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Thread: "Hip" downtowns and dense neighborhoods...

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    "Hip" downtowns and dense neighborhoods...

    Why are dense neighborhoods and "hip" downtowns popping more and more? Traits? My thoughts:

    Why they are becoming popular
    -Public transit running through downtowns like buses, subways, light rail, and others
    -Better transportation for seniors who can't drive
    -Yuppies moving in for entertainment
    -Anti mall sentiments

    Traits
    -stores such as American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21
    -tons of ethnic restaurants
    -art galleries, black box theater, comedy clubs, and independent film theaters
    -cafes
    -coffee shops
    -book stores

  2. #2
    I live in one of those new hip neighborhoods. We moved in because it was relatively inexpensive ( tho definitely not cheap). The retail is pretty non existent. It's hard to buy anything around here. But the restaurant and night spots are great. The galleries are happening and the architecture and density is great.

    One interesting thing is that most of our neighbors are not new to the city but lived fairly close by before moving here. We all knew we were moving into a neighborhood that is a bit grimey and has a large homeless center that is not going anywhere.

    So you need people with the right mindset, good incomes, and who are a bit edgy to begin with.

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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I live in one of those new hip neighborhoods. We moved in because it was relatively inexpensive ( tho definitely not cheap). The retail is pretty non existent. It's hard to buy anything around here. But the restaurant and night spots are great. The galleries are happening and the architecture and density is great.

    One interesting thing is that most of our neighbors are not new to the city but lived fairly close by before moving here. We all knew we were moving into a neighborhood that is a bit grimey and has a large homeless center that is not going anywhere.

    So you need people with the right mindset, good incomes, and who are a bit edgy to begin with.
    It appears there several urban outfitters in Boston and an American Apparel on Newburry street.

  4. #4
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    Part of the answer may be demographics. The Baby Boomers are in their fifties and sixties and their kids (the Echoers) are in their twenties and thirties. The boomers are downsizing and perhaps reviving the lifestyle they gave up in the 1970's/80's for suburban family life. The Echoers are not ready to settle down yet, but are working and can afford to buy or rent in fairly expensive 'hip' areas. In other words neither the parents nor their kids need or want a large house in the suburbs.

    It will be interesting to see what happens over the next ten or twenty years, when the Boomers move into retirement homes and the Echoers begin to raise their own families.

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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    Part of the answer may be demographics. The Baby Boomers are in their fifties and sixties and their kids (the Echoers) are in their twenties and thirties. The boomers are downsizing and perhaps reviving the lifestyle they gave up in the 1970's/80's for suburban family life. The Echoers are not ready to settle down yet, but are working and can afford to buy or rent in fairly expensive 'hip' areas. In other words neither the parents nor their kids need or want a large house in the suburbs.

    It will be interesting to see what happens over the next ten or twenty years, when the Boomers move into retirement homes and the Echoers begin to raise their own families.
    This Echoer wants to live in the suburbs with a family too.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    So you need people with the right mindset, good incomes, and who are a bit edgy to begin with.
    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    It will be interesting to see what happens over the next ten or twenty years, when the Boomers move into retirement homes and the Echoers begin to raise their own families.
    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    This Echoer wants to live in the suburbs with a family too.
    I think that this is the biggest problem cities, especially medium sized cities, face when pinning their hopes for growth on developing downtown residential and high-density near-downtown residential. Even in large cities like NYC and Toronto, when young couples start families, they start thinking of living in much more residential areas, and their preferences tend to be for single family homes or rowhouses, especially since most of the new/reno'd residences in dense, "hip" neighborhoods tend to be of the 1 or 2 BR variety. You don't see a lot 3 BR apartments/condos being developed unless they are very high-end.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    It appears there several urban outfitters in Boston and an American Apparel on Newburry street.
    Along with Allsaints and a dozen other hip retailers. But Newbury Street, while hip, is not new and no one hip lives in Back Bay anymore. Back Bay is very wealthy and the shops very expensive, but it doesn't fit your question. The hip, newer neighborhoods would be SOWA, Charlestown, Davis Square, etc.

    Newbury may have fallen out of favor in the 1950s but by 1970 it was expensive and more or less as it is today.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    There's hip and then there's a little less hip

    I think Linda nailed the problem with relying on these hip, urban, edgy, arts and nightlife supported areas to save your city. When the young couples start families, eventually they will look at each other and say we belong in a more stable area, since we never go out any more anyway. Density is great for urbanity, but only if it's occupied.

    Lately I'm interested in the suburban retrofit idea, which seems essential if we are not going to engage in extremely wasteful trashing of whole neighborhoods built in the 1940s through 1960s. Can some walking and biking connectivity, if not actual street connectivity, help people get around these cul-de-sac heavens in a more hip and cool way? Can we introduce a couple of nightclubs, a couple of locally owned restaurants, and a membership-based 24-hour child care center to a suburb that could be attractive to young couples with babies? With local restaurants, at least the option of some live music and rotating art on the wall is a real possibility.

    In short, I'm wondering if the popularity of edgy urban spaces can't lead to some opportunities for areas attractive to young families to interpret and ratchet down those same themes, enabling them to market successfully to those couples who eventually want to live in a real residential environment. I'd like to see some experiments along these lines.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Its official SLO is the coolest place ever!

    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    That is one man's opinion. I think the happiest place on Earth should have a low percentage of homeless because those people aren't happy.

    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Along with Allsaints and a dozen other hip retailers. But Newbury Street, while hip, is not new and no one hip lives in Back Bay anymore. Back Bay is very wealthy and the shops very expensive, but it doesn't fit your question. The hip, newer neighborhoods would be SOWA, Charlestown, Davis Square, etc.

    Newbury may have fallen out of favor in the 1950s but by 1970 it was expensive and more or less as it is today.
    Hmm so if American Apparel is not where the hip area is, then does that mean it's usually in downtowns with high-end retail?

    Also, would you consider Chico and Davis in California to have hip and dense urban neighborhoods in their downtown?

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    T


    Hmm so if American Apparel is not where the hip area is, then does that mean it's usually in downtowns with high-end retail?

    Also, would you consider Chico and Davis in California to have hip and dense urban neighborhoods in their downtown?
    I can only speculate on American Apparel's location strategy. It appears they use hipness as a marketing strategy, but seem to open in more mainstream areas. Perhaps they do like dense urban core shopping districts, but these are not necessarily hip neighborhoods.

    My Bay Area bias: nothing in interior California can be hip. These may be dense (but most of the built up area of interior California is denser than smaller cities in the Midwest or South), but cool? never!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I think that this is the biggest problem cities, especially medium sized cities, face when pinning their hopes for growth on developing downtown residential and high-density near-downtown residential. Even in large cities like NYC and Toronto, when young couples start families, they start thinking of living in much more residential areas, and their preferences tend to be for single family homes or rowhouses, especially since most of the new/reno'd residences in dense, "hip" neighborhoods tend to be of the 1 or 2 BR variety. You don't see a lot 3 BR apartments/condos being developed unless they are very high-end.
    This is a problem, but only 1/3 of households have more than 3 people in them. We have lots of neighbors with one kid doing very well in two bedroom units.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I can only speculate on American Apparel's location strategy. It appears they use hipness as a marketing strategy, but seem to open in more mainstream areas. Perhaps they do like dense urban core shopping districts, but these are not necessarily hip neighborhoods.

    My Bay Area bias: nothing in interior California can be hip. These may be dense (but most of the built up area of interior California is denser than smaller cities in the Midwest or South), but cool? never!
    In Michigan American Appeal Stores are located near major univerisities or where young hipster jerky types hang out.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Census info on SLO:

    http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet...rd=&_industry=

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    Cyburbian cng's avatar
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    I don't think "hip" downtowns and dense neighborhoods are popping up more and more. I do think there is more of an emphasis on land use efficiency and sustainability. Many communities continue to grow in a sprawl land use pattern, but they have gone under more scrutiny due to its strain on resources. As a result, we've turned our attention back to more urban communities, serviced with public transit, and complete with cultural and retail amenities, all in the context of sustainability.

    I would hate to credit an Urban Outfitter for helping define an area as "hip". I would credit those who had the foresight to design block patterns and circulation systems that provide the framework for densification. At best, it's the college demographics that help associate the town as being "hip". SLO is a college community. During the summer break, you see more tourists and retirees in the area. The same can be said for Chico and Davis.

