Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Snow, winter and the "Sustainable Mobility City"

After a major set of snowstorms in 2010, I started writing an annual piece on what I called "a maintenance of way agenda for the transit city."

-- "A "maintenance of way" agenda for the walking and transit city," 2010
-- "Snow reminds us of the necessity of a "maintenance of way" agenda," 2013
-- "Testimony on the Winter Sidewalk Safety Amendment Act of 2011," 2011
-- "Level of service and maintenance requirements in planning #2: winter maintenance of bike paths," 2012
-- "Night-time safety: rethinking lighting in the context of a walking community," 2014
-- "Planning for Winter Weather," 2015
-- "Cataloging the various failures to remove snow in the walking/transit/bicycling city," 2015
-- "Who knew?: there is a Winter Cycling Federation and annual conference," 2015 -- the upcoming Congress is in Montreal, February 8th-10th, 2017
-- "Focusing on what's most important: snow on sidewalks or snow on cars?," 2016
-- "Winter preparedness, planning and the Walking/Biking/Transit City," 2019
-- "Walking City Wintertime: Snow and strollers in Toronto," 2019

Neat color reflections of walkway lights in the snowMOW is a term used by railroads.   And "transit city" encompasses sustainable modes of transportation--walking, biking, and transit--based on the concepts expressed in "Transportation and Urban Form" by Peter Muller.

Cities still are grappling with reorienting practices of city agencies in favor of sustainable mobility, even though a majority of transportation movement in cities is likely to be by pedestrians and transit riders.

One of my indicators in change in practice was how the Takoma Recreation Center has slowly expanded its sidewalk snow removal practices over the years, something that I tend to comment on in the series of pieces.  Over ten years, now they pretty much remove snow from all the sidewalk around four blocks, which is quite good since originally they did zero clearance from the perimeter sidewalks.

I was really surprised to see the DC DPW director, in this piece the other day from WTOP-radio, "How DC is preparing for this year’s wintry ‘Polar Coaster’," acknowledge as a priority snow clearance from bike lanes, intersections, and bridges, which have been persistent problems over the decades as the snow plow practice "regime" preferences motor vehicle movement. From the article:
“Protecting bike lanes has become a higher priority as more residents use bicycles as an alternative and even primary mode of transportation. The snow teams … are dedicated to keeping the bike paths, bridge deck, sidewalks, [disabled accessible] ramps, intersections and bus shelters clear,” Geldart said.
The article includes a twitter message embed with a video demonstrating a smaller machine used for clearing bike lanes.

Something I had never seen before, DDOT presalting sidewalks on bridges in a pedestrian areaAnd I have noticed, just like with the Takoma Recreation Center, incremental improvements over the years.

E.g., last Janruary I was shocked to see DPW crews salting sidewalks on bridges across North Capitol Street in advance of a snow storm when I was at a meeting in the Bloomingdale neighborhood.

While these are great steps there are always opportunity for improvement.

Past pieces have discussed better practice such as:
  • how Rochester, New York takes the responsibility for clearing snow from all the city's sidewalks
  • how the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan has an element on maintenance including winter snow clearance
  • how Holland, Michigan created a system of steam/water pipes under downtown sidewalks to melt snow as it falls
  • Montreal's clearance of snow from a defined winter network of cycle paths, and how some trails, such as the Minuteman Trail in Suburban Boston, the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda, and DC's Metropolitan Branch Trail have snow clearance protocols
  • a Winter Cycling Federation links cities across the Northern Hemisphere on snow clearance and bicycling matters
More recently, I learned that:

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Thursday, November 07, 2019

Why does change take so long?: retail business rents

WAMU/NPR reports ("Small Business Owners Press D.C. Lawmakers For Financial Relief") on a City Council hearing on a spate of bills introduced to address the issue, although some of the proposed legislation is still way more focused on "legacy businesses" rather than the problem in general.

But considering I have been bringing this up for more than 15 years, it's very hard to be excited about it.

I used to testify about this issue a lot from 2004 to maybe 2007, before I got the message that the DC City Council was not interested in addressing the problem in a systematic way.

- "Avoiding the real problem with DC's property tax assessment methodologies," 2007
- "Testimony -- Historic Neighborhood Retail Business Property Tax Relief Act," 2006
- "Forcing Displacement by the disconnection of tax assessment models from public policy goals," 2005
- "Displacement of retail businesses through increasing property tax assessments," 2005

The basic problem is that because DC is an international real estate market, property prices are bid up on various criteria, many of which push up rents beyond the value of the property based on the revenue capacity of the space.

- "Commercial retail rents #2," 2009
- "Cleveland Park Retail: My off-hand evaluation, the rents are too high," 2009

I had a letter to the editor in the Post about it in 2007.
Tax Policy Hurts D.C.'s Local Businesses, Richard Layman

A July 20 Metro Article ["Feeling the Pinch of D.C.'s Prosperity: Small Businesses Cry Out for Relief From Rapid Rise in Property Taxes"] inadequately explained why tax assessments are rising for small commercial property owners in the District.

Regardless of buildings' locations and use, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue values commercial buildings as if they could be converted into downtown office buildings. If the purpose is to turn the entire city over to office buildings and retail chains, then this property tax assessment methodology is working.

The market for downtown property is not local; it involves national and international developers, lenders, and portfolio investors. The market for small-footprint buildings in neighborhood commercial districts is local--in terms of property owners, investors, tenants, sales potential and rents. The solution is simple: differentiated tax assessment methods.

The legislative focus on property tax abatements or tax caps fails to address this fact.

As a result, locally owned businesses will continue to close or relocate to the suburbs, while more and more of the retail identity and uniqueness of the District is lost and the city's retail landscape becomes reshaped into yet another mall, albeit outdoors, featuring national brands.
One of the things that bugs me about politicians is that they focus on individual, somewhat idiosyncratic examples -- Ben's Chili Bowl -- and not structural conditions. That's why I was disappointed in 2013, when then Councilmember Wells testified about this issue to a tax revision commission, but about individual businesses, not the structural problem.

-- "Revisiting the issue of neighborhood commercial district property tax methodologies"

A big "new" problem: the need for more coordinated planning in small commercial districts.  While it's not a new problem, the velocity of real estate intensification has increased significantly and therefore, because commercial district zoning allows for housing and up to 5 story buildings, retail is being displaced in small districts like Upshur Street NW, in favor of condominiums.

There's no attention being paid for that, and the need for "thumbnail" development plans for small commercial districts, to coordinate change.

