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#1 AndyN

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 11:02 AM

Is this stuff good or bad. Is it even really urbanism or just a big old dressed up shopping center?

Grafted off the Southlake Transit System thread.
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#2 Bernd

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 11:21 AM

My general feeling about it: it's just a big, outdoor shopping mall. The kids playing frisbee on the lawn aren't much different than the kids who hung out at the great malls of the 80s and 90s. The food court is a bit nicer, I guess.

As long as there's pretty much no way but car to get there, though, I don't think it qualifies as urbanism. How many people do you see riding their bicycles from the surrounding area to the "town square?"
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#3 Fort Worthology

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 12:16 PM

Suburban Urbanism/new town square - this question is in danger of being oversimplified. In reality, it's more complex:

If it's a whole new town done in traditional neighborhood development styles incorporating real mixed-use (offices, retail, civic, cultural/community, housing of many different varieties), then yes, it's real urbanism (see Seaside, Florida or Kentlands, Maryland for examples).

If it's just a "town square style" shopping outlet with no other uses, then no, it isn't (see countless examples).

If it's somewhere in between, then it's...something in between (I'd put Southlake Town Square here - they do have real mixed-uses including civic and housing but it's not quite diverse enough yet I think, and it's still got to contend with the mass of sprawl all around it).

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#4 Jim Wilson

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 12:34 PM

Benbrook has a "Town Center" planned.
It's why the "Texas turn-around" was created at I-820 & Winscott Rd.
The "Town Center" will have access from the frontage road and a Mercedes Rd extension.

It's said it will have restaurants, shops, offices, a library and, perhaps, city hall.
Housing? I don't think so, although it's just on the north side of existing housing.

The good news, bicycle routes/lanes are already planned to bring folks in from Mercedes Rd.
The idea - Benbrook Town Center can be a destination for local cyclists,
a place to stop after riding west from Ft Worth to Lake Benbrook and beyond.
Additionally, Benbrook citizens will be able to easily cycle to the shops/restaurants/library too.

True "Suburban Urbanism", maybe not, but hey it's still a small town...
... and they're addressing cycling access, too.

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#5 Keller Pirate

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 01:04 PM

Why not rate developments on the 13 elements of "New Urbanism?" We could see how suburban projects stand up to urban ones.

#6 Sam Stone

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 02:20 PM

Good idea, KP. Here they are:

1) The neighborhood has a discernible center. This is often a square or a green and sometimes a busy or memorable street corner. A transit stop would be located at this center.

2) Most of the dwellings are within a five-minute walk of the center, an average of roughly 2,000 feet.

3) There are a variety of dwelling types — usually houses, rowhouses and apartments — so that younger and older people, singles and families, the poor and the wealthy may find places to live.

4) At the edge of the neighborhood, there are shops and offices of sufficiently varied types to supply the weekly needs of a household.

5) A small ancillary building is permitted within the backyard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (e.g., office or craft workshop).

6) An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.

7) There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling -- not more than a tenth of a mile away.

8) Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.

9) The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.

10) Buildings in the neighborhood center are placed close to the street, creating a well-defined outdoor room.

11) Parking lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Parking is relegated to the rear of buildings, usually accessed by alleys.

12) Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighborhood center are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites for community meetings, education, and religious or cultural activities.

13) The neighborhood is organized to be self-governing. A formal association debates and decides matters of maintenance, security, and physical change. Taxation is the responsibility of the larger community.

#7 bhudson

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 03:52 PM

This is not a competition of who can be "more urban".

It is a game of economic development.

Fort Worth is trying to spur economic development while also solving a financial inability to build sprawl-infrastructure. Sprawlfrastructure? Infrasprawlture perhaps? There needs to be a word. Redevelopment/new-urbanism is the popular rock to kill two birds.

Southlake cares only about economic development, they don't face Fort Worth's infrastructure problems (yet). Since new urbanism is popular, they stole some ideas from it. What they are doing is pure economic development, they're not trying to be properly urban. They're just capturing popular stylistic bits and pieces. But STC (with office space, pedestrian friendly retail, large - and well used - open spaces, local govt at the center, and the beginnings of residential) is a really good, big piece.

If the success of the W 7th redevelopment in any way resembles that of STC, then Fort Worth is a winner financially. And because of the location and proximity to varied residential demographics, we can call it urbanism and the geeks get to smile, too. As a Fort Worth fan, I hope it is a success, because for those keeping economic development score, Southlake is kicking everyone's tail.

QUOTE (Bernd @ Jan 14 2008, 11:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...it's just a big, outdoor shopping mall. The kids playing frisbee on the lawn aren't much different than the kids who hung out at the great malls of the 80s and 90s...


Mental note to self: At Newby park, kids playing frisbee is top-notch New Urbanism. At Southlake, it is the same as being at a mall. Southlake=Arlington circa 1985. Got it.

#8 Keller Pirate

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 11:14 PM

How do you define Urban?

#9 cbellomy

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 12:00 AM

QUOTE (bhudson @ Jan 14 2008, 03:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Southlake cares only about economic development, they don't face Fort Worth's infrastructure problems (yet).


I've driven through Southlake at rush hour.

I'd say they have FW's infrastructure problems already, only worse. Worse still, the town was specifically designed never to solve their biggest infrastructure problem.

This is why Fort Worth will succeed while Southlake quietly rots, tomorrow's Richardson crumbling while the hardcore suburbanites move to Argyle and Justin. That's the problem with these suburban developments: they have to sell their units of Bay City Rollers records today, while the urban centers will have Dark Side of the Moon on the charts forever. Suburbs, by their very purpose and design, cannot sustain success for long. There will always be some fashionable new 'burb that has more flash than the city it neighbors, but unless the city is Detroit, the city will always persevere. The suburb rarely will.



#10 bhudson

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 01:03 AM

QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jan 15 2008, 12:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've driven through Southlake at rush hour.

I'd say they have FW's infrastructure problems already, only worse...


To clarify: my claim is that Fort Worth's infrastructure problem is a lack of funds or ideas, not traffic. Snarling traffic is a solvable problem for Southlake. Southlake at this point can afford roads, and they have the leverage to make toll roads happen. Doesn't matter which. The folks moving there will be happy to pay, if necessary, for the time being.


QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jan 15 2008, 12:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Worse still, the town was specifically designed never to solve their biggest infrastructure problem.


The town was specifically designed never to solve their biggest infrastructure problem. I'm often dense. Could you elaborate on what you mean?

Look. I'm a Fort Worth fan. I'm a Fort Worth resident. I grew up here, went away for school and work for some time but I made my way back here and I'm here to stay. My wife is from here, and she is beginning a career in real estate here. I'm a Fort Worth homer. I believe in Fort Worth and I want it to be the best it can be. But to sit around and make statements like 'Southlake sucks, FW rules' is non-constructive. Especially in light of the fact that people and businesses are flocking there.


