What Cities Gain When They Embrace the Artisans

The multi-year process of rewriting the city’s development code caused a significant amount of sturm und drang, especially among the downtown folks, but here on Business Loop, we saw some new avenues open up. Under the new codes, activities on mixed-use corridors such as ours have been expanded to include uses previously prohibited but now recognized as […]

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The Changing Face of Historic Renovation

When I first started as director of a downtown organization in the early aughts, my predecessor gave me one piece of advice: stay away from historic preservation. Apparently, she had once tried to establish a historic district and had been shot down by the board fairly handily. It only took 2 years for everything to change.  In the […]

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The End of McMansions?

Time Magazine had an interesting piece on how the era of the McMansions, houses that top out at over 3,000 square feet, may be ending. It seems that “from 1950 to 2004, the average size of an American home jumped from from 983 square feet to 2,349 square feet.”  Now this number is finally dropping. In […]

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Fight Sprawl by Supporting Infill

Norman Wright, a city planner in Tennessee, writes in Planetizen about a better way to prevent sprawl. Instead of fighting sprawl with ever more demanding regulations, why not instead start encouraging infill? Why not give infill development a competitive advantage in the marketplace? Wright’s argument is premised on two things. First, he posits that many people would […]

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Naturally Occurring Arts Districts

Oftentimes, when people are busy making the big plans, everyone else is working on the little plan. Over the decades, a number of brainstorming sessions were held by our city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau to see if a cultural district could be created somewhere in the downtown area. Overall, a great discussion to have, and one that […]

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Restoring the Downtown Street Grid

Sometime in the next year, Austin will be adding nine new streets to their downtown, restoring the street grid and fixing what is called a “transportation dead zone.” According to the Austin American Statesman: (Director of the Downtown Austin Alliance Charlie) Betts noted that adding streets reverses what has been a sporadic trend of the […]

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Urban Archaeology and Ghost Hotels

If you’ve ever remodeled your kitchen, you may have an inkling what it’s like to renovate an historic building. Rehabs often take longer than planned because you simply don’t know what you’re going to find once you remove the drywall. But what if the thing you find is a historic hotel? In Orange, California, just […]

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The Limits of the Built Environment

Is it smart people that make cities thrive or is it a great built environment? From Witold Rybczynski’s Slate article on Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier: Glaeser defines the city as a “mass of connected humanity.” His emphasis on human capital is […]

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A New Downtown Hotel

We spend a lot of time here trying to make The District more attractive and more vital, but how often do we think about our gateways? They are the doors to downtown and create a first impression in the mind of a visitor. The gateway at Providence and Broadway could use some improvement–and the consultants who put together […]

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An Arts District Comes Into Its Own

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with several of the movers and shakers in the North Village Arts District at a Tourism Breakfast hosted by the Columbia Business Times and I have to give them all kudos for what they’ve helped create. Most of us remember when the area north of Broadway […]

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