Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Once Around the Block - October 6, 2015

Here's a wrap-up of the past week's interesting urban planning, urbanism, government affairs (okay, and maybe athletics) stories.

First, a trio of stories from Dallas.

Can too much of a good thing be a bad thing for cities? Yes, according to Mark Lamster, the Dallas Morning News architecture critic. A great quote here:

If you’re thinking, hey, it’s a private development, how they build it is their business, you might consider that the shaping of public space is something in which every citizen has a stake and that this project, like so many others in this city, is subsidized through tax increment financing (TIF) dollars. Which is to say, it is effectively being built with your money.

While the Texas Central Railway between Houston and Dallas is gaining its share of attention, the same cannot be said for the Commission for High-Speed Rail in the Dallas/Fort Worth Region. But it probably should. For $4 billion, planners are working on a high speed rail route between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Also from Dallas, D Magazine shows the real estate revitalization that has taken place around Klyde Warren Park.

Here in Houston, drainage has turned into a big political battle. Next City notes that this battle could be the next battle in any other city.

City Observatory posted a video this past week discussing the high cost of affordable housing. I have not watched the discussion, but hope to in the future. One thing that was a take-way was that while more and more people desire to live in cities, we just aren't building enough cities; at least not in the form that allows for more affordable housing.

And, to continue with affordable housing, here are stories from both Washington, DC and Chicago. DC's public housing agency has sold some of their housing to provide for more housing funding.

NJ Transit used pizza promotions to boost the use of transit to New Jersey beaches. NJ Transit used traditional paper advertising on pizza boxes in areas that had a majority of 25-35 year olds, as well as nail salons and movie theaters.

Here's a blog post about a young man who traveled across the United States on Amtrak for $213. Also, check out Amtrak's writer's residency. You basically get to travel across the country writing while enjoying America's beauty by train.

I enjoy puns and cities. This map of pun-related businesses from Atlas Obscura is wonderful. (How is there not a paint store in Houston called Hue-ston?!)

These are the cities you want to go to if you're a female entrepreneur.

Over at Urbanophile Aaron Renn gives an account of Chicago's continued reclamation of its riverfront, specifically detailing the building of riverfront walkways. The river walkway project is one that should be a jewel of Rahm Emanuel's tenure as Chicago's mayor. Here in Houston I often wonder if this will be the next step in Downtown Houston's revitalization. Buffalo Bayou Park had its grand opening this weekend, and the trail system along Buffalo Bayou is heavily used. It's a shame that Harris County's jail complex takes up most of the prime bayoufront property along Buffalo Bayou after it converges with White Oak Bayou. Nonetheless, there is great potential for this part of Downtown Houston to become a bayoufront destination, and the redevelopment of the Sunset Coffee Building will likely be a catalyst.

Now, for a few stories from Michigan and Detroit:

Local governments in Michigan are finally starting to see the effects of tax breaks for big-box retailers. Governments are claiming that many retailers are gaining adjustments to their assessments, leading to less tax revenue when compared to other similar functioning sites. Also, the story gives a glimpse of the tactics that big-box retailers will use to ensure competitive advantage, including deed restrictions limiting the use of former big box sites after stores may move to larger properties. Big box stores "are shifting the burden for basic public services to their smaller competitors and to residents. This trend cannot be sustained."

With a "59 percent increase in the number of college-educated youth under age 35" making Detroit home in the last decade, there are a number of Detroiters who may have different perspectives about Detroit's current renaissance.

Pete Saunders talks about the demographic equilibrium in cities, using Detroit as an example.

A great video of different types of design in Detroit from the Detroit Creative Corridor.

"Detroit: City of Design" Detroit Creative Corridor presents a film by Stephen McGee from Detroit Design Festival on Vimeo.

And finally, from the sports world:

As the Chicago Cubs prepare for their wildcard game on Wednesday, a story from ESPN chronicling the new ownership approach taken by the Ricketts family, and what it may mean for the Wrigleyville neighborhood.

As the NHL season begins this week, the New York Islanders begin their first season at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. In order to fit in, the Islanders' goal horn will feature the sound of New York's subway horn. New York's MTA partnered with the Islanders on the project. The horn will be that of the R160 subway cars. Islanders players have taken to riding public transit to work, something that fans will now have to get accustomed to as well. Other changes have accompanied the Islanders' move to Brooklyn, signifying a less blue collar experience compared to that of Nassau Coliseum.

And finally, a look at the recent trend in professional athletes making larger donations to their former colleges. A few weeks ago, Golden State Warrior Draymond Green pledged $3.1 million to the Michigan State University athletic department, the largest contribution of its kind by a former student athlete.