Category Archives: Urban

Leaders’ shared vision inspires Center Line development plan

Center Line DDA

Photo by David Lewinski

The city of Center Line has revived its downtown development authority and refocused its tax increment financing (TIF) in a placemaking initiative to attract businesses that serve nearby workers and young people to its tidy blocks of affordable houses.

“The first challenge is getting the willpower and getting a champion,” said CWA’s Dave Scurto in this January 21 Metromode article. “Center Line has overcome this fantastically. Everybody’s working together with the same vision and message. The mayor and the council understand the business community.”

The article features the Center Line city manager/DDA director and the mayor and their plans for a façade improvement program, gateway signage, enhanced wayfinding, streetscape maintenance and online marketing.

Dave compared the initiative to the city of Riverview’s successful plan to acquire a faded shopping center and redevelop it into a medical complex.

A public health crisis resulted in a pioneering GIS project

By Charlotte Wilson

Water (blue) & sewer (red) lines in Sylvan Township. Click to enlarge.

Water (blue) & sewer (red) lines in Sylvan Township. (Draft. Subject to change) Click to enlarge.

After an outbreak of hepatitis caused by a sudden sewage pipe burst in 1984, Kenton County, KY came to the unpleasant realization that their infrastructure had not been mapped. Over 30 years the county blazed a trail and is now a respected model of best practices in geographic information systems (GIS).

Many of today’s communities face Kenton County’s dilemma. When the Flint water crises hit, other Michigan cities woke to the potential problem and couldn’t find out if their own pipes contained lead. While you may never have a crisis like Kenton County, mapping your infrastructure provides important support for planning, public health, safety, maintenance, and replacement. It can give you visual tools to explain your community’s infrastructure needs and gain public support for your repair and replacement plans.

The attached maps display the sanitary sewer and water maps from our client Sylvan Township. As an addition to their master plan, the township now has an additional resource to aid in planning future developments. (These maps are drafts and are subject to change in the final master plan.)

(Contact Charlotte for information about Carlisle/Wortman Associates’ GIS services.)

California photo essay

By Charlotte Wilson

When I travel, I’m always on the lookout for examples of good planning. While visiting in Davis, CA I spotted an innovative low-impact development drain and a parklet created by three businesses in parking spaces they licensed from the city. (Click on images to enlarge them).

Metromode interviews CWA’s Dick Carlisle about sprawl

dick-sprawl-courtesy-doug-coombe-webDevelopers continue to build new subdivisions in the far reaches of metro Detroit, but changing tastes and demographic demand are pulling people, especially the young and old, back into close-in, urban centers said CWA President Dick Carlisle in this Metromode article.

While studies have ranked Detroit the 12th most sprawling metro area in the country, and one of the fastest sprawling, Dick said baby boomers who want smaller homes in a walkable community will join with millennials, 16-35, who don’t want to drive and prefer smaller, lower-cost housing, to drive demand in urban places.

“The biggest city in the state still hasn’t yet fully responded to the trend for more walkable urban placemaking,” Dick said. “The pressure is now on, and the timing couldn’t be better.” He said a comprehensive transit system is essential to the trend.

“At some point in time we have to begin to understand that there’s going to be a whole generation of people that either don’t want to or will not be able to own a car,” he said. “Frankly, that’s going to cross generations.”

There are benefits to saving small urban woodlots and individual trees

urban trees web

By Sally Elmiger

Developers often remove small areas of trees and even individual large trees because they are difficult to work around and aren’t deemed valuable enough to save.  A new study, however, shows that these resources provide significant benefits to suburban and urban areas.  Read this blog by the Alliance for Community Trees to find out how trees serve your community and the world at large.

Pedestrian-friendly streets and squares around the world

Streetview before and after-webEvery month we ask our staff for stories for the blog. Matt Lonnerstater and Chris Nordstrom simultaneously came up with this one: A website that uses Google Street View and Google Maps to show before and after views of streets and public spaces around the world that have been transformed to serve pedestrians instead of cars. Glance at the pictures at the top of the page for a jolt of inspiration or drive deep into the map and the conversation.

Hyde Park anchors its Cincinnati neighborhood

hyde park duo-no caption

Cincinnati’s Hyde Park Square, built in 1892, shows a great use of urban pocket space. Ben Carlisle took these shots of the central square, surrounded by retail/mixed use and serving as the community gathering space for the neighborhood.