How to redo commercial strips, one piece at a time
The “Incremental Sprawl Repair” project identifies methods for remaking road corridors when financing and transit are limited.
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Visions for how to remake drivable suburbs into walkable neighborhoods usually depend on large plans, government infrastructure investments, developers with deep pockets, and significant financing. All are in short supply in 2011 — and may be for years to come.
Incremental Sprawl Repair (ISR), which emerged out of the 2010 Congress for the New Urbanism in Atlanta, is conceived to bypass those barriers. The ISR Working Group has created building types designed to kickstart change in what members call “corridors of crap,” the spread-out, haphazardly planned commercial arterials and collectors that can be found in abundance in every metropolitan area.
The buildings offer low-cost, small-scale, rental-based, mixed-use models that can be built with conventional Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Small Business Administration (SBA) backed loans. One of the types even comes with a development pro forma.
The buildings don’t require good urbanism, although some kind of community vision for a better built environment is important.
ISR theorizes that even a single, well-designed, low-cost building can add diversity and set a precedent for transformation of a poorly planned place.
Fayetteville, Arkansas, architect Robert Sharp, active in the working group, recalls that his thinking changed