Since 2002, I've suggested Cleveland's Business Revitalization District Overlay zoning as a model for what DC ought to be doing... It requires an extra level of coordination and review for new projects.

A newer problem: people go out to eat, not to buy goods.  A related problem that is even newer is that people when they go out, tend to be interested in eating and experiences, not in buying goods. 

So asking prices for rent are probably too high for retailers based on their ability to sell goods, even beyond the revenue capacity of a store based on more traditional metrics.

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Monday, November 04, 2019

Feel good story about Kenya on NPR is actually pretty damning

NPR has a story about Noah Nasiali-Kadima, who won a $1 million prize from Facebook for his creation of online networks to support farmers and capacity building and technical assistance ("Facebook For Farmers: How 75,000 Rotting Cabbages"). From the article:
... he started a Facebook group so that he and other farmers — including new ones like himself, and experienced farm veterans — could discuss and come up with solutions to problems just like this.

The Africa Farmers Group now has 138,000 online members in Kenya and throughout Africa. He has also organized in-person educational seminars in countries across the continent including South Africa, Nigeria, Somalia and Zambia. The goal is to help farmers learn the skills they need to succeed, by providing forums in which they can share their own stories of success and failure, and offer their peers empathy, encouragement and practical tips. In recognition of his work, in September 2018, Facebook awarded him $1 million as part of its Facebook Community Leadership Program.
That's what the US Agriculture Extension system has been doing for more than 100 years in the US. 

It was a four phase process.  First, the US created a system of federal support for state agriculture colleges.  Second, it extended this support to what are now called HBCUs, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  Third, it created "Agriculture Experiment Stations" as part of the US Department of Agriculture, but with tight connections to the "land grant colleges."  Then it created the agriculture extension program, jointly managed by state colleges and the USDA, creating a system of "extension agents" to provide technical assistance and capacity building, county by county, across the United States.

-- The History and Philosophy of Extension , University of Missouri.
-- Cooperative Extension History, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA

The US Agency for International Development supports agriculture improvement overseas as well.

But if the experience of the best examples of knowledge capture and dissemination* in the world--the US Agriculture Extension system--isn't being exported as a key element of foreign aid and assistance, than something is really wrong with international foreign aid programs.

* One criticism of the system of agricultural research in the US is that it is oriented to the support of corporate and large scale agriculture, and technology over workers. 

That was the focus of the Agribusiness Accountability Project, which produced two books, one specifically on the land grant college research system, Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times: The Failure of the Land Grant College Complex -- hard tomatoes are easy to harvest, but flavorless...

I argue that one of the foundational strands of the field of community development comes out of agricultural extension.  Even though these efforts have been focused on "rural development," the findings have almost universal application.

Elections tomorrow

Personally, I think it's better to not have off-year elections because the voter turnout is so low usually.  OTOH, it can prevent "nationalization" of what should be local elections, which can happen when they are part of the "federal" election cycle.

A number of communities, like Boston, Seattle, and Salt Lake City, have council and/or mayoral elections.  A handful of states (Kentucky, Mississippi, ) have governors races, Virginia has all of its House and Senate legislators up for elections.

Many places have ballot referenda, tax votes for parks, transportation, etc.  Transportation initiatives range from local to that of statewide significance (e.g., Colorado, Maine).

People look at these votes as a way to forecast what might happen in next year's election cycle, which includes the Presidential race, but it's hard to say.

For me, what happens is more likely to reinforce trends.  Conservative places are likely to stay conservative, places undergoing political change, like Virginia, are likely to continue on that trend ("All politics used to be local. Then along came Trump. ," Washington Post).

Maybe in conservative places, strong Democratic candidates will poll better, but still seem likely to use, since in off-year elections, fewer Democratic voters tend to come out to vote.

1.  Will the couple million dollars Amazon and other corporate interests put into the City of Seattle elections shift the Council to pro-business? ("Amazon Tests 'Soul of Seattle' With Deluge of Election Cash," New York Times). '

Tech companies want to ward off future taxation initiatives which could effect their bottom line.

Many observers think that Socialist Kshama Sawant in District 3 could fall as a result of the more than $1 million in campaign spending directed on behalf of her opponent.

Seattle no longer is a two newspaper town.  The Seattle Times reliable endorses pro-business candidates.  But there, The Stranger alternative weekly still is a force in local politics journalism and they endorse candidates, from a more "pro-people" perspective.  Generally, The Stranger's endorsements "carry more weight" than the Times, although I would say it isn't that exactly, just that the people who make up The Stranger are more like the electorate than is the case with the ST. ("Trends we noticed on primary election night in Seattle," KUOW/NPR).

2.  The Boston Globe editorialized in favor of some candidates on the basis of their support of increased housing production in the face of typical opposition by existing residents. That's pretty rare ("Housing is on the ballot in Tuesday’s local elections"). From the article:
On Tuesday, voters across Greater Boston go to the polls in local elections. As usual, the election campaigns have covered a whole gamut of local issues, many of them particular to Boston or Somerville, Newton or Cambridge. One of the most heartening region-wide developments, though, is the emergence of unapologetically pro-housing voices. It takes significant bravery to stick up for the greater good in the face of NIMBYism, and candidates who do deserve to be rewarded on Tuesday.
Also see "Boston voters want council to address affordable housing, transportation," Boston Herald.

3.  I found this digital ad on the Newsday website interesting, somewhat funny.  In New York State, "Towns" are what in many states are called townships and can be quite large.

The "highways" budget in the Town of Brookhaven is more than $110 million, and in a suburban setting, yep, they don't care much about transit.

The directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system are elected, but that transit agency is an outlier as for the most part, large transit agencies have appointed directors.

4.   Transportation initiatives range from local to that of statewide significance (e.g., Colorado, Maine).

The State of Washington faces a ballot vote on whether or not to ban add-on taxes on car registrations, which in the state are used to support local transit and transportation programs ("Q&A: What would the proposed car-tab measure, Initiative 976, do?," Seattle Times).

Interestingly, Amazon is funding pro-transit organizing on this initiative ("Amazon and Microsoft are spending big to fight I-976, Tim Eyman’s plan to cut car-tab fees," CrossCut).

5.  When I first wrote about Amazon's campaign contributions in Seattle, I wrote a piece ("Amazon’s growing spending on Seattle politics includes a spate of donations from Jeff Bezos’ ‘S Team’") speculating that this could be foreboding vis a vis Arlington County, a beacon of progressive politics in Virginia.

Washington Business Journal reports that in this round of elections in Virginia, Amazon's contributions are tacking Republican ("Amazon's last-minute campaign contributions favor Republicans in Virginia").


