Tag Archives: City Planning

Investment Ready Places: The New American Frontier

How do you know if your neighborhood is ready for investment? Investment Ready Places was just launch by friends Atul Sharma, Joseph Nickol, Kevin Lavelle and James Michael of Street Sense. The premise is:

The small towns and cities of America are once again becoming the new frontier for development.

The thoughts and ideas that are included in this tool are on target with the type of triage thinking that we need in so many of our country’s smaller towns and cities. There are six key characteristics of Investment Ready Places that are essential for attracting investment that will contribute to the creation of authentic, pedestrain scaled places.

  1. Nourishment for residents
  2. Stable supply of water
  3. Manageable infrastructure
  4. Connected places
  5. Creative knowledge
  6. Heritage and living culture

I would encourage everyone to hand out the checklist at the back of the report to their city council, community leaders and neighbors. There is a good dose of reality in this little booklet that is timely. This is a new paradigm tool for an increasingly more competitive landscape of places that get it and those that are going to be left behind economically, culturally and, unfortunately, environmentally. It was so great to hear from Atul and Joe as they were developing the core ideas that are now so nicely conveyed in this booklet. Please pass it along and use it wisely.
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Chuck Marohn gave a great lecture last night at MIT, I’ll have blog coverage of it here soon, and thanks Chuck for the much more solid review of IRP on the Strongtowns.org blog.

What is Innovation City

There are some incredibly smart people working on making Boston a more innovative city. David Hacin is one of those people who I have had the lucky opportunity to work with in recent months. David’s office produced this nice video in conjunction with last month’s Architecture Boston. David was the guest editor.

I keep coming back to the core idea that a city’s civic spaces and transit served housing has to be top notch to continue to attract the classes of people that make new ideas happen. It seems that #placemaking , or the creation of engaging destinations, activities and uses that these creative folks find desirable in a place, will become even more important as cities continue to compete for talent.

On a related note, +Ian Rasmussen spent a week with me in Boston recently to kick off a project were are working on that is exploring how existing places can leverage their infrastructure in new ways to spur innovation. More on that later. Enjoy the video.

Are You Enjoying Your City’s Region?

There is a community in Providence that takes full advantage of the city’s proximity to the sea. All too often, I am lucky to get a call at 5:00 AM from someone in the group who is heading down for a pre-work surf. Getting two hours worth of surfing in before hitting the office at 9 AM makes living in Providence special. My question to you on this Friday evening is how are you going to enjoy your city’s regional amenities this weekend?

A big thanks to friends Damian Ewens and Stephanie Ewens for producing and editing the above film. I am looking forward to shooting more of these experimental films this spring (hopefully in warmer water). Also featured in the film is Clay Rockefeller and Carter Blackwell… they kept the pace for the paddle while I brought up the rear. You can find out more about Providence Dawn Patrol here and the Get Lively Experiment here.

Now get out there and enjoy your city’s region! Have a nice weekend.

Artistry is Missing in Planning Today

Artistry is needed in today’s cities and towns. I am completely sick of statistics and computer models for city planning. Yes, I agree that enough water must be provided, and capacity for waste measured. However, these are not the issues that make cities great. The meaningful relationship of buildings, the vistas and views, and the beauty that enlightens those citizens blessed by being residents of a place built with artistry are minor points in the planning of cities today. The goal of a street must be more then moving cars. You must ask more of your urbanism if a place will be resilient, and even more of it to be competitive. Artistry is a powerful, and forgotten, tool for the building of our cities and towns.

Providence 2030: A Vision for a Livable City

What will your city be like in the year 2030?  Over the past nine months I helped lead a group of young business and community leaders in Providence answer that question.  Twenty years in the life of a city is not that much time when I realized that my old neighborhood, the South End, took 40 years to construct.  However, organizations such as Architecture 2030 believe that monumental achievements are possible by that date. As with Ed Mazria, this group in Providence has hope that achieving such a goal in a small span of years is possible. That is if the idea is compelling enough…or visionary.

Here are the key themes of the Providence 2030 vision as one would explain the city in that year. The entire document can be downloaded here.

  1. We continue to grow a vibrant economy.
  2. We support our world renowned culture.
  3. We care for our engaging civic realm.
  4. We celebrate our mobility.
  5. We value and educate our youth.
  6. We are a leader in sustainable practices.

We hope that the Providence 2030 vision is powerful enough to help guide the change that is needed over the next 20 years.  Let me know what you think?  Bonus question: Has your community created a grand vision for its growth and development? If not, shouldn’t it?

A big thanks to the Providence Foundation for supporting the creation of this document.  Since its publication, the Foundation has formally adopted it as the organizations vision.  I hope future posts will talk about projects the Foundation is taking on that will help realize this vision.

Crafting a Vision for Providence in 2030

The Providence Foundation invited me to be a part of the group crafting a 2030 vision for the city. The final document will be completed in July. However, the tag cloud below illustrates some emerging trends of the vision. I have become increasingly more interested in what this local group could accomplish in 6 to 12 months as opposed to 21 years.