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  1. The Rules are the following: You give a point to a city and take a point away from another city. The cities are the 20 most populous suburbs in Greater Montreal (all of which are about 25,000 people or more). Each City starts with 10 points, last city standing wins. One Post per person per day. This is a game, so no politics or rude/inappropriate comments. Keep it clean. (In order from the largest to the smallest city) Laval - 10 Longueuil - 10 Terrebonne - 10 Repentigny - 10 Brossard - 10 Dollard-des-Ormeaux - 10 Blainville - 10 Chateauguay - 10 Saint-Eustache - 10 Boucherville - 10 Mirabel - 10 Mascouche - 10 Cote-Saint-Luc - 10 Pointe-Claire - 10 Boisbriand - 10 Sainte-Julie - 10 Vaudreuil - 10 Sainte-Thérèse - 10 Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville - 10 Saint-Constant - 10
  2. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s a myth that millennials hate the suburbs It might not be as cool as living downtown, but a new survey suggests millennials might not hate suburbia all that much. Altus Group, citing its 2015 fall FIRM survey, says 35 per cent of those 35 and under disagree with the statement that they prefer to live in a smaller home in a central area than a larger home in the suburbs. The same survey found 40 per cent do agree with the statement, with everybody else neither agreeing or disagreeing. “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — it’s a myth that all so-called millennials are homogeneous in their desires, attitudes and behaviour,” says the report from Toronto-based Altus Group. “While there may be some tendencies that are more pronounced among today’s younger generation, when it comes to the housing sector, segmentation analysis is critical.” The survey, which only considered respondents in centres with populations of more than one million or more, found in almost every age group there was a willingness to trade off the bigger house in the suburbs for a smaller home in a central area. Among those 35-49, like millennials, 40 per cent said they would make the trade-off. <iframe name="fsk_frame_splitbox" id="fsk_frame_splitbox" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; width: 620px; height: 0px; border-style: none; border-width: initial;"></iframe> Broken into sub categories, 19 per cent of millennials agree completely they are willing to live in that smaller home in a central area versus the larger one in the suburbs. Another 21 per cent somewhat agree. Millennials actually ranked behind those 70 years or older when it comes to strong feelings on the matter. Among those seniors, 22 per cent agreed completely with going for the tinier downtown home. “There is a prevailing view that all millennials in larger markets want to live downtown — even if it means having to settle for a smaller residence to make the affordability equation work. Our research busts that myth,” said Altus Group. The same report finds all those downtown dwellers, many of whom will be settling in high-rise condominiums, are going to need parking sports because they are not ready to ditch their cars. The FIRM survey found that in the country’s six largest markets, defined as Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau and Montreal, only about one in 10 owner occupants of condominiums built in the last six years does not have a vehicle. That’s close to the average of all households, but condo dwellers are far less likely to have two vehicles. twitter.com/dustywallet [email protected] http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/dont-tell-anyone-but-its-a-myth-that-millennials-hate-the-suburbs Contrepoids à la discussion: http://mtlurb.com/forums/showthread.php/23922-Bye-bye-banlieue%21
  3. City, 'burbs broker pact 'A win-win scenario' Montreal gets more autonomy and new powers of taxation; island suburbs spared millions in shared costs; property owners to get single tax bill Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay leads Municipal Affairs Minister Nathalie Normandeau (left) and Westmount Mayor Karin Marks to a news conference at city hall. Two deals signed yesterday amend Bill 22, a bid to resolve a power feud between Montreal and the suburbs. LINDA GYULAI AND DAVID JOHNSTON, The Gazette Published: 6 hours ago Peace was declared yesterday by the municipalities of Montreal Island, and with it comes new tax powers, greater autonomy and special status for the city of Montreal. Mayor Gérald Tremblay, the mayors of the 15 island suburbs and prominent Quebec cabinet ministers announced they had brokered an accord to revamp the agglomeration council that manages island-wide services and has been a source of acrimony since the suburbs demerged from Montreal in 2006. Taxpayers in the suburbs would now receive one tax bill instead of two, while their cities and towns would regain control over maintenance of major roads in their areas and be spared millions of dollars in shared costs with Montreal. And, under a separate deal with Montreal, Quebec agrees to grant a long-standing wish of Tremblay and previous Montreal mayors for more clout and for the power to raise revenue through new forms of taxation. Both deals, signed at Montreal city hall yesterday, provide a package of amendments to Bill 22, legislation that was tabled in the National Assembly last year to resolve a power feud between Montreal and the suburbs. The amendments will be submitted to the National Assembly for a vote before the current session ends late next week. "In every step of this negotiation, we were looking for a win-win scenario," Municipal Affairs Minister Nathalie Normandeau said of the deals. "Today, we can say, 'Mission accomplished.' " Montreal acquires new power to tax assets and property in its territory and to claim royalties for use of resources. The deal also allows Montreal to walk away with $25 million a