The SFO headline of 6/15/14 is optimistic: “Renzo Piano drafts a model for walkable suburbs.” In San Ramon, Contra Costa County (Ca.) they have proclaimed a grand architectural vision. The architectural plans call for 70 retail spaces and a cineplex, 682,000 square feet of office space, and let’s not forget, 1,300 parking spaces! The parking spaces, per the architect, are “tucked within” one of the buildings (a.k.a, parking garage!). There is also a plaza which is intended to be a multigenerational gathering place (a.k.a, mall) A few blocks away, the architect has sketched plans for a 168 room hotel and 488 residential units. That, one supposes, is the basis for the walkable city. But, in a city of 75,000 residents, will 500 new downtown residences and 1,300 parking spaces truly “reinvent” suburbia or simply be another empty headline?
- no entry-no exit
Driving in America will be a problem as the population ages. “Houses of Boom” recognizes the problem.
But, the issue is finding an alternative. These are sobering statistics from “www. smartgrowth america”:
- Almost 40 percent of Americans over the age of 50 say their neighborhoods lack adequate sidewalks.
- 55 percent report inadequate bike lanes or paths.
- 48 percent have no comfortable place to wait for the bus (addendum: this assumes there is as bus!)
How will Boomers get from here to there- enjoyable and safely? In older suburban neighborhoods, even Levittown, sidewalks were part of the infrastructure. And, access to public transportation, like rail, was feasible, albeit at a distance. The newer suburbs lack transport redundancy and are built solely around car. Going forward, how will we?
As people age-in-place, walkability is a key factor. This article, from the New York Times, talks about road design which favors cars, and then “street diets” . The latter means we downsize our roads so that they “play nice” with multiple transportation modes, like biking and walking. See this thoughtful article by Leigh Gallagher.
The Mean Streets of New York – NYTimes.com.
As our population ages, walkability becomes an even more important factor. People drive less, and come to depend on having just one family car, or even none. Second, walking is all about exercise and fitness…something we keep when we give up the gym membership. Third, walking is a past time …a way to get out and know the community.So, efforts in NYC to “reinvent” walkability are an important trend, whether you live in Albany or Antarctica!
Blogging note: How are you supposed to access the senior center?>
This is an interesting idea, excerpted below, from the National Association of Home Builders Site. They are beginning a new index of home sales for the 55+ market.
P.S. What is wrong with this picture?!!
“We are seeing continued improvement in the 55+ housing market because consumers have gained confidence in the economy and are able to sell their current homes and move into a new home or an apartment that fits the lifestyle they desire,” said Robert Karen, chairman of NAHB’s 50+ Housing Council and managing member of the Symphony Development Group. “We expect this optimism from builders and developers to carry on into 2014.”
There are separate 55+ HMIs for two segments of the 55+ housing market: single-family homes and multifamily condominiums. Each 55+ HMI measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic). An index number below 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as poor than good.