#11 bhudson

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 01:11 AM

QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jan 15 2008, 12:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That's the problem with these suburban developments: they have to sell their units of Bay City Rollers records today, while the urban centers will have Dark Side of the Moon on the charts forever. Suburbs, by their very purpose and design, cannot sustain success for long.


To take your analogy further: What if Southlake is not a bunch of dang kids? What if Southlake is not the Bay City Rollers? What if they are Radiohead, Guided by Voices, or ?? ? The last great bands weren't necessarily formed in past. Same with cities. It is possible that the great urban places haven't been established yet.

Galveston was once the biggest and most urban city in Texas. What did that get them? A historical footnote. Just like Wham!.


#12 dustin

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 09:54 AM

I dont think this was ever a "Southlake sucks" arguement. My whole point was I hate these Faux urban developments that get built in super rich neighborhoods and are heralded as the bastions of New Urbanism. Southlake Town Center is what it is, a development put in to spur economic growth (ie property values). There is nothing urban about places like Southlake. There is no consideration for anything other than creating a central shopping district with some green spaces and an outdoor theater. The biggest problem I have is the housing, half a million dollar homes for miles in every direction. And the types of the homes are NOT urban friendly, ie. deep set backs, few or no sidewalks, big fat garages, suburban road design, everything about it is car friendly. The worst part about it is that the suburban mentality is already established, so the NIMBY attitude is likely to fend off true public transportation, affordable housing, and diverse school systems. Unfortunately, that is a recipe for a suburb with a nice shopping center.

QUOTE
it's real urbanism (see Seaside, Florida or Kentlands, Maryland for examples)


I actually have a problem with these types of developments as well. While they adhere technically to the tenets of New Urbanism, they are a far cry from the intentions of the principles. Mainly when you look at Seaside and take a look at the real estate prices: there isn't a 1 bedroom house/condo/residence in the entire project that is selling for less than $1 million. I might be missing the whole idea of New Urbanism, but I was under the impression that the principles were developed as a reaction to suburban failings. One of those being the social isolation that suburbs afforded, separating the classes into distinct neighborhoods in which ideas became insular. Places like Seaside are wonderful tourist attractions and great in theory, however it also strikes me as highly suburban in its make-up. It seems as though Fairmount and Magnolia Ave, is a much more successful depiction of New Urbanism. There is a wide variety of housing, close schools within walking distance, restaurants within walking distance, and with the further development of Magnolia and 8th, there stands to be a variety of office spaces.

#13 Tacoma

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 04:30 PM

I think Southlake gets a bad rap, but I don't think its fair. Look at Westover Hills. That area doesn't have 1/8-1/4 acres lots for all homeowners and all it really does is push development further west from downtown. Those people aren't walking anywhere for their necessities or entertainment. Why? Because they're rich and they want land. But that isn't considered suburban because its not technically a suburb. In fact, I would bet most people really enjoy Westover Hills, probably due to the unique houses and age of the area.

So isn't Southlake sort of a new, further out version of Westover Hills? When WH started up, I'm sure it seemed like it was far from downtown.

But isn't the Magnolia area also a suburban area? The fact that it has houses instead of tall buildings forcing people up instead of out, causes it to push people even further south of downtown. Doesn't that exacerbate the problem? Its not a suburb because it was here first so its close to downtown, but the next "magnolia" area (or suburban development of houses) had to go further out. Isn't every area that isn't super dense causing people to move further away? Should everybody be forced to live in a multi-family unit? What if somebody has horses but works in downtown. They may want two acres so their horses can be close. Should they be relegated to Midlothian and nowhere in between because they are part of the escapist crowd trying to avoid people? Should we say that everything inside 820 is going to be uber dense living?

Isn't a 1/8 acre lot in Magnolia causing a problem because instead of a house, there could be a multi-family housing unit that allows eight people to live in the same area, thus increasing the need for other developments? Every acre that is not densely designed is pushing people further away and necessitating the need for a vehicle. Until we have density that equals that of places that have well established mass transit, there will continue to be people living on one acre lots and people will continue to move further out, not to avoid people, but because they want a piece of land that they can do something with. But that means the next person will have to go out past their land, just like the first development that went in south of the Magnolia area.

Fort Worth and dallas are growing fast enough (and will grow large enough) to give us the need for mass transit and more dense development. But shouldn't we focus on the areas that are ripe for density and let the suburbs do what they want? I don't want to be forced to live in a certain area. I enjoy the housing options that are close to downtown, but I can certainly understand why somebody who can only afford a $110K house isn't going to buy a fixer upper near the urban core when they can buy a nice new house up near Texas Motor Speedway, or out in Aledo. I think we should focus on the areas that are ripe for density and hope the "suburbanism" places will inspire many others to desire this type of lifestyle, causing them to move to dense areas once they leave their parents homes. Maybe even the parents will move after the kids are gone.


#14 cbellomy

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 04:48 PM

QUOTE (bhudson @ Jan 15 2008, 01:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The town was specifically designed never to solve their biggest infrastructure problem. I'm often dense. Could you elaborate on what you mean?


Southlake, like any other recent vintage Texas suburb, was designed for the automobile to be not only the primary method of transportation, but the only method of transportation. STS at first seems like a step away from that, except that the residential isn't actually mixed with the retail in any meaningful way. They still expect people to arrive there by car.

Further, upscale 'burbs like Southlake typically resist joining regional transportation authorities like DART or the T because they fear making their towns easily accessible to poor people who otherwise couldn't get there. Well, partially for that reason -- mostly, I admit, because they don't want to pay for buses they'll never ride. (Arlington is the real culprit of the first reason, which is embarrassing to the point of absurdity at this point, with its population being nearly what FW's was when I was a kid.)

In short, Southlake's entire brand is built on not being an urban center, not offering mass transit of any sort, not encouraging urban diversity or urban streetlife. It is designed to choke on its own traffic, which it is, and its cachet will diminish and its residents will flee further northwest to escape all the people. At that point, Southlake will be modern-day Plano, a shadow of its former self. Meanwhile, Dallas and Fort Worth proper will still be chugging along, not much flash but a lot of substance.

#15 cbellomy

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 04:59 PM

QUOTE (Tacoma @ Jan 15 2008, 04:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Fort Worth and dallas are growing fast enough (and will grow large enough) to give us the need for mass transit and more dense development. But shouldn't we focus on the areas that are ripe for density and let the suburbs do what they want?


When they pay for their own highways, account for the pollution they generate, and stop rotting into utterly soulless slums... sure, then we should let them do what they want.

