Right now I am reading a book about Celebration, and having just read the online interview with Duany on Planetizen, I just wanted to sound out some thoughts that I have about New Urbanism. Any additional thoughts or comments would be more than welcome.
One of the main pillars of New Urbanism is that you should be able to live in an environment where you could theoretically be car free and able to walk to either your job or local retail. There is no way to ensure that where residents would work would be nearby unless you build next to a downtown, or an existing office park area. As far as proximity to retail, if you build any development on a greenfield site, the only existing retail market within a short travel distance will be an existing strip mall or big box development. This either requires you to:
A: Partner with an existing strip mall/big box location to somehow integrate it into the development.
B: Build your own retail/commercial space within the development.
Option A is nearly impossible, as most strip mall locations are not oriented towards the neighborhoods, they are oriented towards the streets. Option B isn't possible unless you have a huge development population base to draw from or you change the focus of the development away from housing and towards retail (instead of a housing development, a mall with some housing space in it).
Perhaps the same end results of what New Urbanism tries to accomplish can be achieved with some municipal code changes? If you set up a zone with minimal side yard setbacks, on-street parking, and ability to have commercial/retail along with residential in the same zoning area, you could achieve a higher density along with the flexibility to later integrate retail or commercial as the appropriate market develops for services. (I really would like to see what would happen if zoning became less separational, allowing for more uses in any given location)
Or maybe New Urbanist developments can work, but only if placed (very) near to some existing markets/job centers/existing residential sites? I am much more into the idea of higher density redevelopment in existing city/suburban space as a means to create more vibrant areas.
Anyone have any thoughts?