October 28, 2020

Cities Are Stronghold of Performance in Maelstrom of American Disarray

COLUMBUS, OH — In the year of Trump it’s plain that the United States is entering a new and reckless age. Our federal lawmakers neglect their constitutional duties to legislate in the public interest. Ideology and inflexibility, the gravest threats to a democracy, are elevated as virtues on the political right and political left. Random massacres occur with weekly frequency. Fear and distrust and racism and hate have been unleashed as mainstream attitudes. Where are …

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Newest New York Times Piece: University of Wisconsin’s East Campus Gateway

I’ve been writing for the New York Times since February 1981, covering all manner of people and places and events. Most recently, much of that work has focused on interesting real estate developments around the country. The latest article, featuring the University of Wisconsin’s work to construct a new entrance corridor on the east side of campus, was posted and published today: MADISON, Wis. — A century after it was first proposed, a broad pedestrian …

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About Those Suburbs and Cities

As the dimensions of the mortgage crisis both expand and get clearer, a new picture is emerging of a nation in pain that simultaneously is coming to new conclusions about what it means to be safe and secure in America. For the first time since post-war federal policy ganged up on cities to promote suburban expansion, cities are rebounding in remarkable ways and suburbs appear to have reached some kind of new limits to growth. …

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Geoff Anderson Takes Helm at Smart Growth America

Don Chen, the very sharp founding executive director of Smart Growth America, announced late last year that he was taking a position with the Ford Foundation. Interesting move for a canny advocate and non-profit executive with the sort of keen entrepreneurial instincts to take an eight-year-old organization from a Washington-based start-up to a national leader in new designs for development. Smart Growth America has a $2 million annual budget and a 10-member staff that includes …

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Developing Trouble in Suburbs

  Two reports from different suburbs across the country indicate new kinds of pain for homeowners and communities. The first, from North Carolina, describes the outbreak of violence, fear, and break-ins mounting in new suburbs north of Charlotte. Home foreclosures prompted by the subprime mortgage mess prompted owners — local and out-of-state — to abandon properties in what the Charlotte Observer called “starter” subdivisions, where homes generally are priced for less than $150,000. While downtown …

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What Is Selling? Homes Close To Transit

According to real estate listing services, there are nearly 41,000 homes for sale in Detroit and its three neighboring counties — Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. That’s more than twice as many homes on the market as in 2004, when the housing slump started in southeast Michigan. Moreover, it takes an average of six months to sell a house in metropolitan Detroit, and prices have slipped 15 percent to 3o percent, depending on where the home is …

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Blueprint for American Prosperity

  If you’ve had the chance to visit America’s big cities, you’ve no doubt noticed that almost without exception they’re pretty terrific places to be these days. The revival of America’s big city downtowns and neighborhoods, the development that’s occurring in the inner ring suburbs, all portend something very useful to the nation’s well being in this century. The prosperity that’s occurred in American cities represents one of the great achievements in the United States in the …

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$100 Barrel Oil Nears; Streetcars in Portland

  Two items caught my eye today. World oil prices reached $93 a barrel this week, which is why gasoline at the Wesco down the road is $3.07-a- gallon tonight. The other news is the announcement on Monday that city leaders in Oregon want to dramatically expand the number of neighborhoods served by Portland’s spectacularly successful streetcar. The two developments are related, of course, because as fuel prices rise the sanity and fuel-efficiency of streetcar lines makes ever …

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At Notre Dame, Coming of Age For Young New Urbanists

  I visited South Bend earlier this month to join a group of students from Notre Dame and several more of the nation’s best universities who held the first Congress of the Students for New Urbanism. The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, it turns out, was an apt choice for the gathering. Notre Dame reframed its architectural curriculum several decades ago to concentrate on traditional neighborhood and urban design, one of the few architectural schools to …

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Green Neighborhood Grant Act in Illinois

Illinois, our neighbor to the west, has been doing a lot of things right of late for its residents, environment, and economy. It makes a Michigan resident a bit jealous. The Center for Neighborhood Technology and Bethel New Life, for example, convinced the Chicago Transit Authority to rebuild rather than tear down the elevated Green Line in the 1990s, helping to promote the revival of the city’s West Side. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley turned a tree-planting campaign …

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