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The ugly, underutilized garage: soon a mere memory?

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Has urban America learned its last lesson on downtown parking? After forty years of declining fortunes, have we deduced that giving people cheap, abundant, convenient places to park their cars failed to save our city centers? Have we finally realized that demolishing 100-year-old buildings to form new garages and lots did not stem the vacancy …Read more…

Enticing visitors downtown…and then incarcerating them.

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As much as street-level engagement for large projects in city centers should, by this point, seem like a foregone conclusion, it continues to amaze how many big ticket items—in cities of widely varying size—either engage in terpsichorean negotiations around it or neglect it completely.  When developers confront a zoning ordinance or design guideline that insists …Read more…

Streetscape enhancements in a spray can.

Most of us living in reasonably large metropolitan areas have witnessed the fallout from the bursting real estate bubble—one of several, successive machine-gun misfortunes to befall our economy during this ruthless recession. Even if you don’t live in a city that has suffered as greatly as Las Vegas or Phoenix or Naples, Florida, you most …Read more…

Invisible fences for humans, Part III: Importing desirability to schools that lack the demographic advantages.

My previous post on this subject explored my hypothesis, on how school districts derive most of their competitive advantage from demographics that favor high educational attainment. The greatest public schools earn their cachet far more from demographics that skew towards either low poverty or ethnic homogeneity (or ideally a combination of the two) far more …Read more…