South Begins to Embrace New Urbanism

MattBerggren's picture

Waco, Texas, is among many southern cities recently embracing the tenants of new urbanism. For the last fifty plus years, Waco has been without a thriving downtown. However, Waco is now looking to reinvest in the heart of the city. The city's 40-year Imagine Waco plan is looking to build the city's downtown population to 100,000 by 2050. According to Haya El Nasser, Waco "is embracing innovative urban concepts. Waco is close to adopting a plan that includes mixed retail and residential downtown development, green construction and high-density, "walkable" communities that discourage driving."

So why the sudden interest in new urbanism? John Fregonese, a Portland-based urban and regional planning consultant who was hired by Waco suggests its is a response to the market. Waco is realizing "the market is going in that direction and that the community that doesn't have walkability is at a disadvantage in today's world." Waco isn't the only southern city turning to new urbanism. In July, Tulsa, Arizona, approved a plan to embrace retail in their downtown, increase the number of sidewalks, and introduce light rail. Also, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is in the process of redeveloping their downtown and creating a trolley line between Louisiana State University and downtown Baton Rouge.

As the benefits of new urbanism continue to be realized, we can expect more and more cities in the south and across the country to embrace the principles of new urbanism.


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