year in aid from the province starting in 2009, the power to unilaterally set the rate it charges for the "welcome tax" on property sales above $500,000 and a cheque of $9 million a year from the province to cover property tax on the Palais des congrès. The new, potentially sweeping tax power was inspired by the City of Toronto Act, Normandeau said. Using that legislation, Toronto is now creating a personal vehicle tax that it will begin charging car owners this fall. The Montreal deal would overhaul the governance of the downtown Ville Marie borough. It would also bestow status on the city as the metropolis of Quebec, which would be written into the city charter. As well, the deal would allow city council to centralize any borough responsibility in case of danger to health or safety by a majority vote for up to two years. And in response to criticism of the way the city bypassed its independent public-consultation office to approve the redevelopment of Griffintown this spring, the deal would extend the boroughs' power to initiate changes to the city's urban plan to the city council and require such changes to be sent to hearings by the public-consultation office. Tremblay refused to say what new taxes he would create. "We're not going to identify an additional source of taxation today," he said, adding that Toronto spent a year consulting businesses and groups before deciding what new taxes to create. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/index.html
  4. Urban exodus hasn't touched house prices in Montreal Island: study Mike King, Montreal Gazette Published: Tuesday, June 03 Urban sprawl doesn't appear to have had a negative effect on Montreal Island house prices. While 2007 marked the fifth year in a row that Montreal and its on-island suburbs suffered a net loss of approximately 20,000 residents, according to the Institut de la statistique du Québec, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. notes house prices have soared over the past decade. For example, results of Royal LePage's national Urban vs. Suburban Survey released yesterday show the average price of a bungalow in the city appreciated by 130 per cent to $253,125 during the past 10 years while its suburban off-island counterpart rose by 99 per cent to $226,273. At the same time, the price of a standard two-storey urban home climbed 120.5 per cent to $307,400 compared to a 107-per-cent jump to $265,625 in the 'burbs. The survey examined five urban (Notre Dame de Grâce, Beaconsfield, Dollard des Ormeaux, Dorval and Pointe Claire) and four suburban (St. Lambert, Boucherville, St. Bruno and Laval des Rapides) markets. Gino Romanese, Royal LePage senior vice-president in Toronto, explained in a phone interview there has been "greater demand than supply the last 10 years despite that exodus (of Montrealers)." "The combination of a shortage of inventory and virtually no space in the city for new development led to the significant gains that Montreal experienced over the past decade," he added. "Also contributing to the city's rising house prices is the fact that historically, Montreal's prices were well below the Canadian average." Romanese said "as the country experienced a rapid expansion cycle in the early 2000s, Montreal followed suit with house prices near, or more than, doubling." He pointed out urban enclaves such as N.D.G. hold the most appeal to homeowners because of their proximity to businesses, trendy shopping areas, restaurants and public transit. "The preference for urban dwelling has helped fuel healthy price increases in recent years, with the sharpest rate of appreciation taking place in the past five years." The survey found that shortages of inventory in popular urban residential markets caused many purchasers to look to the urban periphery and then to the suburbs to satisfy their housing needs. "Looking ahead 10 years, it is likely that both Montreal's urban neighbourhoods, as well as their surrounding suburbs, will both see solid price appreciations," Romanese said. "With the city's transit system anticipated to eventually extend out to the St. Lambert area, it's likely more people will consider moving away from the city." But stressing that Montreal remains "a vibrant city with some of the finest restaurants and cultural activities in the country, there are buyers who will always clamour for a home in the heart of the city." He suggested the local situation anwers the age-old question of whether it's best to live in the city or the suburbs. "It depends on what you're looking for, it's a lifestyle choice and by and large, whether you invest in an urban or a suburban area, you should do equally well if history (of the past decade) repeats itself." [email protected] © The Gazette 2008
  5. No its not the suburbs, it's Libera. If you can't deal with extremly disturbing subjects please leave this thread. This is a 8 parts mini-series... five have been published, three more to come in the next few days. Trailer: http://www.vbs.tv/watch/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia-trailer Part 1 : http://www.vbs.tv/watch/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia-1-of-8 Other parts are on the bottom of the page on vice tv.
  6. Hello, I'll be in montreal this summer for about 2 months and i'd like to know if there are any affordable apartments I can rent in downtown. The school I'll go to has 2 options, homestay and residences. I stayed at the mcgill residences the first time and well, didn't like the shared bathroom, lack of A/C and the fact that it was extremely small, specially for 700 bucks a month. Homestay could be good, specially for practicing my french but a lot of times the families you stay with are not in montreal but in the suburbs and I like to go out so I don't if there are curfews or something, I mean I don't think I can go back home drunk at 5 am. So can you guys help me out?