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

New York Times listing of "Top 10" DC restaurants as an opportunity to briefly revisit Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization

Bad Saint restaurant, DC.

"10 Reasons Why Washington Is A Great Restaurant City"

Back when blogs were ascendant, I got a lot of play for "Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization," which listed a set of "rules" for how restaurants can spur revitalization of neighborhood commercial districts, and by extension cities.

I would get interviewed by journalists here and in other cities, to comment about restaurant and community development issues.

The original piece was partly a response to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which discussed the success of neighborhood restaurants.  At that time, 2005, mostly the kind of chef-driven restaurants discussed in the article had zero chance of success in DC.

This restaurant, at 1330 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, has been successful for more than 30 years, although it was an outlier in that it isn't part of bigger commercial district.

At best, "neighborhood-focused" restaurants not too expensive, with decent service, and an accessible menu could succeed, at least in DC, but not chef-driven restaurants, which were more likely to be successful Downtown and in Georgetown.

But even then, not that many people were willing to venture to Downtown, fearing crime.

Chef Jose Andres' Jaleo has been a great exception, going strong since it first opened in 1993, and spawning other branches in Maryland and Virginia, and elsewhere such as Disney World and Las Vegas, commensurate with his growing fame.

I countered that restaurants to be successful needed to focus on developing neighborhood residents as frequent customers eating out at their establishment multiple times per week.

-- "Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Driven Revitalization (updated)," 2005, is the basic piece, with five rules and a list of elements denoting quality restaurants
-- "Revisiting Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization," 2010, discusses a couple restaurants which repositioned away from upscale to more "comfort" food, to better meet the desires of neighborhood consumers
-- "Updating Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Driven Revitalization," 2013, continues to discuss this in the context of commercial retail district development
-- "DC restaurants: location and equilibrium," 2014, ditto.
-- "A note on food halls," 2017
-- "Successful retail today often includes food, experiences, social elements, and isn't rote," 2016
-- "Destination restaurants as a call for revisiting "Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization"," updated this discussion some in line with the city pushing 700,000 residents making it possible to support the outward spread of restaurant creativity beyond regionally-serving restaurant clusters like Downtown and Georgetown.

"Restaurant tourists":  local eater-tourism as an analogue of architourism.  After the success of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, there has been a renewed focus on "architourism" as a way to draw visitors to cities ("The museum that changed a whole city: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao turns 20," Die Welt; "Why can't the "Bilbao Effect" be reproduced? | Bilbao as an example of Transformational Projects Action Planning").

Architourism is a phenomenon that dates back centuries, but it's new to cities thinking in more rigorous ways about how to attract tourists in the face of a multitude of competitive destinations.  (Cultural heritage tourism, which I tout often, is a variant.)

While of course, traditional tourists (people who don't live in your area coming to visit and staying/paying for at least a one night stay) are often a source of business for restaurants, we could say that an element of restaurant patronage is "eater-tourism," comprised of in-region residents going out to eat at places in their home metropolitan area, places that are acclaimed by the national media, from Bon Appetit and Food & Wine Magazines, to reviews in the New York Times or features on television shows such as Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or cooking shows featuring name chefs.

-- "The Guy Fieri Effect," Restaurant Hospitality
-- "The Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives Effect," Twin Cities Business Magazine

This is comparable to movies and television shows that feature particular areas or topics, like the movie "Sideways" and its effect on wine tourism ("'Sideways': 10 years later, hit film still makes waves in Santa Ynez Valley economy," KPCC-FM/NPR), or Frances Mayes book Under the Tuscan Sun later made into a movie, which still draws visitors to Italy, Peter Mayle's book, A Year in Provence, etc.

Chef Roy Choi hosts an interesting series on PBS SoCal, "Broken Bread." 

Island Press just released a book I plan to read and review, titled Food Town USA: Seven Unlikely Cities That Are Changing the Way We Eat.

Chef-driven restaurants primarily rely on non-neighborhood residents for patronage.  It's different today, somewhat, but what today's Times article states as a truth, that
"many new restaurants ... are also bringing fresh life to residential neighborhoods, where relatively low overhead enables creative risks".
has a number of caveats. It's not an absolute.

While some neighborhoods are capable of supporting one or two expensive destination restaurants, recognizing that the customer base for these restaurants is mostly derived from non-residents, the demand isn't unlimited, and some concepts probably work better in restaurant districts that are more central and have a larger customer base with positioning that isn't reliant on an individual restaurant "having to do all the marketing themselves."

(In DC, Metrorail access is a key element of the ability of some neighborhoods to draw patrons from outside the immediate area.)

Overspecialization is still risky.  Last year's "An update to Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization on the failure of wine bar restaurants in DC and Baltimore" discusses restaurant location as being one of five types, and the more local the district, the more risky chef-driven and/or specialized concepts.

This piece discusses this problem in terms of wine bars and the reality that during the week, the average person isn't likely to consume a lot of alcohol, so that wine bars etc. become special occasion destinations, which may not be enough to keep a business open.

What happens when the chef is too ambitious? The CityLab  2019 confab of international mayors just held in DC from Sunday to Tuesday featured a session with Chef Kwame Onwuachi, author of Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir and operator of Kith & Kin on The Wharf, which is one of the restaurants highlighted in the Times article.

While I don't think the talk at CityLab 2019 covered restaurant issues in a manner that could provide insight to mayors, e.g.
  • they could have discussed in a focused way the process of financing restaurants
  • the difficulties faced by people of color in owning, launching and maintaining restaurants
  • providing special financing programs for restaurants (and groceries) in under-served neighborhoods
  • restaurants as social enterprise 
  • workforce training programs, e.g., DC's Food Policy Council is preparing reports on the DC Food Economy and a Food Workforce Workforce Development Strategy, etc.
it was an interesting presentation and Chef Onwuachi made me interested enough to want to read his book.

But because I entered the session late, I don't know if they discussed the spectacular failure of his first attempt at a restaurant in the Shaw neighborhood.

Besides setting up unreasonable expectations for what it would achieve, the cost of the meals, etc., Shaw Bijou had a business model that likely was unachievable in a neighborhood setting:

Really high prices and requiring a large amount of customers, likely not from the neighborhood, to fill the seats.

