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New Book — Suburban Remix: Creating the Next Generation of Urban Places; Edited by Jason Beske and David Dixon

March 23, 2018 Books, Featured, Suburban Sprawl Comments Off on New Book — Suburban Remix: Creating the Next Generation of Urban Places; Edited by Jason Beske and David Dixon

The book I want to share with you today is about one of my favorite subjects — what to do with millions of acres of suburban sprawl.

The suburban dream of a single-family house with a white picket fence no longer describes how most North Americans want to live. The dynamics that powered sprawl have all but disappeared. Instead, new forces are transforming real estate markets, reinforced by new ideas of what constitutes healthy and environmentally responsible living. Investment has flooded back to cities because dense, walkable, mixed-use urban environments offer choices that support diverse dreams. Auto-oriented, single-use suburbs have a hard time competing.

Suburban Remix brings together experts in planning, urban design, real estate development, and urban policy to demonstrate how suburbs can use growing demand for urban living to renew their appeal as places to live, work, play, and invest. The case studies and analyses show how compact new urban places are already being created in suburbs to produce health, economic, and environmental benefits, and contribute to solving a growing equity crisis.

Above all, Suburban Remix shows that suburbs can evolve and thrive by investing in the methods and approaches used successfully in cities. Whether next-generation suburbs grow from historic village centers (Dublin, Ohio) or emerge de novo in communities with no historic center (Tysons, Virginia), the stage is set for a new chapter of development—suburbs whose proudest feature is not a new mall but a more human-scale feel and form. (Island Press)

As they point out, the suburbs aren’t going away — 2/3 of America lives there. But they will change.

As always, I like to show the contents:

Introduction by David Dixon

Part I: Setting the Stage
Chapter 1 – Urbanizing the Suburbs: The Major Development Trend of the Next Generation by Christopher Leinberger
Chapter 2 – From the Rise of Suburbs to the Great Reset by David Dixon

Part II: Suburban Markets
Chapter 3 – Housing by Laurie Volk, Todd Zimmerman, and Christopher Volk-Zimmerman
Chapter 4 – Office by Sarah Woodworth
Chapter 5 – Retail by Michael J. Berne

Part III Case Studies for Walkable Urban Places
Chapter 6 – Blueprint for a Better Region: Washington, DC by Stewart Schwartz
Chapter 7 – Tysons, Virginia by Linda Hollis and Sterling Wheeler
Chapter 8 – From Dayton Mall to Miami Crossing, Ohio by Chris Snyder
Chapter 9 – Shanghai’s Journey in Urbanizing Suburbia by Tianyao Sun
Chapter 10 – North York Center: An Example of Canada’s Urbanizing Suburbs by Harold Madi and Simon O’Byrne
Chapter 11 – Dublin, Ohio: Bridge Street Corridor by Terry Foegler
Chapter 12 – The Arlington Experiment in Urbanizing Suburbia by Christopher Zimmerman
Chapter 13 – From Village to City: Bellevue,Washington by Mark Hinshaw

Part IV: Bringing it All Together
Chapter 14 – Planning by David Dixon
Chapter 15 – Placemaking by Jason Beske

Conclusion by Jason Beske and David Dixon

Though this book contains many color photographs, it isn’t a coffee table book. There are plenty of graphs, charts, tables to illustrate the market analysis. The prospect of reshaping the suburbs was one of the most exciting things about studying to become an urban planner — until my stroke ended that prospect.

This book is available in hardcover, softcover, and digital.You can check out a preview here.

— Steve Patterson

 

We Drove Through Miles of Sprawl to Reach the Country

September 12, 2016 Featured, Suburban Sprawl 10 Comments

The weather was so beautiful Saturday September 3rd we decided to go out to lunch — in Washington, Missouri. Since my husband hadn’t tried Sugarfire Smoke House, we decided to go to the riverfront location. Granted, we could’ve gone to the one downtown just 11 blocks away from our loft, but we wanted to go for a drive in the country with the windows & sunroof open.

The fastest way was out via I-44, 55 min – 1 h 10 min (51.6 miles) per Google.  A little slower was out I-64 to MO-94, 1 h 10 min – 1 h 20 min (55.5 miles) per Google.  Because it was a nice day and we weren’t in a hurry we drove to Washington MO without using an interstate highway. Though it added an hour, we took MO-100 W/Historic U.S. 66 W — 1 h 30 min – 2 h 20 min (52.6 miles) per Google.

Just a short drive South on 18th from Locust and I turned right onto Missouri 100 — aka Chouteau. I stayed on 100, mostly Manchester, until in Washington, MO.  At one point we were behind a #57 MetroBus dropping off workers to various retail jobs. Wow, mile after mile of super ugly suburban sprawl.

There was a brief break in the ugliness before we crossed over I-44, but we quickly got into Washington’s ugly suburban ring.

Auto-centric sprawl just like you'd find anywhere in the suburbia of large metro regions. Click image to view location in Google Maps
Auto-centric sprawl just like you’d find anywhere in the suburbia of large metro regions. Click image to view location in Google Maps

After turning off MO-100 onto MO-47 we began to enter the charming part of Washington and we made our way to Front Street along the Missouri River.

We could see the river gap, our table on their patio.
We could see the river gap, our table on their patio.

After lunch we took MO-47 North over the river to reach MO-94. We went through Dutzow, Augusta, and Defiance before reaching I-64 to return downtown. We saw great scenery/views before and after lunch, but it was the drive there that reminded me how truly awful most of America’s built environment is.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Reading: The Future of the Suburban City: Lessons from Sustaining Phoenix by Grady Gammage Jr.