  7. plannersweb.com/2014/02/walmart-stores-go-small-urban/ <header style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'Minion W01 Regular', Times, serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 21px;"> Taking a Closer Look Walmart Stores Go Small and Urban by Edward McMahon </header>Can big box retailers think outside the box? A few years ago the idea of a pedestrian friendly big box store would have been laughable, but as urban living has become more popular the major chain retailers are paying attention and beginning to build urban format stores. On December 4, 2013 Walmart opened its first two stores in Washington, DC and the new stores illustrate the lengths to which brick and mortar retailers will go to get into rapidly growing urban markets. Compared to the old “grey-blue battleship box” that has saturated suburban and small town America, the new urban Walmart on H Street, NW in Washington is a remarkable departure. <figure id="attachment_13030" class="thumbnail wp-caption aligncenter" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; margin: 0px auto; width: 520px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">View of Walmart on H Street, NW in Washington, DC. Photo by Edward McMahon.</figcaption></figure> Whether you love them or loathe them, this building proves that Walmart — one of the most recognizable symbols of modern suburbia — is going urban. Who ever thought that Walmart shoppers could sleep upstairs and shop downstairs, but that is exactly what residents of the new Walmart near downtown Washington will be able to do. The 83,000 square ft. store built in partnership with JBG Rosenfeld is in a mixed use building topped by four stories of apartments. Instead of acres of asphalt, the parking is underground. In addition to the Walmart, there is another 10,000 square ft. of retail space wrapped around the outside of the retail giant. Retail tenants currently include a Starbucks and a bank, with more to follow. The residential portion of the building contains 303 apartments, a fitness center, a lounge area, a roof deck, and a swimming pool. <figure id="attachment_13034" class="thumbnail wp-caption aligncenter" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; margin: 0px auto; width: 520px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">View of roof deck and pool on top of the H Street Walmart in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of JBG Companies.</figcaption></figure>The main store entrance sits right on the sidewalk and shoppers will use an escalator to reach the store level. The store itself offers more groceries than a typical Walmart and the shopping floor is day lighted by real windows. Designed by MV+A Architects and the Preston Partnership, the H Street Walmart is a handsome urban building with traditional human scale details. It includes cornices, individual multi-pane windows, an interesting corner feature at the main entrance, and a separate entrance for residents. It is a fully urban, pedestrian friendly building. Whether you love them or loathe them, this building proves that Walmart — one of the most recognizable symbols of modern suburbia — is going urban. While the H Street store is by far the better of the two new urban Walmart’s in Washington, the other new store on Georgia Avenue, NW is also a significant departure from the typical suburban store design. Built on the site of an abandoned car dealership, the Georgia Avenue Walmart is a 102,000 square foot store on a four acre site. <figure id="attachment_13036" class="thumbnail wp-caption aligncenter" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; margin: 0px auto; width: 520px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">View of the new Walmart on Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC. Photo by Edward McMahon.</figcaption></figure>Given the small size of the property, the only way to build a large store was to eliminate surface parking and bring the store right up to the sidewalk. The parking is located in a garage located directly below the store. While the building is not mixed use, it does greet the street and represent a real evolution for Walmart. The lesson here is that cities that want good design are going to have to demand it. In addition to the two stores that opened in December, 2013, Walmart has announced plans for four additional stores in Washington. Based on a review of their plans, some will be walkable, urban format stores, others will not. Dan Malouff, a design critic with the Greater Greater Washington blog, says that one will be unquestionably urban, one will be a hybrid, and two will be almost completely suburban. 1 The lesson here is that cities that want good design are going to have to demand it. <figure id="attachment_13042" class="thumbnail wp-caption aligncenter" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; margin: 0px auto; width: 520px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">Design rendering of Walmart now under construction in Washington’s Fort Totten neighborhood. Graphic courtesy of JBG Companies.</figcaption></figure>Building an Urban Format Store Can Walmart build an urban format store? The answer appears to be yes, but it also appears that the only thing standard in an urban format big box store is its lack of standardization. Building suburban big box stores is simple. Buy a 20 acre suburban greenfield site. Build a large, free standing rectangular single floor building on a concrete slab. Plop the building in a sea of parking. A Walmart Supercenter in the suburbs of Atlanta, for example, is essentially identical to one in the suburbs of Chicago or Cincinnati. This model simply won’t work in a dense urban area. The two things that have kept Walmart out of cities were its inflexibility on design issues and opposition from labor unions and civic activists who oppose the company because of its low wages and negative impact on existing local businesses. Now that it appears that Walmart is willing (when pushed by local government) to adapt its stores to the urban environment, it is likely only a matter of time before the retail giant moves into cities all over the country. <figure id="attachment_13043" class="thumbnail wp-caption alignleft" style="padding: 0px; line-height: 20px; border: none; border-top-left-radius: 0px; border-top-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-right-radius: 0px; border-bottom-left-radius: 0px; -webkit-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; float: left; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; width: 320px;"><figcaption class="caption wp-caption-text" style="font-style: italic; font-size: 14px; padding: 9px; color: rgb(85, 85, 85);">Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago’s Loop. photo by Eric Allix Rogers, Flickr Creative Commons license.