-- "What Happened at the Shaw Bijou?" Eater DC
-- "Chef Kwame Onwuachi Opens Up About the Shaw Bijou and Restaurant Racism in His New Memoir," Washingtonian Magazine
-- "Shaw Bijou, one of D.C.'s most expensive restaurants, has closed after less than three months," Washington Post

A few restaurants in DC manage to pull this off, like Rose's Luxury on 8th Street SE in Capitol Hill. But there isn't enough demand to support a large number of such restaurants across the city.

What happens when the name chef moves on from an acclaimed but neighborhood-based restaurant?  Restaurants featured in the Times piece, like Komi in Dupont Circle and Bad Saint on 11th Street in Columbia Heights, still are run by either the original chef-owners or original owners.

But Himitsu, one of the shining lights in Petworth, has changed its name ("D.C. Favorite Himitsu Will Change Its Name When Its New Chef Debuts," Eater DC) and chef because co-founder Kevin Tien not only moved on, he took his recipes with him ("Himitsu’s Founding Chef Is Leaving the National Standout That Helped Petworth Pop," Easter DC).

Will the new restaurant be able to succeed without a name chef?  If so, one element of repositioning might be to shift more towards serving neighborhood restaurants, rather than "food tourists."  But that means big changes to the menu, price points, and business model.

Practioners often aren't good at generating meta-theory.  One thing I've learned through observation is that practitioners tend to not be good at generating "meta-theory", the lessons and learning they need to be able to duplicate and replicate their success elsewhere and in places with different conditions.

Systematizing the "reproduction" of restaurants.  For restaurants this may matter less, because there is a differentiation between the financing side and the food side.

Able financiers ("Who Is Hilda Staples?," Washingtonian), although they sometimes bet on the wrong horse ("From 'Top Chef' stardom to bankruptcy: The rise and fall of Mike Isabella," Washingtonian) and restaurant groups ("Longtime D.C. restaurant group shifts focus to food halls as it expands beyond region," Washington Business Journal) develop the expertise to replicate success with different concepts and chefs.

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Historic preservation designation as a tool to prevent development

A lot of the time, pro-development forces criticize historic preservation designation as a way to stymie "progress" or change.

Sometimes that's true.

And I don't think that helps historic preservation as a movement or a process.  It needs to be able to stand on its merits as a heritage conservation and community improvement strategy, not as a cudgel.

That being said, oftentimes progress is in the eye of the beholder, and it can be an acceptable even worthy tradeoff to protect buildings and landscapes even at the loss of some development potential.

Therefore, it's important to be very judicious when moving proposals for the creation of historic districts and landmark designations forward.

DC has a very strong preservation law, stronger than just about anywhere else.  The preservation law is strong, but it sets a high bar for designation, basing decisions on various architectural and historical criteria.  It also puts in barriers and provides communities very little support when pursuing designation.

And because so many of the city's buildings were constructed before 1920, especially neighborhoods, I argue that even without historic designation, there should be basic design review guidelines and demolition protections in place, because architecture and history are central to DC's identity and competitive advantage, even if this is "a fact" that eludes most of the city's appointed and elected officials.

My basic point about this is that the historic preservation movement came of age when housing choice trends and attitudes did not favor cities, and residents committed to urban living focused on stabilizing neighborhoods, commercial districts, and downtowns in the face of residential outmigration and shrinkage.

Now that center cities have an opportunity to grow, preservationists lack the philosophy and tools to respond.  Cf. my discussion of Stephen Semes, author of The Future of the Past: A Conservation Ethic for Architecture, Urbanism and Historic Preservation, in "An argument for the aesthetic quality of the ensemble: special design guidelines are required for DC's avenues."

I also argue for managing the city's built environment as if it were a whole city heritage area.  But that doesn't mean preserving the city in amber.

It means managing the aesthetic qualities of the built environment so that each addition to the built environment contributes positively.

1.  Plaza West Apartments, 307 K Street NW.  The CityLab  2019 confab of international mayors just held in DC from Sunday to Tuesday featured a session on DC's Plaza West affordable housing development, which is noteworthy because a majority of units were earmarked for "grandfamilies," family households led by grandparents who for whatever reason are forced to take care of their grandchildren because the children's parents are unable ("District Breaks Ground on Affordable-Housing Development for Families Headed by Grandparents," Washington City Paper).

WCP photo.

Plaza West bumps against I-395, between K Street and New York Avenue.  In part, in replaced a handful of very simple rowhouses and a couple commercial buildings on K Street.

It comes to mind because years ago someone living in one of the rowhouses contacted me to help him file a historic landmark nomination as a way to stymie the property owner for a bit, but really with the aim of getting a bigger payoff to leave.

I told him since a designation wouldn't be approved and wasn't necessarily worthy in terms of what a designation "could save"*, it would be a waste of my time, even if he paid me.

* even if the buildings were designated, which is unlikely, because individual houses don't meet the criteria to be designated a landmark, unless associated with particularly noteworthy events, individuals, or architecture, they can still be demolished in extraordinary circumstances through a court-like special review process through what is called "the Mayor's Agent" for Historic Preservation, who is an administrative law judge.

-- Mayor's Agent Decisions, DC Historic Preservation Law Project, Georgetown Law School

And even though I don't think the architectural design for Plaza West is noteworthy, the planner side of me sees that the net benefit from the demolition of a few ordinary rowhouses housing a handful of people is much greater by the replacement of these dwellings and buildings with 173 affordable housing units housing 500+ people.

439 Massachusetts Avenue NW -- After439 Massachusetts Avenue NW, after the facade was torn off, 2005.  Photo by Peter Sefton.

2.  Tearing off building facades to diminish architectural integrity.  To prevent successful designations, the DC land use bar figured out that if they had their clients tear off the facades of buildings, the loss of integrity would be so great that a historic designation could not be made.  That happened to a bunch of buildings on Massachusetts Avenue NW.

3.  Another good example is the MLK Library.  Because the building is designated, it basically crippled DC's ability to create a great library, instead of one that is merely better than the library that is more like an office building than a library.

Note that even though I lauded advocate efforts for "saving the library" out of a lack of trust that the city would do a better job ("The essentiality of determined advocates ignored in Post editorial on the Martin Luther King Library," 2015), I still think that designating the building was a mistake.

It raises a tough issue in preservation policy, in that is a building important and worth landmarking and saving because it's in your community, even if overall, it is not a particularly noteworthy example of the architect's ouevre?

Personally, were I in charge of the library system, I'd probably push for demolition, and go through the Mayor's Agent appeal process.

Barry Farm in better days.  It's absolutely decrepit now, not that disinvestment is a justification for demolition if a property is deemed worthy of historic designation.

4.  And Barry Farm, a public housing development in Southeast that the city has been trying to redevelop for years, but a small group of residents continue to resist.

