Suburban Design in Downtown Arlington: Sitting On the Property, Banking That Its Value Will Rise

Huffington Post

After decades of plunging population figures, the Washington DC city limits are once again booming. Cranes slice through the sky at numerous locations, broadly visible when crossing the expansive Potomac River. Equally visible are the numerous edifices on the Potomac’s southern banks...

American Dirt Explores Oaklandon

Unofficial Oaklandon Community Website

I was performing a Yahoo search of the web using the keywords "Oaklandon" and "History" and several pages deep into the results I was rewarded with a link to "American Dirt"...

Geodesic Questioning: What Undid All Those Domes?

Huffington Post

Strolling through the town of Bowman, North Dakota last summer (which is how one gets around if one finds oneself in Bowman…obviously), I came across a pretty slick looking geodesic dome home.

Cleaning Up the Cleaners: A New Life for a Former Dry Cleaning Operation

Huffington Post

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...

As Cleveland pockets millions for closed Concourse D, travelers look for better options

WKYZ, Cleveland's NBC affiliate

Back in the 1990's Cleveland was Continental's hub and the new terminal D was the envy of airports, a gleaming state of the art facility that could handle dozens of flights...

Carriage-house rentals offer moderate-priced options

Indianapolis Business Journal

Accessory dwelling units like the carriage houses in the IBJ story are becoming more common across the country in areas where they didn’t previously exist...

Among Those Ritzy Restaurants…a Christian Science Reading Room.

Huffington Post

In a nondescript nook within the generally thriving downtown of Summit, New Jersey, we encounter a quiet storefront...

Wildlife Crossings: Creature Comforts, Reinforced with Concrete

Huff Post New York

Traveling along I-78 through northern New Jersey, about twelve miles west of Newark, drivers experience a reprieve from the endless array of New York suburbs as they speed through the Watchung Reservation...

Microretail? Tiny shops? Sometimes They’re Like Sterling Silver in a Sandwich

Huffpost New York

A few weeks ago, I blogged about how, in this day and age, it’s nearly impossible for a storefront in the middle of a city block to secure a tenant. The population density usually just isn’t great enough....

Evidence of Affluence: Subtle Clues at Northern Jersey’s Bridgewater Commons Mall

Huffpost Business

Hot on the heels of my podcast is another retail rumination. By now, it's safe to assert that the conventional enclosed shopping mall--long the paragon of middlebrow American commerce--is an eviscerated zombie, trudging onward with no broader aspiration...

What are we going to do with all those dead malls?

The Urbanophile

Pedestrian Penny-Pinching Pays Off: The Case in Hoboken

Huffington Post

If you don't have the money to make it aesthetic, at least you can make it functional. This seems to be mentality that Hoboken, New Jersey, America's most walkable city, endorses in some of its streetscape improvements...

City Market (Again): Maximizing the Tenant Potential

Urban Indy

I first featured the plight of the City Market on my personal blog, American Dirt, back in 2009, when it was in dire straits, just as it had been for many years. Decades, even. It was a pretty grim place: most of the perimeter simply offered unnecessary seating, the central vendor stalls were only-half full, and the ambiance of the market was cavernous and sterile, even during the peak lunch hour...

The Case in Greenwood: Why America Deserves Its Urban Blight

Urban Indy

The local media thoroughly covered the City of Greenwood’s announcement that it had finally secured a developer for the site at the southeast corner of the I-65/County Line Road interchange—a tract where numerous proposals had come to light, most prominently featuring a Cabela’s. But, time and time again, none had materialized…part of the aftermath of the sour economy...

Perplexed in Pawtucket: For One Neighborhood, the Name’s the Gamesmanship.

Huffington Post Travel

I'd assert that it's amazing how much a name can contribute to branding, but, truthfully, it's not that surprising at all. Look at what's happened over the last two or three years to the word "artisan" or its more turgid adjective counterpart, "artisanal". Did anyone even use the word as recently as 2009? The application of a label -- either for the first time or overriding a previous appellation -- can set in rapidly and proliferate mimetically...

Digital Archaeology through Google Street View

Urban Indy

I’m probably a day late and a dollar short on noticing the time-scroll feature available with Google Street View. Perhaps it’s been there for months—years even. I just figured it out its full potential few weeks ago. Most people might ponder what the point of it is...

