method of community building to me.   read more »