From bleak to bustling: how one French town solved its high street crisis | Cities | The Guardian

Today, Mulhouse is known for the staggering transformation of its thriving centre, bucking the national trend for high street closures.In the past eight years, more than 470 shops and businesses have opened here. Mulhouse is unique in that 75% of new openings are independents, from comic book stores to microbreweries and organic grocers. It is one of the only places in France with as many independents as franchises. And it is one of very few places in France where more shops are opening than closing…

…Town centre residents were among the poorest as higher earners moved to houses on the outskirts, leaving properties vacant and run down.

Mulhouse set out to rebalance the housing mix. Generous subsidies for the renovation of building fronts expedited a facelift of more than 170 buildings. Security and community policing were stepped up. Transport was key – with a new tram system, bike schemes, shuttle buses and cheap parking.

But making the town’s public spaces attractive was just as important, with wider pavements, dozens of benches, and what officials deemed a “colossal budget” for tree planting and maintenance, gardening and green space. Local associations, community groups and residents’ committees were crucial to the efforts. A town centre manager was appointed to support independents and high-street franchises setting up.

Source: From bleak to bustling: how one French town solved its high street crisis | Cities | The Guardian

Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break Into Winners and Losers – The New York Times

Forty years ago, Nashville and Birmingham, Ala., were peers. Two hundred miles apart, the cities anchored metropolitan areas of just under one million people each and had a similar number of jobs paying similar wages. Not anymore. The population of the Nashville area has roughly doubled, and young people have flocked there, drawn by high-paying jobs as much as its hip “Music City” reputation. Last month, the city won an important consolation prize in the competition for Amazon’s second headquarters: an operations center that will eventually employ 5,000 people at salaries averaging $150,000 a year.

Birmingham, by comparison, has steadily lost population, and while its suburbs have expanded, their growth has lagged the Nashville area’s. Once-narrow gaps in education and income have widened, and important employers like SouthTrust and Saks have moved their headquarters. Birmingham tried to lure Amazon, too, but all it is getting from the online retail giant is a warehouse and a distribution center where many jobs will pay about $15 an hour.

Amazon’s announcement has been widely described as a rich-get-richer victory of coastal “superstar cities” like New York and Washington, regions where the company plans to employ a total of at least 50,000 workers. But the company’s decisions also reflect another trend: growing inequality among midsize cities.

Nashville and the other Amazon also-rans, like Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, are thriving because of a combination of luck, astute political choices and well-timed investments. At the same time, Birmingham and cities like it, including Providence, R.I., and Rochester, are falling further behind.

Source: Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break Into Winners and Losers – The New York Times

4 Projects That Show Mass Timber is the Future of American Cities

As architects face up to the need for ethical, sustainable design in the age of climate change awareness, timber architecture is making a comeback in a new, technologically impressive way. Largely overlooked in the age of Modernism, recent years have seen a plethora of advancements related to mass timber across the world. This year alone, Japan announced plans for a supertall wooden skyscraper in Tokyo by 2041, while the European continent has seen plans for the world’s largest timber building in the Netherlands, and the world’s tallest timber tower in Norway.

4 Projects That Show Mass Timber is the Future of American Cities https://www.archdaily.com/905601/4-projects-that-show-mass-timber-is-the-future-of-american-cities

According to the Federal Government, the Suburbs Don’t Exist – News | Planetizen

Shawn Bucholtz and Jed Kolko describe one of the facts of American life: most U.S. residents live in suburbs, but the federal government doesn’t actually categorize communities as suburban. The federal government makes a distinction between urban and rural, but not for suburban. “The lack of an official federal definition of suburban means that government data are not reported separately for suburban areas. That makes it hard to measure the reach and impact of federal programs and to produce vital statis

Source: According to the Federal Government, the Suburbs Don’t Exist – News | Planetizen

Banks are far more exposed to risky real estate loans than you think — thanks to this loophole Big Banks increasingly back debt funds and mortgage REITs

…But below the surface, banks are far more exposed to risky real estate loans than commonly thought thanks to a skyscraper-sized loophole: Instead of lending to construction projects directly, they increasingly lend to debt funds and mortgage trusts managed by private equity firms, which in turn lend to developers. Slate insists that the RiverTower deal wasn’t particularly risky, that it came with a big equity buffer and that it gets low interest rates on its loans. But in other cases, such as ground-up construction loans, the risk to lenders is more obvious…

 

Real Estate Lending | A-Notes

By Konrad Putzier and Rich Bockmann | November 06, 2017

With 31,000 New Units Expected to Open By 2020, NYC Neighborhoods Brace for Change – Localize Labs

New York City saw more 12,800 units open in the first half of this year, with another 31,000 expected to open by 2020, according to an analysis from Localize.city.Nearly 60 percent of the new units are opening in the top 10 neighborhoods; more than a quarter are in just three neighborhoods: Long Island City, Williamsburg and Bushwick.

Source: With 31,000 New Units Expected to Open By 2020, NYC Neighborhoods Brace for Change – Localize Labs

Figure of the week: Africa is home to the 10 fastest growing cities in the world

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs projects that the world’s 10 fastest growing cities, between 2018 and 2035, will all be in Africa. The visualization below first maps the location of the fastest growing cities in the world with a population greater than 2.5 million. Interestingly, many of the fastest growing African cities are specifically located on the Gulf of Guinea including Lagos, Abuja, Abidjan, Doula, and Kumasi.

Figure showing 30 of the world's fastest growing cities

 

 

 

 

Source: Figure of the week: Africa is home to the 10 fastest growing cities in the world

Wildfires can’t cool hot real estate markets | Grist

More people than ever want to live on the wild edges of Western cities, despite the risk wildfires pose to their homes. A recent study by researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, found that wildfires drive down real estate prices only in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Home prices in burned areas typically rebound to pre-fire levels within one to two years.

……

Yet developers will continue to build in high-risk areas as long as there’s a demand. Residential growth in forested areas across the United States has exploded in recent years, from an estimated 12.5 million housing units in 2000 to 44 million by 2010. “We should be worried about that,” said University of Nevada, Las Vegas, research economist Shawn McCoy, who led the study. “The societal costs of wildfire will increase, because people continue to develop there. They know that those homes will sell regardless of the risk.”

….

The researchers found that the value of homes within sight of burn scars did dip after a fire and was slower to rebound. But even there, homebuyers’ awareness of fire risk didn’t impact their willingness to invest in those properties. Overall, housing values in the high-risk zones dropped in the year following a wildfire, but rebounded to pre-fire prices in one to two years.

….wildfire suppression accounts for 52 percent of the Forest Service’s budget; by 2021, it’s projected to increase to 67 percent….

Source: Wildfires can’t cool hot real estate markets | Grist

Rising seas could wipe out $1 trillion worth of U.S. homes and businesses | Grist

 

Some 2.4 million American homes and businesses worth more than $1 trillion are at risk of “chronic inundation” by the end of the century, according to a report out Monday. That’s about 15 percent of all U.S. coastal real estate, or roughly as much built infrastructure as Houston and Los Angeles combined.

The sweeping new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists is the most comprehensive analysis of the risks posed by sea level rise to the United States coastal economy. Taken in context with the lack of action to match the scale of the problem, it describes a country plowing headlong into a flood-driven financial crisis of enormous scale.

 

Check out interactive map to see how your home, zip code or community does: http://US Coastal Property at Risk from Rising Seas.

Union of Concerned Scientists report at: Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate (2018)

Grist: Rising seas could wipe out $1 trillion worth of U.S. homes and businesses

Piece by Piece, a Factory-Made Answer for a Housing Squeeze – The New York Times

 The future is coming and it’s modular:

The United States needs new housing, but its building industry isn’t big enough to provide it. The number of residential construction workers is 23 percent lower than in 2006, while higher-skill trades like plumbers, carpenters and electricians are down close to 17 percent. With demand for housing high and the supply of workers short, builders are bidding up prices for the limited number of contractors. Advertisement Construction prices nationwide have risen about 5 percent a year for the past three years……

 

 

The global construction industry is a $10 trillion behemoth whose structures determine where people live, how they get to work and what cities look like. It is also one of the world’s least efficient businesses. The construction productivity rate — how much building workers do for each hour of labor they put in — has been flat since 1945, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Over that period, sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and retail saw their productivity rates surge by as much as 1,500 percent. In other words, while the rest of the economy has been supercharged by machines, computers and robots, construction companies are about as efficient as they were in World War II.

Source: Piece by Piece, a Factory-Made Answer for a Housing Squeeze – The New York Times

Artificial intelligence predicted to transform real estate investment by 2022 | News | Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

Two-thirds (64.5 percent) of institutional investors believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will be widely adopted in the real estate sector by 2022, according to a new report by Intertrust, the leading global provider of high-value trust, corporate and fund services. Forty-two percent of those surveyed say the technology will be widely adopted by 2020.

