Wednesday, January 20, 2010

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New Urbanist Projects Abound

Growing numbers of Boomers and Millennials are becoming aware of and are seeking out alternatives to the mono-cultures of uniform, uninspired product types and single price points arranged as separated, single-purpose developments. We have become used to places where we only work, places where we only shop, places where we only live in our apartment or places where we only live in our single family house (all about the same size and price range of course). We have become used to the private care being required to get from one “mono-pod” to the other for every single human need.

But there IS another way. All across the county (and in many other parts of the world as well) a wide variety of new urbanist projects have been and are being built to offer us that better way. The variety of innovative types of new urban development responds to the motivations of both the Boomers and the Millennials in unique ways.

Some of the alternatives that new urbanism offers include:

Adaptive Reuse of existing structures: Example - old red brick warehouses converted into retail, offices, apartments above first floor retail like Tip Top

Redevelopment: Examples - Midtown Crossing and Aksarben Village

Urban Infill: Development of vacant parcels that were passed over

Greyfields: Redevelopment of abandoned or under-utilized shopping centers and “ghost boxes” (a.k.a. defunct “big box“ stores)

Brownfields: Redevelopment of industrial sites: Examples - Riverfront Place and the Rows at SOMA

Greenfields: Conservation neighborhoods and new traditional neighborhoods (TNDs) usually located on the urban edge: Example - Leytham

TODs: Transit oriented developments that take advantage of locations near transit such as commuter or light rail, for example, to increase density and mix uses. There are no examples in Omaha (yet).

New urbanist projects are compact, mixed use, and walkable with vibrant civic spaces. If you are interested in exploring further, New Urban News has created a very useful tool which sorts and categorizes many new urbanist projects. You can search by state or by project type. Just click here:

Be sure to see the projects listed under Nebraska. My personal favorite, of course, is Leytham, the Omaha area's first new greenfield traditional neighborhood development (TND). If you have not visited the Leytham website, I invite you to do so, and be sure to register on the site to receive updates in the Leytham e-newsletter.

Happy browsing . . . .