New Urbanism, a neo-traditional town planning movement, has earned widespread public attention since the first new urbanist housing developments were built in the early 1980s.
Will New Urbanism developments become exclusive enclaves for the rich?
How does public transportation fit into New Urbanism design?
Are New Urbanism developments financially successful?
Can New Urbanism developments feel genuine?
Does New Urbanism apply to existing urban areas?
Is there a list of New Urbanism communities?Viewer Comments
Paul Crowe-Wermund asks:
How does public transportation figure into your movement? Do you find that other developers work in an organic extention of your neighborhoods or do they function mostly as stand alone developments?
Prof. Dorn McGrath of George Washington University responds:
This question should be asked of the leaders of the public transportation industry as well as of the "movement" people. Bear in mind that most developers do what they did yesterday, and that was not necessarily "new urbanism."
Jeff Speck, co-author of Suburban Nation, responds:
We talk about these subjects at length in Suburban Nation, which I hope you will read. Smart Growth is by far most meaningful at the regional scale, such that the neighborhoods that we (and others) design are interconnected in a transit system. The real goals of the movement will not be achieved unless public transit plays a powerful role. As far as connecting to adjacent developments, I have pasted a small piece from the book below. In those few projects old enough (Seaside and Kentlands), subsequent adjacent developers have been great about attaching directly to them; they want to connect with the market success of the TND.
From the book:
If a new neighborhood is to contribute more to its region than traffic, it must do more than just mix uses. Its relationship to its neighbors is important as well. In order to avoid the inefficient hierarchical street pattern of sprawl, in which virtually every trip uses the same few collector roads, the new neighborhood must connect wherever practical to everything around it, even if its neighbors are nothing but single-use pods. One must say "wherever practical," because it is obviously not possible to connect across superhighways or riverbeds, nor is it advisable to connect to oil refineries or trucking depots. But all compatible land uses should be connected, especially between residential areas, the most common adjacency. This is easier said than done. Whenever we design a new neighborhood, we make every effort to convince the adjacent subdivisions to allow us to connect to them. We'll go so far as to place the most luxurious housing directly abutting the neighbors, whatever the quality of their housing. We hand them photographs and testimonials from our other developments, and appraisals demonstrating their impressive financial performance.
For example: Seaside is connected in no fewer than three places to pre-existing Seagrove, to its east. There is almost no perceptible seam between the two communities. As a result, lots in Seagrove have shared in Seaside's 25% average annual appreciation since 1980, rising in value approximately 10% each year. On the other hand, there is Washingtonian Woods, a townhouse development adjacent to the new town of Kentlands, which was not allowed to connect. While lots at Kentlands have been appreciating at 12% since 1991, Washingtonian Woods has hardly kept pace with inflation. Even when presented with the evidence, subdivision residents rarely want to associate with us. In a recent project in Warwick, New York, a woman went so far as to drag her six-year- old daughter to the microphone to wail about the suffering she would endure due to the proposed development.
At the hearing for another project, in suburban Utah, a neighbor circulated this letter: [The planner] states, with deliberate intent to deceive, that 'The lives of kids are enriched with narrow streets; kids are everywhere, they can play in the streets and alleys.' Street play is mindful of tenements in the big eastern cities, where yards are absent. When kids are not in your yard, but are away from your supervision and out where kids govern, the gang culture prevails. Might and fear will rule the street. We will experience the drive-by shootings that are gang-member initiations. Children away from home are far more susceptible to being kidnaped, daughters and sons to being attacked and raped at the playground some blocks away.
Whether or not they are justified, Nimbys can be effective barriers to community connectivity, which explains why many new town plans have relatively few entrances and exits. When refused access to neighboring subdivisions, we instead try to place a few road easements or pedestrian paths in strategic locations, so that the neighbors have the option of changing their minds later.
Next: Are New Urbanism developments financially successful?