Posts tagged with "urban community development":

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A new future for Old City: Vision2026 puts Philadelphians, not tourists, first

At first pass, Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley looks like any other quaint, well-preserved historic street in a typical northeastern U.S. city. Look closer, though, and it'd apparent that the rowhouses are much older than the 19th-century homes found in New York's West Village or Boston's Beacon Hill. That's because Elfreth's Alley welcomed its first residents in 1702: the block-long lane is the oldest continually occupied residential street in the United States. Although the street is afforded protection by its National Historic Landmark status, escalatingultra-bland development in Philly's historic core means that it, and the surrounding urban fabric, must protect their assets by conceiving of a future that balances site-sensitive private development with public amenities that cater to Philadelphians.
Old City District, a city-sponsored historic preservation group, commissioned planning consultants RBA Group and Philly–based Atkin Olshin Schade Architects to stake out a future for Old City. Vision2026 is intended to complement the City Planning Commission's Philadelphia2035 plan and, in a nod to local heritage, will coincide with the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
To some, Old City is thought to be bound by the Delaware River to the east, 4th Street to the west, Vine Street to the north, and Walnut Street to the south. The Old City District's definition is narrower, encompassing a 22-block area bounded by Front Street to the east, 6th Street to the west, Florist Street to the north, and Walnut and Dock streets to the south. The genesis of Vision2026 was a community discussion on development goals that began in January 2015. Traffic studies and user surveys evinced a desire for standard-issue urban features: Quality public space, public transportation access, better bike infrastructure, stores that serve the community's needs (especially a grocery store), and a development vision that encourages new investment without overriding the neighborhood's charm. The suggestions take a deep dive into specifics. To reduce car traffic, Vision2026 suggests improving bike infrastructure (addressing a lack of bike lanes and inconsistent linkage to the waterfront, for example) concurrently with initiatives to consolidate commercial package delivery, privilege commercial loading access over private parking, and promote the use of car shares. The population of Old City has grown 16 percent since 2000, and the area needs Complete Streets (streets designed for safe use by pedestrians, cars, and bicycles alike) to enhance the neighborhood's vitality. A proposal for a 2nd Street Station plaza (the 200 block of Market Street) envisions 14-foot sidewalks flanked by an allée-meets-bike lane. The proposal suggests eliminating street lights—a counterintuitive but effective traffic-calming measure—on the 10-foot-wide stretch of road set aside for private cars.
Although the vacancy rate hovers at around ten percent, studies show that, if current trends continue, the area could support an additional 122,000 square feet of retail. More than 1,000 new residential buildings in the district are proposed or currently under construction. Vision2026 echoes Robert Venturi's 1976 master plan for Old City, calling for redevelopment of the area's Victorian commercial and industrial buildings erected between 1840 and 1890. Eight parks, including the Venturi–designed Welcome Park, are highlighted as spaces to improve and capitalize upon. Activating underused areas around the Benjamin Franklin Bridge is a priority: Proposals include an under-the-overpass market (like New York's Queensboro Bridge, but hopefully more successful) with restaurants and vendors, as well as wayfinding improvements, especially at night, to enhance connectivity between neighborhoods rent by the interstate. Next steps include beta-testing the ideas via tactical urbanism, temporary bike lanes, and legislative action, through zoning and permitting amendments, to pave the way for concrete improvements.
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Nine finalists selected for Philadelphia competition to re-imagine cities through play spaces

The Community Design Collaborative (CDC), in partnership with the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), has selected nine finalists for Play Space, a design competition that challenged designers to create spaces for play at a library, a school, and a recreation center in Philadelphia. Play Space explored how good design encourages early childhood development and the success of communities on the whole. The two-year initiative is part of CDC's Infill Philadelphia, a program that uses architecture and design to confront community development challenges in Philadelphia and elsewhere. “The power of play space in the community and its impact on early childhood development is becoming an issue that is facing all cities in the U.S., and for that matter, around the globe,” Beth Miller, executive director of the Community Design Collaborative, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that teams from around the world chose to tackle our design challenge in Philadelphia, bringing different perspectives but working toward the same goal of improving the quality of life for individuals and families.” Three teams were selected for each competition location. Those nine teams will be vetted again: once by the community and again by the jury at an exhibition in mid-March. In all, 40 teams from five countries and 11 U.S. states applied to be considered. Take a look below at the three sites and nine finalists: Site: Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Branch Library Neighborhood Playbook (Philadelphia) Team Members: SALT Design Studio (lead), CH2M HILL, the City University of New York, Ian Smith Design Group, It's All Made Up, Kirk Fromm, design + illustration, PlayHarvest, and SS | Design Details. Nixon Park (Atlanta) Team Members: TSW (lead) and Wesleyan School. [Pictured at top] Play Structure | Story Structure (Philadelphia) Team Members: Ground Reconsidered Landscape Architecture (lead), Designed For Fun, Friends Select School, J R Keller LLC Creative Partnerships, Meliora Environmental Design LLC, and The Parent-Infant Center. Site: Waterloo Recreation Center Community Gifts (Guelph, Ontario, Canada) Team Members: Shift Landscape Architecture (lead) and Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School. Reclaiming Recreation (Philadelphia, PA)  Team Members: Ramla Benaissa Architects (lead), Elwyn, and Maser Consulting P.A. Waterloo Rebosante (Philadelphia) Team Members: Roofmeadow and StudioLudo (co-leads) and Space for Childhood. Site: Haverford Bright Futures Bright Futures Chutes and Ladders (Philadelphia) Team Members: Meliora Environmental Design (lead), Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, International Consultants, The Parent-Infant Center, and Viridian Landscape Studio. Co-Play at Haverford Bright Futures (Chicago) Team Members: Terry Guen Design Associates (lead), CITYPLAY, Philly Art Center, and Roots First. Embrace Past Present and Future (Beijing, China) Team Members: Studio of Instinct Fabrication (lead) and Red Sun Kindergarten.
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Plans For 200-Acre Neighborhood in Austin Meet With Various Community Reactions

