A building in New Port Richey, Florida. Photo via Wikipedia Commons.
On July 30 and 31, 2014, officials and local residents of Pasco County, FL met with representatives from Smart Growth America as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide Pasco County with tools and techniques to implement plans to revitalize the Harbors, a portion of the U.S. Route 19 corridor that follows the county’s coastline.
Downtown Cheyenne, WY. Photo by Cliff, via Flickr.
Cheyenne, WY is at a crossroads. As the state capital of Wyoming, the city of 65,000 residents has long represented the cultural identity and values traditionally associated with the rural American West. Yet just 90 miles north of Denver, CO, Cheyenne is also a growing participant in the economy of the Front Range region, which includes Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins among other major and mid-sized metropolitan regions in northern Colorado.
“Residents in Cheyenne want to become a part of that growing Front Range economy, while still being rooted in the values of Wyoming,” says Cheyenne’s Planning Services Director Matt Ashby, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. For Ashby, balancing these two sides of the city is about attracting new investment to Cheyenne while preserving the city’s unique character.
A scene from Sunday Streets HTX on Westheimer Road. Photo by Andrew Seng / University of Oregon Emerald via aaonetwork.org
It’s little secret that Houston, Texas, is on the rise. From 2000-2010, Census data shows that the city’s metro population grew by 26 percent to 5.95 million people. In 2013, that number had risen to 6.34 million, and the Houston metro expects to add another 1 million residents by 2020. While this growth is exciting, it also creates new challenges like stress on existing street infrastructure.
Great smart growth developments start with a vision and good planning, but to build the actual project local governments, real estate developers and community members must secure the necessary capital funding. Innovative ways to finance smart growth projects was one of the main topics discussed at the June 2014 LOCUS Leadership Summit in Washington, DC where members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council and the LOCUS developers’ network met to talk about what it takes to bring a smart growth vision into reality.
Ben Miller, cofounder of Fundrise, believes that the real estate investment system is set up for very large investors and makes it nearly impossible for smaller investors to support local projects. “What if we squared the circle and let the community become both a capital resource and a partner in our real estate projects, so they would have some skin in the game?” posits Miller.
In a few weeks, Northern Virginia’s first bus rapid transit service will begin operations on dedicated busways through Alexandria, VA’s burgeoning Potomac Yard neighborhood. A visitor standing under one of the new station awnings can see a string of cranes stretching from north to south along US Route 1, at work on the planned 3000 residential units, 4 million square feet of office space, and 1 million square feet of retail space along the transit corridor. Alexandria City Councilor Tim Lovain, who championed the busway as an essential tool to support high-density growth in this corridor, smiles broadly as he describes the accomplishment, but is even more interested in the transit lines still under development in the city.
Many of these transit projects are included in the Transportation Master Plan Councilor Lovain helped adopt in 2008 during his first term on the Council. In addition to the Route 1 corridor, that plan identified two more high-priority corridors where bus rapid transit will be developed in anticipation of future streetcar lines. Both of those corridors are in the City’s newer West End, which is characterized by car-oriented, lower density development. West End neighborhoods are more difficult to serve with transit, but Councilor Lovain makes the case for it as an essential tool for economic survival in the transit-rich metropolitan Washington, DC region.
View of downtown Portsmouth. Photo by nhlinux via Flickr
Portsmouth officials, regional transportation officials, and members of the public met with representatives from Smart Growth America on June 12 and 13, 2014 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The technical assistance provided City decision makers and transportation officials with the tools to help develop an action plan for implementing the City’s Complete Streets policy, which was adopted by City Council last fall. Complete Streets are planned, designed, operated and maintained to be safe, comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, bicycling, driving, or riding on public transportation.
View of Memphis’ South Main Arts District. Photo by Henry Turley Company via henryturley.com
In 2013, Memphis passed the nation’s 500th Complete Streets policy. To help move the policy to implementation, Memphis officials and residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on June 18 and 19, 2014 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide the City with tools to not only address the various design elements of Complete Streets, but also to directly communicate the benefits of Complete Streets to the public. Complete Streets are planned, designed, operated and maintained to be safe, comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, bicycling, driving, or hopping on public transportation.
Local leaders gathered to connect and share innovations at the 2014 Local Leaders Policy Forum. See more photos from the event on Flickr.
Leaders from 60 cities and counties in 28 states attended the Local Leaders Council’s inaugural Policy Forum in Washington, DC. Over two dozen leaders and industry experts made presentations about cultivating local small businesses, fighting displacement of lower-income residents, creating more housing downtown, reinvigorating main streets and corridors, and many more topics.
The event kicked off on June 15th with a welcome reception where leaders, Smart Growth America staff, and project partners mingled and got to know one another better. The co-chairs of the Local Leaders Council Advisory Board, Mayor Mick Cornett (Oklahoma City, OK) and former Mayor Mark Mallory (Cincinnati, OH) welcomed the leaders and highlighted the positive energy and passion for community building that was present in the room. They emphasized the importance of building on shared goals and learning from each other’s experiences—a core principle of the Local Leaders Council.