-- "History and Evolution of Anacostia's Barry Farm," DC Policy Center

The hearing where the decision will come down concerning that historic preservation nomination is tomorrow ("Barry Farm tenants await decision," StreetSense; "Is Barry Farm a historic landmark? An upcoming ruling will shape the fate of redevelopment plans," Washington Business Journal.

The planner part of me says that the complex should be rebuilt.  The historic preservation part of me says that it's a pretty ordinary building complex that doesn't rise to the level of designation based on an evaluation of the architectural and historical significance of the complex.

From a tradeoff perspective, I think the significant increase in the amount of housing that will be provided by the new project is a great return on the change.

Again, the design doesn't appeal to me.  But the proposed project sounds very similar to projects elsewhere that are heralded for their contribution to neighborhood improvement and an increase in the amount of housing stock .

From the StreetSense article:
DCHA, along with the A&R companies and Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc., intends to turn the public housing community into a mixed-income area. The plan aims to increase the total number of units from 444 to 1100, while providing 380 units as public housing, according to the Barry Farm Redevelopment website. The project will also include approximately 40,000 square feet of retail space, a 2.4 acre park, and updates to infrastructure.
OTOH, given that "lived experience" is all the rage these days, you can argue that Barry Farm is deserving because people (cf. People's History of the United States) and people of color especially are under-recognized from the standpoint of historiography centered around "Great (white) men."

In any case, based on diminished architectural integrity and lack of particularly noteworthy characteristics, I can't imagine that the nomination for the complex will be approved.

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Island Press webinar today on improving local transit | Featuring Christof Spieler, author of Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit

What does it take to build good transit?
Learn strategies from transit experts in this free webinar

Transportation is one of the biggest challenges facing the Bay Area today. To build good transit, the discussion needs to focus on what matters—quality of service, a range of transit riders, the role of buildings, streets and sidewalks, and, above all, getting transit in the right places.

Join Island Press and TransForm for a webinar on improving local transit in the Bay Area and beyond, part of TransForm's Connecting Communities series. The panelists will discuss strategies to revive interest in transit and boost ridership locally and regionally.

Wednesday, October 30 · 12:00pm PDT

- Christof Spieler, author of Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit
- Christy Wegener, Project Manager for San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans)

Moderator: Chris Lepe, Regional Policy Director, TransForm


Monday, October 28, 2019

Montgomery County Parks Speaker Series: "Operational Sustainability: Best Practices in Public Space Management”, November 6th

"Operational Sustainability:
Best Practices in Public Space Management”
November 6, 2019 | 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Montgomery County Regional Office Building Auditorium
8787 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Vibrant parks and public spaces that offer more and more amenities are on the rise, but operations funding has not kept up. 

Accommodating visitors, their needs and special events while balancing the needs of landscapes can be challenging.

Tim Marshall, a leader in public space management, will explain the variables in design quality, programming, facilities and maintenance that can achieve “operational sustainability” and lead a public space to flourish and rise above the rest.

Presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
Register by November 1 to secure a complimentary boxed lunch.

-- Registration
-- Videos of previous presentations

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Baseball World Series in DC #3: Five lessons for transit

This tweet comments on the transportation issues after last night's World Series Game, making the point that such tie ups wouldn't happen in a "world class city."
heritage fleet, CTA, for Chicago Cubs World Series
As part of its Heritage fleet program, the CTA will be operating its refurbished rail cars on the Red Line before the Cubs’ World Series home games this weekend. (Courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority)
. "CTA to Roll Out Vintage Train Cars for Cubs World Series Games," WTTW/PBS.

I had three transportation-related "lessons" in the two previous posts in this series, but perhaps they were overly buried in all the other words.

-- "Baseball World Series in DC as an opportunity for urban planning reflections: #1 | revisiting blog entries from 2005/2006"
-- "Baseball World Series in DC #2: Ten urban planning lessons from the Washington Nationals stadium"

And looking at this a little more deeply, there are two more lessons besides those.

1. In transit cities, don't place stadiums and arenas in locations with service from only one transit line.

Place a stadium where it can be serviced by multiple lines. By contrast to the single Green Line subway serving the Washington Nationals Stadium, DC's Capital One Arena is served by three lines, and is a short four block walk to a direct connection to the other three lines.*

In New York City, Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, Yankees Stadium, and Shea Stadium are all served by both subway and railroad lines. MSG and Barclays Center are located on top of huge transit hubs, with far more connections than even Yankee and Shea Stadiums. More than 50% of attendees to events at MSG and Barclays arrive and depart by transit. (But this leads to the fourth lesson...)

Lesson: Either require stadiums and arenas to be located at sites with multiple transit connections at the outset, or add the connections.

* Note that in "Baseball World Series in DC #2" I did make the point that a lesson with Capital One Arena would be to build an "underground" city walking based connection between Metro Center and Galley Place/Capital One Arena, to encourage people to get the rest of the way to the Arena from Metro Center by walking, rather than transferring to the Red Line to travel the same four blocks.

Subway connections to Barclays Center
Nine subway lines provide service to Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  (14 subway lines provide service to Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.)

Long Island Railroad (LIRR) connections to Barclays Center
Long Island Railroad (LIRR) connections to Barclays Center.  (MSG is served by LIRR and NJ Transit.)

2. To partially correct for this DC could have built a streetcar line between the Washington Nationals Stadium, the Capitol South Metrorail Station -- connecting to the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines, and Union Station -- connecting to the Red Line, and to regional passenger rail systems for Maryland and Virginia**.

A modern streetcar in Kansas City wrapped in a promotion for the Royals baseball team. Photo: Adam Vogler, Kansas City Business Journal.

It wouldn't have been perfect, streetcars don't carry that many people, but it would have provided alternative routes to other subway lines with the additional potential bonus of connections to railroad passenger services too.

A complication would have been getting through the Capitol Complex, given post-9/11 security considerations.

And to have enough streetcar vehicles to be able to make a meaningful dent for spikes in demand.

One way to have slack capacity would be to get heritage streetcars, see "An idea for Sunday streetcar service in DC: heritage streetcars."

Separately, I've argued that DC should create a heritage streetcar service for the National Mall, between Union Station and Georgetown, even providing service to Rosslyn/Arlington Cemetery.  This system could be extended to provide game day service to the Washington Nationals baseball stadium and the Audi Field soccer stadium.

