Tag Archives: sprawl repair

(441) Zombie subdivisions

Night of the Living DeadSeems in parts of the States there is a problem of so-called zombie subdivisions.  After the crash of 2008 many jurisdictions find themselves with property intended for development that is now in an underutilized state, a kind of limbo.  Surveys, road and utility connections, and structural inputs left in partial completion generate problematic legal, taxation, environmental and aesthetic issues for the communities hosting them.  The presence of zombies complicates efforts to move forward and apply creative thinking when it comes to meeting needs for housing, the collection of public revenue, and future planning efforts.  More importantly, they represent failure.

In an effort to propagate tools and best practices for remedying distressed subdivisions the manual linked below was created by two land use professionals at the Lincoln Institute.  A community trying to cope with zombies is well advised to start with this surprisingly interesting document which could help them prepare for future boom-bust cycles while reducing harm associated with the last one.

Arrested developments: combatting zombie subdivisions and other excess entitlements
64-page .pdf file

image: still from Night of the Living Dead (1968) via Wikimedia Commons

(437) De-suburbanizing Phoenix (and other places)

Phoenix AZ from spaceAwesomely poetic.  Taken from a recent item on Gizmodo – one observer’s description of a place where a sprawl repair has gotten underway.  The idea is to diversify and cross-connect places that were once in an isolation no longer seen as splendid.  This piece links through to another for Phoenix on Marketplace.

How Do We De-Suburbanize the Suburbs?

Can Phoenix un-suburbanize? Marketplace

image: Phoenix, AZ from space in 2013 by NASA via Wikimedia Commons

(278) ULI case studies

Belks1Last year the Urban Land Institute produced a document with a half dozen case studies of communities doing sprawl repair, adding transit infrastructure, and undertaking suburban retrofits.  It’s nice to see these projects because it seems logical that a better designed community offers its residents some insurance against difficulty compared to poorly thought out, low density, car-dependent ones, the kind that are everywhere.  These projects and their various components represent at least a good attempt at adapting the lived-in North American landscape to an emergent future which doesn’t really support the things that made suburbia possible any more, namely E-Z money and cheap energy.

Our relatively limited experience of these refitted places is that they rely too much on retail and ironically, cars.  What will happen to the major continental chains like Starbucks or The Gap as we move forward is not fully clear.  They and their global supply chains may contract along with everything else.  A coffee bar an upstairs tenant can walk to doesn’t mean much if the windows are boarded up.  One of our interns was in Toronto’s Liberty Village this weekend.  Liberty Village is not so much a refitted suburb as a refitted industrial area but it models many of the same attributes as ULI’s case studies.  “Don’t know when I’ve ever seen so many luxury SUVs, Minis, Japanese sports cars, German sedans in one place, ever,” said our intern.  The very success and enjoyability of the area’s renovated buildings, its retail opportunities and so forth attracts loads of people, many of whom arrive by car even though there’s multiple possibilities for arrival by public transit.

Shifting Suburbs: reinventing infrastructure for compact development
uli.org 56 page .pdf file

ULI Infrastructure Initiative

image: dead shopping mall by Augustawiki via Wikimedia Commons