Tag: Detroit

Roundtable series in six cities this spring will discuss federal real estate issues and their solutions


LOCUS members at 2012′s Leadership Summit.

LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors is proud to announce a new series of industry roundtable discussions about improving the federal government’s role in today’s real estate market.

The discussion series will gather leading real estate developers and investors from across the country to address the federal government’s role in real estate, and create solutions to align federal involvement in real estate to better support walkable development across America.

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Private sector leads the way on new light rail in Detroit

Architect’s rendering of the M-1 light rail. Image via M-1 RAIL Summer 2012 Project Update.

A group of private sector leaders in Detroit are looking toward a new light rail project to help revive the fortunes of the former car capital.

The group is so confident in the potential of a line, known as the M-1 light rail, they’ve put up nearly $90 million in private funding to make the project a reality. If successful, the group would set a new precedent for the “rail as economic development” paradigm, and provide a new model for cities across the country looking to catalyze smart growth.

The proposed line would run 3.4 miles along Detroit’s Woodward Avenue from the New Center neighborhood to downtown and the riverfront, connecting some of the city’s biggest attractions and job centers. The line would run curbside along Woodward Avenue and provide connections to Detroit’s People Mover and Amtrak station, as well as a planned regional bus rapid transit system.

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Smart Growth Stories: A Tale of Three Cities

What kinds of investments allow cities to rebound and jumpstart local economic growth?

Bombed out.

If you were feeling cynical, that’s how you might describe the current state of downtown Reno, Nevada. Take a walk down Virginia Avenue and see what I mean. Go past the forlorn casinos, the shuttered liquor store, and the homeless loitering near the 4th Street bus station. Search in vain for a downtown restaurant or bar that is not attached to a gambling institution. And then, when it is dark, walk in the shadow of the National Bowling Stadium, a building designed for a sport whose own history unfortunately mirrors that of the town in which it stands.

Bombed out.

A few years ago, that’s how you might have described Woodward Avenue in Detroit. People were fleeing the city then, a trend that had continued since the Motor City’s initial decline in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Great old buildings, monuments to a forgotten past, may well have outnumbered the residents and businesses for which they were fashioned. It was the scariest of places – the loneliest of places.

Bombed out.

Almost two decades ago, that’s how you could have literally described part of Oklahoma City. Or as current Mayor Mick Cornett told it at a conference earlier this year, “That’s all people knew about us.”

Each of these places has struggled with decline. But where there is barrenness, there is always a chance at renewal. All across the country, towns are looking to make a comeback. In my role at Smart Growth America, I talk with community leaders and representatives almost every day who ask the same questions. How do we create jobs? How do we attract new residents and new businesses? How do we change our reputation for the better? And then how do we avoid falling down after we’ve gotten back on our feet?

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Smart growth news – November 7

Sprawl’s spread speeds up
Sacramento Bee, November 7, 2011
Goodbye, farm. Hello, subdivision. Despite talk of smart growth, urban Sacramento didn’t check its sprawl in the past 10 years, but ballooned instead, spreading out at a faster pace than in decades past, according to a Bee analysis of new census figures.

U.S. House Likely to Address Infrastructure Bill by Year-End, Boehner Says
Bloomberg, November 6, 2011
“You’re going to see the House move, I think, before the end of the year on an infrastructure bill,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week.” Boehner said last week the House will consider legislation to finance infrastructure construction, in part, by expanding energy production.

Dan Gilbert’s development blueprint for Cleveland looks similar to Detroit’s
Detroit Free Press, November 6, 2011
If you think Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert is having an impact on downtown Detroit, you ought to see what he’s doing in Cleveland. Since Gilbert bought the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team in 2005, he has renovated Cleveland’s renamed Quicken Loans Arena (The Q), opened a mortgage banking center that now employs 300, built a $25-million practice facility for the Cavs, and is deep into construction for a $350-million Phase I of his future Horseshoe Casino in a former department store downtown, with a 16-acre new casino to follow in a few years. Gilbert’s investments in and around downtown Cleveland will total close to $1 billion.

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Smart growth news – November 4

Poverty tightens its grip in America’s cities, new numbers show
Kansas City Star, November 2, 2011
The population in the nation’s extremely disadvantaged neighborhoods — those where 40 percent or more live below the poverty line — has risen by one-third in the last decade, according to a Brookings report out today.

Blueprint for a New American Home
Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2011
The new American home is taking shape. Tough recent years are leaving their mark on home design, just as the housing-boom years sent square footage soaring and stamped a distinctive “McMansion” style on neighborhoods across the country. Big home builders, smaller architecture firms and even bathroom-fixture makers are adjusting to the shift toward more practical features and away from the aspirational.

Detroit native Dan Gilbert bets big on the city’s rebound
Reuters, November 2, 2011
In all, Gilbert controls 1.7 million square feet in Detroit, including four office buildings and two parking platforms in a four-block area of Woodward Avenue. His plan: To leverage his wealth and connections to create a cluster of entrepreneurial companies in downtown that will lure other start-ups away from Chicago, New York and Silicon Valley. He calls his vision “Detroit 2.0.”

