Archive for the ‘Infill’ Category

Downtown Tucson Proposals

Peach PropertiesMuch is still planned to happen downtown.  The latest subject for development are proposals by Peach Property and The Alexander Company.  The Peach proposal shown here is modern and more attractive, but destroys the beautiful tile adorned arcade that Melody Peters did back the 80’s.  It is built from bricks that came out of the old Tucson Livery Building that Steve Leal lobbied to save back in his ponytail days.  He managed to save the bricks.  You can view both proposasl in the the links below.  The PDF’s are large so allow some time.   Peach Proposal (PDF): Peach   / Alexander Proposal (PDF):  Alexander / Daily Star Article:  Hotel, homes, stores: Developers reveal downtown Tucson proposals.

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Infill..Since the real estate crash more than 500 million dollars has poured in the core of Tucson fueled by commercial incentives like the Infill Incentive District (IID).   Now, core residents are concerned about  impact and would like to see a different kind of incentive for infill and edge development that serves to stabilize and not harm their neighborhoods.  They would also like their own brand of incentives.  Here’s what’s happenings:

July 22, DSC, basement Room C @ 6:00PM.  3rd  Planning Commission IID Subcommittee to revise the Infill Incentive District.    This deals with concerns of impact to neighborhoods  from infill development.  A 4th meeting is tentatively scheduled for September 9th.

July 13,  Ward 6 office, 9AM to 12PM.   The Neighborhood Infill Coalition (NIC) is hosting the 2nd neighborhood workshop to seek consensus for neighborhood unity.  Attending will be neighborhood coalitions, leaders and residents.  This follows the 2012 neighborhood symposium, and 3 subsequent resident-staff discussions. 

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Transitions and Synergy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACORE BaNC (Core Barrio and Neighborhood Coalition)  hosted a public forum on the Infill Incentive District Overlay at the Ward 6 office on May 28th.  Adam Smith crafted a great response to a set of questions given before hand.  The IID has only had 10 projects as of May 2013.  Some are enormous and a majority are more inconsequential.  A resonating factor that has neighborhoods wanting to opt their boundaries out of the district focuses on perceived failures in transitioning from large projects to a sensitive neighborhood context.  If there is one factor that will make or break the IID concept, it is these transitions.  (more…)

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Smarter Smart Growth

Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 12.32.46 PM“Projects are…dashing existing neighborhood character under the banners of smart growth or transit oriented development…they fail in many of the finer points of smart growth… UrbDeZine…read more in  10 Rules for Smarter Smart Growth  link by J. Hall

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Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 9.42.45 AMA 3rd city-neighborhoods meeting at the Community Resource Campus on May 6th, 2013 ended on a low note.  Neighborhood leaders grilled staff with questions intended to bolster their voice in the planning process.   These meetings originated with Pro Neighborhood’s final 2012 funded project; a year-long symposium of process exploration hosted by Jefferson Park NHA.  View their White Paper.    Q@A was directed to staff comprising four topics; neighborhood input, neighborhood support, transparency and new student housing projects.  The sticking point was “neighborhood input”.  Staff sounded stuck in a familiar box and neighborhood leaders wanted ideas.  So, as the inquiry moves forward later in the Summer, the focus will be on how to push staff outside the proverbial box. 

Two more things to think about are Plan Tucson and a new impact fee program.  Plan Tucson is completing it’s public process.  Read chapter 4, planning implementation.  It mandates new specific plan updates of area and neighborhood plans.  The assistant city manager has used the term “village plans”.  These can consolidate neighborhood plans.  Its a good thing only if neighborhood leaders are deep in the process.

Look for a new impact fee program.  Regarding SB1525, the City must re-write their  impact fee program allocation to be more specific to benefit districts with tighter use criteria.  There is a chance that may work for neighborhoods, but it is another process that needs neighborhood advocacy.   A smarter impact fee structure coupled with a proactive investment strategy is another possibility in planning that could deal with transitions in high impact areas between mega dorms and neighborhoods.

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The streetcar is beginning to look a bit like revitalization.  Click on the link for a Daily Wildcat Summary of development.  According to the Downtown Tucson Partnership, between 2008 and 2013 roughly  600 million has either been spent or committed to development in the core with perhaps much more to come.  That’s hopeful, because taxes on that development will be needed to cover the  public  subsidy the street car and maybe a little more.  Ridership was never intended to cover its cost density.  It was intended to exist in a deficit.   As surrounding historic neighborhood become impacted by overlapping commercial, how will they hang on to their residential flavor.  How do they become magnets for preservation and serve as a poetic counterbalance to commercial exuberance?   How do we make downtown not only a fun place to play, but a great place to live?

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Click here to read:  Neighborhood association ought to back Main Gate project, by Robert Lanning, Architect.   Published by the Daily Star.   Here are some other points to consider:  An edge / transition strategy is necessary.  It is missing.  One way it can happen is with a sub-regional downtown / U of A master plan that outlines what is coming so neighborhoods know what kind of final input they need to be prepared to engage in.  The MGD skirts this.  It is a fast track style re-zoning which is developer driven.  If the project is like the $35 million dollar“Vue on Apache” in Tempe, Neighborhoods might have reservations.  Not only is neighborhood input necessary in driving our best urban planning but to imply neighborhoods can not be part of a plan omits a key part of the picture.  Watching the frustration of developers and neighborhoods year after year speaks for itself.  Many agree that the transition is or should be the stretch of property just east of Euclid, but what does it look like?   Are there plazas, hard-scape, sidewalks, trees and base development of low masses, including some of the fine historic structures creating the idea of being walkable and pedestrian friendly.   A good transition insures this and when you look at historical structures that might be part of this, you have to see beyond the weeds.  Map courtesty of WUNA.

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