The movement needs more developers, more research, and strong standards, according to some.
The biggest challenge to New Urbanism is how to expand it well beyond its current minor share of the US development market.
That’s the conclusion that emerged from a wide-ranging panel and audience discussion of the future of New Urbanism at the conclusion of CNU X June 16 in Miami Beach.
New urban development is growing, but not rapidly enough, most agreed.
Asmall traditional neighborhood development (TND) in Lower Moreland, Pennsylvania, that faced stiff public opposition over a two year period, moved forward when supervisors unanimously approved an amendment to the township’s zoning. The vote allows a TND-type project to be approved with a conditional use permit.
The 101-unit project, Woodmont (see Jan/Feb 2002 issue), now has to gain approvals through this new zoning mechanism.
Infill projects dominate as three design firms take home multiple awards.
Winners of the second annual Charter Awards were selected by a distinguished jury over the weekend of March 16. After spending days perusing more than 200 submissions from 170 firms, the jurors, led by CNU board member Jonathan Barnett, settled on 18 projects to represent best practices in New Urbanism.
The winners are representative of all scales of development and planning, from individual blocks and buildings to regional plans.
One developer likens the process of fighting through the bureaucratic and
institutional gauntlet of building a new urban neighborhood to “being pecked to death by ducks.” Each injury may be minor, but the total effect “is debilitating.”
The image conjures up a foe, or series of foes, that are as unrelenting as they are unreasonable. If you want to build single-use, automobile-oriented sprawl, the skids are greased.
Proposal to build neighborhood faces uphill battle.
For close to two years, developer Joe Duckworth has been seeking approval for Woodmont, a traditional neighborhood development (TND) planned for a 42.6-acre vacant site in the affluent Lower Moreland Township outside Philadelphia. But the resistance from residents and some officials has been strong and deep. Duckworth has invited residents to Kentlands to see New Urbanism in action and he has threatened to develop the site with an uninspired by-right plan — so far, neither strategy has moved the project forward.
CNU has released a new report, “Correcting the Record,” which corrects
some of the misinformation spread by pro-sprawl impresario Wendell Cox. The CNU report was released at Rail-Volution, a national transportation and land-use conference at which Cox debated longtime Smart Growth advocate Congressman Earl Blumenauer. CNU members often tangle with Cox, who circulates around the country attempting to derail new transit systems.
“Cox seems to think that we are fated to sprawl forever,” says CNU executive director Shelley Poticha. “Our message is that we have a choice.
Top-notch jury, competitive field for top honor in New Urbanism.
Following the success of the 2001 Charter Awards, nominations are open for the highest honor in New Urbanism. Unlike traditional architecture awards, Charter Awards are given to many types of projects, ranging from individual development parcels to large regional plans. Municipal policies and neighborhood development efforts are also eligible.
The awards also differ from conventional architecture awards in that they reward a project’s context-responsiveness more highly than design innovations.
Neighborhood-scale projects completed or under construction rose by 37 percent in 2001, turning new urbanist plans into reality at an unprecedented rate.
So many new urbanist projects have slowly worked their way through the
planning pipeline that a burst of activity was inevitable, especially in the prolonged period of economic growth that now appears to have ended.
With the full support of local officials, a number of significant new urbanist projects are on the fast track.
Most new urbanist projects are held back by something — incompatible zoning codes, lack of financing, inappropriate street standards, neighbors’ opposition, and/or developers and builders who are hostile to the idea.
While these barriers damage many projects, they also offer some handy excuses: i.e.