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In 2006, the developers of Olive 8 — a swanky hotel/condo complex planned for downtown Seattle — were looking for a way to build beyond the 300-foot height limit that zoning allowed. Doing so required some compromises — but not the kind of backroom deal residents of Chicago or Baltimore might assume. Instead, Olive 8 got to build an additional 62,000 square feet of residential space and add three extra floors (making it, at 39 stories, the tallest residential building in Seattle) through a mechanism that promotes urban density at the same time it preserves land that supplies the city’s farmers markets, drinking water, and appetite for wilderness adventure.

“It’s unanimous: El Paso commits to a smarter, greener future
Kaid Benfield.
Earlier this week, the city council of El Paso, the nation’s 19th-largest city, unanimously adopted a detailed comprehensive plan built around the principles of smart growth and green development.  With significant economic importance and a rich cultural history, but plagued with sprawling recent development patterns coupled with alarming rates of land consumption and carbon pollution, the city constructed Plan El Paso over the past two years.  It is among the best, most articulate comprehensive plans I have ever seen.
In January of last year, I reviewed Connecting El Paso, a precursor to the new comprehensive plan that focused on four key transit station areas.  I called the document“a comprehensive guide to smart growth design and implementation” and predicted that it would be a winner when the year’s planning awards were handed out.  Sure enough, in December the US Environmental Protection Agency honored the draft of Plan El Pasowith a national award for achievement in smart growth, judging the effort as the year’s best example of outstanding “programs, policies and regulations.”
The plan has actually gotten better, and certainly more detailed (it runs some 900 pages in all) since I reviewed its predecessor.  Early on, the new document makes clear that it is time for a bold new vision and commitment:
“In recent years health problems such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and the maladies associated with social alienation have become a normal response to a built-environ­ment that does not allow walking or facilitate human interac­tion. The young and the elderly of El Paso, especially, have been left behind by urban forms that necessitate driving long dis­tances. The plan proposes strategies to bring more of the activi­ties of daily living within walking distance and a framework of transportation alternatives including transit and bicycle systems. Encouraging walkability helps create healthy life styles. Building complete places that enable neighbors to know each other will help create and retain close-knit communities …
“The plan recognizes the indispensability of beauty, not as some­thing separate and apart from life like pictures in a gallery, but beauty in homes, neighborhoods, civic buildings, streets, and public spaces. In this way Plan El Paso aims not to return to a vanished time, but rather to grow a choiceworthy contem­porary City based on cherished and enduring values. The plan revives the idea that additions to the built-environment must be functional and long-lasting but also delightful and attractive. Plan El Paso recognizes that design matters.”
Via: National Resources Defense Council
Image: Dover Kohl & Partners via Plan El Paso
via massurban:

It’s unanimous: El Paso commits to a smarter, greener future

Kaid Benfield.

Earlier this week, the city council of El Paso, the nation’s 19th-largest city, unanimously adopted a detailed comprehensive plan built around the principles of smart growth and green development.  With significant economic importance and a rich cultural history, but plagued with sprawling recent development patterns coupled with alarming rates of land consumption and carbon pollution, the city constructed Plan El Paso over the past two years.  It is among the best, most articulate comprehensive plans I have ever seen.

In January of last year, I reviewed Connecting El Paso, a precursor to the new comprehensive plan that focused on four key transit station areas.  I called the document“a comprehensive guide to smart growth design and implementation” and predicted that it would be a winner when the year’s planning awards were handed out.  Sure enough, in December the US Environmental Protection Agency honored the draft of Plan El Pasowith a national award for achievement in smart growth, judging the effort as the year’s best example of outstanding “programs, policies and regulations.”

The plan has actually gotten better, and certainly more detailed (it runs some 900 pages in all) since I reviewed its predecessor.  Early on, the new document makes clear that it is time for a bold new vision and commitment:

“In recent years health problems such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and the maladies associated with social alienation have become a normal response to a built-environ­ment that does not allow walking or facilitate human interac­tion. The young and the elderly of El Paso, especially, have been left behind by urban forms that necessitate driving long dis­tances. The plan proposes strategies to bring more of the activi­ties of daily living within walking distance and a framework of transportation alternatives including transit and bicycle systems. Encouraging walkability helps create healthy life styles. Building complete places that enable neighbors to know each other will help create and retain close-knit communities …

“The plan recognizes the indispensability of beauty, not as some­thing separate and apart from life like pictures in a gallery, but beauty in homes, neighborhoods, civic buildings, streets, and public spaces. In this way Plan El Paso aims not to return to a vanished time, but rather to grow a choiceworthy contem­porary City based on cherished and enduring values. The plan revives the idea that additions to the built-environment must be functional and long-lasting but also delightful and attractive. Plan El Paso recognizes that design matters.”

Via: National Resources Defense Council

Image: Dover Kohl & Partners via Plan El Paso

via massurban: