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Land Use Planning During Times of Economic Recovery

Greenville, SC revitalized green space.

With space as a commodity in urban settings, there has been a movement to focus on alternatives for long-established land uses like parking lots, strip malls and vacant land. Not only do these transformations seek to affect the aesthetics and functionality of spaces, they can also have positive effects on economic redevelopment and revitalization.  Check out what’s going on around the country when it comes to re-thinking how we revitalize neighborhoods, generate revenue or increase property value during this post-recession time when ideals are being re-evaluated on a national level.

Investing in Green Space

During their recent Great Park Summit,  the Miami-Dade County parks department announced continued plans to turn distressed commercial spaces into green space through a strategy known as “Red Fields to Green Fields”.  These “Red Fields” represent a new type of post-recession neighborhood blight where failed commercial spaces and strip malls are scattered throughout re-bounding neighborhood.  The Miami Herald reported that this strategy aims to remove blight while impacting the neighborhoods most affected by the recession.  The hopes are that the new green spaces will encourage redevelopment and lead to increased overall property values and tax revenues for the municipalities. Proponents of the strategy look at new parks in Greenville, S.C., and Manhattan’s High Line as examples of how these green spaces can lead to economic recovery.  A pilot program is supposed to launch sometime this year in one of the sites already identified in the city’s master plan.

Already a successful project, Miami Circle Park located in the downtown area has been open for approximately one year.  In 1998 a high-rise development was planned for the site, but during a routine inspection it was discovered that the area was originally ‘developed’ by the Tequesta Indians as far back as 500 B.C.  and therefore it became a site of great archaeological interst and importance to Miami.  The county acquired the 2.2 acre parcel for approximately $26.7 million and in 2008 signed a 44-year lease with HistoryMiami who maintains the site and offers tours and event rentals.  After years of excavation and non-use, the site was redeveloped into a public park which aimed to preserve the historic integrity and significance of the site while maintaining it as a modern resource.  The Miami Circle is one of a few public spaces downtown with unobstructed views of the Miami River and the bay.

Miami Circle Park in Downtown Miami

The organization Redfields to Greenfields has created an online resource outlining the strategies and describing how public-private partnerships would work together to buy and re-purpose distressed properties.

Parking Reform

In a previous article, TMG’s Dwight Norton discussed the alternatives to building more parking and how some parking problems are resolved through better management of supply and demand.   Cities around the country are starting to rethink how they plan for parking as well.  In some cities like San Francisco and New York,  Parking Benefits Districts have proven to be beneficial.  The concept behind the PBD generally involves congestion-pricing for on-street parking and public lots.  The implementation of these PBDs supports the theory that higher pricing during peak periods in desirable areas leads to faster turn-around and encourages motorists planning to stay longer to seek spaces away, but within walking distance, of the zones.  In essence, it leads to more available parking and less ‘circling’ time for motorists.

SFpark’s New Coin and Card Meter

San Francisco’s parking districts have become best practice models due to the incorporation of real-time parking information available on computers and smart phones.  The real-time data shows parking availability on each street within the district based on information provided by parking sensors. Based on parking congestion, the cost of parking is adjusted on each street.  A lot of the parking reform supp0rts the idea that rather than investing in more parking infrastructure, cities can better control supply and demand and encourage the most use out of existing inventory.  SFpark is managed by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, and therefore they have been able to reinvest revenues from the parking districts into the overall transit system.  Additionally,  SFMTA is offering more connectivity by enabling their fare cards to be used throughout the transit system and SFpark parking meters.

Transit and Alternative Modes of Transportation

Soaring gas prices alone is one of the main reasons many people are starting to consider alternative modes of transportation.  Since more of the public is on board with these ideas, it has been a ideal time for proponents of Transit Oriented Development and other programs like Walkable Communities.  Though there is nothing new about TOD, it is becoming a more common aspect of revitilization projects large and small across the country.

Some cities, like Los Angeles, are investing BIG in transit. In order to allow for faster growth of the transit lines, voters agreed to extend the collection of sales tax that is funding a $40 billion transit investment over the next 30 years.  The latest $940 million addition to the transit system, Phase 1 of the Expo Line, opened on April 28th to much community fanfare.  Phase 1 links Los Angeles to Culver City and Phase II will extend the line further to Santa Monica.  The entire line will allow commuters to travel between Los Angeles and Santa Monica in approximately 46 minutes, even during peak rush hour, according to BuildExpo.


The Los Angeles Expo Line, Trousdale Station

The entire Expo Line will span approximately 15.2 miles along the Exposition Corridor which will reach such destinations as USC, Exposition Park, the Mid-City Communities, the Crenshaw District, Culver City, and West Los Angeles.  Phase II is estimated to cost an additional $1.5 billion, which the city believes will facilitate more than 67,000 passengers a day in 2030.  The entire project aims to reduce congestion while improving the aesthetics and accessibility of the  businesses and communities along the new route.

Contributed by:

Nilsa M. Duran

Analyst, Planning and Built Environment  or  (504) 569-9239 x 32

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

3 comments on “Land Use Planning During Times of Economic Recovery
  1. @Bonnie, It seems like the Lafitte Greenway would be a unique resource for the city. The master plan is interesting, and on Chapter 3 they include some case studies of other successful projects around the U.S. ranging in size from about 1.5 miles to 26 miles. Even though this proposed trail is about 3 miles, I would like to see how it connects to other paths to create a comprehensive system. I’m interested in learning more about the phasing plan and the overall connectivity.

  2. Also, you should check out some of the transformational green space that Dallas is creating: where they built a bridge over the 10 lanes of highway traffic, filled it with dirt, and planted trees to create an enormous floating greenspace in downtown Dallas. Also Dallas plans for converting continental bridge in Dallas which crosses the Trinity river into a greenspace:

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