What a difference a few decades make. From the 1950s until the 1980s, the word “urban” usually found itself saddled with negative connotations. Thus the Urban Institute, founded in 1968 by a blue-ribbon commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to address problems such as decay, poverty, and crime thought to be endemic to the “inner city.”
National preference trends support the urban form of redevelopment. A 2011 survey by the National Realtors Association found that 58 percent of respondents favor neighborhoods that have stores and other businesses within walking distance of houses to a housing-only community that requires driving to access goods and services. These trends are reflected in US Census Bureau data released in June 2012, which show that urban growth is surpassing suburban growth in more than half of the country’s largest cities, a marked shift from the past century. In Nashville, urban population increases have almost caught up with suburban growth: from July 2011 to July 2012 urban areas grew by 1.2 percent versus 1.5 for suburban ones.
The change in lifestyle preferences, especially among the young millennials and retiring boomers, has fueled this shift in the tide of growth and resulted in safer and cleaner urban areas with more amenities in the form of restaurants and retail.
Urban Community Basic Characteristics:
- Development patterns and population of greater density than those in suburban and rural zones
- Intermingled land uses
- Multiple housing types, sizes, and prices that enable socio-economic and age diversity (residents can “age in place”)
- Convenient access to public transportation
- Walking distance to neighborhood commerce
- Good pedestrian and bike connectivity
- Active and passive open space and recreational facilities
Focus Factors: Open Space, Neighborhood Design, Food Access
The Water Works property on Jefferson Street offers an exciting opportunity to introduce green space into this urban neighborhood. Successful open space will be programmed to meet the needs of the community while providing a variety of experiences.
More on the urban transect: