Category: Smart growth stories

Cambridge Main Street wanted to support local businesses—and new zoning is helping to make it happen

Downtown Cambridge
Main Street in downtown Cambridge, MD. Photo by Eli Pousson, via Flickr.

It took a golf course to make the city of Cambridge, MD, reconsider how it was planning development.

The 1,000-acre project would have added 3,200 homes to Cambridge, a city of just over 12,000 people on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore. After several rounds of city approval followed by fierce public opposition, the Maryland Board of Public Works purchased 70% of the land back from the developer and committed it to preservation.

“That experience was a major impetus to rewrite the City’s comprehensive plan,” said City of Cambridge Planner Anne Roane. In 2008 the City began the process of updating its plan for growth. And city planners weren’t the only ones excited about the new initiative.

Posted in Maryland, Partnership and Main, Smart growth stories | 2 Comments

How Phoenix, AZ is using transit-oriented development to reinvent downtown

Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix residents can soon look forward to more housing and lifestyle choices, thanks toReinvent PHX, a collaboration between the City of Phoenix, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Arizona State University, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives and local organizations aiming to develop “sustainability action plans” for the areas along Phoenix’s existing light rail line.

This process, carried out in consultation with the public and with funding from HUD, is intended to create an attractive investment environment for transit-oriented development (TOD) projects along Phoenix’s light rail line, Valley METRO, which opened in 2008. By 2014, Phoenix will have developed sustainability action plans for each of the light-rail adjacent areas, and implementation will begin. Soon a “car-free” or “car-lite” lifestyle will be available to more and more Phoenix residents through TOD.

Posted in Arizona, Blog, Smart growth stories | 3 Comments

Officials aim to unleash economic potential of Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley

Fulton Mail in Downtown Fresno. Photograph courtesy chris.jackson on Flickr. Fulton Mail in Downtown Fresno. Photograph courtesy chris.jackson on Flickr.

Local leaders across in California’s San Joaquin Valley are working together to bring economic growth to the entire region.

Officials from fourteen different municipalities in California’s San Joaquin Valley, along with California State University – Fresno, the California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation and the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council have partnered to create Smart Valley Places, a coalition working to transform the Valley from one of the most economically challenged and underserved areas of the country into a thriving place to live, work and play.

“It’s almost as if they’ve found the balance,” said John Lehn, President and CEO of the Kings County Economic Development Corporation, part of the Smart Valley Places group. “Let’s focus on the things we do have in common. That has resulted in both state and federal officials really opening their eyes to the cooperation that’s happened in the Central Valley.”

The centerpiece of Smart Valley Places’ work is a single integrated plan for regional growth that will guide the San Joaquin Valley for the next 20 years and even beyond. The plan will span eight counties and over a dozen cities to preserve agricultural land, focus development near economic centers and address local and regional mass transit, energy and housing issues. Smart Valley Places projects vary across the region, from transit-oriented development in Tulare, to downtown revitalization in Hanford, all fitting into a “single integrated plan for regional growth.”

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Rhode Island is making good on an old plan to grow smarter

RhodeMap RI
Courtesy Rhode Island Division of Planning

Rhode Island is America’s smallest state in terms of land area, so finding the best planning solutions can be a delicate matter that demands a variety of voices. The Ocean State has a mix of cities, small towns, rural areas, and suburbs, and is home to commuters to Boston and other locations out of state.

RhodeMap RI: Building a Better Rhode Island is the state-led effort to create strategies for housing, growth, and economic development in the form of a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development.

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Smart Growth Stories: Resourceful Development in Martin County, FL

bonitaWhen envisioning ways to create jobs and revitalize business in a community, stormwater and sewer projects might not typically be at the top of the list. But one county in Florida showed that with some creative thinking and a resourceful application of funds, projects that might otherwise seem one-dimensional can go a long way toward building stronger communities.

Planners in Martin County, Florida realized that a stormwater and sewer project on a neglected commercial corridor in the Golden Gate neighborhood of Stuart, FL, was an opportunity not just to provide vital infrastructure, but to spur private investment that would create jobs and help revitalize the neighborhood.

In 2012, the Martin County Redevelopment Agency (CRA) completed the ‘BCD Sewer Project’ referring to Bonita, Clayton and Delmar Streets that were part of the reconstruction. The aim of the project was to increase the availability of basic sewer services in the Golden Gate neighborhood, which relies heavily on septic tanks. The construction would require a near complete replacement of the area roads, so the CRA conducted extensive public outreach to find out what improvements residents would want to see incorporated into a new design.

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Mayor Madeline Rogero on a revitalized Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, Tennessee is refocusing development toward the city’s historic core and older neighborhoods, and the strategy is driving an economic turnaround for the city.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, a member of the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, says the city has focused on “strong, safe neighborhoods; living green and working green; an energized downtown and job creation and retention” during her time in office. The approach is bringing new businesses and residents to downtown Knoxville.

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Smart Growth Stories: Mayor Ken Moore on balancing preservation with growth in Franklin, Tennessee


Main Street in downtown Franklin, TN. Photo via Flickr.

Franklin, TN’s historic Main Street is more than a pretty place. It exemplifies Franklin’s historic heritage and has become the heart of the city’s new economy.

“We like to say we’re a community that balances preservation with growth,” says Franklin Mayor Ken Moore. Moore is on the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities. As a member of the Local Leaders Council, Moore is one of many elected leaders across the country using smart growth strategies to help their hometowns generate better return on taxpayer investment and compete in today’s economy.

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Smart Growth Stories: Mayor Marilyn Strickland on development in Tacoma, WA

Tacoma, WA Mayor Marilyn Strickland considers her city “the best kept secret in Washington State,” and smart growth strategies are helping make the city an even better place to live and work.

“Tacoma kind of got bypassed during the whole urban renewal phase of the late 60s and 70s, so as a result a lot of historic property did not get razed,” Strickland says. “So we have this beautiful stock of old warehouses and historic property.”

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