-- "A National Mall-focused heritage (replica) streetcar service to serve visitors is way bigger idea than a parking garage under the Mall" (2013)
-- "New DC Circulator route serving National Mall reminds us that we are neglecting connections from west to east and fail to adequately connect Georgetown to the National Mall" (2015)

3. The problem is accentuated by the refusal of the Washington Nationals team to pay for Metrorail to provide late service when games go beyond normal operating hours.

This is less of a problem in the post-season, when other actors, seeking publicity, pay for the service.  But fans blame the transit system, not the baseball team, for the problem.  People boo Metrorail when the Nationals remind fans of the Navy Yard station's closing time.
Digital billboard at Nationals Stadium showing the closing time for the WMATA system/Navy Yard Metrorail station
Digital billboard at Nationals Stadium showing the closing time for the WMATA system/Navy Yard Metrorail station.  Twitter photo, 2016, Ryan J. Allen.

Lesson: put such requirements in the zoning and building regulations and in the contract between the city and the team for use of the stadium

4. If you build a stadium next to a single transit line, in a city with multiple transit lines, rebuild the station to add platform capacity to deal with the extranormal demand generated by stadium events.

Problems with platform crowding have been ongoing since the stadium opened. In retrospect, that was an indicator that capacity needed to be added.

**5.  When building stadiums and arenas in regions with regional passenger service, location decisions should provide access to passenger railroads too.

NYC is the best example, both good and bad.  All of the city's major stadiums have access to subway and railroad service.  But the suburban football stadium in New Jersey is poorly served by both types of transit.

DC's MARC and VRE railroads don't provide much in the way of special train service (MARC used to when there wasn't a team in Washington, and people went to Baltimore Orioles games) to sports events.

But then again, past experience hasn't shown much demand for it.

But if stadiums and arenas were located in ways that took passenger train access into consideration and if the region had a true regional passenger railroad system ("A "Transformational Projects Action Plan" for a statewide passenger railroad program in Maryland), maybe that would be different.

The Southern California Metrolink system runs a variety of promotions to support people getting to games by rail. While facilities vary in the level of direct access, it happens that the Angels baseball stadium and arena for the Anaheim Ducks are a short distance from Metrolink.

Metrolink train car wrapped to promote the Angeles Express.

If the MARC Penn Line and the VRE Fredericksburg Line were merged ("A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines") game day special service could be provided more easily.

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Baseball World Series in DC #2: Ten urban planning lessons from the Washington Nationals stadium

Probably at least half the comments on the previously cited Washington Post article, "Long before the World Series, this ragtag group of D.C. property owners was evicted to make way for baseball," state criticized the Post for being "negative," that the Post should only be positive on the eve of the third World Series game.

Here are some of the urban planning lessons I've learned from the Washington Nationals (and the MCI Center/Verizon Center/Capital One Arena).

1.  Siting, urban design, and transportation connections are fundamental.  DC is a great example for cities (as are NYC, New Jersey, Boston, and Philadelphia, and White Sox vs. Wrigley Field in Chicago) on right siting and wrong siting for sports facilities, and how this makes a difference in positive ancillary economic development.

RFK Stadium has a subway station, but it isn't centrally located and the site was never designed to spur additional development.  The old Uline Arena, home to hockey and basketball teams, lacked good transit access.  Capital One Arena is served by three Metrorail lines and is 4 blocks from the other three lines.  Nationals Stadium is served by one Metrorail line and many people go there by car, leading to terrible congestion.

Capitol One Arena and Nationals Stadium anchor districts beyond the four walls of the facility.  Even though both Nationals Stadium and the Arena are modern buildings, counter to the "throwback" designs of Camden Yards, they fit in with their surroundings.  Most importantly, they are designed for the city, not surrounded by parking lots.

PacBell Park was later named AT&T Park, and now is called Oracle Park, after the software company.

John King, urban design writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, in his 2003 article on PacBell Park, "Opening Day Distraction / Why the ballpark was a great idea, four years later," laid out the lessons from that facility.   From the article:
In short, Pac Bell Park is a brick-paneled seminar on urbanity. Let us study the lessons taught by this one really smart - but so gosh-darn cute! - building." The lessons are:
  • Blank slates are boring
  • Recycling pays off
  • The More Travel Options the Better
  • Waterfronts Need Action, Too
  • Don't Fear Progress
  • You Can't Beat the Real Thing
His review of the baseball stadium for the San Diego Padres ("Petco Park top-notch -- but no splash hit / San Diego's new stadium evokes Aztec ruins more than baseball") provides the counter lessons on what not to do.

2.  While it's important to oppose public financing and giveaways to owners and leagues, given the likelihood such rewards will be provided to sports teams, we need to focus equally on maximizing positive urban design, transportation demand management, and other community benefits from the facility.  These pieces outline a framework for what to look for.

-- "Stadiums and arenas redux: Mayor Bowser still wants the area NFL team to relocate to DC" (2019)
-- "Stadiums and economic effects" (2013)
-- "An arena subsidy project I'd probably favor: Sacramento" (2014)
-- "Sports stadiums (and arenas) and local economic development and a DC soccer stadium" (2014)
-- "Stadiums and arenas as the enabling infrastructure for "money-making" platforms " (2014)
-- "More sports: sports-anchored entertainment districts and LA Live

3.  The relationship between a team and a jurisdiction should be a partnership, but it's very one-sided.  Be sure you specify what you want in the contract.  Your maximum leverage is before the contract is signed.

-- "Everything they do centers on cash (sports-related economic development)" (2006)
-- "Brief follow up on DC and a new football stadium for the Redskins" (2018)
-- "Yes, modify and extend the RFK Campus lease; No, don't do it for the Washington Redskins football team" (2018)
-- "Been to Largo lately? Sports teams often aren't very good partners..." (2018)
-- "Protecting local government interests: Jurisdictions at risk from slimy sports teams owners and the Miami Marlins as an example" (2018)

The baseball team owners are okay.  But being better than the owner of the Washington Redskins football team isn't the standard we're looking to exceed.  Mostly team owners are looking out for their own interests and the Lerners are no exception ("The problem with Ted Lerner's lifetime achievement award," Washington Post),  They aren't going to give up anything they aren't required to by contract.

4.  Without the facility, there is no platform: cities funding facilities should get a piece of the action.  Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, talks about how a sports team is more the team or game, it's about the platform.  Without the facility to play the game, there is no platform.

And local jurisdictions paying for facilities need to be able to better benefit economically from providing the platform.  That means a kind of virtual ownership interest that gets monetized each time the team is sold.