As long as I have to pay to make their wastefulness possible, though, I'm going to speak out against them. Sorry.

#16 Keller Pirate

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 06:19 PM

We are getting off the topic again and back to the old Ft Worth vs anybody else. In the past few posts we have been told New Urbanism in Ft Worth = good, New Urbanism in Southlake = stole the idea.

Once again forum members xeonphobic tendencies come out.

I would say Southlake doesn't have any infrastructure problems at all. I too, have driven through Southlake at rush hour and it can't compare to almost anyplace in Ft Worth. Chris, Ft Worth is the king of sprawl in North Texas and a leader in the nation. It is way down the list of cities in Tarrant County as far as density goes.

What wastefullness are You paying for in Southlake? Ft Worth is the city built for cars and I don't think they can overcome it with a thousand New Urbanist developments. The pollution created by the vehicles of 600,000+ residents of Ft Worth can't be overcome by a couple of nice developments on 7th street or rehabbing Magnolia avenue.

If New Urbanism is good, it is good for everybody, not just Ft Worth.

#17 tjh1

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 07:00 PM

QUOTE (Keller Pirate @ Jan 15 2008, 06:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It is way down the list of cities in Tarrant County as far as density goes.


I would imagine FW's reported population density is a little off considering the large amount of undeveloped land that still exists throughout the city limits.

#18 dustin

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 08:10 PM

QUOTE
If New Urbanism is good, it is good for everybody, not just Ft Worth


I agree. But STS is a suburban stripmall with some office space above, I just don't believe that it qualifies as new urbanism. It isnt a question about whether or not FW is better or not or whether development in FW is good and everywhere else is bad, but it is the fundamental question of what is urban. I just dont see the Southlake developments and those like it as being anything fundamentally different than a dressed up suburban development.

In terms of density, I cant believe there is a dispute about whether the FW developments have a higher density than the suburban developments in question.

#19 bhudson

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 10:03 PM

This topic has been addressed a few times, usually it get spawned in an unrelated thread and quickly derails and ruins it. At least now it has its own thread. So that is kind of a victory for the forum, I guess.

It starts out as an intelligent discussion, but rapidly devolves into some variant of Southlake sucks. Suburbia sucks. Cars suck. And highways suck. No one ever changes anyone's mind. New Urbanism is like a religion and everyone else is the unwashed masses.

Oh, you don't like paying for my highways? Well hey, guess what, I don't like paying for your TIFs. I don't like my taxes going to your developer incentives. I don't like paying my full property tax bill while revitalization is induced with property value freezes. Do you think developers are building your new urbanism utopia out of the goodness of their heart? They're not. Do you think they are building it for the stampede of people beating the doors down? No. They are hoping to "build it and they will come". With everyone's money.

#20 Tacoma

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 10:04 PM

Dustin, STS also has residential and now access to the grocery store. Doesn't that help make it fit into the New Urbanism realm? I'm not sure, but maybe Kevin can give us a final decision.

I agree with Keller Pirate's view of the inconsistency of what is an appropriate place for a New Urbanism development. If STS was in Arlington would it be ok? What about southwest FW? Where is an appropriate place to put one of these developments? From what I've read on the forum, it appears that Southlake could convert the entire city into a mixed use development with light rail with access to the TRE and it would be slammed for being too contrived.

I'm interested in seeing some of these mixed use developments around the train stations along the TRE in Richland Hills and Hurst. A development that provided retail, office space, and residential could possibly be done in a way that is still affordable for young professionals. It might also provide a reason for the TRE to run later hours if partygoers could take the TRE back home to one of these stops.

Would this be an appropriate suburban project?




#21 cbellomy

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 10:07 PM

QUOTE (Keller Pirate @ Jan 15 2008, 06:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What wastefullness are You paying for in Southlake?


I'm paying for highway capacity to get there -- or, more appropriately, for Southlakers to get here. (Or to Dallas.)

I'm paying for air pollution abatement due to the extra car miles logged by the suburban commutes.

I will end up paying to subsidize the CISD when their tax base craters due to the next wave of suburban flight.

There's three, for starters.

QUOTE
Ft Worth is the city built for cars and I don't think they can overcome it with a thousand New Urbanist developments.


Fort Worth certainly has problems of its own, but it wasn't built entirely for cars. South of 28th, west of Beach, north of Berry and east of Merrick, the city was built largely for streetcars. Further, Fort Worth has a bus system. Southlake doesn't, and won't.

QUOTE
The pollution created by the vehicles of 600,000+ residents of Ft Worth can't be overcome by a couple of nice developments on 7th street or rehabbing Magnolia avenue.


You're right, but they are starts. Moving to streetcars and light rail will help more. More urban sprawl will hurt.

QUOTE
If New Urbanism is good, it is good for everybody, not just Ft Worth.


Agreed, but there is no true New Urbanism in Southlake. There's an outdoor mall that resembles a movie set version of a downtown, but that's not New Urbanism.

To be honest, KP, I would love nothing better than for suburban sprawl to stop and for Southlake to stay more or less as it is indefinitely. It's the tendency of suburbs to be replaced by newer suburbs and rot that troubles me most. See Plano. See Sharpstown. Etc. It's nothing specific to Southlake.



#22 Sam Stone

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 07:13 AM

bhudson, you have some good points, but I think it's important to understand things in historical context.

Until the early 20th century, there was a very sharp division between urban and rural. This was due to prevailing methods of transportation. Between the early 20th century to WWII, an early type of suburbanization was common. These were the streetcar suburbs. Many of FW's older neighborhoods were originally streetcar suburbs. The great depression and WWII resulted in an almost 20 year period where very little new housing was built, resulting in a shortage when the war was over. The federal government began to subsidize home ownership on a massive scale through mortgage guarantees and backing the secondary mortgage market. The federal government also began the Interstate highway program and this was bolstered by state money as well. At the same time, the federal government also provided money to master developers for "slum clearance." This entailed demolishing old buildings in the city core with the promise that new "modern" buildings would replace them, whether the promise was fulfilled or not. Gas was also very cheap during much of this period. The result of all of these factors was the movement out to suburbia that we're all familiar with. The point is that the post war suburban way of life is, itself, heavily subsidized. And as mentioned in some of the above posts, suburbia is not without its negative externalities.

#23 ramjet

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 08:18 AM

QUOTE (Sam Stone @ Jan 16 2008, 07:13 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
bhudson, you have some good points, but I think it's important to understand things in historical context.