</figcaption></figure>Big Boxes are Getting Smaller Another thing that is clear is that big boxes are getting smaller. The new 80,000 square ft. Walmart in Washington is half the size of many suburban Supercenters. What’s more, Walmart is creating new formats uniquely designed for cities. The new Walmart Neighborhood Market, for example, is only 40,000 square feet while the so-called Walmart Express stores are only 15,000 square feet. Walmart has even opened two college stores, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta 2 and at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. 3 Each of these stores is less than 5000 square feet in size. [TABLE=class: tg, width: 475] <tbody>[TR] [TH=class: tg-acmm, bgcolor: #F1C40F]Store Type[/TH] [TH=class: tg-acmm, bgcolor: #F1C40F]Square Footage[/TH] [TH=class: tg-acmm, bgcolor: #F1C40F]Date Initiated[/TH] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]Discount Store[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]106,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]1962[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]Supercenter[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]182,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]1982[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]Neighborhood Market[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]38,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]1998[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]Express Store[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]15,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]2011[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD=class: tg-031e]College Store[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]Under 5,000 sq. ft.[/TD] [TD=class: tg-031e]2013[/TD] [/TR] </tbody>[/TABLE] Times have changed. The country’s largest retailers have oversaturated rural and suburban communities. The only place left with more spending power than stores is in our cities. Walmart has made its urban debut. The outstanding question remaining is: what impact will Walmart have on local economies and wages? Washington, DC, City Councilman Phil Mendelson, a co-sponsor of unsuccessful legislation that would have required big box retailers to pay a living wage and benefits, expressed skepticism about the impact of Walmart on the local economy. “I would say, having the world’s largest retailer interested in locating in the city where we’ve lost almost every other department store over the last four decades — that’s a good thing. Having an economic competitor who underprices the market and causes a descent to the bottom, in terms of wages — that is not a good thing.”4 While Walmart is clearly evolving to fit into cities, there is also evidence that the retail giant is willing to break the mold in smaller towns and suburbs. What About Smaller Towns & Suburbs? While Walmart is clearly evolving to fit into cities, there is also evidence that the retail giant is willing to break the mold in smaller towns and suburbs. This is because retail store size is shrinking due to the growth of internet shopping and also because suburbs are changing to stay competitive. Target, Whole Foods, Safeway, Giant, and other chains are already breaking the rules by building smaller footprint stores in multi-story buildings and mixed use developments. Walmart has recently opened several small town stores with parking under the building or with solar installations on the roof. What impact Walmart and other big box retailers will have on cities and the neighborhoods where they locate remains to be seen. Harriet Tregoning, the planning Director in Washington, DC, says that “Walmart does not offer any meaningful shopping experience. It competes solely on price and convenience.” 5Her message to small businesses is that “if you are in direct competition with Walmart you are in the wrong business to begin with.” Instead she says “businesses that offer something Walmart can’t like bars, restaurants and stores selling specialty goods or offering personalized levels of service — will continue to thrive.” In some ways, the idea of national chains opening big new urban stores is a return to the way things once were. In 1960, we called it department store. Today we call it a Walmart. Ed McMahon is one of the country’s most incisive analysts of planning and land use issues and trends. He holds the Charles Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development and is a Senior Resident Fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC. McMahon is a frequent speaker at conferences on planning and land development. Over the past 21 years, we’ve been pleased to have published more than two dozen articles by McMahon in the Planning Commissioners Journal, and now on PlannersWeb.com. Notes: Dan Maloutt, “Walmart’s 6 DC stores: Some will be urban, some won’t” (Greater Greater Washington blog, April 26, 2012) ↩ Allison Brooks, “The world’s tiniest Walmart opens in Atlanta” (Atlanta Magazine, Aug. 14, 2013 ↩ Todd Gill, “Now open: Walmart on Campus” (Fayetteville Flyer, Jan. 14, 2011).↩ Ryan Holeywell, “Walmart Makes Its Urban Debut” (Governing Magazine, June 2012) ↩ Id. ↩