Discriminatory Want Ads: Learning When (and Where) You Can Legally Pick Your Neighbor

Huffington Post - Impact

Several years ago, I spotted these notices taped to some utility poles all within a short distance of one another. Can anyone guess where they some from? I'd throw a mackerel to anyone who gets the right answer, but it should be hard to pinpoint exactly where these are, so maybe a few photos of the environs might help...

Downtown Pawtucket Offers Parking Done Right, So Why Is It Under Threat?

Huffington Post - Travel

At a primary intersection in the weather-beaten downtown of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, I came across this little row of storefronts...

Ledyard Block’s revival praised in urban planner’s Huffpost travel blog

MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Ledyard Block, a combination of several of downtown's oldest office buildings, has earned praise on a blog posted to the Huffpost.com's Travel Page. While many downtown buildings did not survive the 1970s, blogger Eric McAfee of "American Dirt" praises the combination of several old buildings that line Ottawa Avenue NW and Monroe Center NW into the Ledyard Block...

The Achievement of Downtown Grand Rapids: Hustling All Those Antiques Under One Roof

Huffington Post - Travel

Even metros with the most resilient of economies couldn't salvage many of their historic buildings downtown during the 1970s, the virtually undisputed nadir of urban America. It wasn't just a lack of investment--there simply was no psychological interest. In hindsight, we can ponder on the decade: it must have been an awful time to live in a city, and while most people at the time acknowledged that urban America wasn't looking so hot...

Who’s YOUR State’s Prime Mascot? Confronting Local Terms Outside Their Normal Homes

Huffington Post - Good News

When a localized slang term pops up in a habitat far removed from its own, it will cause some heads to turn. And that's exactly what happened along a fairly busy stretch of highway....

Demography & Destiny: America’s Youngest Community

New Geography

The village of Kiryas Joel is a perfect illustration of how demographic differences can play out spatially. An enclave of ultra-orthodox Satmar Hasidic Jews tucked in the woods of Orange County, about 60 miles north of New York City...

Can the Pipes Prevail?

The Episcopal Café

“Some churches demand a statement of faith and profession of creedal belief of any applicant. Other churches never even ask that question because they’re interested in finding a musician,” Michael Messina told me from near the chancel of Trinity Episcopal on the edge of Indianapolis’ Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood, where he is the Director of Music...

Dusting Off the Wurlitzers, Part II.

Huffington Post

Thanks to the efforts of restorers like Indianapolis-based Carlton Smith (referenced in Part I of this article), the theatre organ no longer faces imminent extinction. Using organizations like the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS), the great theater organists of the country must continue to partner with devotees to expand the audience for this instrument whose heyday was nearly a century ago...

Dusting Off the Wurlitzers, Part I.

Huffington Post

Virtually anyone who grew up in Indianapolis in the 1980s has at least a vague recollection of the Paramount Music Palace, even if it was only through their tuneful commercial on early morning local news. For those of us who experienced it firsthand, I'm willing to venture those memories remain crystal clear, two decades after the establishment closed...

From Art to Ads: Commodifying Space at the Indy Airport

Urban Indy

A few years ago, the still shiny-and-new Indianapolis International Airport (IND) found itself at the center of a mild controversy. The Airport Authority announced, after just three years in operation, what for some people amounted to a pretty significant concession...

Asbury Park’s Pedestrian Island: Any Chance of Getting Shipwrecked?

Huffington Post

At long last, a significant number of older urban centers in the country seem to be recognizing that it's a good idea to build infrastructure that accommodates pedestrians. While we are far from perfecting the design of crosswalks or vehicular turn lanes, the trajectory clearly manifests improvement with each passing year. Finally....

Transforming Kokomo: No Need to Move Mountains

New Geography

Across the country—but particularly in the heavily industrialized Northeast and Midwest—smaller cities have confronted the grim realities of the unflattering “Rust Belt” moniker, and all of its associated characteristics, with varying degrees of success. With an aging work force, difficulty in retaining college graduates, and a frequently decaying building stock, the challenges they face are formidable...

