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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently had a chance to view 3 great documentaries about new urbanism.

The End of Suburbia
Escape From Suburbia
Sprawling From Grace

In a nutshell the new urbanist movement is about building communities that don't rely on the car as the primary mode of transportation. It advocates the use of high rise, mixed use building. Typically commercial on the first floor and apartments above. Each of these communities will have a small walkable footprint and be connected to other communities by electric rail. No more suburbs connected by 8 lane highways. It talks a lot about villages connected by rail to form cities.

In principal it all sounds good. However do you think this concept will catch on nationwide? As a nation are we too much in love with our lawns, backyards, and cars?

Have any of you had any first hand experience with one of these engineered neighborhoods?

Do you think our current method of construction is unsustainable? Are we really running out of the means to keep building sprawling communities and sustaining that?

Have any of you experienced neighborhoods being rezoned for mixed use, residential and commercial?

Would any of you live in these types of neighborhoods?

Would you be willing to go car free if you lived in one of these neighborhoods? Only using a vehicle for business and not personal use.

How do you think communities like this would affect the business of contracting as opposed to contracting in a suburb?

Some links to get more info about new urbanism.

http://www.cnu.org/
http://www.newurbannews.com/indexbody.html
http://www.newurbanism.org/

I think from a construction point of view this is a pretty cool concept. It's kind of like the cities of the pre car era repackaged for a modern world. What I like is that in the concepts I've seen a lot of greenspace is employed. Parks, fountains, beautifully paved sidewalks, etc. Visually it's very appealing.

However I think some of the drawbacks would be lack of space. Having a garage to tinker in, a backyard to grill in, and just having more space to call your own.

On the other hand the social aspect is appealing. So is the idea of living over a coffee and pastry shop. That would make mornings bearable.

There's pros and cons to this method of city planning and construction. Let's hear your thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
What puzzles me about sub-divisions is that they're really strict about residential only.

There are sub-divisions with literally thousands of houses and no corner store, neighborhood bar, or coffee shop. If you've spent the day working in your yard and want a cold Gatorade you have to get in your car to go get it.

I would think that mixed use would be good. Keep out the factories and heavy industrial stuff. Would having a sandwich shop or bakery within walking distance be so bad? Or maybe a little store to get milk and eggs? That's the kind of rezoning I think would make an impact.

The town I grew up in, Bruchkobel Germany, was a walkable community. Wasn't that bad actually. It was a little inconvenient at times, like grocery shopping. Without a car to transport the groceries it took careful planning. Generally buy for the next two or three days. Those little pullcarts came in handy.
 

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I recently had a chance to view 3 great documentaries about new urbanism.

No more suburbs connected by 8 lane highways. It talks a lot about villages connected by rail to form cities.

In principal it all sounds good. However do you think this concept will catch on nationwide? As a nation are we too much in love with our lawns, backyards, and cars?

Have any of you had any first hand experience with one of these engineered neighborhoods?
There are quite a few in Portland now. The Pearl District, Arenco Station, South Waterfront, etc. Built on the light rail and street car lines.
I spent over two years working on the towers in those areas.

The Pearl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_District,_Portland,_Oregon) really seems to embody this concept as everything is accessable by walking or biking or light rail/street car - bookstores, shops, grocery stores, restaurants. Everything there is upscale. (Except the transients who never really left the area despite all the construction of fancy new condos and high priced shops and restaurants).

The South Waterfront (http://www.southwaterfront.com/) area seemed to be heading full steam to equal the Pearl District in the 'new urbanist' regard. I think over two billion was invested in that area along the river over five years. However, the last condos were finished as the housing bubble burst and now they have been converted into vacant apartments (as were many of the latest Pearl additions).

Urban sprawl is still rampant in the suburbs though. The people who couldn't afford the insane condo prices and housing prices close to town just moved farther and farther out.

We moved up here from the Bay Area where housing prices made Portland/Vancouver seem cheap. After living in the city and suburbs, we settled on a place in Vancouver where we got a lot more for our money, and didn't have to pay state income tax.
 

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In a nutshell the new urbanist movement is about building communities that don't rely on the car as the primary mode of transportation. It advocates the use of high rise, mixed use building. Typically commercial on the first floor and apartments above. Each of these communities will have a small walkable footprint and be connected to other communities by electric rail. No more suburbs connected by 8 lane highways. It talks a lot about villages connected by rail to form cities.

In principal it all sounds good. However do you think this concept will catch on nationwide? As a nation are we too much in love with our lawns, backyards, and cars?

Have any of you had any first hand experience with one of these engineered neighborhoods?

Do you think our current method of construction is unsustainable? Are we really running out of the means to keep building sprawling communities and sustaining that?

Have any of you experienced neighborhoods being rezoned for mixed use, residential and commercial?

Would any of you live in these types of neighborhoods?