  8. Cities Grow at Suburbs' Expense During Recession By CONOR DOUGHERTY U.S. cities that for years lost residents to the suburbs are holding onto their populations with a mix of people trapped in homes they can't sell and those who prefer urban digs over more distant McMansions, according to Census data released Wednesday. Growing cities are growing faster and shrinking cities are losing fewer people, reflecting a blend of choice and circumstance. In Chicago, Matthew Sessa and his wife sold their townhouse and decided against buying a four-bedroom house in the suburbs. They bought a three-bedroom in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood instead, with a yard not much bigger than their garage. "What we ended up getting in the city was just as nice, and the neighborhood that we moved into also has a very good elementary and junior high," said Mr. Sessa, a commercial banker who is 37 years old and has a baby due any day. But Chicago is also becoming home to people who can't sell their houses or find jobs elsewhere. Jhonathan Gomez, an organizer with the Latino Union of Chicago, a nonprofit that works with day laborers, said many immigrant workers have been moving back to the city from suburbs including Berwyn and Cicero. Mr. Gomez, who organizes on the north side of Chicago, said at one intersection in the city's Avondale neighborhood, the number of day laborers has roughly doubled in the past year, to as many as 150 or more on a typical day. "There's a lot of people moving to the city and looking for work because there's higher density and more jobs," he said. Chicago's population grew at a 0.73% annual rate in the year ended in July 2008 from 0.23% a year earlier and declines in the previous five years, according to an analysis of Census data by William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Population growth also accelerated in smaller cities such as Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio. Growing cities are growing faster and shrinking cities are losing fewer people, reflecting a blend of choice and circumstance. The Census data underscored how the recession and the real-estate slump have curbed migration, especially to suburbs and outer areas known as exurbs. The central-city population in U.S. metropolitan areas with more than one million people (excluding New Orleans, where recent growth rates reflect residents returning to the city following Hurricane Katrina) grew at an annual rate of 0.97% between July 2007 and July 2008, according to Mr. Frey's analysis. That compared with a growth rate of 0.90% in 2006-2007, and growth rates around 0.5% in the years between 2002 and 2005, when the robust real-estate market led to new jobs and new housing developments outside the cities, where open land is more plentiful. "This shows cities were reviving at the end of this decade, and they are also surviving a recession that has been a lot harsher for other parts of our landscape," Mr. Frey said. "Cities are big enough and diverse enough that they are able to survive these ups and downs in the economy a lot better." Population growth in the cities has translated to slower growth in the suburbs. U.S. suburbs in metro areas greater than 1 million people grew at a 1.11% annual rate in 2007-2008, the same as a year earlier and down from growth rates between 1.29% and 1.48% between 2002 and 2005, according to Mr. Frey's analysis. Brad Andersen, a managing broker at Griffith, Grant & Lackie Realtors said sales in suburban Chicago have fallen off considerably as real-estate prices have declined. In the Lake Forest suburb, there were 157 homes sold in 2008, compared with 227 a year earlier. "The money people planned to use as a down payment for the next home is no longer available," Mr. Andersen said. In Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown said his administration has put much of its effort into programs that aim to stanch the outflow of residents, from redeveloping the city's waterfront to residential projects such as a former office building that has been converted into condominiums. He hopes that when the recession ends, the city will continue to hold on to more residents. "What we have been trying to do is position ourselves as a community that people will want to live in," he said. Population growth is starting to strain services in some cities. Public School 290 in Manhattan has about 650 students, about 250 more than capacity and above the posted fire-code occupancy. New York City's population grew at a 0.64% annual rate in 2007-2008, compared with growth rates between 0.37% and 0.55% from 2002 to 2005. The school has so little space that students who need occupational therapy have to meet with a therapist in a copy room, says Andy Lachman, an officer of the school's parent-teacher association whose daughter will be in fifth grade next year. "It adds stress to a situation that shouldn't have to be there," said Mr. Lachman. With the slowdown in construction and service jobs on the urban edges where development was greatest, a bigger share of immigrants are moving to central cities, instead of directly to the suburbs as they had during the real estate boom. The upshot is that the spread of racial diversity, which had been moving beyond gateway cities such as Los Angeles to suburbs and interior states, has slowed with the economy. Meanwhile, growth in urban Hispanic and Asian populations, much of it fueled by immigration, has accelerated in many city centers. That has already showed up in county demographic data released by the Census last month. In California, which saw Hispanic population growth slow during the housing boom as many immigrants bypassed the state and native-born Hispanics moved for opportunities elsewhere, the Hispanic growth rate increased to 2.4% in 2007-2008 from 2% a year earlier. Many Sunbelt cities saw population-growth slow from the torrid rates during the housing boom. In Tucson, the population grew at an annual rate just under 1% in 2007-2008, down from 1.35% in 2006-2007. Las Vegas's population slowdown was even more dramatic. It grew at a 0.38% annual rate in 2007-2008, down from 1.04% in 2006-2007 and rates as high as 3.30% during the height of the housing boom. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124641839713978195.html