Until the early 20th century, there was a very sharp division between urban and rural. This was due to prevailing methods of transportation. Between the early 20th century to WWII, an early type of suburbanization was common. These were the streetcar suburbs. Many of FW's older neighborhoods were originally streetcar suburbs. The great depression and WWII resulted in an almost 20 year period where very little new housing was built, resulting in a shortage when the war was over. The federal government began to subsidize home ownership on a massive scale through mortgage guarantees and backing the secondary mortgage market. The federal government also began the Interstate highway program and this was bolstered by state money as well. At the same time, the federal government also provided money to master developers for "slum clearance." This entailed demolishing old buildings in the city core with the promise that new "modern" buildings would replace them, whether the promise was fulfilled or not. Gas was also very cheap during much of this period. The result of all of these factors was the movement out to suburbia that we're all familiar with. The point is that the post war suburban way of life is, itself, heavily subsidized. And as mentioned in some of the above posts, suburbia is not without its negative externalities.


Great post. Very interesting. Just to throw in the mix - I wonder what effect soaring gas prices will have on where people choose to live in the future. I'm guessing that paying $5 or $6 a gallon for gas as some are predicting may force some folks to move in closer to where they work. Living in Southlake and working in Dallas, for example, may not be economically viable anymore - even for the upper middle class.

#24 JBB

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 08:25 AM

I'm sure the same thing was said when gas was south of $1.50. "Boy, I bet $3 gas will really change the way people live." Other than borrowing themselves to the poor house, has it?

#25 hannerhan

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 08:34 AM

QUOTE (JBB @ Jan 16 2008, 10:25 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm sure the same thing was said when gas was south of $1.50. "Boy, I bet $3 gas will really change the way people live." Other than borrowing themselves to the poor house, has it?


Good point, but at some level people really will change their habits. I for one don't have a problem with high gas prices, because I think they are going to be necessary to spur more alternative energy development (plus I live 3 miles from the office).

I don't know what the level is, but I think with gas at $5 per gallon we would really start seeing a lot more carpooling, people focusing on living closer to work, lots more talk of mass transportation options, etc. And it can't just be high for a few months...needs to last a few years so people resign themselves to the fact that it will be that way forever and that they need to stop spending so much on gas.



#26 bhudson

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 09:18 AM

QUOTE (Sam Stone @ Jan 16 2008, 07:13 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
bhudson, you have some good points, but I think it's important to understand things in historical context.

Until the early 20th century, there was a very sharp division between urban and rural. This was due to prevailing methods of transportation. Between the early 20th century to WWII, an early type of suburbanization was common. These were the streetcar suburbs. Many of FW's older neighborhoods were originally streetcar suburbs. The great depression and WWII resulted in an almost 20 year period where very little new housing was built, resulting in a shortage when the war was over. The federal government began to subsidize home ownership on a massive scale through mortgage guarantees and backing the secondary mortgage market. The federal government also began the Interstate highway program and this was bolstered by state money as well. At the same time, the federal government also provided money to master developers for "slum clearance." This entailed demolishing old buildings in the city core with the promise that new "modern" buildings would replace them, whether the promise was fulfilled or not. Gas was also very cheap during much of this period. The result of all of these factors was the movement out to suburbia that we're all familiar with. The point is that the post war suburban way of life is, itself, heavily subsidized. And as mentioned in some of the above posts, suburbia is not without its negative externalities.


Thanks, but I'm already aware of the background. I have a lot of opinions on this topic, and some of them aren't fit for forum consumption. I'm not pro-suburbia, I understand the basics of both sides of this complicated topic, and I'm actually fairly neutral. I am excited about the goals of the revitalization of FW's core. The point of my post was to counter this statement:

QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jan 15 2008, 04:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
When they pay for their own highways, account for the pollution they generate, and stop rotting into utterly soulless slums... sure, then we should let them do what they want.

As long as I have to pay to make their wastefulness possible, though, I'm going to speak out against them. Sorry.


Unless I'm mistaken, cbellomy implies "Sprawl/suburbia is subsidized and Urban Revitalization/New Urbanism in Fort Worth is not", which is very wrong, as they both are subsidized, in a sense, by everyone.

I guess since it is not directly stated, it's possible that cbellomy understands that UR/NU is subsidized... in which case he is essentially saying "I shouldn't have to pay for your sprawl, but everyone should pay for NU/UR". Which is where this subject always devolves to. At this point we're back to NU/UR being a religion: "It is so obvious you are wrong and I am right, why can't you just see it?".

#27 dustin

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 09:34 AM

I am going to go out on a limb here and add one other aspect of why I despise suburban growth. I touched on it before but I think it bears some further addressing. One of the worst parts of suburbanism, apart from the economic issues, are the social issues. In the last 50 years social organization has plummeted. Things like fraternal organizations, social clubs, and even just plain old public discourse have disappeared since the migration out to the suburbs. Granted there can be many explanations to this other than merely moving out to the outlying areas of a city, but I think that suburban growth has a lot to do with it. Look at what has happened:

First the economic stratification...In suburbs, very rarely do you find neighborhoods with diverse economic backgrounds. They are all approximately of the same class status and wealth. Neighborhood associations make sure of it. In this case, you have groups of people in which all are most likely to have similar perspectives on things. Their kids all go to school with kids of the same economic background often with limited ethnic diversity.

Next is the commute to work...a 20-45+ minute commute to work alone in a car isn't going to give you a whole lot of opportunity to have a dialogue with others. People sit in their cars, alone. Not that alone time isnt a good thing, but every day for over an hour can be pretty numbing. Sure you can listen to talk radio or NPR, but then you are being talked to and not with.

Finally, in the automotive driven world with the big front lawns and the huge driveways, even your neighborhood interaction becomes limited. One of the reason New Urbanism makes a point of parking in the rear of the house and positioning the house closer to the street, is to provide the opportunity to interact with the people walking by the house. In the suburbs, you might wave at the neighbor driving by or have a little chat with your next door neighbor (assuming you are feuding with him for his pink flamingos), but how many people is it likely that you are going to talk to.

Granted there are other major factors to be considered, but I think that suburban life is dangerously insulated. There are plenty of medical studies that show that being around people is a positive factor in mental health. I know there isnt going to be spirited debate on the subway during the morning commute, or walking to get your dry cleaning, but you would be surprised how much you can pick up by just being around different types of people. In schools, the suburban school districts can tout how they sent off x amount of kids to ivy league schools, but they go have no understanding of what it is like for poor people or have horrible stereotypes of minorities.

I know that the developers building on 7th and other places around FW are out to make money, but the thing is that the planners at city hall recognize the net benefit (both economic and social) of this type of urban growth and have changed a lot of the zoning to encourage that kind of development. One just hopes that the consideration for economic diversity is addressed and too much gentrification is avoided.