Incrementally Transforming Kokomo Without Debt

The Urbanophile

Across the country—but particularly in the heavily industrialized Northeast and Midwest—smaller cities have confronted the grim realities of the unflattering “Rust Belt” moniker, and all of its associated characteristics, with varying degrees of success. With an aging work force, difficulty in retaining college graduates, and a frequently decaying building stock, the challenges they face are formidable...

Detroit: A Chip off the Old Bulb

New Geography

Seven months after the announcement, it still seems like the largest municipal bankruptcy filing (at least up to this point) is the stuff of legend—the culminating event, after successive blunders. The apex. Or the nadir...

Detroit: A Chip Off the Old Bulb

The Urbanophile

Seven months after the announcement, it still seems like the largest municipal bankruptcy filing (at least up to this point) is the stuff of legend—the culminating event, after successive blunders. The apex. Or the nadir....

Aging at Home: Does it Have to be an Uphill Climb?

Huffington Post Detroit

Baby Boomers remain the largest generation by volume of any recorded in the history of the United States. Though part of common parlance, the label "baby boom" imposes artificial bookends upon a group of people whose only real commonality is that they were conceived in the years following World War II -- a spike in the birthrate that gives them gravitas, almost tautologically, again thanks to their formidable numbers...

Rust Belt: Can Micro-Suburbs Stay Independent?

New Geography

East Cleveland streetsign.JPG The Ohio suburb of East Cleveland abuts the core city to its west and north, and in terms of physical appearance the boundary between the two is indistinct. A century ago, the City of Cleveland unsuccessfully attempted to annex East Cleveland on two occasions...

Urban Recycling: Not a Bad (Unironic) Beer in the Box.

Huffington Post Detroit

A recycling station housed in an old factory building might not seem like a novel concept, particularly in a city with a plethora of underutilized or vacant industrial space. Like Detroit...

A Standalone Sears: Is There Weakness in Numbers?

Huffington Post Detroit

Some businesses just fail to quit, though it's not necessarily from lack of trying. And if all the negatives in that sentence dilute the denotation, that might be the whole point, at least when the businesses in question are former retail leviathans like Kmart and Sears. The two brand names, formerly separate companies but merged since 2005, continue to hobble along, shedding a few of the most underperforming stores each quarter, while even the ones that linger still leave onlookers scratching their heads. . .

The Bentonville, Arkansas Effect

The Urbanophile

t is a truth universally acknowledged that, from the perspective of urban sociologists and planners at least, major discount retailers such as Walmart have thrived on the destruction of commercial activity in traditional town centers. No doubt my assertion borders on exaggeration, but it would have to, considering I’ve cribbed Jane Austen’s famous (and equally ironically hyperbolic) first seven words to Pride and Prejudice, in which a man’s search of a wife sets a blithe tone for much of what follows...

So Detroit’s Streetlights Are Ancient — You Got a Problem With That?

Huffington Post Detroit

Seven months after the announcement, it still seems like the largest municipal bankruptcy filing (at least up to this point) is the stuff of legend -- the culminating event, after successive blunders. The apex. Or the nadir. No doubt those of us living here are guilty of a degree of chauvinism as we experience how it plays out firsthand, but it's easy for anyone with even moderate media curiosity to see how much the city has hogged the headlines...

The Michigan Left: Working Out the Kinks (but Keeping the Curves)

Huffington Post Detroit

No, it's not a reference to a statewide political movement, but it at least it enjoys some possibility of taking the nation by storm. But, at least in this case, it all begins with a pretty ordinary road sign. It should go without saying that a clear indicator of an effective sign is its ability to communicate its intended message. . .

Killing the Lights: The Emptiest Parts of the City No Longer Need Traffic Signals

Huffington Post Detroit

It may be unusual in almost any other urban area, but not the Motor City. In due time, the city could end up removing this traffic light at the intersection of Peterboro Street and Second Avenue altogether...

The Dequindre Cut: Assessing its Southern End as it Pushes Northward

Huffington Post Detroit

Eric McAfee Eric McAfee Urban Planning Consultant GET UPDATES FROM Eric McAfee Like 1 The Dequindre Cut: Assessing its Southern End as it Pushes Northward Posted: 11/12/2013 10:17 am Follow Detroit, Bicycling, Greenways, Pedestrians, Signage, Detroit News 4 0 0 1 Get Detroit Newsletters: Subscribe By this point in time, rail-trail conversions are so commonplace that they really don't need more than a brief explanation on how they work. The name says it all: for the last three decades (give or take), we have transformed thousands of miles of old rail lines into recreational trails, based on the assumption that long-abandoned railways no longer serve any use as a means of transportation for freight or passenger trains, but they cut clean paths across a variety of landscapes, settlements, and varying topographies...