The evening of April 14th was a big one for the East Austin community, when developers met with residents to unveil the master plan for the 208-acre lot of land known as Colony Park. Plans for the development were rolled out onto a community center floor as a giant map that enabled attendees to walk, step-by-step, through the five-year-plus initiative. The project hopes to bring commerce, parks, new residences, into a sustainable community. Currently, the land is home to little more than cedar trees, with drifters and litterbugs capitalizing on the vast expanse of space. So in 2012, the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development (NHCD) department applied for a $3 million grant to revitalize the land. It’s a unique opportunity—rarely does the chance to build a neighborhood completely from scratch fall into the hands of developers. With great potential comes great responsibility, however, and the jurisdiction of how to utilize the land has caused friction in the surrounding neighborhoods. Although the initiative's leaders have continually stressed the importance of community involvement, dialogue between the planners and residents got off to a rocky start. The NHCD applied for the grant without notifying the Colony Park community. The competitive and rapid process involved in applying for and winning such grants shortchanged the initiative’s handle on time, explained NHCD’s president, but residents were understandably miffed at the oversight. Their irritation at the communication breakdown spilled over into the planning of the zone. Colony Park, as it stands now, houses many elderly and fixed-income residents. These tenants are fearful of displacement and gentrification that new housing developments often instigate. Others voice trepidation over the idea that this project will contribute to sprawl—that it will be more difficult than planners are acknowledging to account for commerce. As it stands now, the community is removed from commercial space. It’s a difficult area to access, explained residents, bordered as it is by two interstates, with the nearest grocery store over a mile away. But the initiative is actively striving to hear out these concerns and respond to them appropriately. 750 residential units will be built with the mixed-income community to prevent gentrification. Nearby residents from Agave are pulling for inclusion of urban farming opportunities, as well as farmers markets and more local business. Economic considerations are at the forefront of the discussion, and the plan offers an intriguing option of making provisions for a shared-car transportation program that will cut down on the cost of living for families. As far as the initial lack of dialogue, the initiative is trying hard to make it up to Colony Park residents. In September, college students canvassed the area to speak with tenants about what they wanted in their community. A website acts as virtual forum, and the neighborhood has formed a team of leaders who voice their opinions on behalf of the community. So what was featured in the master plan? Parks, 500 single-family ownership units and 250 multi-family rental units, on-site recycling and composting, and a mandate that all buildings meet or exceed SMART Housing Program standards for green development were all presented on Tuesday night. While community reactions were mixed, the tone was ultimately hopeful.
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Los Angeles Receives $100M for Affordable Transit Oriented Development

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national philanthropic organization that provides monetary support for the shoring up of distressed communities, has pledged $100 million in capital to lead an effort to develop 15 low-income neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles. Under the city’s Measure R, plans for expansion of light rail and rapid bus lines within these communities are currently underway. The monetary initiative by LISC will continue development beyond transit, expanding affordable housing, schools, businesses, and community facilities, and will complete market assessments of each neighborhood to strategize locale-specific investment. In 2012, LISC completed initial market profiles of two Los Angeles neighborhoods, Boyle Heights and Leimert Park. The research results provide analysis of the current economic state of each community, block-by-block. This information can be used in plans for future investments, redevelopment initiatives, and to attract businesses. With their pledged effort, the private organization plans to evaluate 13 other low-income neighborhoods over the next 18 months: Central Vermont, Crenshaw North, El Sereno, Highland Park, Koreatown, Main & Vermont, East Hollywood, North Vermont, Pico Union, Pacoima, Van Nuys, Watts, and Westlake. Each of these areas is scheduled for construction of a local public transportation hub by the City of Los Angeles and in combination with new improvement projects by LISC, can increase their overall value. “Low-income communities can be good places to live, work, raise families and do business,” said LISC Los Angeles executive director Claudia Lima in a statement. “Our goal is to speak to the rich potential of the people, markets and physical assets in these targeted areas."