#28 cberen1

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 09:51 AM

The question of the impact of gas prices on consumer behavior is pretty close to my work. Our research indicates the $3 gas changes people's behavior only in the long-term. Someone might trade in their car a little sooner than they normally would have and will probably select something that gets better mileage than their current vehicle. They're a little less likely to buy a new house more than roughly 30 minutes from work, but are unlikely to move just to shorten the commute. Essentially they will try to absorb it in the short-run.

The average Texan puts about 12,000 miles per year on his/her car. If you guess that average commuting mpg is 20, and gas averaged about $3 / gal, then the average consumer spent about $1,800 on gas in 2007, $150 per month.

At $5/gal the average cost is about $250 / month for gas. We expect people to make more abrupt changes to their commuting situation. People will trade in inefficient vehicles more quickly. They are also somewhat more likely to try to find jobs closer to home or to move.

In the short-run, the comment about credit appears accurate to us, so far. People will just borrow it on their credit cards with no real plan for changing spending patterns.

It will take a long time for for gas prices to cause migration to the city center. The people who can not afford the gas to commute, also can't afford the higher home prices closer to downtown. If alternative fuel vehicles hit the market quickly enough, there may be no change to the sprawl pattern as a result of fuel prices. Lifestyle reasons are more likely to drive that migration in my opinion.

#29 bhudson

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 10:05 AM

QUOTE (dustin @ Jan 16 2008, 09:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
One just hopes that the consideration for economic diversity is addressed and too much gentrification is avoided.


Hmm. Perhaps you should go price a house in the areas where revitalization is active. Not a rental. Something to own. For a family. Exclude Fairmount where the number of rentals, state of neglect, and outrageously restrictive rules have suppressed prices. Why don't you price Ryan Place. Mistletoe. Berkeley. Monticello. Arlington Heights... The newer multi-family units along Henderson and 7th that I've looked at are expensive as well. I don't really know whether it is gentrification or probably the fact that these areas were always expensive, but these areas are currently priced out of range of the average family. When looking at the bottom line, the average family really has no choice but to go further out and commute (and hopefully aspire).

I don't really see your concern being addressed with current & future developments. If everything goes as planned, property values should continue to rise, Fairmount included. In fact, that is the GOAL. As far as families go, the only economic stratification this area will see is a mix of upper-middle class and upper class.


#30 dustin

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 11:58 AM

Going up to what JBB said, $3 gas is putting a crunch on alot of those people that moved out to the burbs to buy a house. The economy is slowing (consumer price index numbers are released today i think, which will give us a better idea) and many believe it is both a direct affect of the credit crunch as well as the financial burden of rising gas prices. The numbers are showing that people haven't started driving less, but that just means that they are cutting back in other areas.

I know there is going to be periods where these developments are expensive and drive prices up, but we will hopefully reach a saturation, in which there are options at every level. There might not be the opportunity for everyone to own a 2500 sq ft. house/loft in the downtown area, but there will be affordable rental options as well as condos that are affordable (the T&P lofts have lofts that are in the $100s). That is the thing that is happening with the subprime meltdown, people are buying out of their means. If you cant afford to buy a house, then perhaps renting and saving is the best option. When gas prices reach $4 a gal. as everyone is predicting, that commute into town is going to put a serious strain on everyone that barely could afford their mortgage anyway. In the greater Downtown area, there are already projects in the works that would add affordable housing to those that need it (the T&P warehouse, Race Street, and the Cats Stadium development).

I should clarify one thing, I am not saying that these developments should be the second coming of the projects, just a little more economically diverse. The STS development's housing options are all over $500k. That isnt very diverse at all.



#31 Matt615

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 12:30 PM

QUOTE (cberen1 @ Jan 16 2008, 09:51 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The average Texan puts about 12,000 miles per year on his/her car.


Really, I would have guessed higher in Texas?



#32 Sam Stone

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 12:32 PM

Higher gas prices won't just affect the money we spend on commuting. Everything we buy is shipped by truck using gas, so consumer prices will go up as well. Not to mention how many products we use in our daily lives that are derived from petroleum. Also, I suspect that two income households do not have the same ability to move closer to where they work. The effect of all these things together has the potential to strain the economy. Cberen1, does your research explore these things, too?

#33 Matt615

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 12:45 PM

QUOTE (dustin @ Jan 16 2008, 11:58 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There might not be the opportunity for everyone to own a 2500 sq ft. house/loft in the downtown area, but there will be affordable rental options as well as condos that are affordable (the T&P lofts have lofts that are in the $100s).


$150K for 566 sqft PLUS $215 a month in HOA, so you are still looking at close to $300 a square foot. Westview has units for $170K that are nearly double in size at 1013 sqft PLUS #245 a month HOA. Both of these reflect price DROPS in the past few months. Are other projects Montgomery Plaza, So7, etc.. dropping prices too?

#34 bhudson

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 02:06 PM

QUOTE (dustin @ Jan 16 2008, 11:58 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There might not be the opportunity for everyone to own a 2500 sq ft. house/loft in the downtown area, but there will be affordable rental options as well as condos that are affordable (the T&P lofts have lofts that are in the $100s). That is the thing that is happening with the subprime meltdown, people are buying out of their means. If you cant afford to buy a house, then perhaps renting and saving is the best option.


As far as the T&P goes, you are not really telling the truth. As Matt said, in the price range you are talking about, you will get a TINY 1 bedroom. 6-8 weeks ago, my wife and I visited, and were quoted 285,500 for a 2/2. If I remember right, it was around 1500 sq ft. I think we can agree that in the big picture, there is no bulk supply of affordable housing, close-in, realistic for raising a family.

"If you can't afford to buy a house..."? Folks fleeing to suburbia can afford a house. That fact always gets lost in this discussion. Are you asking someone to live close in and rent expensively, save up money, and pay more than they can afford on an old small house? Compared to the alternative of buying something newer, bigger, and more affordable (NOW!) in Keller or Crowley? If we're going to have an impact on sprawl, we have to have legit options and/or change America's definition of the American Dream. We can't just sit here confounded at why people continue to flee to the suburbs. It is very obvious. All you have to do is look at it from their perspective, and the perspective of their budget.

And here's a shocker. Redevelopment of FW's core ironically might exacerbate the problem. Although we might be adding some young professional housing to the core, in the grand scheme isn't the goal to cultivate taxable footage and per/ft assessed values? What is the result of that? Could it possibly push the boundary of affordability further out?


#35 cbellomy

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 04:44 PM

bhudson, I understand that the in-fill dense development happening now in FW is, to some extent, subsidized, but at issue is subsidizing development that is sustainable versus sustaining that which is not. Continually adding pollutants to the air, continually adding rings of suburbs to our sprawl -- these things are not sustainable, and as such they add recurring costs for everyone else to bear which dense urban development does not.