Movable Memorials: Ghost Bikes in the Motor City

Huffington Post Detroit

In certain subcultures, it's become a meme. But it took me a little while to catch on. Only after driving past this curiosity for three consecutive days did I realize what it was. It's not showy, but that's the point...

Indiana blogger gives fresh perspective of downtown Jefferson City [interview]

Jefferson City News-Tribune

by Jessica Duren People often are their own worst critics. When it comes to Jefferson City, is this true for its residents as well? Although leaps and bounds have been made in many historic areas of the Capital City, it sometimes takes a stranger’s perspective to reveal the progress...

Suburban Blight in Kansas City

The Urbanophile

Over the past century, the word “blight” has undergone a curious expansion in its denotations. It was originally a botanical term referring to a disease characterized by discoloration, wilting, and eventual death of plant tissues. In contemporary parlance, however, I suspect a far greater number of people use the term in combination with “urban”—a metaphoric reassignment of the characteristics that organic plant matter can suffer, only this time applied to non-organic human construction...

Salvaging St. Louis, Part III: Biodiversity in Repopulation

nextSTL

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 a bit facile, well, it is. To some extent, that’s the point: St. Louis—in contrast with Detroit—has transcended much of its dire population freefall over the years by repopulating its vacant land with sensitively designed affordable and mixed-income housing...

Salvaging St. Louis, Part II: Planting the Seeds for Repopulation

nextSTL

In the previous part to this study, I explored the similar population trends of two major Midwestern cities, St. Louis and Detroit. Both cities have endured significant losses since their peak in the 1950 census. Interestingly, Detroit seems to absorb the lion’s share of critical attention for its persistent economic malaise, yet St. Louis has actually suffered a slightly greater loss: 62% within its historic city limits, compared to Detroit’s 61%...

Salvaging St. Louis, Part I: The Macro Influences that Keep It Afloat, If Not Flourishing.

nextSTL

In the most decentralized of American cities, much of the urban fabric that prospered until at least the Great Depression (if not later) suffered such devastation in the second half of the twentieth century that one could claim it was wiped off the face of the earth. Huge swathes of what were once densely settled neighborhoods are all but gone, having lost more than half of their population since 1950...

Review of “What Killed Downtown?” by Michael E. Tolle

New Geography

For those of us who have grown dyspeptic on the over-indulged topic of the collapse of the American city center, Michael Tolle’s What Killed Downtown? Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls earns much of its anodyne appeal by straying from a commonly accepted convention in urban studies—that an analysis of the socioeconomic decline of a community should draw heavily upon socioeconomic variables...

Review of “What Killed Downtown” by Michael E. Tolle

The Urbanophile

For those of us who have grown dyspeptic on the over-indulged topic of the collapse of the American city center, Michael Tolle’s What Killed Downtown? Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls earns much of its anodyne appeal by straying from a commonly accepted convention in urban studies—that an analysis of the socioeconomic decline of a community should draw heavily upon socioeconomic variables...

Big Boxes: Keeping All the Ducks in a Row

The Urbanophile

I have chronicled the tireless migration of retail across metropolitan landscapes several times in the past; it formed the central topic of one of my earliest blog posts. Unfortunately, most of my posts have focused on the blight left by outdated retail typologies: the dead malls, pockmarked parking lots, blighted strip malls, or (at the very best) the once widely coveted destinations that are now dominated by check cashing centers and pawn shops. I’m not trying to dwell on the negative, but the fact remains that focusing on the less prosperous retail centers helps to substantiate an already manifest assertion: retail in the US is more or less always soft...

Infill opportunities? Connecting the dots with used car lots.

Streetsblog

A few years ago I was touring a down-and-out portion of City X (it doesn’t really matter—could be any city) for the first time, when a colleague of mine made the observation: “You can immediately tell that land values are low here; just look at all these used car dealerships!” I concurred without saying anything; I didn’t need to...