Urban Corridors preliminary public findings (and a rebranding proposal)The Urban Corridors Planning project had a meeting tonight at the GRB to present the preliminary findings from their multiple corridor workshops (coverage of previous meetings here and here). They had an interesting PowerPoint presentation (which should be on their site at some point), as well as some very detailed maps for each corridor designating potential development areas as well as preservation areas, with the goal being high-density, mixed-use, pedestrian and transit-oriented neighborhoods.
The key slide covered policy changes necessary to make this stuff really happen:
- Actually make the capital investments in transit, streetscapes, and public buildings.
- Reduce developer risk with a TOD-friendly ordinance (vs. our current suburban-only code) as well as a streamlined approvals process.
- Reduce developer costs with reduced parking requirements, reduced open space requirements, and financial incentives (!! - not so sure about that last one).
Overall though, I think they're on the right track, with the right manageable, narrowly-targeted scope (~2% of the city) and the right neighborhood and developer-friendly attitude (or nothing will happen).
One thought that occurred to me is the need to come up with a more compelling name for this initiative that resonates with the average citizen and city council member. Terms like "urban corridors", "transit-oriented development", "mixed-use", and "high-density" are either not meaningful or negative to much of the public. They need to "get it" - and buy into it - right away when they hear about it. Here are some names I thought of:
- Londontown Corridors, or maybe Little London (Corridors?) - think of it like another Chinatown
- Eurocity Corridors
If we don't want to get as specific as London, I think "Eurocity" is a nice, broad, generic, all-encompassing term that defines the character we're looking for in these corridors. If you've been to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, or just about any other city in Europe (well, maybe not Venice... unless we get another Allison), you'll understand instantly the urban experience being targeted. And almost everybody who's traveled there has pretty fond memories of that experience. It's a great branding for this whole initiative that will help build the positive public sentiment necessary to push through the apathy and obstacles and really make it happen.
Update: "Eurocity Corridors" could also add a coolness factor to the zone that would attract developers, businesses, and residents.