The state of core housing

The state of core housing

At least 29 projects, with a total of 783 new residential units, have been built, proposed, or are under construction in the core of Cedar Rapids. These projects range in size from rehabbed historic homes converted to mixed-use to 96 unit apartment buildings in redeveloped historic buildings. There hasn’t been this level of investment and energy geared towards building residential in these neighborhoods for nearly half a century. The city has used the 2008 flood as a catalyst for investment in downtown, Kingston, and New Bohemia. The McGrath Amphitheatre, Downtown Library, and NewBo Market have reinvigorated downtown and surrounding neighborhoods along the river (with the notable exclusion of the Northwest). Seven years after the flood these public projects have brought the heart of civic life into downtown. Uptown Friday Nights, Meet me at the Market and the Downtown Farmers Market are profoundly successful public events. Two new towers are being built in the heart of downtown, and companies large and small have moved into office space into these neighborhoods. Cedar Rapids is hardly alone in the return of civic, residential and economic life to it’s historic core. The return to the city is one of the defining aspects of this era of American history. While much of the focus is on America’s largest cities, or cities that loom large in the American imagination like Portland and Pittsburgh, the rebirth of urbanism is a comprehensive national trend. What does this mean for Cedar Rapids? The return of housing, specifically multifamily housing, into the core is the vital component that will allow the continued and prolonged revitalization of these core neighborhoods….
Goodnight Earth

Goodnight Earth

Welcome to this weeks urbanist goodreads. I took the name out of the headline because, whatever. I felt like it. Also, I formatted this one differently, more essayish, more quotations. Anyway, here’s your listicle: There’s really no decent argument that climate change isn’t both real and already happening. Recently, however, something remarkable has started to happen. The alarm bells have moved from the fringes, or, say, every single serious scientific journal, into mainstream publications. I should clarify what I mean by alarm bells. For decades scientists have been warning us that we need to cut carbon emissions in order to arrest the damage we’ve done to the planet. That’s out the window. We will not be able to stop the damage we’ve done. Mass extinctions, hundreds of millions, maybe billions, displaced by rising oceans, freak weather events, crop failures, droughts, the political instability that is created by crop failures and droughts, all of this is inevitable. The alarm bells have metastasized from a persistent morning alarm clock, chiding us to wake up, to tornado sirens screaming at us to take shelter now or suffer dire consequences. We thought we had more time. The climate is changing at the pace of the most aggressive predictions, not the least. What are we on track for? John H. Richardson, writing in Esquire, spells it out; “In the blunt words of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, conducted by three hundred of America’s most distinguished experts at the request of the U. S. government, human-induced climate change is real—U. S. temperatures have gone up between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees, mostly since 1970—and the change is...
This weeks #urbanist goodreads are about millennials (suck it boomers)

This weeks #urbanist goodreads are about millennials (suck it boomers)

Millennials! The worst?!?!? Or the best :sunglasses emoji: ?!?!?!? Let’s consult the internet! Millennials Will Live in Cities like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen Before - Gizmodo “The kinds of places that millennials want to live share a lot of the same characteristics with urban centers—they’re looking for amenities like walkability and public transit. But according to the study, it’s more about relationships and having the time to enjoy those relationships, which doesn’t necessarily mean working long hours to pay the rent in a big city.” Millennials are communists who will make everyone walk to get kale smoothies and talk about their feelings. The Clearest Explanation Yet for Why Millennials are Driving Less - CityLab “The ongoing discussion about Millennial driving trends is not about whether they’re declining, but why. It’s clear to all that young people are driving less today than they did in the past. But the reasons for these shifts in car use are what remain locked in seemingly endless debate.” Millennials want to cripple American manufacturing (because they are communists). 17  Things People Who’ve Ever Lived in a Small Town Understand - Thought Catalog “1. No one knows where your town is. Whenever someone asks where you’re from, your standard response is, “You probably haven’t heard of it. It’s about an hour east of [insert name of medium-to-large city nearby].”” Signs are pointing to Millennials being the worst. (The guy who created Thought Catalog has more money than you! Please don’t click this link.) This Week in Millennials: Everyone Hates Us But What If We’re Secretly Great - The Billfold “Over the decades that [boomers have] been...
This weeks goodreads aren’t sure what to do with the ‘burbs

This weeks goodreads aren’t sure what to do with the ‘burbs

What are the suburbs? What does their future hold? The most recent Congress for the New Urbanism had a debate over these questions. Two of the participants, Ellen Dunham-Jones and Kevin Klinkenberg have great stuff online about their perspectives on these questions. Let’s dive in and see what are some possible futures for suburban sprawl. 4 Types of Sprawl - Kevin Klinkenberg “Drivable suburbia, or sprawl, also is not just one, big, lumpy ‘thing.’ It’s fine to use the basic term as a starting point, but it’s important to also see the nuance that is found in the typical suburban environment” Thinking about the way cities work as being either urbanism or sprawl is a good starting point, says Klinkenberg, but there’s a lot of nuance and variance found within those broad categories. Check out how he categorizes different types of sprawl before checking out his and Dunham-Jones arguments for the possibilities of retrofitting our built environment. Retrofitting Suburbia - Ellen Dunham-Jones Can sprawl be repaired? In a captivating Ted Talk Ellen Dunham-Jones argues that yes it can and that we’ve already started to fix it. Do You Really Believe That? - Kevin Klinkenberg “Our primary struggle as urbanists or new urbanists, is with bigness and our system of mass production. Jane Jacobs described it in cities as cataclysmic money. Too-big projects. Fragile, too-big that do in fact fail. And fail disastrously. Everything that we love about urbanism, virtually everywhere in the world, is about what was built in gradual increments… Suburbia, or sprawl as we tend to interchangeably call it, is all about bigness and mass production.” Klinkenberg doesn’t think...
This weeks #urbanist goodreads are falling apart

This weeks #urbanist goodreads are falling apart

America’s infrastructure is crumbling under our feet. This is not really news. It has been true for a long time and will likely remain true for a long time, because, frankly, we just aren’t willing to spend the money to do better. Even if we were we would likely invest it poorly. Part of the reason we’ve reached this state is because we embarked on an experiment in infrastructure spending that was de facto unsustainable. Now we’re staring down the barrel of $3.6 trillion in repairs. How did we get to this point? Highway Trust Fun is ‘Broke,’ Ex-Transportation Secretary LaHood Says - NPR INSKEEP: Is there something changing in America or the way people drive or the condition of the roads that also makes that gas tax insufficient? LAHOOD: Two things - people are driving less and people are driving more fuel-efficient cars. And that’s changed dramatically from the time that we began paving over America with our interstate system. So the idea that people are driving more hybrids, the idea that people - lots of people are using mass transit more than ever before means that the Highway Trust Fund is not getting the resources that it once did. The gas tax is supposed to be the mechanism we use to pay for highway spending, but as our habits and technology change it no longer generates enough revenue. That said, the gas tax never generated enough revenue to cover all of our highway infrastructure obligations. Debunking the Myth That Only Drivers Pay for the Roads - CityLab “In recent years, tens of billions of dollars in general taxpayer money has...