The State of the City.. Walkability Has a Bright Future

If you can take one thing away from the State of the City address that was delivered by Mayor Jere Wood earlier this month, it is that walkablity has a bright future in Roswell.  It's refreshing to know that we have city leadership that for the most part understands that a focus on creating a more pedestrian friendly environment is critical to building a sustainable city.

The mayor hits on Old Town Roswell's status as one of the 27 existing Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) in the metro Atlanta and discusses building on our existing good bones in what he is referring to as Old Town Roswell which many may know as Historic Roswell.  Here are some of my favorite quotes...

For the past 60 years, we knew how development occurred...  There are no farms left, there is very little vacant land.  So we're looking for a new pattern. That growth is going to occur primarily in the hwy 9 corridor from HBR s to the river which includes Canton St.

For the purposes of this talk, I'm going to call that area Old Town Roswell.  Because it really is pretty much the boundaries of the city in 1854.  That's where you are going to see the growh in the future occur.  It's going to occur by converting old strip centers and old apartments into a walkable village.  A walkable village is someplace that you can easily walk to every where you go every day without getting in a car.

To be walkable, a community must be compact.  The residential and commercial uses must be next to each other not spread out and segregated as we have seen in the past. So this isn't your typical subdivision.  This is what you think of when you think of a village.

To be walkable, a community must be connected.  That connection is through a grid of streets, alleys and sidewalks.  Fortunately, that is what we have in Old Town Roswell.  We're gonna add to that grid.  It's totally different than what you have seen in the past which is a subdivision with cul-de-sacs and shopping centers that are not connected to their neighbors.  We're seeing a new development pattern.  Again, this is in Old Town Roswell and I don't see it going beyond that at this point in time.

We're going to grow by compact development within Old Town Roswell.  

There are a number of other great points in the video which every Roswell resident should watch.


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High Quality Trails Just Work...

I loved this StreetFilms video of the Cultural Trail that recently opened in Indianapolis.  It's a completely separate bicycle and pedestrian trail that connects Indianapolis' downtown amenities.  I immediately thought of how successful the Beltline Eastside Trail has been when I saw the traffic on this trail.  

We can and should build the Roswell Loop as soon as possible and also look to create as many path connections through the center of our city as possible.

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: The Next-Gen in U.S. Protected Bike Lanes from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

TIA2012 and the Beltline

The Beltline is perhaps the most transformational project our region has ever seen. Granted, the direct beneficiaries will be in the city of Atlanta. However, our region as a whole will benefit greatly from this development. Check out this video on TIA2012's impact on the Beltline.

Ponce City Market... Revitalizing a Neighborhood

I was a little premature posting this video last month. Jamestown had made a mistake and released it early. They promptly took the video down, leaving NUR readers disappointed. Well, they finally released it officially. So, I'm updating this post with the new link...

The Ponce City Market project is possibly the biggest non-transportation project going on in our region currently. When it is all said and done, it will be an amazing reuse of one of Atlanta's most iconic historic buildings. We are used to seeing great reuse of historic properties here in Roswell. However, all too often, we see old historic properties in Atlanta suffer from severe neglect and end up being bulldozed.

Jamestown Properties is renovating the old City Hall East/Sears Building into a huge mixed-use building in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward. There will be over 300k sq ft of retail, 400k sq ft of office and 250 residential units. I can't wait to see the finished product in early 2014. The video below is the best preview I have seen on what to expect...

Fire Truck Fire Truck.. Zoom Zoom Zoom...

This has to be the world's smallest fire truck. It looks ridiculous in the setting but could really be useful in areas with narrower streets. Much of the reasoning behind our neighborhood streets being so wide and thus speed inducing is due to the needs of fire and emergency vehicles.

In America, we have an obsession with large equipment that many parts of the world just don't have. This truck is in Ontario and probably serves its purpose for 99% of the emergencies it responds to. It's also a lot cheaper to buy, service and maintain and doesn't require as much asphalt (expensive) to get through a neighborhood.

If the Forsyth FD had one of these, they probably wouldn't have as much of a problem with the narrow streets in Vickery Village. Remember that many more people die in US each year due to high speeds on roads than due to fires in buildings.. just sayin..

ht: Chuck Mahron @ Strong Towns

Richard Florida from CNU20

I thought I would share this interesting excerpt from a Better Cities & Towns! article recapping a talk by Richard Florida from his plenery talk at CNU20 in West Palm Beach:

The urban/suburban debate is likewise false, he said. “Great communities and great neighborhoods pretty much look the same,” he said. They are human-scale, include a mix of uses, and are close to transit. “These are the kind of things that people desire, and it is not just in the urban core that you find them,” he said.

This about sums it up to me.  I am a die hard new urbanist and I live in a suburban city which may sound like a paradox.  However, what most people don't realize is that New urbanism isn't about skyscrapers and Manhattan like density.  It's about creating places where people actually want to be.  

Check out the whole talk below.

CNU Self Critique from CNU20

One of the reasons I love the Congress for the New Urbanism as an organization is its willingness to self-critique and learn from past mistakes. This video highlights thoughts on those mistakes. The last line in the video is from Andres Duany and pretty much calls out the political discourse in our society. It's worth a watch.

Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd on the Transit Vote

Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd makes an interesting point in the video below when he says;

The key to it is to let people understand what's at stake here. I heard someone say this last week: Who do you think is gonna be cheering when this doesn't pass on Aug. 1? Is it gonna be the tea party people? Is it gonna be those in South DeKalb? Is it gonna be those who think we're paying a penny and we don't want to pay any more? It's gonna be Charlotte, it's gonna be Dallas, it's gonna be Phoenix. It's gonna be everybody we compete with for jobs on a daily basis. They will know we've stepped back from the plate. They will know we are not willing to take the steps here to move this region forward.

Check out the whole clip below: