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    Published on 21 Nov 2011 8:00 AM
    1. Development and Real Estate
    2. History and Preservation
    3. Planning Practice
    4. Urban Design

    By Perry Norton FAICP

    I have some knowledge of the historical roles of central cities, but what is the role today, if any? The central city is certainly not the hub of transportation anymore, nor is it the commercial/retail center. There is very little manufacturing in the center. In Detroit, General Motors Tech is out on the 8 Mile Road, isn't it?

    So, what's left? Well, the City and County Complex is probably downtown, and the courts, thus offices full of lawyers. There may be a theater or two, but there are theaters elsewhere - outside the centers of cities, in Overland Park KS, for example..

    In the August 1992 issue of Planning magazine (APA) there was an article titled "Is downtown worth saving?" It didn't strike me that the answer contained therein was a resounding "yes". Oh there were some contributors to the article who used poetic language about the downtown being the essence of ethnic diversity, and the intellectual village of the 21st century. They thought, as to be expected, that downtown was worth saving, but they didn't, in my opinion, contribute much to the question: for what? ...
    Published on 21 Nov 2011 7:00 AM
    1. Architecture
    2. Economic Development
    3. Land Use and Zoning
    4. Urban Design
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    Maister writes:

    I once posted a thread about a local church with rather unique architecture that was up for sale and asked who but another church would be interested in re-using it (epilogue: another church bought it). Since that time I have encountered numerous examples of how churches (many of which had distinctive architecture) have been re-used in very clever and innovative ways.

    Churches are but one example of distinctive buildings/land uses. My question for you is what types of buildings/uses tend to be worst suited for re-use due to appearance, function, renovation cost or other factors (that, or stick out like a sore thumb when they are re-used)?

    See the responses here. ...
    Published on 18 Nov 2011 8:00 AM
    1. Land Use and Zoning
    2. Transportation
    3. Urban Design
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    by Dom Nozzi

    New urbanists point out that there are several different “lifestyle” choices that members of a community seek out, and that these choices generally correspond to various geographic locations within the community.

    What one finds in a community, generally, is that those seeking a more walkable, compact, higher-density, and sociable lifestyle tend to live in or near the community town center. Others seek a more “drivable” lifestyle which features lower densities, larger setbacks, homes separated from jobs and shops, and shorter buildings. This more spread out development pattern tends to be found in more remote locations.

    Areas, in other words, surrounding the more walkable, compact town center. ...
    Published on 18 Nov 2011 6:00 AM
    1. Practitioners and People
    2. Urban Design
    3. Governance and Regionalism
    4. Organizations
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    Urbanspace Gallery is a gallery in Toronto that features exhibitions and events that celebrate and analyze neighborhoods, public spaces, transportation systems including walking, governance ideas, and citizen participation. The gallery currently has an exhibit called "The Fourth Wall", which includes ideas from graphic designers about how to improve public meeting notices. (!) ...
    Published on 17 Nov 2011 8:00 AM
    1. Economic Development
    2. Housing
    3. Urban Design
    4. Governance and Regionalism
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    by Bryan Steckler

    1) Money: The amount of money you spend on transportation expenses relative to income increases with the number of cars you own. This is due to acquisition costs, fuel, and maintenance. This means that the farther away from your job you live (i.e. the more you spend on fuel and the more necessary multiple cars become) the less money you have to spend on other needs or to save. Mixed use zoning, transit oriented development, and high quality public transportation can reduce these costs. In addition to this, suburban housing is subsidized to an extent by the Federal Housing Administration and the loans it provides and guarantees towards single family homes, thus the true costs of suburban housing are hidden from the homeowners. These loans cannot be used to purchase residencies in multi-unit buildings and similar incentives are not available to renters. ...
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