-- "New Year's Post #3: More thinking on "return on investment" from different types of sports facilities and DC, and an Olympics in DC" (2015)
-- "Stadiums and arenas as the enabling infrastructure for "money-making" platforms " (2014)
-- "Protecting local government interests: Jurisdictions at risk from slimy sports teams owners and the Miami Marlins as an example" (2018)

5.  But despite my arguments that given the strength of the market, development would have happened even without the Capital One Arena or the Nationals Stadium, that undersells the economic value of such facilities as anchors, draws, and destinations.  I'm half right, but half wrong, maybe even 60% wrong.

-- "Did MCI Center really miraculously improve DC's east end?" (2005)
-- "MCI Center and Abe Pollin: let's accurately report all the history" (2008)
-- "More sports: sports-anchored entertainment districts and LA Live" (2018)

It took me many years to accept the positive impact of the now named Capital One Arena on the success of Downtown Washington. While I still believe that I am right that the area would have revitalized eventually (and actually there are success problems with the development still today, 21 years later, because of problems with the urban design) there is no question that it:

(1) accelerated improvements much more quickly than had the development process been more organic and slow

(2) draws and re-introduces suburban residents of the metropolitan area to the city, and contributes more positively to the image of DC within the metropolitan landscape for commerce and residential choice

(3) Economic analyses showing no impact from sports teams is done at the metropolitan scale, and under-analyzes the impact of appropriately sited, designed, and integrated facilities in urban settings

It's Hardly Sportin' Stadiums, Neighborhoods and the New Chicago6.  Entertainment districts aren't great for retail.  In all the discussion about mixed use around stadiums and arenas, the reality is that it's great for restaurants and nightlife, and not for retail outside of sports team related merchandise.

It's also related to the increased interest in "buying" experiences but not things.

People aren't really interested in buying stuff that they have to carry around, bring into the stadium etc. (although a store could offer delivery as a way to spark sales).

Retailers in the Navy Yard/Ballpark District or The Wharf will sputter for the most part, except when they are convenience retail (like groceries) offered primarily to residents.

But we should have realized this earlier, Costa Spiro and Larry Bennett, authors of It's Hardly Sportin': Stadiums, Neighborhoods, and the New Chicago, about adding lighting to Wrigley Field in Chicago describe how the Wrigleyville commercial district was reproduced into an entertainment district complementing Cubs games.

It doesn't help that games may be scheduled to start at times that discourage attendees from going anywhere else to consume food and drink before games.

7.  Get it in writing: Put transportation demand management requirements in the contract.  The Lerners continue to refuse to pay to extend transit service hours in the event games go beyond closing time.

-- "Sports events and the transit city: participation in transportation demand management shouldn't be an option" (2015)
-- "Incentives vs. requirements: stadiums/arenas and transportation demand management" (2012)
-- "Upping our "short game" on transportation demand management planning for sporting events" (2011)
-- "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Transportation Demand Management" (2006)
-- "Will the Washington Nationals agree to pay to keep Metrorail open late durng the playoffs?" (2014)

BTW, the Chicago Cubs are required to do transportation management planning as a part of their use permit. Having arenas on top of train-subway stations like Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center means that a majority of attendees end up using transit. It would be useful to have such data for the Capital One Arena.

MTA in Greater New York, Metrolink in Southern California, and other railroad passenger systems do a wide variety of marketing promotions to encourage attendees to use trains to get to and from games.

8.  The Business Improvement District that includes the ballpark should be a Community Improvement District, incorporating residents on the board.

-- "Integrating citizen residents into "business" improvement districts: Capital Riverfront district as an opportunity and example of the need for change" (2014)

Rendering showing special pedestrian urban design street treatment for Half Street SE, in the vicinity of the Washington Nationals Stadium
9. Look to make long term urban design and transportation improvements at the outset. With regard to the Nationals Stadium, it's been ten years since the stadium opened, but significant urban design improvements for Half Street SE, the street that leads from the Navy Yard Metrorail Station to the Ballpark, are still in process.

-- "Developers plan a pedestrian-friendly 'gateway' on the road to Nats Park," Washington Business Journal
-- "
Urban design considerations for the area around Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium in advance of the 2018 All-Star Game" (2017)
-- "Sadly, DC won't show so well during the Baseball All-Star Game" (2018)

Another element would be to build an "underground" connection between Metro Center and Gallery Place, to encourage people to walk between the two stations, rather than to ride the Red Line subway for one stop.  NYC, Chicago, and Montreal provide examples for how that could still be done. The Minneapolis Skywalk system is another example.

-- Urban Design Manhattan, Regional Plan Association (1969)
-- "Hong Kong needs to create a formal and planned pedestrian mobility network (2016)
-- "Public improvement districts ought to be created as part of transit station development process: the east side of NoMA station as an example" (2016)

9.  There was inadequate concern about retaining desirable businesses displaced by the ballpark.  Some of the businesses were light industrial, arts related, etc., that employed people, provided facilities to pursue creative endeavors, etc.  But because they were industrial zoned, the supply of such spaces and buildings in DC is limited, and therefore the spaces at current costs are highly expensive, most of these businesses were either pushed out of DC and/or ceased to operate.

There should have been more efforts made on retaining them.

10.  DC can't assess income taxes against the incomes of home team or visiting players, while other cities/states do so.  One of the elements of figuring out the economic value of sports subsidies is the income tax revenues that come from players.  Because it's held that players "only earn income" when they play in a contest, both home and visiting team players end up having to pay taxes to the place where the match is held.

But Congress forbids DC to levy income taxes on nonresidents and that ends up being a side benefit for professional sports teams.

But yes, even though I am not that interested in team sports, I have been watching Washington Nationals baseball games in the post-season.

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Baseball World Series in DC as an opportunity for urban planning reflections: #1 | revisiting blog entries from 2005/2006

Groundskeepers prepare the infield for batting practice at Nationals Park in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are scheduled to play Game 3 of baseball's World Series on Friday, Oct. 25. Photo: Patrick Semansky, Associated Press.

As the Washington Nationals prepare to host the first World Series game in the city since 1933, the Washington Post article, "Long before the World Series, this ragtag group of D.C. property owners was evicted to make way for baseball," about the businesses displaced in favor of the Washington Nationals stadium makes me realize this is a good opportunity to reflect back on past writings, especially at the outset of the blog in 2005, including pieces suggesting that DC didn't have to roll over for Major League Baseball and give them everything they wanted with little in return, because DC had things to offer too--a thriving economy and one of the nation's largest markets.

