Forum Connect

Future of Downtown

  • 1.  Future of Downtown

    Ambassador
    Posted 15 days ago
    I can remember the first iteration of downtowns as regional centers of shopping, services, and entertainment. Since then, I've watched with interest as new strategies have been tried to make them relevant again. I think the emphasis on entertainment and culture  can work in those locations with sufficient population density and disposable income, but those conditions don't exist everywhere.

    Much of my career has consisted of working to solve the housing needs of individuals with a variety of disabilities, and it has always seemed to me that downtowns would be ideal as residential settings for people with mobility impairments, whether young, old, or in-between.  This population needs housing that is accessible and affordable, but just as importantly, needs housing that facilitates interaction with friends, neighbors and the larger community.

    Underutilized downtowns could meet all these requirements, to the benefit of both residents and community, if the vision of what they could be included:

    • Expansion of the concept of walkability beyond young healthy individuals to include people who use canes, walkers, even powered personal mobility devices (PMDs, I call them).
    • Rethinking the role of sidewalks and improving the design and technology of intersections to ensure that individuals have the right-of-way over cars.
    • Improve Intraurban mass transit o make it roll-on, roll-off, instead of walk-on, walk-off.
    The basic idea behind these concepts is that people who walk in the traditional way can easily adapt to design and technology that accommodates PMDs, but the reverse isn't true.

    So, what are your thoughts?


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    Jim Sparks
    Sparks Architecture
    Glasgow, KY
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  • 2.  RE: Future of Downtown

    Ambassador
    Posted 15 days ago
    Jim,

    The NYTimes somewhat addressed this over the weekend and in a city where this is particularly relevant. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/08/opinion/sunday/urban-rural-america.html

    Accessibility in downtowns is important and I see it happening a lot more in large cities than in the smaller towns that have a community identity that they really want to keep alive which doesn't work without including elders. I went to Fergus Falls a couple years ago to see their famed state hospital in person. Speaking of accessibility and affordable housing, one can see easily imagine converted to highly accessible housing if someone had the money and vision. Its inherently built with wide door opening and  there are such huge floorplates that inserting elevators won't really harm the integrity.

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    Tim Askin
    Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 3.  RE: Future of Downtown

    Ambassador
    Posted 14 days ago
    Hey Tim. That is a beautiful building, but when developing supportive housing (accessible, affordable housing paired with appropriate services) it's necessary to fight the well-intentioned tendency to warehouse residents in large numbers in order to benefit from economies of scale. That's why downtowns and urban neighborhoods would make such good environments for supportive housing. In general, they possess a mix of small-scale, partially-vacant buildings in settings that foster interaction on both a personal and community scale. While I understand the urge to develop housing for the elderly and people with mental and physical disabilities in large-scale, isolated settings where access by outsiders can be controlled, in my experience, just the opposite is needed: small-scale, integrated housing where contact with non-disabled strangers is a common occurrence.

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    Jim Sparks
    Glasgow KY
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  • 4.  RE: Future of Downtown

    Ambassador
    Posted 14 days ago
    I meant more what Traverse City did with their hospital. A grand intentional community, open to everyone, business, universal design, and so on.  By no means should be people be warehoused, but it could certainly be an economic development although with the state of Fergus Falls' downtown, it unfortunately might compete with a revival there.

    https://www.thevillagetc.com/

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    Tim Askin
    Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 5.  RE: Future of Downtown

    Posted 13 days ago
    Hello Gentlemen:
    As I was reading your comments, I reflected on the absence of the female perspective.
    Men focus mostly on economic growth, as providers, it is a critical need for sustainability. 
    In most rural and poverty stricken communities, there is no downtown for a future, maybe a brief corridor with populations of 1,000+.  So women set low and look high, and dream of concepts that will generate revenue, revive a downtown, promoting opportunity, equity in wellness, and other amenities  that contribute to the built environment and a person's life-way.  (Heart talk)
     
    My thoughts:  Create a housing complex for the homeless veterans, with full service medical and transition needs on every floor. (Jobs) Accessing Strengths and weaknesses will line out their care and skill sets and provide team volunteer maintenance to their home, lowering operating costs.  Businesses and Merchants should contribute with donations of business attire, shadowing of all businesses, free entertainment night, Meals, and support groups to help  heal the scars.   Some of them can be re-tooled to assist with other historic buildings downtown, with pay when the opportunity arise. They can walk to work and be on time and are specialists when disaster strike, be it environment or man-made.  

