Coffee klatsch, from your doorway to mine.

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Across the country, retail is teetering on the edge of a precipice. It’s caught in a tailspin. It’s on the brink of complete disaster. I’m sure I could think of even better journalistic catchphrases, but I’m just not that inspired. And I’ve said it all before. Besides, business analysts are covering it nationally and locally. …Read more…

In Mt. Adams, residential infill gets the old spit ‘n shine.

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Residential infill development can—and often does—fail to integrate architecturally with the neighborhood that surrounds it. And that’s okay. Far more important than adherence to a certain vernacular is the physical form of the house. When looking at the front of the home square-on, does the layout emphasize a front door, a porch, a garage, or …Read more…

Highest and best may not be tall, but it’s still higher and better.

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Urban neighborhoods have been changing considerably over the last decade, and, in many locations, income levels have risen steadily. When we hear about gentrification, the coverage often reaches us through a few recurrent tropes: data-driven accounts of demographic and socioeconomic change; journalistic interviews of individuals who have either left or feel threatened by the rising …Read more…

Luring us back to the center, by whatever means necessary.

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After crossing the Thames River along Interstate 95, speeding westward past the compact, archetypically New England central business district to New London, Connecticut, a visitor will encounter an exit ramp leading directly to the city’s economically recovering downtown. Generally speaking, this should be the preferred trajectory for those of us obsessed with old town centers. …Read more…

Sweeping the street, cleaning the corner.

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In an otherwise flourishing neighborhood in Jersey City, we encounter what might seem like a bit of a surprise.Boarded-up windows? Looks like blight. But notice that port-a-john in the lower right corner.Something’s getting fixed back up. As can be expected among any structure within a mile of this site, demand has only accelerated in recent …Read more…

As ambition grows, the menus shrink.

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The destiny of generally unregulated markets is one of intensifying competition. In an ideal world, these markets spawn a trajectory that impels producers or service providers to innovate so they can achieve that competitive edge. As a result, the consumer reaps the benefit of products and services that continuously improve in quality and efficiency. One …Read more…

Picking the nits when we’re stuck in a rut.

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The phrase “built environment” appears regularly in this blog, and for good reason. It’s general and all-encompassing enough that it typically summons large images, which is what it should do. The blog has an expansive scope, and only with individual articles—and the photographs that accompany them—does the real precision come into play. And through those …Read more…