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Smart growth news – October 25

Bus service, walking trails on Camden agenda
Herald Gazette (Maine), October 24, 2011
Camden Development Director Brian Hodges will ask the board to sign a letter supporting MCEA’s application for a Smart Growth America Technical Assistance Grant. The grant would provide a free public workshop on transit-oriented development that would be used to help MCEA to study the feasibility of a bus service that would connect Camden and other Midcoast towns with Amtrak service that is anticipated to connect to Rockland.

So cheap, there’s hope
The Economist, October 22, 2011
Yet physically, of course, the city remains the same size, imposing most of the same requirements of road maintenance, street lighting, rubbish collection and emergency-service response times. Detroit is a sprawling place, with the city itself (not the wider metro area) covering an area of 139 square miles, as it did in the 1950s when just under 2m people lived there, rather than the 714,000 it has now. You could fit Miami, Minneapolis and San Francisco into its city limits, and still have room left over. “We have a city that ought to be half its size,” says Mr Bing. He would like to concentrate his citizens, boosting the population density in areas that are still economically viable, while encouraging people to move out of districts that are not.

Republicans pitch transportation construction bill as major, bipartisan jobs program
Washington Post, October 24, 2011
House Republicans are pitching a six-year transportation construction plan as a major jobs bill that can win bipartisan approval before next year’s election, a key GOP lawmaker said Monday.

Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty’s Surge in the Suburbs
The New York Times, October 24, 2011
The poor population in America’s suburbs — long a symbol of a stable and prosperous American middle class — rose by more than half after 2000, forcing suburban communities across the country to re-evaluate their identities and how they serve their populations.

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Smart growth news – October 12

Obama selects D.C. project, 13 others to help spur jobs
Washington Post, October 11, 2011
A mixed-use development in the District’s Shaw neighborhood is one of 14 infrastructure projects across the country that the Obama administration has selected to be put on the fast track to help create jobs, the White House announced Tuesday.

Quicken welcomes 1,500 suburban workers to Detroit
The Detroit News, October 11, 2011
As Gilbert and Bing noted, the latest group of workers means another 1,500 people dining in downtown restaurants, walking along the RiverWalk, staying after work for ball games or concerts and, possibly, taking advantage of new incentives to move to the greater downtown area.

Mayor Swearengin unveils Fresno Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan
ABC 30 (Calif.), October 12, 2011
Fresno residents voiced their concerns Tuesday as city leaders revealed their plan to revitalize Downtown and its surrounding areas. The 150-page document has been two years in the making.

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Smart growth news – September 20

Top federal urban programs face the ax
New Urban Network, September 19, 2011
Smart Growth America alerted its members today that funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities is in imminent danger of being discontinued.

Federal Support for Smart Planning Is on the Line Tomorrow
Streetsblog, September 19, 2011
Tomorrow, a Senate panel will vote on two budget bills for FY2012, one of which is for transportation and housing programs. The draft of the bill isn’t available until after the subcommittee markup tomorrow, but Smart Growth America is calling attention to the fact that it’s important to make sure the bill includes funding for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the partnership between USDOT, the EPA, and HUD.

How a small community is becoming greener – with help from some important friends
NRDC Switchboard, September 19, 2011
The small city of Ranson, West Virginia – population about 4000 – has taken some very important steps toward a more sustainable future. In particular, it is cleaning up its contaminated sites; reconceiving its streets and stormwater management; and encouraging walkable, in-town redevelopment, all at the same time. That Ranson had the initiative to do this is immensely significant, since we need more and better examples of green initiatives in small, rural communities. But just as significant is that none of this would be possible without the assistance of the federal government’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

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Creating jobs and economic growth: Detroit’s Woodward light rail line moves forward

The Woodward light rail project, now under way in Detroit, will give residents better ways to get around and support the city’s business districts at the same time. First discussed by the Detroit Department of Transportation in 2006, the light …

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Smart growth news – September 6

Innovation key to cities in 21st century
The San Diego Union-Tribune, September 2, 2011
As former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy was about to sound a warning Friday to American cities about surviving in the 21st century, a large Navy vessel came into view as it sailed out of San Diego Bay. “What a spectacular city!” he said from the outdoor terrace of the San Diego Hilton Bayfront hotel. “I just want to turn around and see this ship go by.”

Sister cities share plans for downtown growth
Montgomery Advertiser (Ala.), September 4, 2011
Montgomery leaders have made the Alabama River a key ingredient for downtown redevelopment. Included so far have been a minor league baseball team housed in a $25 million stadium, and, a block away, the $200 million Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Conven­tion Center.

How should Syracuse transform its Inner Harbor?
The Post-Standard (N.Y.), September 4, 2011
Developers, architects and planners are citing the successful transformation of Syracuse’s Armory Square from rundown warehouses to trendy residential, retail and office buildings as the kind of mixed-use development that would work at the Syracuse Inner Harbor, the former state Barge Canal terminal the city will soon own.

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