That's the rub.



#36 bhudson

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 05:29 PM

QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jan 16 2008, 04:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
bhudson, I understand that the in-fill dense development happening now in FW is, to some extent, subsidized, but at issue is subsidizing development that is sustainable versus sustaining that which is not. Continually adding pollutants to the air, continually adding rings of suburbs to our sprawl -- these things are not sustainable, and as such they add recurring costs for everyone else to bear which dense urban development does not.

That's the rub.


Well, I can't really disagree with the point that adding rings of suburbs contributes to pollution (and energy consumption... and on and on and on). I accept that.

But if anyone believes that spending precious public resources on urban revitalization will stop it, I've got some oceanfront property I'd love to get off my hands. Stopping the growth of suburbs will require the addition of massive amounts of affordable close-in, housing units. Of any kind. And it will require a major shift in the philosophy of the average American. It is not realistic that either will happen. And let's be real, the goal in all this is economic development, anyway.

The reality is we're adding precious few housing units. What is being added is generally high-end boutique housing, and it is not even a blip compared to the growth of the suburbs. And even if you could ramp up the addition of close in housing, you're limited by space (and therefore economics). In the big picture, we're not bringing people in, we're just reorganizing people and stratifying wealth radially out from the city center.

#37 cbellomy

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 07:48 PM

QUOTE (bhudson @ Jan 16 2008, 05:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But if anyone believes that spending precious public resources on urban revitalization will stop it, I've got some oceanfront property I'd love to get off my hands. Stopping the growth of suburbs will require the addition of massive amounts of affordable close-in, housing units. Of any kind. And it will require a major shift in the philosophy of the average American. It is not realistic that either will happen.


Both are happening already, in various places around the country. American habits can turn on a dime when necessary. The economics, both micro and macro, of suburban sprawl dictate that our least dense cities adapt. And slowly, they are.



#38 Keller Pirate

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 10:06 PM

Can anyone define sustainable?

#39 mosteijn

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 10:32 PM

QUOTE (Keller Pirate @ Jan 15 2008, 06:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In the past few posts we have been told New Urbanism in Ft Worth = good, New Urbanism in Southlake = stole the idea.


I don't think it's really fair to dumb down those individual's arguments like that. Maybe we're reading different posts, but it didn't sound like anyone accused Southlake of "stealing" Fort Worth's New Urbanism. If anything, I feel that the argument that is trying to be put forward is that Fort Worth's New Urbanism actually works in an urban context, whereas Southlake's brand of NU just doesn't.

QUOTE (Tacoma @ Jan 15 2008, 10:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
From what I've read on the forum, it appears that Southlake could convert the entire city into a mixed use development with light rail with access to the TRE and it would be slammed for being too contrived.


That also doesn't strike me as a very accurate assumption. At least to me, the "contrived" part of Southlake isn't so much the fact that it's in Southlake (although it does make sense that proponents of FW urban development would view competition from suburbs IN GENERAL in a negative light), it's the fact that the development is so unsympathetic to its surroundings. When you boil it down, it really does function just the same as a dressed up strip mall with the parking and building locations flipped. You can put as much support retail and residential adjacent to the development as you want, but as long as you don't integrate everything in a cohesive, aesthetically pleasing manner, it's feels contrived.

QUOTE (Tacoma @ Jan 15 2008, 10:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm interested in seeing some of these mixed use developments around the train stations along the TRE in Richland Hills and Hurst. A development that provided retail, office space, and residential could possibly be done in a way that is still affordable for young professionals. It might also provide a reason for the TRE to run later hours if partygoers could take the TRE back home to one of these stops.

Would this be an appropriate suburban project?


As long as it was integrated into the community effectively, yeah, it does sounds like a great project. If you're wondering why that hasn't happened yet, it's mainly because suburban commuter rail (like the TRE) isn't really designed to spur economic development. Something about infrequent service/station spacing. Its purpose is to get people to their jobs who live in more spread out areas further from employment centers. It definitely wouldn't hurt to have something besides parking sitting next to these stations, though. wink.gif

#40 cbellomy

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 10:36 PM

QUOTE (Keller Pirate @ Jan 16 2008, 10:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Can anyone define sustainable?


In this case, sustainable means that you have an urban plan that provides basic, necessary infrastructure for its inhabitants, self-supported by its inhabitants. Southlake (for one example) may be sustainable if sprawl, currently a constant, stops; but continued sprawl itself is not sustainable.

If you want we can dive into the details, but that's my summary view of the word.



#41 dustin

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 07:34 AM

I stand corrected on the T&P lofts. mea culpa. From what I understand though, the T&P warehouse is slated to be predominantly affordable housing as well as the Cats development is going to have a significant number of affordable housing. And those were the true definition of affordable, given by the powers that be (I really have wondered about this, whether it is HUD or the city that determines this, does anyone know?). Also, reading the city's proposal for the Race St. Urban Village, there was mention of things like Rowhouses or Quads that would appeal to working class families.

I understand the criticisms that have been levied, however it isnt whether or not we can change people's minds about moving into urban areas, it that we have to change people's minds and behaviors if only just for the air quality, but really for many other reasons. As cbellomy mentioned above, it is already happening in places like Arlington, Va and Portland, Or. Urbanization doesnt have to look like Museum Place or the developments we have been talking about. It can happen in neighborhoods that already exist. It is improving density, as well as walkable distances to daily necessities is what it takes for the most part. I have no problem with a multi-nucleated metroplex. That is what we already are, so it is pretty much unavoidable. But for me to warm up to the development in Southlake, they need to embrace urbanism as a whole and not just the convenient parts.

#42 cberen1

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 09:01 AM

QUOTE (Matt615 @ Jan 16 2008, 02:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (cberen1 @ Jan 16 2008, 09:51 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The average Texan puts about 12,000 miles per year on his/her car.


Really, I would have guessed higher in Texas?


There is wide variance around the mean. It's surprising how many people just don't have to drive that much. A lot of suburban moms can get everything they need within a few miles of their homes. A lot of older folks barely drive at all. And then again, there are people who rack up 40,000 miles or more per year. I saw a two year old pick up at auction one time with over 120,000 mile on it.


QUOTE
Also, I suspect that two income households do not have the same ability to move closer to where they work. The effect of all these things together has the potential to strain the economy. Cberen1, does your research explore these things, too?


I hate to cop out on this one, but no. We weren't able to drill down to the second level of fuel price impact. We were basically trying to understand the division of disposable income for sub-prime borrowers and the probability that changes in fuel prices would drive increased defaults on auto-loans and/or prepayment activity. The basis of the research was consumer polling, so you have to take that for what it's worth. We think there is tremendous validity in the general concept that $3 gas has not materially changed consumer behavior, but $5 will probably start to. Our research lined up very well with some of the public research that's out there, so we felt comfortable with the results. Kind of a "See it with your own eyes" thing.

