Urban Land Institutes Reviews Shifting Suburbs

Posted Date: 
February 12, 2013


Vice-Chair Gus Bauman welcomed MCCC members and introduced the speaker, Rachel MacCleery, Vice President, ULI Infrastructure Initiative.
MacCleery spoke about her background and about The Urban Land Institute. She then went on to discuss the new ULI report called, "Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development". The report includes 8 case studies from across the United States and was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
According to MacCleery, American suburbs are changing and beginning to be built in more compact ways, including higher density development. The report identifies four development types, including suburban mall retrofits and suburban transit oriented development.
One of the mall retrofit case studies focuses on Belmar in Lakewood, Colorado, which was built on the site of a dying mall. They put in a new grid-based system with narrow roads and wide sidewalks and included 9-acres of open space, with ample programming.
In Richardson, Texas, the town launched a transit oriented development project. Richardson is building four mixed-use nodes around their DART transit stations.
MacCleery went on stop speak about underperforming commercial corridors. One example was State Road 7 in Broward, Florida. The stretch includes 41 miles and 17 municipalities. New investments include bus shelters, streets apes, and walking and look to density the area in the future.
MacCleery spoke about Rockville Pike as another example of a movement to fix an underperforming commercial corridor. The White Flint Development agree to a special taxing district to make the needed infrastructure investments to density the area. The success of the effort depends on surface transit.
She discussed lessons learned from the ULI report, such as pooling many sources of funding, riding the demographic wave, partnerships, comprehensive approach to infrastructure and access, and programming and place management. MacCleery also talked about the importance of proactive planning and stakeholder engagement. The challenges in this type of suburban redevelopment include trouble working across boundaries, funding, skill sets, entitlements and zoning, and community resistance.
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