Friday, April 23, 2010

This Month's D

I encourage you all to go out and buy this month's issue of D Magazine. They have to pay for their fancy new digs in walkable downtown Dallas.

So don't go to this link about the development at Park Lane Place where I am quoted thusly:
He says a development like this one needs to do two things to succeed. “It has to be so well-designed, so lovable that the citizenry will always care for it and ensure that it endures,” he says. “The other is, it has to tie into the rest of the city, the adjacent properties, neighborhoods, street network, and transportation framework so that the improvement, stewardship, and resilience are mutually ensured. I’m not sure Park Lane successfully accomplishes either. I think the underlying logic defining Park Lane—that of convenience—undermines certainly the latter and possibly the former, as the experience is ultimately degraded by the disconnection, no matter the level of detailed design.”
And especially go buy it because of the Op-Ed by publisher Wick Allison at this link you don't want to click where Wick hops on the bandwagon to demand Mr. Leppert, Tear Down This Freeway:
Those neighborhoods—and Fair Park—are too valuable to neglect any longer. The city’s next bond election should include the funds necessary to tear down about 3 miles of I-30, from its interchange with Central Expressway to Samuell Boulevard. HNTB estimated the costs at about $200 million. The benefits are incalculable but real. These neighborhoods now contribute a disproportionately low rate to the city’s tax rolls. By restoring East Dallas as a middle-class community and by stimulating the return of the black middle class to Fair Park, the city will see a huge return on a relatively small investment of $20 million a year for 10 years. The pressure is there. People want to move into the city, close to downtown. All Dallas needs to do is remove the single biggest impediment to its own urban growth.
Exactly. As we shift from expansion to contraction, "growth" will be found in the qualitative improvement within the City. In this age of what I call "urban introspection." Since the highways are a barrier to that effort, they are therefore a hindrance on economic growth. Do we really want that as we dig out from under a recession?

The $200 million number seems like a lot. But, like any responsible investor (as the City should be with its infrastructure and urban "acupuncture" or in some cases neighborhood difibrillator), we should demand a return on investment. Trinity River Plan is nice. The Woodall Rogers Deck Park is as well. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will generate the return on investment as tearing out freeways. Whether it is I-30 or the downtown loop, there is billions in private investment pent up by the Dallas intra-city highways.

Just look what Seoul, South Korea did with $200 million. Before. After.

What I like about this picture is that bodies of water, like highways, can also act as barriers, as edges. The design shows how it can be a seam, stitching the City back together. It represents the repair of a long and degraded history for this particular body of water that was once, quite literally, used as Seoul's sewer. The first logical solution of course, was to cap and cover it with a freeway, an express lane into a modern economy.

Fortunately, they have since realized how cities and economies really work. Oh, and it has been so successful that the Mayor who was elected ON this idea, executed it, and then became so popular as to become President of South Korea. I know I feel better that the lunatic to the North is balanced by the intelligence of his southern counterpart.

Economic Development is Urban Design. Urban Design is Economic Development.

I don't mean to be harsh, but if you are in the profession of economic development, you either need to be thinking about removing intracity highways (with a CAN DO attitude!) or find yourself a new job...because my beer mug is going to need a fillin'.

-30- and I'm out. Peace.

/drops mic
Post Script: For everything I've ever written on taking out freeways, peep this link.