  9. The Shopping Mall Turns 60 (and Prepares to Retire) The Atlantic Cities EMILY BADGER JUL 13, 2012 The enclosed suburban shopping mall has become so synonymous with the American landscape that it’s hard to imagine the original idea for it ever springing from some particular person's imagination. Now the scheme seems obvious: of course Americans want to amble indoors in a million square feet of air-conditioned retail, of course we will need a food court because so much shopping can’t be done without meal breaks, and of course we will require 10,000 parking spaces ringing the whole thing to accommodate all our cars. The classic indoor mall, however, is widely credited with having an inventor. And when the Vienna-born architect Victor Gruen first outlined his vision for it in a 1952 article in the magazine Progressive Architecture, the plan was a shocker. Most Americans were still shopping downtown, and suburban "shopping centers," to the extent they existed, were most definitely not enclosed in indoor mega-destinations. At the mall’s peak popularity, in 1990, America opened 19 of them. But we haven’t cut the ribbon on a new one since 2006. Gruen’s idea transformed American consumption patterns and much of the environment around us. At age 60, however, the enclosed regional shopping mall also appears to be an idea that has run its course (OK, maybe not in China, but among Gruen’s original clientele). He opened the first prototype in Edina, Minnesota, in 1956, and the concept spread from there (this also means the earliest examples of the archetypal American mall are now of age for historic designation, if anyone wants to make that argument). At the mall’s peak popularity, in 1990, America opened 19 of them. But we haven’t cut the ribbon on a new one since 2006, for reasons that go beyond the recession. As we imagine ways to repurpose these aging monoliths and what the next generation of retail should look like, it’s worth recalling Gruen’s odd legacy. He hated suburbia. He thought his ideas would revitalize cities. He wanted to bring urban density to the suburbs. And he envisioned shopping malls as our best chance at containing sprawl. "He said great quotes on suburbia being 'soulless' and 'in search of a heart,'" says Jeff Hardwick, who wrote the Gruen biography Mall Maker. "He just goes on and on with these critiques. And they occur really early in his writing as well. So it’s not as if he ends up bemoaning suburbia later. He’s critiquing suburbia pretty much from the get-go, and of course the remedy he offers is the shopping mall." Gruen wanted to create better versions of the American downtown in the suburbs. He wanted these places to be civic centers as much as commercial ones, with day cares, libraries, post offices, community halls and public art. He wanted the shopping mall to be for suburbia what the public square was to old European cities. In fact, that mall in Edina, called Southdale, was supposed to be the centerpiece of a 500-acre master plan to include houses, apartments, office buildings, a medical center and schools. In his book, Hardwick unearths a great quote from the president of Dayton’s, the downtown Minneapolis department store that developed Southdale. He, like Gruen, believed that all of this could happen at no expense to the city. "We do not believe," he said, "we or anybody else will lose any business because of the suburban move." • • • • • Gruen’s creations did an amazing job of luring customers (and holding them captive in the shopping bliss now known as the Gruen Effect). The day Southdale opened, 75,000 happy shoppers streamed in. And it’s hard to imagine now where Gruen thought these people were coming from, if not in an exodus from downtown. He also built a series of satellite shopping centers around Detroit for the department store J.L. Hudson. When the first of them opened in 1954, Detroit was the fifth largest city in the country and the fastest growing in the East or Midwest. Of course Gruen’s shopping centers aren’t solely to blame for Detroit’s decline. But his idea helped set off a chain reaction that recurred in cities everywhere. Suburban malls drew consumers who found shopping and parking in the city too difficult. They contributed to a boom in development that enabled not just shopping dollars, but whole households to relocate to suburbia. Cities, eying this exodus, tore down buildings and tried unsuccessfully to recreate the ease of parking and the shopping experience people found in the suburbs. And this only further hastened their decline. "Gruen will often go on about how they’re going to push each other, 'what we’ve created in the suburbs can now be a model for downtown,'" Hardwick says. "But he doesn’t imagine that what we created in the suburbs is going to bankrupt downtown." In Edina, those plans for a whole town anchored around the mall were never executed, and perhaps Gruen was naïve to think the developers of shopping malls would also be interested in developing entire communities. At the time, Gruen believed that by locating all of a community’s shopping needs in an enclosed mall, with a nondescript exterior, we could do away with the "commercial blight" of scattered hot-dog stands and gas stations and neon storefronts that made America, in his eyes, so ugly. But the property value around Southdale quickly went up. And instead of developing the full 500-acre site, Dayton’s sold off chunks of it for what would become the kind of "anonymous mass housing" Gruen detested, and precisely more of the commercial sprawl he wanted to eradicate. Repeatedly, his plans did not turn out as he had imagined them, and later in life he bitterly lamented that Americans had debased his ideas. In one of the strangest legacies of his career, just as he was building these suburban shopping malls, Gruen was trying to revitalize urban downtowns with pedestrian-friendly master plans for cities like Fort Worth, Texas, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. He wanted to bring people back into the city even as he was trying to bring city-like amenities to the suburbs that lured so many people away. "They’re totally at odds," Hardwick says. "He never is able to explain that, or justify it. It’s a fundamental contradiction of his career." And then there was the problem in the suburbs of all that mall parking. How do you make a mall the civic heart of a community when it is, by definition, isolated in a sea of asphalt? "Even if we had realized Gruen’s ideas," says Georgia Tech professor Ellen Dunham-Jones, "if it’s just this self-contained pod surrounded by berms that you drive to, I don’t think the suburbs would actually look or function all that differently [today]." • • • • • By Dunham-Jones' count, today about a third of our existing malls are "dead" or dying. That’s not to say they’re mostly vacant. But they have dreadful sales per square foot. High-end dress stores have moved out, and tattoo parlors have replaced them – "things," Dunham-Jones says, "that would normally be considered way too déclassé for a mall." About a third of our malls are still thriving, and those are the biggest, newest ones. But America is no longer building many new highways, which means we’ve stopped creating prime new locations for mall development. Some of the earliest amenities of the enclosed mall – air-conditioning! – no longer impress us. And the demographics of suburbia have changed dramatically. Malls draw the largest share of their customers from teenagers, and the baby boomers who largely populate suburbia no longer have teenagers at home. For all these reasons, the suburban mall of Gruen’s plan appears to be victim of more than just the recession. Dunham-Jones, who has tracked this trend in her book Retrofitting Suburbia, estimates that more than 40 malls nationwide have been targeted for significant redevelopment. And she can count 29 that have already been repurposed, or that have construction underway. In 2010, Columbus, Ohio, tore down the dead mall in its downtown for a park. Voorhees, New Jersey, demolished half of its dead mall, built a new main street and relocated its city hall into the remaining building. In Denver, eight of the area’s 13 regional malls now have plans for redevelopment. One of them, in suburban Lakewood, was converted from a 100-acre super block into 22 walkable blocks with retail and residences. "It’s the downtown that Lakewood never had before," Dunham-Jones says. Ironically, this is what Gruen had been aiming for. "Except that now it’s open-air." Americans haven’t particularly outgrown the consumer impulse that Gruen detected. We still love to flock to dense agglomerations of Body Shops and Cinnabuns and Brookstones. But now those places look increasingly like open-air "lifestyle centers," with condos above or offices next door. Some of these places are just the old mall in a new Main Street disguise. But when you add residences, and cut Gruen’s mega-block into what actually looks like a downtown street grid, that begins to change things. "You’ve got to get a mix of uses, but the connectivity is probably even more important," Dunham-Jones says. "The uses will come and go over time, but if you can establish a walkable network of streets, that’s when you’re really going to establish a ripple effect in changing suburban patterns."
  10. http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/23/sane-way-run-megalopolis-urban-governance?utm_source=SFFB Protesters march through the streets of Ferguson in August. Aaron M Renn Thursday 23 April 2015 15.39 BST Last modified on Thursday 23 April 2015 16.57 BST The death of Michael Brown, shot by a police officer last year in Ferguson, Missouri, triggered civil unrest and protests that have yet to subside, with two police officers recently shot in the city. The media has blamed lots of things for the chaos that has engulfed Ferguson, from racism to inequality, but one factor might raise an eyebrow: municipal fragmentation in the St Louis area. There are 90 separate cities and towns in St Louis County alone, which has created a landscape of small, cash-strapped cities pulling on tiny tax bases to finance their governments. The US Justice Department has specifically accused Ferguson of using its police department as a revenue-raising arm, with a racial bias and as such it could be argued that municipal fragmentation played a role in creating the conditions that produced police-community tensions in Ferguson. A few year earlier, in 2010 and 800 miles to the north-east, Toronto elected the suburban politician Rob Ford from Etobicoke as mayor. Ford swept into office pledging to “stop the gravy train” and cut spending, cancelling bike infrastructure and streetcars. His sensibilities appalled urban Torontonians. The urban studies theorist Richard Florida called him “the worst and most anti-urban mayor in the history of any major city”. His mayoralty ultimately collapsed in a wave of scandals, including when he got caught on video smoking crack. People in ​​living in cities and those in their suburbs often have different values, priorities and cultures One of the factors blamed for the Rob Ford phenomenon? Amalgamation, or the consolidation of the city of Toronto with several formerly independent municipalities, including Etobicoke. It is amalgamation that allowed suburbanites to take control of governance over the inner city by electing one of their own as mayor. Welcome to the wonderful world of governing urban regions, where between fragmentation and amalgamation no one actually knows what the right-sized box for local government is or how to change it – but everyone can see the problems of most of the existing governance models. An election on 7 April was seen as a critical step toward ending racially discriminatory practices that thrust the St. Louis suburb into the national spotlight last year. An election on 7 April was seen as a critical step toward ending racially discriminatory practices that thrust the St Louis suburb into the national spotlight last year. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters Municipal fragmentation has been criticised for decades. In Cities Without Suburbs, his influential 1993 book, former Albuquerque mayor David Rusk argued that Rust Belt cities in the US failed to succeed in part because they were unable to expand, and found themselves hemmed in by a jigsaw puzzle of independent suburbs. Advertisement But with cities having become central to national governance in the 21st century, institutions like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank are weighing in, too. Both recently sounded the alarm about the risks of urban fragmentation on a global level, for the developed and the developing world. “Often, administrative boundaries between municipalities are based on centuries-old borders that do not correspond to contemporary patterns of human settlement and economic activity,” the OECD observed in a recent report. The thinktank argued that governance structures failed to reflect modern realities of metropolitan life into account. Behind the report’s dry prose lies a real problem. Fragmentation affects a whole range of things, including the economy. The OECD estimates that for regions of equal population, doubling the number of governments reduces productivity by 6%. It recommends reducing this effect with a regional coordinating body, which can also reduce sprawl, increase public transport satisfaction (by 14 percentage points, apparently) and improve air quality. The World Bank, meanwhile, is worried about the way rapid growth