    My strongest reason for selecting the Veterans is that they remind of the 4 Treatment Methods.
    Preserve - The fought for our country to Preserve this nation. - They understand the environment and the built environment.
    Restore - they can fix almost anything, if they can't, they can tell you what is needed.
    Rehabilitate - If the materials are provided the work can get done
    Reconstruct - they can build anything from a bunker, bridge, and even a city, starting with the built environment - of whats there, it be saved for the betterment of the community and benefit of the city. just give them a plan/roadmap and its a done deal.   

    Our school was  recently listed on the Historical record, November 22, 2017.  We do not have a downtown, but our vision for the school during and completion of redevelopment starts with maintenance, for prolonged sustainability at minimal cost of repairs when monitored (incorporate rounds or regular inspection.   We will also redevelop the shop, into an Environmental Job Training Center. If they can earn a decent wage, they could afford a small home and live better.-

    The Four Treatment methods is how rural communities struggle to exist.  We must we must salvage history, consider the environment, built environment and do every treatment method that is needed to save it's existence and contribution to the community. 

    I think the sharing of information, and ideas of rural and city exchange are great ideas in both places, yet on a different scale is beneficial. for both. Women are creative.
    I need you guys to tell me the economic development, that could occur, as a result of this plan-Preserving our Past and Looking Forward to the Future.. 

    --

    L Vannessa Frazier
    Executive Director
    Howardville Community Betterment
    Project Manager - City of Howardville - EPA Brownfield Cleanup Grant Award
    Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader - CoHort 1
    105 Howard Ave
    Howardville, Mo. 63869
    573-233-0926 - cell
    573-688-2137 - city hall - message
    573-688-5445 - fax
    newsonlydia@gmail.com

    CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This communication contains information intended for the use of the individuals to whom it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential or exempt from other disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any disclosure, printing, copying, distribution or use of the contents is prohibited. If you have received this in error, please notify the sender immediately by telephone or by returning it via email and then permanently delete the communication from your system. Thank you.

     






  • 6.  RE: Future of Downtown

    Ambassador
    Posted 12 days ago
    Tim and Vanessa - I don't mean to sound argumentative,  so, of course, that's exactly how i'm going to sound, but your vision of supportive housing for people with disabilities is the one which disability advocates have been fighting for many years. That is, supportive housing as large scale treatment and service centers, with the right  to remain a tenant often dependent on participation in supportive services.

    The model that now prevails is the Housing First/Permanent Supportive Housing model, where people are assisted from homelessness, or inadequate housing directly into permanent rental housing that is indistinguishable from the community rental stock, without the requirement for first competing a transitional housing readiness program.

    In the permanent supportive housing model, supportive services are not delivered on site. Rather, they are delivered by teams referred to assertive community treatment teams. Services are voluntary, and are delivered where the individual chooses to live.

    It is this change in the model of supportive housing from large, institutional, treatment-oriented developments to small-scale, integrated, normalizing settings, that has made downtowns and urban neighborhoods such attractive places to develop supportive housing.

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    Jim Sparks
    Glasgow KY
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  • 7.  RE: Future of Downtown

    Posted 12 days ago
    It didnt sound argumentative, I like it. Centered and Veteran focus, I was only speaking from the rural and very small communities with no downtown's or even one 2 story building.  In other words from a "flat perspective".  Lol!
    Thank you Jim for the information that I can share with others, who need a model.
    Vannessa

    --

    L Vannessa Frazier
    Executive Director
    Howardville Community Betterment
    Project Manager - City of Howardville - EPA Brownfield Cleanup Grant Award
    Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader - CoHort 1
    105 Howard Ave
    Howardville, Mo. 63869
    573-233-0926 - cell
    573-688-2137 - city hall - message
    573-688-5445 - fax
    newsonlydia@gmail.com

    CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This communication contains information intended for the use of the individuals to whom it is addressed and may contain information that is privileged, confidential or exempt from other disclosure under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any disclosure, printing, copying, distribution or use of the contents is prohibited. If you have received this in error, please notify the sender immediately by telephone or by returning it via email and then permanently delete the communication from your system. Thank you.