April 22, 2016 Books, Featured, Suburban Sprawl Comments Off on Reading: The Future of the Suburban City: Lessons from Sustaining Phoenix by Grady Gammage Jr.
Click cover image to view publisher's page -- which includes a preview
Click cover image to view publisher’s page — which Reincludes a preview

Many Western cities aren’t as dense as Eastern & rust-belt cities, but residents still desire to live sustainably. Though St. Louis was a dense rust-belt city, bad decisions have turned it into an unsustainable mess largely suburban mess. But, we can learn from others on how to dig ourselves out.

A recent article, The Santa Fe Strategy: How Small Cities Can Act on Climate and Inequality, explored these issues. A new book goes deeper:

There exists a category of American cities in which the line between suburban and urban is almost impossible to locate. These suburban cities arose in the last half of twentieth-century America, based largely on the success of the single-family home, shopping centers, and the automobile. The low-density, auto-centric development of suburban cities, which are largely in the arid West, presents challenges for urban sustainability as it is traditionally measured. Yet, some of these cities—Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake, Dallas, Tucson, San Bernardino, and San Diego—continue to be among the fastest growing places in the United States.

In The Future of the Suburban City, Phoenix native Grady Gammage, Jr. looks at the promise of the suburban city as well as the challenges. He argues that places that grew up based on the automobile and the single-family home need to dramatically change and evolve. But suburban cities have some advantages in an era of climate change, and many suburban cities are already making strides in increasing their resilience. Gammage focuses on the story of Phoenix, which shows the power of collective action — government action — to confront the challenges of geography and respond through public policy. He takes a fresh look at what it means to be sustainable and examines issues facing most suburban cities around water supply, heat, transportation, housing, density, urban form, jobs, economics, and politics.

The Future of the Suburban City is a realistic yet hopeful story of what is possible for any suburban city. (Island Press)

The table of contents:

Prologue. Getting Through the Haboob

Chapter 1. Suburbs, Sprawl, and Sustainability
Chapter 2. Just Add Water
Chapter 3. Coping with Heat
Chapter 4. Transportation and the Suburban City
Chapter 5. Houses, Shopping Centers, and the Fabric of Suburbia
Chapter 6. Jobs and the Economy of Cities in the Sand
Chapter 7. Politics, Resilience, and Survival

Afterword. Planning to Stay

Our regions can’t just keep expanding outward the way they did the last 50-60 years. We must improve existing suburbia.

— Steve Patterson

 

Writing About Improved Pedestrian Access For A Decade, Before Becoming Disabled

In the nearly ten years I’ve written this blog I’ve consistently argued for improved pedestrian access, even before I became disabled in February 2008. Newer readers may have forgotten my early advocacy for walkability, here are some reminders:

The above posts were all before my stroke! I’m particularly proud of pushing for pedestrian access at Loughborough Commons, it’s a better than planned project because of my pushiness.

When the new Schnucks opened in August 2006 there was no pedestrian access at all.
When the new Schnucks opened in August 2006 there was no pedestrian access at all.
By the next month the developer was adding a sidewalk to the east side of the entrance drive.  Eventually the other side also received an access route.
By the next month the developer was adding a sidewalk to the east side of the entrance drive. Eventually the other side also received an access route.

Loughborough Commons would’ve been better had the city, developer, and engineers planned for pedestrian access & internal circulation from the start. They didn’t, but by pushing throughout construction I helped the project be just a little accommodating to pedestrians.  In one post I even said something like “I hope I don’t become disabled” when arguing why it was important for new development to welcome pedestrians in edition to motorists.

Yes, I’ve posted about crosswalks & pedestrian access since becoming disabled — but they’ve been a regular topic since that first day I started writing: October 31, 2004.

— Steve Patterson

 

Page Avenue Extension (Route 364) Opened Ten Years Ago Today

For years it was just a controversial highway proposal, but a decade ago phase one of the Page Ave. Extension (aka I- Route 364) opened, connecting the Westport area of St. Louis County to St. Charles County.  Years before the opening I participated in efforts to derail the project, including attempting to pursuede St. Louis County voters to reject a land swap allowing the road project to cut through Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. Originally planned in 1969, construction began in 1997.

Looking west on I-364 Source: Google Streetview
Looking west on I-364
Source: Google Streetview

Before construction could begin a land swap had to take place to permit the selected route through the south edge of the park:

Opponents say the extension not only will destroy the park but also will add a fourth bridge to hasten the exodus of the middle class from St. Louis and aging St. Louis County suburbs to the greener pastures of St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties.

“If it goes through, it’s the turning point for the downslide of St. Louis County,” said state Rep. Joan Bray, D-University City, who helped a group called Taxpayers Against Page Freeway gather more than 40,000 signatures to put the referendum before voters.

Bray said the money slated for the project would be better spent to upgrade existing roads and to expand MetroLink. (source)

Voters, unfortunately, 60% approved the measure in November 1998. Highway advocates spent $800,000 vs $160,00 from the opposition (source).

Following the opening, St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876
Following the opening, St. Louis County experienced a population decline for the first time since St. Louis City left in 1876

Many factors are at play in the population decline of St. Louis County and increase in St. Charles County but I have no doubt I-Route 364 played a role.  Ground was broken on the third and final phase on May 22, 2013.

— Steve Patterson

 

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