in developing cities has created fragmentation there, too. Metropolises often sprawl well beyond government boundaries: Jakarta, for example, has spread into three separate provinces. The World Bank calls fragmentation “a significant challenge in the East Asia region”. Urban fragmentation in Jakarta Urban fragmentation in Jakarta. The urban area covers 1,600 sq km and 12 jurisdictions. Photograph: World Bank/University of Wisconsin-Madison “It’s quite a surprise how much fragmentation there is,” says Judy Baker, one of the authors of the World Bank’s recent report titled East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape. “It’s a challenge for almost every city.” Among the surprising findings of the report is that 135 of the nearly 350 urban regions they surveyed in East Asia had no dominant local jurisdiction. The glaring example here is of course the largest urban area in the world, the Pearl River Delta region in China, a megapolitan region that includes many major cities, including Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and others. In Manila in the Philippines, no less than 85 municipalities are involved in the megacity’s governance. Advertisement Planners love efficiency, but even on a piece of paper it can be hard to know what size box to draw. As the OECD put it: “Even if policymakers try to reorganise local governments according to functional relations within urban agglomerations, it is often difficult to identify boundaries between functionally integrated areas.” In plain English: nobody really knows where to draw the lines. And as the Toronto example shows, amalgamation – bringing fragmented government regions together – comes with downsides of its own. Of course, you can put people in the same governmental box, but that won’t necessarily create common ground – instead, it can create a zero-sum, winner-takes-all dynamic. People in living in cities and those in their suburbs often have different values, priorities and even a different culture. They can be, as was famously said of English and French Canada, “two solitudes”. Urbanites who support regional governance frequently assume that means more power, money and resources for the central city. But as Rob Ford so richly illustrated, that’s not always the case. Among those who stand to lose from regional government are minorities. In Ferguson, black residents were already under-represented in government relative to their population. But as a voting block they would find their strength heavily diluted in a merged government: Ferguson is more than two-thirds African-American, while St Louis County plus the city of St Louis together are about 70% white. Unsurprisingly, central cities tend to prefer regional revenue-sharing without giving up political control. Detroit, despite serious financial problems, has viciously fought sharing control over city assets, even where they serve a broader region. Detroit’s convention centre is a good example of the tensions that can arise: it took years to agree renovations to the building, as despite arguing the suburbs should help pay for the building they partly enjoy, the city did not want to cede any control over it. Part of the city’s bankruptcy “grand bargain” involved raising regional water rates to funnel money back into the city while retaining city ownership over a regional water utility. But simply creating revenue streams, via regional cash sharing or consolidation, doesn’t guarantee better governance, as Detroit proves. Putting people in the same governmental box doesn’t necessarily create common ground, as the example of Toronto shows. Putting people in the same governmental box doesn’t necessarily create common ground, as the example of Toronto shows. Photograph: Alamy Indianapolis is also an instructive case. The city established a consolidated regional government in 1970 called Unigov (which Rusk hailed as a model). Unigov expanded the city’s tax base by amalgamating most of its new, fast-growing suburbs into the city. But the urban region continued to sprawl, eventually going beyond even the newly consolidated boundaries. Today’s growth in Indianapolis is all happening outside Unigov’s borders, and the city now finds itself supporting ageing suburban areas – just like Ferguson in St Louis – that it can’t afford. Consolidated government arguably gave Indianapolis four decades of financial breathing room, but that simply let it put off reform. Similarly, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was originally a well-functioning regional governance body, but is now a quagmire of dysfunction. The soaring costs of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s $4.2bn PATH subway station at the World Trade Centre – and a proposal to spend $10bn to replace a bus station – are examples of an agency that has lost its grip on fiscal reality. No perfect solution exists, some cities have got it more right than others If no perfect solution exists, some cities have got it more right than others. The Greater London Authority (GLA) – because of its limited scope mostly focused on transport, public safety and economic development – has focused on doing a few things well. Its focus on transportation is targeted at an area where regional coordination really is crucial. Clearly, transport has to be designed and implemented on a regional basis, at least for major infrastructure. New York’s Port Authority arguably went off the rails in the late 1960s when it expanded beyond transportation and got into the real estate business by building the World Trade Centre. So the best way to start charting a middle ground between fragmentation and amalgamation might be for cities to look for ways to better regionalise transport governance. It won’t be easy, not least because of the common fighting over territory, both geographical and bureaucratic. London’s success with the GLA, compared with how amalgamation set Toronto’s transport planning back a decade or more, shows that creating a regional entity is only half the battle. The real drive is to create regional agreement and consensus . As cities mushroom and fragmentation increases, that consensus is becoming more crucial – and harder to achieve – than ever. sent via Tapatalk
  11. Urban areas see revival in housing construction http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2009-03-10-urban-construction_N.htm?csp=34