Would you be willing to go car free if you lived in one of these neighborhoods? Only using a vehicle for business and not personal use.

How do you think communities like this would affect the business of contracting as opposed to contracting in a suburb?

Some links to get more info about new urbanism.
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ahhhh, how everything old is new again. They have to come up with a catchy name instead of just saying-"going back to how we used to live"
in the late 1800's and early 1900's, that's how cities were built in the US. go to old towns and you had the "main street" buildings that had commercial on the ground floor and offices and apartments on the upper floors. They still exist. I own several.
Look at the housing lots in old sections of towns. they are narrow facing the street so that they could fit in more houses in a given block so people could be closer to streetcar lines, stores, etc because people went by foot a lot.

the town I live in used to be connected to neighboring towns by an electric rail streetcar service. they tore all that out and got rid of it a long time ago when the automobile really came into prominence.

There was, and is, a lot of effeciency in living that way, but I don't know how you reverse the american love affair with the automobile. Even in the newer "upscale" developments I really doubt the people have sold all their cars.

go to most any "main street" and look at the empty storefronts. The Walmarts etc have killed that. you can't walk to walmart or an indoor "shopping mall" (which is essentially just a reproduction of a commercial small town main street).

the key is the commercial shops below and close to the residential units.
if everytime you needanything you have to get in a car and drive 10 miles-then what's the point?

If you make it workable to live like that-then you can market the idea to some people, but to think most everyone will get on board living like that is just fantasy.
I don't know how you make people just quit wanting cars and the ability to go anywhere anytime they want.

on paper that "urbanism" thing sounds good and all, but to implement it on a wide scale-I just don't see it happenening very quickly. It's going to have to be a gradual thing brought on by the economics of living far away from everything. and the solution won't be building huge new developments-the majority of people can't afford to live in brand new condo's costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
if that type of movement catches on, it will be by renovating and moving back to all the stuff that already exists and is still left over from the time when most everyone lived that way and was considered normal. that's the only cost effective way it will happen over time.

people are going to cling to their big backyards and garages and cars. and this coming from a guy that doesn't have a big backyard -I actually live in an old house in town with not a lot of land around it.
 

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Yes, it will be a a norm for America future. Going green, small carbon footprints, travel/traffic reduction, energy reduction, more efficiency & less polution for environment.


However, caveat or ctach-22 is ->> jobs, jobs, jobs.. MUST CREATE LOCAL JOBS (& i mean LOCAL) first to sustain these new economy stable & growing or.. it would be an empty ghost town soon with people leaving elsewhere.. LOL :laughing:
 

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I think the opinions about this style living will vary by who has lived where and by the style living they have now and had before. I myself would hate it. Too many people that are too close, everything would have to similar in appearance so they blended together "blah", you would have to rely on local jobs as stated above so now you are restricted to your income with little or no chance of gain, you would be restricted to what you could own such as pets, a boat, canoe, kayak, ATV, motorcycle and maybe even how many children you have. Then there is the groceries and other goods, so in a society that we have now where you are advised to "shop around" for the better deal in this type of living you could not shop for and store 1-2 months of food for your family. This type of living environment would maybe have one or two stores that monopulize the goods and the prices for them. We who live in small communities now see this on a daily basis, the local store here charges an average of 40%-100% more for goods than what i can get them for 30 miles away. So the wife and i drive that 30 miles at once a month so we can save that $100-$150 a month on the grocery bill. Now as a contractors standpoint this would be ok if you had a contract to maintain one or several particular buildings for the field that you employ yourself in. So basically the way i see it you would have to bid the contract for one building " i am talking high rise" for say electical, you would have to be suppied a maintenance room for your tools as you wont be able to move them around "no vehicles" and be on call for any issues. Same would go for plumbers, painters, drywallers, flooring guys, HVAC guys, etc. No way could just a maintenance crew do all this and still be licensed for each field unless the crew worked under each others license. Working like this you may be able to pickup several contracts and just travel back and forth between buildings but you would have to have tools at each building.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Bob, we have this type of development all over Denver, it's been growing in popularity for the last 10 years.
So what's it like? What experiences have you had with new urbanism? Care to share some anecdotes?

I think the way the buildings are constructed would play a big role in how much I like it. When I'm at home I like peace and quiet. No cars, sirens, neighbors loud music, etc. Are these apartments very sound proofed? Thick walls and floors? Some apartments are better than others, is new urbanism taking this into account by utilizing building techniques that absorb sound waves?
 

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It's not for me but younger people like it.

It's like living at the mall, except the mall is outside.

This is a development called Belmar. It used to be a crappy normal mall. They tore it down, built an outside mall and sold condos all over it.




 

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I don't like the new "urbanism". I trimmed a townhouse in Belmar and still have not seen check for it!
I did 11 unit complex in downtown Denver last year. Office space on the first flr, living space on flrs. 2,3,4. Too many damn stairs for me.
 
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