Archive for October, 2012

Is New Urbanism Catching On In Fort Worth?
October 4, 2012

Fort Worth has a rich cultural heritage and has done a good job of preserving that heritage. With one foot in the Old West and one in the 21st Century, Fort Worth is a unique candidate for New Urbanism and it should embrace the concept with open-arms. One attempt by Fort Worth to embrace New Urbanism is the Trinity Uptown project. Trinity Uptown is a large mixed-use development, north of downtown Ft. Worth, that will feature 3,000,000 SF of commercial space and approximately 10,000 residences. It will consist of a 33 acre lake with a boardwalk and 12 miles of flowing canals and public walkways. The lake, boardwalk and canals will comprise the heart and soul of Trinity Uptown and will ultimately connect the northern edge of downtown with the stockyards. There will be shopping, dining, and entertainment as well as office and residential. Over the next decade, it will become one of the most comprehensive examples of New Urbanism in the country.

Other attempts on the part of Fort Worth to embrace New Urbanism are Sundance Square and Near Southside.  Both Sundance and Near Southside promote walkable neighborhoods where a person might feasibly live, work, and play all within the same neighborhood.  This often requires that city leaders rethink and reshape zoning rules and regulations that tend to discourage New Urbanism.  Along this line of thinking, city leaders have introduced form-based development codes or guidelines.
But what is New Urbanism anyway?  According to Wikipedia:  New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually continued to reform many aspects of real estate developmenturban planning, and municipal land-use strategies.  New Urbanism is strongly influenced by urban design standards that were prominent until the rise of the automobile in the mid-20th century; it encompasses principles such as traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD). It is also closely related to regionalismenvironmentalism and the broader concept of smart growth. The movement also includes a more pedestrian-oriented variant known as New Pedestrianism, which has its origins in a 1929 planned community in Radburn, New Jersey.
ImageNew Urbanism is catching on in cities across the nation.  Cities such as Fort Worth should lead the way toward adopting New Urbanism design standards, as well as embrace ‘New Suburbanism’.  The suburbs need to adopt the same ideas put forward by New Urbanism.  It’s doubtful the suburbs are going anywhere in Texas so it is important to address the same issues in the suburbs that are being addressed in the urban core.  This may seem in contrast to New Urbanism’s philosophy, but connecting the suburban areas and urban areas via linkages like commuter rail is crucial to the long-term growth of a city like Fort Worth.  If it means making suburban neighborhoods more walkable with open space and retail nearby, then applying New Urbanism principles in the suburbs is a good thing.  Smart growth in both suburban and urban areas is extremely important if progress is to be made toward the goal of reducing pollution and congestion.  Just like in urban areas, suburban areas could be designed to be more dense with narrower streets and more green space.  A meaningful approach to development, whether it is new development, adaptive reuse, or redevelopment, is crucial to a city’s survival, especially one that is growing as fast as Fort Worth.  In the case of Trinity Uptown, it will be nice to see the Trinity River become a part of people’s lives in Fort Worth.