Category: States

Leaders discuss walkable design and economic development at Policy Forum 2015

Tommy WellsFormer Washington, DC Councilmember Tommy Wells speaking at the second annual Local Leaders Council Policy Forum on June 1, 2015 in Washington, DC.

How can walkable design help build a vibrant local economy? And what can local leaders do to make this happen? Two dozen leaders from diverse communities discussed these questions during a session at the Local Leaders Council Policy Forum, held on June 1 in Washington, D.C.

Moderating the session was former Washington, DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Wells’ district made several advances in sustainable design and planning during his tenure, and his practical knowledge of governance, politics, and policy set the framework for the conversation.

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Indianapolis works to implement its strong Complete Streets policy with Smart Growth America workshop

indy-workshop-borderChallenges and opportunities on the whiteboard at a Complete Streets workshop in Indianapolis last week. Photo by the Indiana Complete Streets Coalition, via Twitter.

In 2012 the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council unanimously passed the Indianapolis Complete Streets ordinance, a policy intended to ensure that streets are designed, built, operated, and maintained to be safe and accessible for everyone, regardless of whether they travel by bus, bike, foot or personal vehicle. Indianapolis’ Complete Streets policy was the best in the nation that year, and remains one of the strongest city ordinances adopted to date.

Since the policy’s passage, Indianapolis staff and Health by Design partners have been working to ensure successful implementation of the policy and to monitor and track related performance measures. To help accelerate the move from policy to implementation, Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition held a Complete Streets implementation workshop on June 10 and 11, 2015, as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop provided additional tools, resources and guidance for policy implementation. It also offered an opportunity to communicate the benefits of Complete Streets and local project examples to the public.

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Introducing “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan Metros”

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Walkable real estate development projects and places are on the rise nationwide. LOCUS has looked at how these trends are playing out in Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Boston. Today, we’re excited to unveil the fourth report in our WalkUP Wake-Up Call series.

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan Metros looks at development in seven Michigan metropolitan areas: Detroit-Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, Lansing, Jackson, Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Saginaw-Bay City-Midland, and Flint. Our analysis of these areas finds that in the most recent real estate cycle, 22 percent of all new income property development located in the 2.7 percent of land that is walkable urban. This share of new development is up from only 6 percent in the 1990s real estate cycle and 12 percent from the 2001-2008 cycle.

Posted in LOCUS, Michigan, Reports, Research | 1 Comment

Tucker County communities work toward creating a collaborative vision for economic growth

Downtown Parsons, WVDowntown Parsons in Tucker County, WV. Photo by Joe Flood via Flickr.

Tucker County, WV is a rural community known for its abundant natural beauty and historic downtowns. Now, staff from the county, townships, state agencies, and federal programs are working together to plan for Tucker County’s long-term economic growth.

To help begin to articulate a vision for county planning in a regional context, Smart Growth America held a Regional Planning for Small Communities workshop with the Tucker County Planning Commission on May 27 and 28, 2015 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program.

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Since the workshop: Focus on sustainability and neighborhood development helps fuel economic revitalization in Tacoma, WA

tacoma-breweryThe former Heidelberg brewery in Tacoma’s Brewery District neighborhood. Smart Growth America’s 2012 workshop looked at ways to revitalize the neighborhood. Photo by Corey Knafelz via Flickr.

Tacoma, WA is growing fast. The area is projected to be one of the top 10 U.S. metro areas for job growth through 2020, and City leaders are working to support and sustain that economic growth with a smart growth approach to development.

Tacoma’s leaders were already thinking about these strategies back in April 2012, when Smart Growth America conducted a technical assistance workshop with the City. Staff from Smart Growth America and our partner Criterion Planners worked with Tacoma officials and local residents to understand how a smart growth approach could support revitalization in the Hilltop/ Martin Luther King Jr. neighborhood and Dome/Brewery District. The workshop focused on using the Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) tool to help city officials establish a framework to set goals, measurements, and eventually brand these neighborhoods as center for green development.

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Planning Director George Atta on planning for a more convenient Honolulu, HI

honoluluArtist’s rendering of light rail service through downtown Honolulu. Image via AIA Honolulu.

Honolulu, HI is known for its natural beauty. The city unfortunately also has third worst traffic in the nation. To help remedy that, the City of Honolulu is working to create alternate ways for residents to get around the island and George Atta, the Honolulu Planning Director and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is one of the leaders making it happen.

Atta grew up in Honolulu and has been in the planning profession for many years. Doing this work on a small island, he explains, makes many smart growth lessons more immediate.

“Planners on an island see the consequences of our actions pretty quickly,” Atta says, “The problems we create stay here. So it’s been easy for us to understand the benefits of a smart growth approach.”

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In Macon, GA, smart growth would mean quadruple returns

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Actually, more than quadruple. It would generate 4.7 times the fiscal impact as development on the edge of town.

Back in April, we released a new model for analyzing the fiscal implications of development patterns. Since then we’ve analyzed development in Madison, WI and West Des Moines, IA.

Now, Macon, GA is the most recent city in which we’ve applied our model.

We looked at four scenarios of how Macon could grow over the next 20 years, and what each scenario would mean for the city’s finances. Our research found that development on the edge of town would generate about $165,000 for the city each year. The same development, if located downtown, would generate at least $428,000 per year for the city—and potentially as much as $788,000 per year if walkable places’ higher property values were factored in.

These results are similar to those from Madison and West Des Moines: building in compact, more walkable ways benefit a city’s bottom line. These strategies reduce the cost of infrastructure and services, while also generating more tax revenue per acre. The only question is, how much would your city gain with a smart growth approach?

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Now Hiring: LOCUS Massachusetts State Director

LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors is seeking a talented and motivated individual to organize smart growth real estate developers in Massachusetts.

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