Thursday, January 24, 2013

Long Range Community Planning, at a community level.

The key to good community development is seeing beyond existing conditions, and, using a form based code model, how that neighborhood can be redeveloped.

Long range community planning needs to be done at the community level not out of touch city urban planners. While city's works on "100 year sustainability" type of planning, it really is up to community leaders and stakeholders to chart the course of their neighborhoods.

The direction a neighborhood take are largely dependent on market forces. Neighborhoods must take an active marketing role, be it working with area realtor's or preservation based groups to promote community assets.100 year planning rarely if ever works and the city cabinets full of plans  put together every 20 or so years to "fix' the city.

At the same time community leaders must take control of their destiny rather than allow that destiny to be determined by some urban planner or city council with no stake or interest in the community.

One of the goals of the Knox Hill's steering committee is to look at both short term and long term solutions and how best to envision and actively develop their community. As the Knox Hill Overlook District Plan is developed it requires determining who are the major stakeholders and who are the major obstacles to the community. Typically the major stakeholders are owner occupant and business owners in the district. The obstacles are usually slumlords (who want to preserve the status quo), land hoarders and speculators (who buy to own but with no future plans and no interest in maintaining what they have)and lastly city officials (who have no investment in the community and may have written it off or be on planning tracts not consistent with the community needs or wants).

In the Overlook District slumlords can be dealt with by code enforcement, land hoarders and speculators may also be influenced by code enforcement but neighborhoods can also pursue avenues such as receivership. Receivership is when a community goes to court to legally take control of property with violations and stabilize under a submitted court monitored plan. This is one tool KHNA will use with hardcore land hoarders and slumlords who refuse to maintain their property. The last obstacle may be city officials and the best way to get buy in by city officials is with demonstration projects such as the save not raze project and the "Overlook Project" that demonstrates the viability of high end housing.
In this view we see how the block pictured in the photo is re-imagined with a new mixed use corner store, a restored Zahn Row, the Overlook project house and future new infill construction . Taking the neighborhood to a new level

In short taking back a community and community turnaround revolve around engagement of the community and demonstrating that the community is controlling its own destiny. Proven success is hard for officials to work against (especially when they have to be re-elected)

AS KHNA works to finalize the overlook district plan into implementation the community with the plan will demonstrate a real plan for our community based on the needs of the community. Hopefully city officials will see  the viabilty in our proposals and participate, and assist in their fruition, or they sit on the sidelines and watch success happen with out them.

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