Sponsor News Briefs

It is no secret that there is a significant paradigm shift underway in the world of regional retail development. While it continues to be business as usual for some brick-and-mortar retail sectors, a major transformation continues to unfold across America’s regional retail landscape. When we take a closer look at the underlying fundamentals, we can yield some important insights about what is causing these changes, where regional malls are headed, and what developers must do to not only survive, but thrive in this new environment. Many regional enclosed malls are already dead, and hundreds more are dying slow deaths. At the same time, more and more open-air mixed-use retail environments are emerging — some of which are regional in nature, and all of which are competing directly with those enclosed regional malls. The best of these new projects have common characteristics: a significant portion of their public space is outdoors; non-retail leisure time components are a large component of the tenant mix; and non-retail uses like residential, office and hospitality are fully integrated into the design.

The MRED+U Program hosts executive education training programs for real estate professionals seeking to keep up with state-of-the-art real estate practices as well as sharpen their theoretical understanding of the industry.  We offer training in real estate applications in Microsoft Excel as well as ARGUS Valuation-DCF for individuals at all experience levels in addition to a seminar on how to conduct a charrette and an online course in applying New Urbanist theory to real estate practice.  For more information, please see below.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about a course or would like to register for one.

The large retail and commercial development in Altoona, called Prairie Crossing, has expanded even before construction on the project has started in earnest. Developer Heart of America Group from the Quad Cities said the project, which is adjacent to Bass Pro Shops and visible from Interstate 80, has grown into a 230-acre development with planned residential, retail and commercial components. Prairie Crossing has been in the works for several years and is the brainchild of Heart of America’s Mike Whalen. So far, a Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse — an HOA property — has opened in Prairie Crossing. Separate developers recently have begun construction on a 325,000-square-foot open-air outlet mall on 34 acres in the heart of the property.

On a night when Suwanee leaders gave approval to a new downtown master plan, the city also took action toward more development near City Hall. At its July meeting Tuesday, the city council approved sending the updated downtown master plan to the Atlanta Regional Commission. Woody Giles of planning firm TSW, which helped city leaders develop the plan, noted that this will help Suwanee become eligible for Livable Cities Initiative funding from the ARC. “There is a lot of flexibility built into the plan” Giles noted in a presentation to council members. “It’s about a bigger vision.”

The highly publicized mixed-use project Liberty Center in Ohio has just announced its first slate of retail tenants. With a scheduled October 2015 opening, Liberty Center includes more than 800,000 sq. ft. of retail, restaurants and entertainment, including a 200,000-sq.-ft. Dillard’s anchor that will be the state of Ohio’s first ground-up Dillard’s store. The 64-acre, 1.2 million-sq.-ft. destination, co-developed by Steiner + Associates and Bucksbaum Retail Properties, will feature over 50 new tenants. “We are very excited to be formally announcing this first group of great tenants,” said Anne Mastin, executive VP of retail real estate for Steiner + Associates. “These retailers, restaurants and entertainment uses, many of which are regional and state firsts, are among the best in the industry and represent just the beginning of the full lineup you can expect to see when Liberty Center opens in October. We will be making several other significant announcements in the weeks and months to come.”

During the Congress for New Urbanism’s annual conference in Dallas/Fort Worth April 29 - May 2, Opticos Design, Inc's Dan Parolek sat down with the Strong Towns podcast to talk about urban planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, how to retain the characteristics and qualities of a place that make it unique, and the new Missing Middle Housing website. Strong Towns as an organization seeks to support a model of development that allows America’s cities, towns, and neighborhoods to be come financially strong and resilient.

Urban Design Associates (UDA) is pleased to celebrate ten years of collaboration with Kennecott Land Company (a subsidiary of Rio Tinto) in the design of Daybreak, an entirely new mixed-use, transit-oriented (TOD) community.  From the very beginning, the goal was to set a new standard for sustainable, high-quality development in the Salt Lake Valley.  Even as the project remains a 'work in progress', Daybreak has been internationally-recognized as a success. Located at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains, Daybreak is a mixed-use, walkable community with a full range of resident services and amenities. The community encompasses over 4,000 acres comprised of 12 residential neighborhoods, each focused around a series of mixed-use village centers. At the heart of Daybreak is the Town Center, consisting of mixed-use, commercial, institutional, and residential uses clustered around three light-rail transit stops that connect to downtown Salt Lake City.

The City Council unanimously approved a downtown plan during its meeting Tuesday with no discussion from members. The plan has been in the works for more than a year following the city signing a contract with Gateway Planning of Texas to develop it. "I am excited for Rogers," Scott Polikov, Gateway president, said. "I think the way that process went and the involvement from the people of Rogers reflects well on Rogers." No one spoke against the plan during a public hearing. Bill Watkins, a lawyer with an office downtown, was one of two that spoke in favor of the plan. "I am heavily invested in the future of downtown Rogers," Watkins said. "I am excited to see this and I hope the council approves it." Watkins also said he hopes the city continues to spend money supporting the plan in the future. The plan calls for infrastructure improvements to streets, utilities and greenspace. Revamping alleys and Frisco Park along First Street are some of the suggestions in the plan.

