This is the second in a series of three blog posts where I have provided my projections of development as they relate to: Master Planned Communities; Government’s Role in Development; New Urbanism; Transportation; and Homeownership.
So what is the “new economy”? The phrase has become main stream since the light bulb went off for the country when the “old economy” reached its pinnacle and came to a crash landing with the collapse of Wall Street. As the United States pulls itself out from our over-consumptive ways of the early 2000’s, we have struggled to come to grips with what is next for us.
New Urbanism: Over the past few months, I have heard statements about the “death of new urbanism”. I find this statement to be absolutely incorrect, and those who have made this statement did not have an understanding of the breadth of all that is encompassed within new urbanism. The misguided preconception of “new urbanism” may actually be dead. But that misguided preconception of new urbanism (the idea that it was the practice of Colonial architecture located without context of its greater region) is not at all what “new urbanism” is. I like to refer to the Charter of the New Urbanism and its principles, where an important principle that is often glazed over is “Architecture and landscape design should grow from local climate, topography, history, and building practice.”
Several aspects of the new urbanism are very much necessary to our society, as it requires a certain level of self-reliance, or sustainability, in the “new economy”. Infill will be greatly necessary, and ultimately to provide a resilient place, structures and the surrounding built environment will need to be adaptable and loveable, as stated by Architect and Urbanist Steve Mouzon in his book The Original Green.
Transportation: Many believe that there is a trigger point for gas prices in which our society becomes less dependent. Some say that it is $5 per gallon, others say that $4 per gallon, and yet just two days ago I heard $7 is the magic number. Personally, I’m not convinced that there is a trigger number. I believe that it is the prolonged effect that people eventually realize how much that they are spending that becomes the factor. I am a numbers person, so the calculations of how much of my time and income that get devoted to the automobile were the factor that changed my lifestyle and ultimately where I chose to live. Time was actually more of a factor than money for me. For more on my transportation realizations, read CNT Includes Transportation as a Variable for Measuring Affordability.
The New Economy 1 of 3; The New Economy 3 of 3
Considering the potential application of new urban retirement communities, one perplexing recent local example presents important lessons and opportunities. Infill project McKenzie Place occupies an important corner intersection close by many amenities. Challenges:sadly, the primary current buildings covered what was a fabulous urban forest in the center of the parcel, which could have been designed in as a stormwater retention area, nature feature, greenway connection to the nearby park, and default park destination for the location’s residents. It could have provided a gathering place, heat island reduction, recreation opportunity, and that vital ‘connection to nature’ that has proven health benefits. Besides, it’s expense to replace and create large trees and established ecosystems. Aside from that, the place is compact, but has limited exterior services available. It would benefit from a community garden, onsite and walkable entertainment and shopping service, and options beyond requiring driving for such an aged population. I guess it’s slightly offensive that they ignored and scraped a valuable natural asset in place of standard, sanitized landscapes providing little value.