Monday, April 20, 2009

Where o' Where to Put 100-acre MU Overlays

Reader Ben* recently asked "where would you suggest we create those 10 high-density overlays?" in the post The Era of Bling is Coming to a Close, where I wrote:
Here (ed. note: the Sun Belt), we have the most work ahead of us in terms of overall reorganization of both people AND economies. Much of the economic growth was in Real Estate and it played out on the land with exponential quantitative spatial growth vastly outpacing population growth.

If this City is smart they will get on the ball and set up a streamlined zoning, entitlement, and approval process for mixed-use, mid- to high-density development AT LEAST in set areas, such as Leinberger suggesting that Dallas needs ten 100-acre high density overlays. If they set up these overlays now, the planning work can get started and developers will be ready to build in ten months or two years, whenever the lending purse strings loosen again (or if again means never, then we need to find a new way to finance these things).
I responded in the comments as well, but figured I might as well pull that out to its own post:
That's a good question and one that I haven't yet thought about in specifics, only in abstract. This is something I had been planning on doing pro bono and giving to the City...perhaps we can start this by establishing some criteria.

My first go (this will be only for Dallas proper - based on Leinberger's population calcs - which are fairly rudimentary, but nonetheless - b/c DFW could probably absorb in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 of these zones) - perhaps we create a set for Dallas and another for DFW:

In order to arrive at a top ten list of geographic boundaries for approximately 100-acre mixed-use, the following criteria should apply:

1: Geographic Balance - The MU zones should be evenly dispersed North and South.

2: Should ideally be transit focused. If not be at least "transit ready" for future lines as yet unidentified (either DART, TRE, or future modern streetcar lines).

3: Should target currently underperforming and/or underdeveloped sites for greatest impact.

4: Ideally should have an anchor of some sort: i.e. existing employment generator (hospital, etc.), potentially some recent successes or investment (not applicable everywhere), or existing amenities (ie parks, stadiums, malls, etc.) in order to ensure success and recalibrate the jobs/housing balance.

5: Ideally should have some existing contextual fabric or residential stock to tie back into and serve as the hub or center of gravity and services for those lower density neighborhoods (which in some cases would be protected by preservation, in others the character would merely be protected thru density and/or height/FAR limits.