Monthly Archives: February 2016

Why are federal programs restricting mixed-use development?

uchf-bannerStreet-level stores with apartments above them, like these along Main Street in Ossining, NY, are one example of the type of development current federal regulations restrict.

A growing number of Americans wanting to live in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods—but arcane federal rules make it unnecessarily difficult to build this type of development. A recent study by the Regional Plan Association, released in partnership with LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, highlights how—and what lawmakers can do to change it.


Complete Streets News — February 2016


Complete Streets at New Partners for Smart Growth — The National Complete Streets Coalition hosted a networking breakfast last week at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Portland, OR. More than 30 smart growth advocates gathered to hear about local successes and new opportunities in creative placemaking and Complete Streets from Chris Rall, Pacific Northwest Field Organizer at Transportation for America, and the Coalition’s own Emiko Atherton.

Bartlow, FL hosts Complete Streets workshop — The National Complete Streets Coalition visited Bartlow, FL to conduct an Advanced Complete Streets Design for Professionals workshop with Florida’s Department of Transportation District 1 staff. Through hands-on coaching, the workshop built Complete Streets design expertise among participants and assisted the District 1 design team in incorporating the most current context-sensitive design practices into their roadway project development process moving forward.


Mayor Paul Soglin works to make sure Madison, WI’s independent businesses serve visitors AND residents

Many cities envy Madison, WI’s thriving State Street retail corridor. After being converted from a four-lane road to a pedestrian-focused thoroughfare in 1974, State Street has become synonymous with funky retail stores and welcoming locals. It’s a draw for University of Wisconsin students, residents, and visitors alike, and an important economic and cultural asset for the city. According to Downtown Madison Inc.’s latest State of Downtown report, Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID), which contains State Street, saw vacancy rates decline from 7.5 percent in 2012 to just 4.6 percent in 2014.

In recent years, however, the mix of retail on State Street has trended toward businesses focused more on food and drink and less on goods and services. According to Downtown Madison, Inc., 40 percent of businesses in the Central BID are food and drink businesses—but only 25 percent are other types of retail. Local leaders are concerned that if this shift continues, the area will fail to meet the everyday needs of local residents.



New and expanded urban development programs included in President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal

promise-zone-camdenPresident Obama in Camden, NJ in May. Camden is one of 13 Promise Zones, a program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development that would be expanded under the 2017 proposed budget. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy, via HUD.

President Obama released his proposal for the fiscal year (FY) 2017 federal budget yesterday, and it outlines the President’s lofty political ambitions for the coming year. The proposal focuses on five main goals: continuing the country’s economic and fiscal progress, supporting innovation, creating opportunity for all Americans, national security and global leadership, and improving how government works. Smart growth strategies play an important role in achieving several of those goals — here are some specifics of what the budget would mean for programs related to housing, urban development, and transportation.


Join Smart Growth America at the 2016 New Partners for Smart Growth conference

npsg-baltimore

The annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference brings together public officials, development professionals, advocates, and civic organizations to connect with experts from across the country and catch up on the evolving best practices in smart growth. Hundreds of speakers cross disciplines to share insights, tools and strategies for making smart growth a success in communities across the country.

This year’s conference will take place January 29-31, 2015 in Baltimore, MD, and Smart Growth America is excited to be one of the many organizations participating. If you plan to attend the conference, be sure to catch the following sessions featuring Smart Growth America’s members and staff.