The JDLand blog, focusing on changes in the section of Southeast on the northside of the Anacostia River, between South Capitol Street on the west and 11th Street SE on the east and south of I-695, the Southeast-Southwest Freeway,  was an early DC blog and helped motivate and shape the development of this blog.

She has a pretty understated entry on the Series, "The Neighborhood's Latest Milestone: A World Series."
Aerial view of Nationals Park. The Nationals' previous stadium, RFK Stadium, is barely visible near the top of the picture
Aerial view of Nationals Park. The Nationals' previous stadium.  Carol M. Highsmith.

Last summer, the Washington Post ran a long piece, "Ballpark Boomtown," about the economic development impacts of the stadium, going through a long list of development projects that have been created or planned since the announcement of the ballpark and its subsequent opening.

It's almost impossible for anti-stadium funding advocates to succeed against the marketing machine of professional sports teams and leagues.

Stadiums get built, so reflexive opposition might be a waste of time.  At the same time, some of my reflexive opposition to public financing of a stadium then is mediated now in terms of the reality that in most situations, professional sports leagues and teams will get what they want--unless states have laws requiring approval by the citizens in referendums (the case in California, which is why the SoFi stadium there is being built with private money).

Since they'll get public financing, advocates need to have a fallback position, and that fallback position is how to get the most in community benefits and other considerations in return.  That's the focus of the second piece in this series, while the third is on a couple lessons learned.

That line of reasoning, expressed in these entries:

-- "Stadiums and arenas redux: Mayor Bowser still wants the area NFL team to relocate to DC" (2019)
-- "Stadiums and economic effects" (2013)
-- "An arena subsidy project I'd probably favor: Sacramento" (2014)
-- "Sports stadiums (and arenas) and local economic development and a DC soccer stadium" (2014)
-- "Stadiums and arenas as the enabling infrastructure for "money-making" platforms " (2014)
-- "More sports: sports-anchored entertainment districts and LA Live

obviously builds upon these early writings about the creation of the Washington Nationals baseball team and stadium in Washington, DC.

Congress sweats the small stuff: cares about the cable television contract for the Nationals, but not how professional sports teams have a negotiating advantage vis a vis localities
-- "Screw investigating steroids, Congress needs to look at how cities screw themselves over sports stadia" (2005)
-- "Baseball, hotdogs, Congress, and misplaced priorities" (2006)

Griffith Stadium was embedded in the Le Droit Park/U Street neighborhoods
Griffith Stadium, home to the American League baseball team in Washington, was embedded in the Le Droit Park/U Street neighborhoods.

Modern or "throwback" design for a baseball stadium
-- "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Business as Usual" (2005)
This piece argued in favor of an "old style" baseball park, like Camden Yards in Baltimore, or originals like Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston.  It quoted from the work of Notre Dame architecture professor Philip Bess.


1. Think always of ballpark design in the context of urban design;
2. Think always in terms of neighborhood rather than zone or district;
3. Let site more than program drive the ballpark design---not exclusively, but more…;
4. Treat the ballpark as a civic building;
5. Make cars adapt to the culture and physical form of the neighborhood instead of the neighborhood adapting to the cars;
6. Maximize the use of pre-existing on- and off-street parking, and distribute rather than concentrate any new required parking;
7. Create development opportunities for a variety of activities in the vicinity of the ballpark, including housing and shopping;
8. Locate non-ballpark specific program functions in buildings located adjacent to rather than within the ballpark itself.

Mixed use development around stadiums and arenas
These days, marketing and promotion for "both halves" of the area--the Navy Yard to the east and the area more immediately around the  is led by the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District.

-- "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Mixed Primary Uses," 2005
Advocates for mixed use development around the Ballpark, and that is what has happened/is happening via the adjacent Navy Yard development and the separate developments on the side of it, closest to the Stadium.

-- "Denver's Delightful LoDo District-- A Lesson for Stadium District Development" (2006)
Makes the point that all the cheerleaders for the stadium were arguing that it would be the primary driver of change.  Many used the example of Denver's LoDo district, which is anchored by sports stadiums.  But the reality is that LoDo had been revitalizing for decades and had long reached critical mass before the addition of the stadiums.  The entry cites a travel article on visiting Denver--in February, when the stadiums are mothballed.

-- "Unforced Error: DC Officials Bobble the Ball When it Comes to Transit, Urban Design and the New Stadium" (2005)
Argues that there could have been a better location for the stadium that would have spurred more ancillary development.  I'd say "I was wrong" in that the "Capitol Riverfront" area is redeveloping "fine."

But the idea of building behind L'Enfant Plaza would have helped that area a lot, could have spurred decking of large sections of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and likely the Navy Yard would have still developed.

Also, being located there, it would have been on five of the city's six subway lines (Yellow/Green/Blue/Orange/Silver) as opposed to being located on only one line.

"Batter up, "M Street Live." Is inauthenticity on the horizon for the Anacostia SE Waterfront?
" (2005)
Expresses concern about inauthentic entertainment districts like the "Live" districts created by the Cornish Companies in cities like Louisville and Kansas City.

Transit/transportation demand management
-- "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Transit! San Francisco's PacBell Stadium" (2005)

This piece argues for good transit connections. But I didn't discuss transportation demand management.  Later it turned out that the Nationals refuse to pay the subway system to stay open late when games go past the system's normal operating hours.

The negative about the location of the Washington Nationals Stadium is that it is served by only one transit line, the Green Line, therefore requiring transfers to other lines.

By contrast, DC's arena for basketball and hockey, now called Capital One Arena, is immediately on top of the Red, Green, and Yellow Lines, and is a couple block walk to a direct connection to the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines.

(Although too many people transfer to the B/O/S Lines via the Red Line for a 4 block ride, rather than walk.)

waterfrontlinerailservice-- "Streetcar shortline proposal to support the Baseball Stadium" (2005)
Using the Waterfront Line in Cleveland as an example, this piece suggests a streetcar line could be built from the Stadium connecting to the Capitol South station, offering a connection to the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines and on to Union Station, providing a direct connection not only to the Red Line, but to the passenger rail network.

Ask for stuff, don't just give in to demands
-- "Maybe DC can learn that it has something that developers want" and "When you don't believe you're really 'world class,' you make bad deals," (2005)

-- "Get it in the contract or you have no leverage" (2006)
Why didn't the DC Government (1) write a contract with Major League Baseball that didn't have almost impossible construction deadlines; (2) mixed-use provisions; and (3) requirements for underground, not aboveground, parking?

1. Protect yourself, make demands, recognize your value;
2. Get it in the contract.

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