    I agree with other comments that communities should still try to retain young families by ensuring an affordable housing stock, but also, integrating this housing stock within the urban core of the city. Many young families with professionals still enjoy a lot of the amenities mentioned as being "hip" such as coffee houses and independent theaters. Communities that are diverse, catering to multiple demographic groups, will last the test of time.

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    Quote Originally posted by cng View post
    I don't think "hip" downtowns and dense neighborhoods are popping up more and more. I do think there is more of an emphasis on land use efficiency and sustainability. Many communities continue to grow in a sprawl land use pattern, but they have gone under more scrutiny due to its strain on resources. As a result, we've turned our attention back to more urban communities, serviced with public transit, and complete with cultural and retail amenities, all in the context of sustainability.

    I would hate to credit an Urban Outfitter for helping define an area as "hip". I would credit those who had the foresight to design block patterns and circulation systems that provide the framework for densification. At best, it's the college demographics that help associate the town as being "hip". SLO is a college community. During the summer break, you see more tourists and retirees in the area. The same can be said for Chico and Davis.

    I agree with other comments that communities should still try to retain young families by ensuring an affordable housing stock, but also, integrating this housing stock within the urban core of the city. Many young families with professionals still enjoy a lot of the amenities mentioned as being "hip" such as coffee houses and independent theaters. Communities that are diverse, catering to multiple demographic groups, will last the test of time.
    So maybe SLO is hip and wealthy and Chico and Davis are just hip. Hip having a large amount of people in the age range 20-30s.

    Yeah I think American Apparel and Urban Outfitters looks for large amounts of college students and college students that can afford to shop there and they usually locate in downtown areas, but not where the hipsters are living in the city. Malibu's American Apparel is on the fringe of downtown and is free standing,

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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I can only speculate on American Apparel's location strategy. It appears they use hipness as a marketing strategy, but seem to open in more mainstream areas. Perhaps they do like dense urban core shopping districts, but these are not necessarily hip neighborhoods.

    My Bay Area bias: nothing in interior California can be hip. These may be dense (but most of the built up area of interior California is denser than smaller cities in the Midwest or South), but cool? never!
    That's interesting about Midwest small cities being not being as dense as California small cities. I think maybe since we are closer to the coast you see more affluent communities and more people jammed together in areas of good weather.

    There are only 3 communities in San Luis Obispo have the average density is over 1,000km2-San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach, and Oceano. All of Oceano and Grover Beach are dense where as Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo have parts that are less dense. Any place close to Lake Lopez in Arroyo Grande is rural and in San Luis Obispo the further from the core the more rural it gets.

    Another coastal communities with this type of density are Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Barbara, and Isla Vista. In Monterey County there is Seaside, Marina, and Monterey which all run into each other. And also there is Salinas. Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Captiola in Santa Cruz County also are pretty dense.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    ...... nothing in interior California can be hip. These may be dense (but most of the built up area of interior California is denser than smaller cities in the Midwest or South), but cool? never!
    I offer you Quincy, Greenville, Truckee, South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, Placerville, Bishop, Mammoth Mountain. (Needles, Alturus, Susanville, not so much.)

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    That's interesting about Midwest small cities being not being as dense as California small cities. I think maybe since we are closer to the coast you see more affluent communities and more people jammed together in areas of good weather.

    There are only 3 communities in San Luis Obispo have the average density is over 1,000km2-San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach, and Oceano. All of Oceano and Grover Beach are dense where as Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo have parts that are less dense. Any place close to Lake Lopez in Arroyo Grande is rural and in San Luis Obispo the further from the core the more rural it gets.

    Another coastal communities with this type of density are Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Barbara, and Isla Vista. In Monterey County there is Seaside, Marina, and Monterey which all run into each other. And also there is Salinas. Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Captiola in Santa Cruz County also are pretty dense.
    I would categorize most of the Central Coast as low-density. Sure, there are pockets of urbanism, like downtown SLO, or Santa Barbara, but they are mostly coastal/rural/suburban communities. You are hard pressed to find any building over 4 stories along the Central Coast. Meanwhile, although the Midwest appears more spread out, you will find buildings with more height, even in cities as small as 30 to 50,000. It's not uncommon to find downtowns with 10-story buildings in smaller Midwest cities.

