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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Infill Development

Part of the Urban Planning Committee's recommendations for rebuilding New Orleans today (see earlier post) included sections for "infill development" projects:

The report also recommends that a number of large tracts be demolished and repackaged as "infill development areas" for commercial or industrial projects with housing for workers nearby. The dozen sites identified in the report include a number of public-housing developments, including one in Central City in the vicinity of the C.J. Peete and Guste complexes; a huge parcel in the area of the Florida and Desire complexes; and another around the St. Bernard complex.

Other areas are identified as "infill" sites as well, including the portion of the Lower 9th Ward on the lake side of North Claiborne Avenue. While no mention is made in the report of any specific plans, commissioners say they have been approached by private developers -- whom they have declined to identify -- interested in pitching large-scale projects.

I drew a total blank on this terminology, so I went hunting. Here (in part) is what PolicyLink.org says about them:

Local governments use infill incentives to promote the development of vacant land—or rehabilitation of existing structures—in already urbanized areas where infrastructure and services are in place. Prime locations for infill development include downtowns, transit corridors and locations near employment, shopping, and recreational and cultural amenities.

Local governments offer infill incentives for a number of reasons.

  • Infill development reuses properties that may have been underutilized or blighted, helping to catalyze revitalization.

  • Infill has the potential to boost jobs, purchasing power, and public amenities in urban core neighborhoods and generate tax dollars for local government.

  • Infill housing is dense in comparison with housing in suburban areas and represents an effective way to meet a jurisdiction’s affordable housing or population growth needs.

  • Located in proximity to existing transit routes or within walking distance of services and entertainment, infill development can reduce auto use and accompanying congestion and pollution.

The mental image I get here - dense housing in combination with "commercial and industrial" - is pretty grim, but maybe I'm not understanding this well...?


  • At 8:44 PM, Blogger westrom said;

    in theory, this is the kind of urbanism europe had for centuries. mixed use infill and neighborhoods are what makes a city vibrant, reduce traffic and ensure jobs for the working class.
    this works in nyc, chicago, and any major european city. it is very different than the american suburbanism, but close to the interbellum new orleans. and we all know that downtown and central city were booming here during those times, before the whites got scared of the blacks and moved to metairie and then to the northshore.
    the market development has to be guided somehow, and the only tools the city planning has or should have are encouraging the business and transport infrastructure.
    but we have to see details, since god is in them, as mies van der rohe once said...

  • At 11:40 PM, Blogger Tim said;

    Agreed. The theory is that mixed use neighborhoods encourage walking to locally-owned corner grocery stores. Think of businesses where the owners live upstairs. Think of small shops instead of WalMart. This could be a good thing. The trick is to figure out how people of all income levels can get in to such housing.

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