Open House Reveals Differing Perspectives

At the meeting, it became clear that we were approaching the question over the development of the subject property from different angles. On the one hand, as planners we understood that the vacant property would be developed eventually. On the other hand, residents attending the meeting wondered why the City needed to do anything with the property, assuming it was public land. So it was across that span that our public open house needed to bridge to get meaningful responses to the question: how should this 21-acre parcel be developed? Clearzoning, Inc. facilitated the open house on behalf of the City of Novi, who was recently presented with a proposal from a property owner to amend a consent judgment on an undeveloped parcel that currently allows up to 170,000 sq ft of commercial development.  Our challenge was to ask for public input on the permitted development, current demographics, and recently completed market assessment – without dredging up bad feelings about past litigation involving the property. The parcel in question is part of an overall planned unit development that was approved by the City of Novi in 1991. The project was originally conceived as a mixed use development that included detached and attached single family residential along with commercial uses to serve the new neighborhoods. The concept was heavily influenced by the New Urbanism movement of the late 1980’s-early 1990’s and was unlike anything developed in southeast Michigan. If the property had been built as planned, with residential dwellings all within walking distance of a central commercial core that contained a mix of retail and restaurants, it would likely have...

Planning Trends for 2014 – What Trends are Impacting Community Planning and Real Estate?

Sessions at the 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta and other recent research have shed light on important planning trends emerging in our new post-recession economy. The following highlights some key findings: Aging Population The population within the 7-county Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) region is currently about 4.71 million people (December 2013). Between 2010 and 2040, this population is expected to grow by a total of 8 % (4.70 to 4.74 million people). Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) The senior population (65+) in the SEMCOG region is expected to grow by 85 % between 2010 and 2040. The youth population (under 18 years) is expected to decline by 13.8 % during this same period. SEMCOG Low Birth Rate The U.S. fertility rate in 2012 of 63.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15-44 years. This is the lowest birth rate since the government started tracking this statistic in 1909 (when the birth rate was 127 per 1,000). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Shifting Housing Preferences Two demographic cohorts are driving the transformation of residential and non-residential development: 1) aging baby boomers – born 1946-1964 – now in their 50s and 60s and pursuing empty-nester lifestyles and 2) young echo-boomers – born 1977 to 1995 – now in their 20s and early 30s, also known as Gen Y or Millennials. They want to live in high-density, urban environments, not suburbs. They are tech-savvy and socially-interconnected – they don’t find suburban office developments attractive places to work. James Hughes, Rutgers University By 2040, 40 % of the demand for new housing will be for attached and multiple-family units...

Project Tango – New Google Device Creates 3D Maps

Google 3D mapping provides urban planning possibilities Google’s Advanced Technology And Projects (ATAP) program called Project Tango now has a new mobile device that tracks 3D motion and maps user environments.  The current prototype is a 5” phone that tracks the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the surrounding environment.  The end result is a 3D model of the space around you. According to Google’s web site for this project, here are some of the possibilities: What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store? For planners, a trip to a benchmark development – e.g., successful downtown, new sports stadium, etc. – would result in a 3D model that could be shared with others.  The magic of the place could then be more effectively understood by people that have never been there.  The possibilities for application across multiple platforms are endless. Here is a link to the Google site: http://www.google.com/atap/projecttango/ <...
In the Beginning, there was a Plan….

In the Beginning, there was a Plan….

Troy Building Boom Started with an Innovative Plan A December 2013 article in Crain’s Detroit highlighted the successful redevelopment taking place in the City of Troy – a building boom – and explored how form-based codes have shaped this new development. Before the new zoning standards, however, there had to be a plan. Indeed, the City of Troy was honored by both the Michigan Association of Planning and the Michigan chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for its Big Beaver Corridor Study, completed in 2007. It is this plan that created the vision for the boulevard and directed the development of the City’s form-based code. Back in 2005, the City of Troy recognized that the suburban development patterns that defined the City had reached its peak in terms of commercial development along major corridors, and was headed towards becoming a place with limited development potential for the 21st Century. Specifically, Big Beaver Road, home to international businesses and the most upscale mall in the region, presented a classic example of post-World War II suburban development.  Characterized by a high volume traffic highway and standardized single-use zoning of adjacent properties, it represented the planning philosophy of that era.  It was time for a new approach to development. The City retained the services of Clearzoning, Inc. (then known as Birchler Arroyo Associates), a planning and transportation firm who partnered with the award-winning landscape architecture firm, Grissim Metz Andriese, designer Dave Peterhans, and  market research firm, The Chesapeake Group. The Planning Team determined that the City envisioned a bold new direction – to create a “world class boulevard” that would...

Huntington Woods & Lathrup Village Master Plans Underway

People move to and stay in a community for many reasons. Some come to an area for its prime location; some for its beautiful neighborhoods; and some come for its community feel. What attracts people to a community – and what keeps them there? How well does a community provide for the needs of its residents and businesses? What can the community do to continue to manage and guide development and redevelopment based on changes that happen inside as well as outside the community’s borders? The Planning Commissions in the cities of Huntington Woods and Lathrup Village are asking these questions as they update their Community Master Plans to reflect recent demographic and economic trends. Indeed, both communities have desirable locations in Oakland County, and both are known for their beautiful residential neighborhoods. And, both communities are known for being involved and engaged. Public input in the planning process is crucial to building consensus and buy-in from community stakeholders. Links to the online surveys are available for both communities on their project pages: Huntington Woods and LathrupVillage. The Planning Commission, with assistance from its planning consultants, Clearzoning, Inc., asks the communities to provide input via surveys that will contribute to building community consensus and strengthening the community’s sense of...