Full skyscrapers, looming over empty streets.

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Those of us who identify as urbanophilic—to which I include myself a great deal of the time—have long bemoaned the lack of density afflicting many of our American urban centers, which impedes these places from achieving not just the level of on-the-street liveliness heralded by Jane Jacobs—the first great autodidact urbanophile—but their basic capacity to …Read more…

Subsidization and its discontents.

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My latest just recently went to post at Urban Indy. The subject, a parking garage in an Indianapolis neighborhood, might seem dry or parochial to those outside of that metro region, but it speaks powerfully about the potential pitfalls of poorly prepared public-private partnerships.  Here’s the garage: It sits at a prime corner in Broad …Read more…

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…