A rougher version of the French Quarter, Mobile plans resurgence
The Alabama city is poised for a new round of growth with construction of an Airbus factory, guided by a plan and code.
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A street in Mobile, Alabama. photo from Downtown Mobile: Keeping it Easy
Mobile, Alabama, has a scale of blocks and historic architecture that is not so different from New Orleans — only its city leaders were more efficient in dismantling its urban fabric in the middle part of the 20th Century.
Some of the architecture is still in place and “good bones” allow for redevelopment on a walkable scale even as educated young people are rediscovering downtown living. A new plan and form-based code by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., commissioned by the Downtown Mobile Alliance, sets a framework for transformation. A charrette was held in the fall and a draft code is now being prepared for submission to the city planning commission.
“Mobile is a wonderful city: It’s smaller and more damaged than New Orleans, but absolutely taking off and full of young people,” notes Duany. About half of downtown’s urban fabric has been demolished over the years — so redevelopment sites are abundant, he notes.
The plan covers two hundred blocks, including the central business district and surrounding residential and mixed-use areas. A warehouse district of about 25 blocks, which could house high-tech firms, is part of