Category: States

With LEED-ND, Sanford, FL could be the next best example of green development

A rendering of Sanford’s historic downtown district. Photo courtesy of Littlejohn.

Sanford, FL wants to create better, more sustainable, well-connected neighborhoods—particularly around the recently opened SunRail commuter rail station and the city’s Lake Monroe waterfront property. To help achieve that goal, Sanford sought assistance from Smart Growth America with a technical assistance workshop, held on August 4 and 5, 2015.

Sanford leaders want to look beyond the development of individual buildings to a larger district. Smart Growth America’s workshop provided an overview of one such way to do that—the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) standards. LEED-ND is about realizing how each piece of development plays a critical role in the performance of a community as a whole.

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Knoxville, TN welcomes Smart Growth America for workshop on transit-oriented development

knoxville-tnKnoxville wants to build on the success of places like Market Square (above). Photo via.

Downtown Knoxville, TN, is seeing a resurgence. New businesses and residents are moving to the area, and the City is working hard to bring similar success to neighborhoods throughout the city. Could investments in public transportation help?

To help answer that question, leaders in Knoxville welcomed Smart Growth America on July 15 and 16, 2015 for a technical assistance workshop on transit-oriented development. Chris Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Economic Development, and Dena Belzer, President of Strategic Economics, spoke with elected leaders, municipal staff, representatives from regional and state agencies, and Knoxville residents about how investment in public transit could multiply the city’s economic development successes.

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LOCUS announces new Attainable Housing and Social Equity Initiative pilot program

Somerville-blog-banner

Across the country, market demand for homes in walkable, downtown neighborhoods is driving up housing costs. How can communities capitalize on this demand and create great neighborhoods that are attainable and equitable for people of all income levels?

LOCUS’s new Attainable Housing and Social Equity Initiative is a private sector, place-based program designed to address this challenge, in partnership with the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University (GWU) and funded by the Barr Foundation.

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Change in plans

CA San Francisco Bus stop on Cesar Chavez credit Aaron Bialick Streetsblog SFA recent redesign of Cesar Chavez Street makes it better for people walking, bicycling, and taking transit and incorporates green infrastructure. Photo: Aaron Bialick, Streetsblog SF

This post is the second in a series of case studies about Complete Streets people, places, and projects. Follow the full series over the next several weeks.

In the late 1930s, the City of San Francisco had grand plans to build a third bridge across the San Francisco Bay. They designed a major arterial to lead to that bridge, but 80 years later those bridge dreams have never been realized—and the arterial was in sore need of an update.

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Leveraging community history and scenic location for economic and fiscal resilience in Fort Pierre, SD

fort-pierreClockwise from left: Fireworks on Fort Pierre’s riverfront, a visiting pow wow, and homes on canals connected to the Missouri River. Photos via the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

Fort Pierre, SD – population 2,078 – is approaching its bicentennial in 2017 and it’s a place where locals say, “history here is close enough to touch.” With plans in the works to revitalize its downtown and riverfront, the City is working to make sure it’s well positioned for the next 200 years, too.

To aid in that effort Mayor Gloria Hanson and other city leaders welcomed Smart Growth America’s technical assistance team on July 22 and 23, 2015 for a two-day workshop on how smart growth development strategies can help Fort Pierre grow more financially stable and successful.

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Houston, we have a solution

TX Houston bus Roy Luck flickrPhoto: Roy Luck via Flickr

This post is the first in a series of case studies about Complete Streets people, places, and projects. Follow the full series over the next several weeks!

Houston’s bold plan to redesign its bus system—the System Reimagining Project—is akin to a prima-ballerina dancing the final act of Swan Lake. The plan is so elegant, the results so awe-inspiring, that it’s easy to miss all the hard work that led to this moment. A comprehensive, creative, and thoughtful public input and outreach process led to broad support for this revolutionary new bus system.

Let’s start with the magic. In 2012, Houston and Harris County’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, or METRO, recognized its bus system needed an update. No one had taken a hard look at the system in three decades, even though Houston had grown into a more polycentric city and METRO had built the first of several planned light rail lanes. Instead of making minor adjustments, METRO’s board, with the nudging of board member Christof Spieler, an urban planner and transit advocate, decided to see what the system could look like if it were designed from scratch. The new plan, an almost complete remodel of Houston’s current bus system, was approved by METRO’s board just three years later, in February of 2015.

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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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