As is relates to automobile purchases the reason the behavior is sticky is that most people are upside down in their car loans until 48 months or later into the contract. The average car loan today has a term of either 60 or 72 months (although you can finance some vehicle for up to 96 months, brilliant). With manufacturers pulling back on incentives, consumers are left with few options to get out of a car early. They wait until they can get a new car for about the same monthly payment as their current car.

You can draw comparisons to the current housing market. With 100%+ financing and declining home prices...

#43 Fort Worthology

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 11:18 AM

QUOTE (Tacoma @ Jan 15 2008, 04:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But isn't the Magnolia area also a suburban area? The fact that it has houses instead of tall buildings forcing people up instead of out, causes it to push people even further south of downtown. Doesn't that exacerbate the problem? Its not a suburb because it was here first so its close to downtown, but the next "magnolia" area (or suburban development of houses) had to go further out. Isn't every area that isn't super dense causing people to move further away? Should everybody be forced to live in a multi-family unit? What if somebody has horses but works in downtown. They may want two acres so their horses can be close. Should they be relegated to Midlothian and nowhere in between because they are part of the escapist crowd trying to avoid people? Should we say that everything inside 820 is going to be uber dense living?


Hold on there - "suburb" meant something very different when the Magnolia area came about. N

Technically, Magnolia was a "suburb," but that term meant a place completely different from today's suburbs. Magnolia/Fairmount was built on a grid, not cul-de-sacs and collector roads. It offered fantastic transit (in the form of the large streetcar network that brought about its existence). It was more compact and dense than a modern suburb. Houses were designed closer to the street with large front porches for social interaction and garages were at the back. It was not a segregated collection of one type of housing - go through Fairmount and you'll see blocks that have single-family homes, apartment buildings (of a neighborhood-compatible scale), duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and garage apartments all sharing the same block. It was mixed-use - Magnolia served as the "main street" with many businesses, but go further into Fairmount and you find old commercial structures several blocks back in, representative of the five minute walk to daily needs that has been part of traditional planning for so long. You'll also find schools on the same blocks as houses, and churches.

It is frustrating to me when people see "dense" and automatically assume we mean skyscrapers and apartment buildings. Fairmount is very dense and urban but it is comprised of 90%+ single-family housing.

The Magnolia area isn't called a "suburb" today because that term has been warped from its own meaning. Magnolia is like a small self-contained city in many ways. This is the way we built and grew in the past, prior to World War II, and is the way most other places still build and grow. Not just sprawling into the countryside in self-contained single-use pods that depend on highways to link them to the needs of human existence, but a well-designed core of its own that provides for its neighborhoods in multiple ways.

We're not saying people should be prohibited from having a big house with a big lawn or space for horses. What we're saying is that building EVERY new place as a collection of segregated single-use pods is madness. In fact, one of the goals of New Urbanism is helping protect the natural environment and farmland as well as protect and improve our built environment. Proper urban development helps provide for a far wider range of housing choices than modern suburbanism by following the Transect:

"The urban-to-rural transect is an urban planning model created by Andrés Duany. The transect defines a series of zones that transition from sparse rural farmhouses to the dense urban core. Each zone is fractal in that it contains a similar transition from the edge to the centre of the neighbourhood. The transect is an important part of the New Urbanism and smart growth movements. Duany's firm DPZ has embodied the transect philosophic into their SmartCode generic planning code for municipal ordinances.
A major feature of transect planning is that it incorporates a variety of residential and commercial spaces into a single neighbourhood. A typical neighbourhood would consist of a light commercial area with a bank, general store, pub, coffee shop, and apartments. Moving outwards from the centre, residential density would gradually decrease starting with townhouses to fully detached houses. The central area would be a focus of transit and ideally be within walking distance from any point in the neighbourhood.
The importance of transect planning is particularly seen as a contrast to modern single-use zoning and suburban development. In these patterns, large areas are dedicated to a single purpose, such as housing, offices, shopping, and they can only be accessed via major roads. The transect, by contrast, decreases the necessity for long-distance travel by any means.
Many of the features of transect planning cannot be reproduced without a change to municipal ordinances. For example, the transect encourages storefronts to push forward to the sidewalk, to allow window shopping, and push parking lots to the rear. In many municipalities, this design would not be permitted today under town planning bylaws. Hence, any effort to implement the principles of the transect must be accompanied by code changes (hence the development of SmartCode).
The transect contains other features: it creates a framework to control and promote growth in certain areas; it intends to increase pedestrian life, local safety, and community identity; and, it provides tools to protect and restore natural environments."

The Transect runs from T-1 (Natural Zone) to T-6 (Urban Core Zone). For reference, most of the Magnolia & Fort Worth South area falls into either T-4 (General Urban Zone) or T-5 (Urban Center Zone). This has served as the basis for the new Fort Worth South Urban Design District which the city has just adopted.

- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly

Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner


#44 Fort Worthology

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 11:31 AM

QUOTE (dustin @ Jan 16 2008, 09:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am going to go out on a limb here and add one other aspect of why I despise suburban growth. I touched on it before but I think it bears some further addressing. One of the worst parts of suburbanism, apart from the economic issues, are the social issues. In the last 50 years social organization has plummeted. Things like fraternal organizations, social clubs, and even just plain old public discourse have disappeared since the migration out to the suburbs. Granted there can be many explanations to this other than merely moving out to the outlying areas of a city, but I think that suburban growth has a lot to do with it. Look at what has happened: (snip)


This is a very astute post. The insulation of the typical suburban lifestyle may indeed have bigger consequences. In traditional environments there is public space for civic and public life to flourish, designed in such a way as to make human contact and interaction a pleasant experience. In the suburbs, there isn't any public space. Indeed, even greenspace is limited to either a park that is isolated from homes and has to be driven to, or dead buffer "no-man's land" between isolated pods. James Kunstler wrote about something similar that I've often thought about:

"This is evinced most dramatically in the issue of the public realm, the part of our everyday world that belongs to everybody and that everyone ought to have access to most of the time. In postwar America, the public realm was trashed, relegated purely to the needs of the automobile until America became a nearly uniform automobile slum from sea to shining sea. It didn’t even matter whether you were in a rich place or a poor place anymore – the parking lots of Beverly Hills weren’t any more rewarding to the human spirit than the parking lots of Hackensack.

