If a tree grows in Brooklyn, then Queens can claim an entire garden.

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When a settlement grows suddenly and rapidly, it’s common for the new development to completely overwhelm everything that preceded it: not just for the older settlement to get engulfed in the new, but for it to disappear completely. It’s happening all over the fast-growing areas of the American southwest, particularly states like Texas, where formerly rural …Read more…

Helping downtowns meet demand and save face.

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The façadectomy fan club hasn’t earned a lot of love over the years. Historic preservationists deride it because it cynically assumes that the only true value to a historic structure is the often three-foot-thick façade, while the remaining 99% of the building (not to mention everything that took place within it) is left to the …Read more…

Tossing historic accuracy out the window.

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Don’t let the naysayers sway you. Historic preservation aspirations can harmonize with the private sector. In fact, it’s happening now more than ever, and it’s depending far less on pubic sector intervention than ever before. With increasing frequency, entrepreneurs are mobilizing to salvage buildings or prominent features deemed under threat, either from redevelopment or decay …Read more…

From the highest rooftops, a call to gimme shelter.

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The urbanist blogosphere is chock-full of rants on how new developments compromise pedestrian connectivity—not so much in terms of the final product (where I’m equally guilty of such tirades), but even during the construction process. These days, most mid-sized and large metro areas are gorging on the fruit, born from seeds planted long ago, through …Read more…

Historical memory as a branding strategy.

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For my first blog post in America’s largest city, I introduce a topic that is incredibly small: really nothing more than a label. But it also fits perfectly within its milieu. Strolling down an almost exclusively residential block in the Chelsea neighborhood recently, I came across an apartment building with a huge promotional flag, featuring …Read more…

Rental respites for refugees.

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Imagine a major city where owner-occupied, single-family housing dominates the landscape, more than anywhere else in the country. Complete with garages, chimneys, front yards, back yards, one-and-a-half baths (minimum), and more than a few basements. Virtually all the houses sit on lots of equal size, with nearly identical space between them and the exact same …Read more…

An apartment’s reversal of fortune.

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This summer has obviously been a pretty dry spell in terms of blog posts, but now that I just arrived back in the country a few days ago, I hope for the pace to pick back up before too long.  August may end up a tad scattered, since I will begin the month with a …Read more…

Contemporary infill gentrification.

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My latest post is at Urban Indy.  It focuses on two small multi-family apartment developments in Fountain Square and Bates-Hendricks, neighborhoods on the near south side of Indianapolis’ downtown that, while still very gritty, have become increasingly trendy in recent years.  Both neighborhoods still have their fair share of dilapidated housing and some vacant lots, …Read more…

Salvaging St. Louis, Part III: Biodiversity in repopulation.

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In the previous section of this three-part article, I began exploring some of the affordable housing initiatives of St. Louis that have helped it, to some extent, stem its precipitous decline, particularly in comparison to Detroit, its peer city in terms of population loss.  If this survey (you could almost call it “home tour”) seemed …Read more…