    I'm not necessarily equating building height with density. Density, however, usually warrants, and is serviced by good public transportation. The Central CA Coast is not an area serviced by good public transportation. I know, because I used to take a bus from Santa Maria to SLO for school, and it took 2 hours to get there, despite it being just 30 miles away. Also, the bus only comes about once every couple hours.

    San Francisco is dense. Los Angeles is becoming more dense, although the San Fernando Valley is still suburban, with some urbanized corridors. I suppose density is a relative term (although, certainly quantifiable). But, having grown up in Los Angeles, and having lived on the Central Coast for two years, I find it difficult to use the word dense to describe Central Coast communities.

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    Quote Originally posted by cng View post
    I would categorize most of the Central Coast as low-density. Sure, there are pockets of urbanism, like downtown SLO, or Santa Barbara, but they are mostly coastal/rural/suburban communities. You are hard pressed to find any building over 4 stories along the Central Coast. Meanwhile, although the Midwest appears more spread out, you will find buildings with more height, even in cities as small as 30 to 50,000. It's not uncommon to find downtowns with 10-story buildings in smaller Midwest cities.

    I'm not necessarily equating building height with density. Density, however, usually warrants, and is serviced by good public transportation. The Central CA Coast is not an area serviced by good public transportation. I know, because I used to take a bus from Santa Maria to SLO for school, and it took 2 hours to get there, despite it being just 30 miles away. Also, the bus only comes about once every couple hours.

    San Francisco is dense. Los Angeles is becoming more dense, although the San Fernando Valley is still suburban, with some urbanized corridors. I suppose density is a relative term (although, certainly quantifiable). But, having grown up in Los Angeles, and having lived on the Central Coast for two years, I find it difficult to use the word dense to describe Central Coast communities.
    I don't use height to measure I use buildings being close together and suburban homes.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    I don't use height to measure I use buildings being close together and suburban homes.
    So does this mean all of california dense considering the average lot for most developments is somewhere around 5,000 sf?

    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    based on all the rules or the lack of diversity
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  22. #22
    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    I offer you Quincy, Greenville, Truckee, South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, Placerville, Bishop, Mammoth Mountain. (Needles, Alturus, Susanville, not so much.)
    You're right. I shouldn't be so coastist.

  23. #23
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    Sorry but in the DC area the "cool" stores you are focusing on do NOT match up with areas that are hip to young post college folks, never mind college aged kids. DC is horrible for cost of living and the hot spots are hot BEFORE the big chain places move in.

    Dupont Circle was all the rage well before the big name stores moved in, it was the fun funky out of the ordinary area with an active creative class. The label stores are moving in and its less appealing than it was.

    Density does help but Clarendon was fun and "weird" long before it became so high density. Georgetown everyone thinks of as hot but it has no Metro (subway) and lower density than Dupont.

    Alexandria is a very desirable area and it does not have easy Metro access to the key Oldtown area. Its an area locked in to a wonderful historic period with old homes who will cost you quite a pretty penny.

    Tysons has very high density and one of the largest shopping mall areas in the nation but its by no means an area young folks wish to live never mind direct access to many major roadways. It's not walkable in any measure and I am not sure it will be when Metro is built there.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    You're right. I shouldn't be so coastist.
    Off-topic:
    Hey, it's all good. No problem.
    "Coastist" is a cool term.

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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    So does this mean all of california dense considering the average lot for most developments is somewhere around 5,000 sf?



    based on all the rules or the lack of diversity
    I guess you can say most of California is condense urban sprawl-suburban plots close to the coast as possible.

    I guess I am confused to what people would consider urbanism. If you consider downtown San Luis Obispo and downtown Santa Barbara urbanism, then what else along the Central Coast fits in that category? Cannery Row in Monterey, Downtown Salinas, and Downtown Santa Maria?

    I agree too much suburbia can kill a city or town. Most enclosed malls are damaging to a community and too many strip malls will kill drive out the local mom and pops.

    San Luis Obispo has four strip malls all on the edge of the city. Santa Barbara has an open-air mall in downtown and another on the edge of city. Santa Cruz has no strip malls or enclosed malls but an amusement park close to downtown. Napa has a Walmart Supercenter, Target, and Kohl's. Yet these cities have strong downtowns due to have balance with population large enough to support local and chains.

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