The public realm has two crucial roles in our collective existence. First, it is the physical manifestation of the common good. Second, is literally the dwelling place of civic life. And so if you fail to design the public realm with deliberate artistry, and by so doing degrade and dishonor the public realm by turning it into a uniform automobile slum simply to accommodate x-number of cars, you will automatically degrade the quality of civic life and the public’s collective ability to conceive of a common good beyond incessant motoring. These are issues which do not yield to strict empiricism and cannot be comprehended by it. The result in American suburbia today is a set of places where private luxury is exalted and public space is grievously dishonored, damaged, and diminished, places where there are more bathrooms per inhabitant than any other society on earth, but where public space is so debased that the only place children can find to play beyond their back yards is the berm between the WalMart and the Winn Dixie."

"Something strange happened to American suburbia as it went through its phases of development. It started out as country living, the sovereign antidote to the industrial city. Then it became a rigorously domesticated variant of country living. Then, after World War Two it mutated into something insidiously different: a cartoon of country living in a cartoon of the country (in a cartoon of a country house). This sad fact explains why the chronic disappointment of suburbia inspires ridicule even among those who live in it. It hasn’t delivered very well on its promises for a long time now. In its florid, climactic incarnation today – the McMansion precincts of Dallas, Atlanta, or Northern Virginia – it presents the worst elements of urban and rural life in the same package, with few of the benefits of either. The megaburbs have all the congestion of a city and none of the human contact. They have all of the isolation of the country, but no real connection to nature. "

- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly

Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner


#45 Dcurtis

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 02:04 PM

Unfortunately, the majority of FW's growth is still sprawl. Dallas and Austin are urbanizing ten times the rate FW is. And as someone said earlier, the idea of loft, townhomes, and condos do not appeal to everyone, especially people here with children. I would love to see some of the areas of FW like the West and Eastside that are full of rundown garden style apt. complexes redeveloped with nice well designed single family housing to attract those buyers moving out to the ugly stripmalls and cookie cutter tract homes that make up the majority of N. FW. and most of its burbs. Of course with the state of the inner city school districts, I doubt if that will happen anytime soon.

#46 cberen1

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 02:19 PM

Here's a question, what happens if all the suburbanites decide they want to live in the middle of the city? Lots of construction in the city. Regentrification. Do the fringes begin to rot (have they already?)? Where does the middle class go?

I haven't thought this all the way through, but weren't feudal towns structured this way? Just a thought.

#47 bhudson

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 03:03 PM

QUOTE (Dcurtis @ Jan 17 2008, 02:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Unfortunately, the majority of FW's growth is still sprawl. Dallas and Austin are urbanizing ten times the rate FW is. And as someone said earlier, the idea of loft, townhomes, and condos do not appeal to everyone, especially people here with children. I would love to see some of the areas of FW like the West and Eastside that are full of rundown garden style apt. complexes redeveloped with nice well designed single family housing to attract those buyers moving out to the ugly stripmalls and cookie cutter tract homes that make up the majority of N. FW. and most of its burbs. Of course with the state of the inner city school districts, I doubt if that will happen anytime soon.


In general, inner city schools are bad. It is a common stereotype that is usually true. But I've been impressed by what I see in Fort Worth. Lily B. Clayton, de Zavala, and the Monticello schools are the ones I'm familiar with. At least at the elementary level, public schools in the core of Fort Worth are a strength, and a reason for families to move inward.

One thing to consider about levelling rundown complexes and replacing with different housing, or revitalizing a neighborhood, is that you are not resulting in a net increase in housing. Again, you're bringing money inward, but everyone still needs a place to live so someone is being displaced. Maybe you've improved the center of the city but you've done nothing that directly impacts sprawl.

I'm not saying to stop redevelopment (because in my book, urban revitalization is justified by the promise of economic development alone), I just think it is not honest to promise that Fort Worth's version of revitalization will counter sprawl.

#48 Keller Pirate

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 04:16 PM

QUOTE (bhudson @ Jan 14 2008, 03:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Since new urbanism is popular, they stole some ideas from it. What they are doing is pure economic development, they're not trying to be properly urban. They're just capturing popular stylistic bits and pieces. But STC (with office space, pedestrian friendly retail, large - and well used - open spaces, local govt at the center, and the beginnings of residential) is a really good, big piece.

Sorry bhudson, you have done a good job coming down the middle of the road on this topic, but you did say Southlake stole some ideas.

The Congress of New Urbanism holds out a number of developments mentioned in this thread as good examples of New Urbanism, even though those developments have been slammed here. It is good they don't have bad examples because you know what town might make the list.

Southlake TC is not the perfect example, but it does somewhat follow the elements of NU. Every year or so they add a new ingredient to the mix and it is a work in progress. The town is getting attacked in general and the development in particular because it isn't in Ft Worth. NU says "urban villages" are good. Let’s face it, unless you go out and build a whole new urban town in the middle of nowhere, like Seaside, Fl. (also slammed here) nothing is going to be perfect.

Cities like Keller, Southlake and Grapevine, just to name a few near me, didn't start out as suburban, they were rural farming communities. Now they have grown to medium sized communities with well defined limits. None of the three I mentioned are going to get much bigger, land wise or population wise. They are self governed, have lower taxes and better infrastructure than their bigger neighbor, Ft Worth.

If these towns had not incorporated they now would just be part of the Ft Worth sprawl. I believe the residents of these communities are better off than residents in Ft Worth that live the same distance from the city center. In fact Ft Worth as a whole is at risk by continuing to sprawl outward. Everyone in Ft Worth is paying for it with higher taxes and higher debt.

Let’s face it, if urban villages are good, then we ought to celebrate each one, no matter what town it is in. Right?



#49 cbellomy

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 04:59 PM

QUOTE (Keller Pirate @ Jan 17 2008, 04:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Cities like Keller, Southlake and Grapevine, just to name a few near me, didn't start out as suburban, they were rural farming communities. Now they have grown to medium sized communities with well defined limits. None of the three I mentioned are going to get much bigger, land wise or population wise. They are self governed, have lower taxes and better infrastructure than their bigger neighbor, Ft Worth.


Really? You think no public transportation and worse traffic constitutes better infrastructure? Really?

Come on, KP, that dog don't hunt.



#50 Keller Pirate

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 06:01 PM

QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jan 17 2008, 04:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Keller Pirate @ Jan 17 2008, 04:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Cities like Keller, Southlake and Grapevine, just to name a few near me, didn't start out as suburban, they were rural farming communities. Now they have grown to medium sized communities with well defined limits. None of the three I mentioned are going to get much bigger, land wise or population wise. They are self governed, have lower taxes and better infrastructure than their bigger neighbor, Ft Worth.


Really? You think no public transportation and worse traffic constitutes better infrastructure? Really?

Come on, KP, that dog don't hunt.


What public transportation? Worse traffic? Go ahead, make things up if you can't come up with anything better.




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