Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Health experts tell us that some cheap vitamin tablets are useless because they don’t dissolve. Even though they contain ingredients that would be beneficial our bodies, they pass through without ever being absorbed into our system. We may tell ourselves “I took my Vitamins” but in reality, we’ve gained none of their benefits.
When it comes to urbanism, many jurisdictions - including Pasco County - fall victim to the same misperception. While the community leaders may correctly view TND or New Urbanism as a good antidote to urban sprawl, they compartmentalize it in a “pill” - in the form of a few TND projects. However, on their own these isolated neighborhoods fail to contribute most of the benefits of good urban principles to the larger area. In fact, their success as TNDs is indeed hindered by the fact that they are surrounded by suburban sprawl.
Well-intentioned TND ordinances, like Pasco’s, create the problem of the cheap vitamin pill. The ingredients - the principles of urbanism - are good, but they are too encapsulated. Unless they become integrated into the whole “body” of the built environment, their benefits are equally isolated. They become nothing more than the County's way of telling itself “I took my vitamins” while its patterns of habitation continue to be malnourished.
For THIS argument, I concentrate first on the principle of interconnected streets (and the implicit creation of blocks). Second behind that is the principle of mixing uses. Third is the principle of the fine grain. Beyond that are numerous other important principles. I'll deal with each of these topics individually in upcoming posts.
Monday, June 8, 2009
The current discussion about future regional growth focuses on transit, infill and redevelopment. The Stadium should be the leader in that shift, and a downtown location is the place to do it.
Think small and think urban. The problem with the Trop is that it’s too big, and too suburban.
The new stadium must be smaller, but so must the scale of development that goes with it. The mammoth mixed-use project that would be needed to make the stadium succeed in any of the “new” locations is untenable. In downtown, however, the supporting development of restaurants, offices and residential can be accomplished in smaller increments, by a constellation of smaller developers and investors, building on what is already there.
It's not enough simply to locate the stadium downtown, it has to be part of downtown. Remake the current site as an urban environment. 1) reconnect the street grid, creating a dozen or more new blocks; 2) build the new stadium closer to downtown, and pull it right up to the street 3) locate a TBARTA rail station nearby, configure the area’s streets to absorb more game-day parking, and bury whatever dedicated parking is left in a mid-block garage, shared with other uses.
The financial model of this approach is far more reasonable than the alternative sites. It requires much less public investment and risk, increases community buy in, and enhances the city’s most valuable asset: Downtown.