“The use of AI in the industry has become an increasingly hot topic, with many predicting that it will fundamentally transform real estate investment real estate investment within two to three years,” said Jon Barratt, head of real estate at Intertrust.

BUT

Despite optimism about the future of AI, 33 percent of respondents said the technology isn’t yet ready for use in the real estate industry. The same proportion believe that this is caused by a lack of investment in AI from companies in the sector.

SO IT WILL IF IT DOES AND WON’T IF IT DOESN’T.

Source: Artificial intelligence predicted to transform real estate investment by 2022 | News | Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

Manhattan Office Rents Increase With Internet Certification | GlobeSt.com

Buildings with high rated internet connections command premium rents. Also interesting is the replacement of FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) by TAMI (Technology, Advertising, Media & Information).

“When tenants pay more for their office space, they expect better internet connections,” Shaw Lupton, senior managing consultant at CoStar Portfolio Strategy, tells GlobeSt.com. In looking at WiredScore rated buildings, on average there was a 6.9% increase in rental properties, between each of the four rating levels.The report found Class B buildings benefitted the most from certification. They commanded rents up to $7.50 more per square foot compared to non-Wired Certified structures, also accounting for distances to subways. “Class B building internet connections are much, much less uniform than internet connections in Class A buildings,” explains Lupton. “For Class B buildings, the wired certification sends a much needed signal to the marketplace about the quality of the connection in that building.”

TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) tenants are attracted to buildings with strong digital infrastructures. This sector leased 13.3% of the platinum rating buildings compared to 6.9% of unrated buildings.

TAMI tenants took up an average of 8.4% of the buildings with the certified, silver and gold level designations.

Source: Manhattan Office Rents Increase With Internet Certification | GlobeSt.com

Something delicious is growing in the ‘sustainability underground’ | GreenBiz

This urban hydroponics farm is in refurbished WWII bunkers just 100 feet under the swarming, grubby streets of Clapham, in South London. Next time I hear that 1970 Motown line, “War, what is it good for?” followed by the response, “Absolutely nothing,” some part of my brain will protest: “Hydroponics!” In effect, what Growing Underground does is to flip vertical farming on its head. Instead of going up, it goes down. With U.K. supermarkets recently forced to ration vegetables in the wake of poor harvests…………

The headline: “Paris to turn a third of its green space into urban farms.”

The piece continued, “It all started when the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who was elected in 2014, declared her intention to make Paris a greener city. The Paris government responded to her call in 2016 by launching Les Parisculteurs, which aims to cover the city’s rooftops and walls with 247 acres of vegetation by 2020. A third of the green space, according to its plan, should be dedicated to urban farming.”

The city’s deputy mayor, Pénélope Komitès, noted, “Paris not only intends to produce fruit and vegetables but also (plans to) invent a new urban model. … We have seen a real craze among Parisians to participate in making the city more green. Urban agriculture is a real opportunity for Paris. It contributes to the biodiversity and to the fight against climate change.”

Source: Something delicious is growing in the ‘sustainability underground’ | GreenBiz

An Infrastructure Plan That Would Actually Work by Willem Buiter & Dag Detter – Project Syndicate

The total value of commercial assets owned by state and local governments is sure to be of the same magnitude, or larger. After all, local governments own and operate most airports and ports, as well as utilities such as water, sewerage, and electricity – all of which are in desperate need of funding. But real estate comprises the bulk of public commercial assets. By some estimates, publicly owned assets account for as much as one-quarter of the total market value of real estate in a city or county. At the same time, many localities need additional funding for affordable housing.

All told, this public wealth represents a substantial opportunity for investors, local governments, and society as a whole. If professionally managed, the yield from such a vast portfolio of commercial assets could fund not just critically needed infrastructure investments, but also any other public goods and services that are in demand.

Source: An Infrastructure Plan That Would Actually Work by Willem Buiter & Dag Detter – Project Syndicate

Bringing Some New Ideas to an Older Part of Amsterdam – Next City

 

By night, Reguliersdwarsstraat is one of the busiest streets in central Amsterdam. A hub for the city’s LGBTQ community, its restaurants, bars and clubs attract large numbers of locals and tourists alike. By day, however, the picture is markedly different. Despite being just steps away from Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market, the area has struggled to attract the daytime crowds. Related Stories Bronx Worker Cooperative Plans to “Compost Capitalism” Baltimore Businesses Team Up to Address

Source: Bringing Some New Ideas to an Older Part of Amsterdam – Next City

What You Can Learn About the Future of Cities from Wakanda – CityLab

Citylab has pulled together a Wakanda Reader, or online bibliography of sorts, to indulge those who are interested in the larger questions around urbanism implicated in Black Panther. We would call it a syllabus, but there are already several syllabi available—this #WakandaSyllabusfrom Walter Greason, an economic history professor at Monmouth University and founder of the International Center of Metropolitan Growth, is particularly good. This Wakanda curriculum for middle school grades from school teacher Tess Raker has also been making the rounds.

As for what else has been circulating, here’s an exhaustive, still-living-and-growing list of articles that build upon the Wakandan mystique:

https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/02/the-wakanda-reader/553865/?utm_source=twb

Why we all need Deaf urbanism – Greater Greater Washington

Deaf Urbanism is about changing the conversations around our cities, bringing our Deaf cultural values to the city at large, and preserving our place in society at large — as well as defining urbanism for our own community. Many tenants of Deaf Urbanism have to do with fostering a sense of inclusion as well as eliminating ableism and tokenism…

Deaf Urbanism is really just good design

Many able-bodied people benefit from technological advancements that were first designed for Deaf people, such as subtitles and texting. In urban contexts, various design ideals in DeafSpace include tactile elements, visual access and wayfinding throughout the urban environment. Tactile elements are simply changes in the walking surfaces to denote uses and boundaries — think of a rough stone edge near a curb, so that when you are looking away, you can feel with your feet when you are reaching the edge.

When it comes to visual access, having buildings and spaces that are open, have lots of light, and have direct visual connection benefit everyone. Being able to see your friends in a group in a building across the way on the second floor is simply good design. Applying these items in a larger urban context, we can use different materials in paving to denote different spaces and transitions, such as a cafe, a sidewalk, and a crosswalk. Having appropriate visual connection of buildings to Metro stations instead of buildings obscuring the visual landscape benefits everyone.

Many other urban design elements — such as gentle slopes and wide sidewalks instead of stairs — benefit people that have limited mobility and are also appreciated by able-bodied people. Another example is reduced curb cuts, which benefit pedestrians and bikers as well as people who are Deaf and disabled. Instead of having to step down or look for cars, an able-bodied person can just walk through…

Deaf people communicate in a 3-D language that can benefit planning conversations. It is intuitively simpler to communicate a 3-D environment in a 3-D modality. In our roundtable conversations for Deaf Urbanism, we discuss the scale of streets and how they should look with bike lanes, streetcar lanes, and the like in only a few signs…

Source: Why we all need Deaf urbanism – Greater Greater Washington

Via: Placeswire.org

Blowing down the Saddledome and building a new Victoria Park – Calgary – CBC News

Imagine you were given a serious chunk of Calgary’s core, a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and told you could turn it into whatever you wanted.That’s pretty much what the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) is doing with Victoria Park.Planners and a couple of architectural firms are hammering away at a vision for the future of one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods.It’ll be a 20-year plan to turn what’s currently a seriously bizarre jumble of skyscrapers, empty lots, an aging Saddledome, a bus barn and several rail lines, into Calgary’s entertainment district of the future. And a cool new place to live.

Source: Blowing down the Saddledome and building a new Victoria Park – Calgary – CBC News

Retrofitting suburbia: Old shopping malls can be saved by their parking lots – Business – CBC News

 

In what some call “retrofitting suburbia,” fading food and department stores are reinventing their huge urban properties by filling them up with residential, office and retail space.And with Sears Canada closing dozens of department stores, new opportunities in these “mixed-use” developments now abound.”Just about every shopping centre — if they’re smart — is looking at this,” said Brent Toderian, an international consultant on urbanism and city planning based in Vancouver.Brent Toderian”Just about every shopping centre — if they’re smart — is looking at this,” said Brent Toderian, an international consultant on urbanism and city planning based in Vancouver. (CBC)”The recognition is that you can bring more customers, you can get more value out of the land and, particularly when you’re around transit, you can provide a lot more transit ridership rather than car dependency.”Such revelations aren’t new in the United States but the idea has caught fire more recently in Canada.

Source: Retrofitting suburbia: Old shopping malls can be saved by their parking lots – Business – CBC News