Out of necessity, states and metropolitan areas are getting more involved in integrating watershed policies with local land use decisions, and are considering restricting new projects in areas without ample future water resources.
No other infrastructure category presents the United States with greater challenges to future growth and regional prosperity than water—and no major U.S. metropolitan region can claim immunity from water-related problems and costs. In the years to come, budgetbusting system breakdowns may slam older cities located in the Northeast and the Midwest, while burgeoning urban centers in the West deal with how to protect threatened supplies and meet demands from growing populations. In the Southeast, rapid development and poor management compromise resources as states, counties, agribusiness interests, and power companies wrestle over available supplies. In most places, wastewater treatment plants either are too old or have reached their capacity, and contamination from stormwater runoff and nonpoint-source pollution is a major issue just about everywhere.
Efforts to find creative solutions for dying malls have increased in these economic times as consultants, city officials, and new urbanists are called on to walk the lonely corridors of the dozens of half-vacant facilities in the United States.
This past summer and fall, Urban Land Institute Advisory Services panels got a firsthand look at a trio of troubled malls at the request of local economic development groups and stakeholders seeking innovative solutions. Findings from the panels suggested that one mall still had strong vital signs, a second would probably perish without prompt attention, and a third was likely to fare better in another format.
An allegory for the financial industry’s present condition might be that of a red-tailed hawk soaring above the Manhattan skyline, flying at full speed toward the sheer wall of a glass-enclosed skyscraper—and relying on the transparency of the glass for protection from undue risk. The crisis occurs, and the bird falls fluttering to the ground with a broken wing.
Is this the bird’s fault? Is it a law of nature? Should the glass have etching or cross ribs to alert the bird to the danger? Can the bird recover? Can it recover by itself, without outside help? Will it ever soar again? Will it ever fly again with uninhibited grace? What resources should be applied to its recovery? Is it too rare a bird to fail?
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) this year will release two new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) retail rating systems, LEED for Retail: New Construction and LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors—the seventh and eighth members of the growing LEED family. Other categories cover new construction, existing buildings, core and shell, commercial interiors, schools, and homes. The upcoming launch comes at a seemingly inauspicious time, with both the economic slump and overbuilt retail markets creating hardships for retailers and real estate owners—problems that are not going away anytime soon.
In southern California, for example, vacancy rates at neighborhood shopping centers, which typically have a grocery store as their anchor tenant, are still rising, according to a recent study by CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) Econometric Advisors. The current 12.4 percent vacancy rate would be higher if landlords did not offer an array of financial incentives such as reduced rents to hold on to tenants.
The Harvard Graduate School of Design won the 2010 MIT Boston Open, a real estate competition hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Real Estate Alumni Association and held this year at the Prudential Center during the ULI Real Estate Summit at the Spring Council Forum in the city. The competition, a case-based competition open to all U.S. real estate graduate programs, sought redevelopment schemes for a historic and challenging site in Boston. Finalists were invited to the city to compete and pitch their highest and best-use argument to a live audience and judging panel.
Taking second place in the competition was the New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate, and the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business placed third. The teams were judged by industry practitioners Phil Bakalchuk of Water Street Investments, Jeff Cushman of Cushman & Wakefield, Kathleen MacNeil of Millennium Partners, and Eric Nelson of the Bulfinch Companies.
Amanda M. Burden, chair of the New York City Planning Commission, director of the New York Department of City Planning, and 2009 laureate of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development, offers some thoughts about the selection of Campus Martius Park as the first recipient of the ULI Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award. The award was created with ULI, Burden says, because of her belief “in the power of well-designed public space to be a focal point for cities, bringing together residents of all income, race, age, and social status.”
The retail real estate market currently suffers from an oversupply of space—the result of overbuilding before the financial crisis struck in 2008—plus a dearth of retailers now willing and able to fill space. Consumer spending is down for the foreseeable future as the buying public remains wary of returning to the days of large credit-card debt. While welllocated retail destinations may continue to thrive and maintain national retailers, plenty of others are going to keep losing tenants. In this environment, town centers and mixed-use centers may have an edge over their mall counterparts.
The retail industry has lagged behind the sustainability curve for some time, but is now quickly catching up as developers, landlords, and tenants seek to “green” their retail facilities to realize operational gains, demonstrate environmental stewardship, and capture increasingly conscientious consumers. However, because little information is available on the best leasing structure to benefit both landlords and tenants, many opportunities in retail real estate and store planning remain on the shelf.
Later this year, the U.S. Green Building Council will launch Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings for retail facilities to help illuminate best practices in the retail real estate market. Contrary to common belief, greening the retail building market involves much more than buildout; for example, it encompasses site selection, structuring of a green lease, tenant-space buildout, operations and maintenance, and communication strategies.
A team of students representing North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) won the $50,000 top prize in the 2010 Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition with a redevelopment plan for a San Diego neighborhood that emphasizes neighborhood diversity, affordability to families of mixed incomes, and walkability.
Nearly 660 students making up 132 teams from 48 universities in the United States and Canada were among those in the 2010 competition who were challenged to create a design and development proposal for a 73.5-acre (29.7-ha) site in East Village in downtown San Diego. East Village, one of eight neighborhoods in the city’s downtown area, spans a total of 1,450 acres (587 ha) bounded by Interstate 5 and the San Diego Bay. The teams had to develop a transformative vision for East Village, incorporating the highest and best sustainable use, new economic development activities, and evidence of market support for their development activities—all fused with financial justification for their design decisions.
In a city more often characterized by hardship than success, Campus Martius Park in Detroit has received national recognition as the first winner of the ULI Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award, which recognizes an outstanding example of a public open space that has catalyzed the transformation of the surrounding community.