The University of Miami urban design studio in Italy began in Rome with Professor Jaime Correa where students proposed renovations of seven different sites located in the historic core of the city. These sites presented the studio with opportunities to build upon Rome’s legacy in design, building and space-making. By adding certain building types, street furniture, lighting, pavement, materials and new uses, the proposed designs improve the life and physical environment of the sites. The sites included the Piazza Americo Capponi, Piazza di San Salvatore in Lauro, Largo Febo and Piazza Lancelloti.

The Michigan Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism recently awarded Cherry Hill Village, designed by LRK, a 2015 Mackinaw Prize. The CNU New England jury commented that "Cherry Hill Village, impressive in its size and sophistication, is, surprisingly, really an infill project. A constellation of nineteenth-century historic buildings, strung loosely along two old road alignments, is now being tied firmly together by an overlay of new, mixed-use and residential buildings, and the overall assembly equipped with a range of new civic spaces and parks. The result is a coherent place, remarkable for being fundamentally an intensified version of itself... Cherry Hill Village is a model both in process and in realization, worthy of the attention, and emulation, around the country."

Construction crews recently began digging a retention pond and moving a mound of dirt developers of the long-abandoned Ruskin Heights subdivision left behind nearly a decade ago on a site south of Mission Boulevard.  A sign posted on the property, across from Westwood Gardens and about a half-mile west of Crossover Road, proclaimed last week a new development called Mission Heights, is "opening in 2016."  "I think it's really hitting the market at a time when the pendulum is finally swinging back from the downturn," said Lawrence Finn, managing partner of East Mission Boulevard LLC, the developer of the project. East Mission's plan for the entire 29 acres is unclear. The company is starting with 63 detached dwellings and six row houses on about 16 acres in the interior of the site. Developers plan to have the row houses and a dozen of the detached houses available for sale next year.

The Beaufort County CDC, which incorporates new zoning regulations for both walkable urban and driveable suburban areas, was recognized last week with the Form Base Code Institute's Driehaus Award, and the Congress or New Urbanism's Charter Award of Merit. Both awards were presented last week at CNU's 23rd annual congress in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Registration is now open for Steven Brooke's architectural photography class in Seaside, Florida. The dynamic 5-day workshop combines the history of architectural depiction and composition with an accessible approach to the technical demands of photographing architecture, landscape, and interiors. The workshop is suitable for students of all ability levels and backgrounds - from professional architects and real estate professionals to travelers for whom architecture and design is a passion.

Downtown Hightstown is hosting a brainstorming session on ways to create a "downtown waterfront experience" unique to the region. The workshop on May 26 will discuss ideas for creating a more walkable community, better uses for underutilized properties, and intergrating Peddie Lake into the new plan. LRK is currently providing planning services to Downtown Hightstown and will be coordinating the community meeting.

Gateway Planning supported Bastrop in taking the next step to ensure that Downtown continues as the heart of the rapidly growing city in the greater Austin Region. The Bastrop City Council voted unanimously to adopt a redevelopment plan and implementing form-based code for the greater downtown area following a unanimous recommendation from Planning and Zoning commission and various other boards and commissions. The new code will implement the community-crafted vision to protect historic buildings and encourage new development that reflects the character desired by residents and business owners.

Charleston's planning director has taken a similar job in Georgia.  Tim Keane, the city's director of planning, preservation and sustainability, has accepted the position of commissioner of planning and community development for Atlanta, according to a news release. Keane's final day with Charleston will be June 26.

TSW completed the Duluth Downtown Master Plan last year, focusing on new commercial, public spaces to link commercial, civic, and residential, and increased residential density to support the downtown core. Now, the City is looking toward implementation. Local Atlanta news station WSB-TV Channel 2 covered the story.

L.L. Bean Inc. is opening a new store in Columbus, and the retailer will give the market a months-long sneak peek in the run-up to the real thing. The Freeport, Maine-based outdoor retailer Wednesday said it will open a 20,600- square-foot store at Easton town Center by October or November in a standalone building currently home to the Container Store. That store is moving to a new space this year in the nearby Easton Gateway shopping center.

The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary for Urban Design Associates (UDA). As we look forward to the next chapter, it is fun to open the archives and take stock of efforts that changed the way we were thinking and working. We have put together a short reflection of our work across five decades to gain perspective or the future: UDA @ 50 Viewbook.

Steiner & Associates, an old hand in the mixed-use construction game, is lead developerin a live-work-play enterprise in Cincinnati called Liberty Center, to be co-developed by Bucksbaum Retail Properties. This will feature about 250 upscale vertical residences in the phased 1.1 million-square-foot urban development rising along Interstate 75 and slated to make its debut this year.