Highlights from “Advancing Ohio’s Urban Agenda”

On our journey from Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland for the joint ULI/GOPC/LOCUS event series, “Advancing Ohio’s Urban Agenda: Walkable Communities for Globally Competitive Cities,” trends amongst the three cities became apparent as participants engaged in the dialogue about addressing the market demand for walkable development in Ohio. We were able to capture some of these trends in both text and film (yes, videos are coming!) form and would like to share some of the key highlights with you.

Highlights from the Events:

  • Millennials (aka Generation Y) are shifting market demand and cities in Ohio must meet that demand for walkable, urban development in order to remain globally competitive.
  • As more walkable development (approximately 100-500 meters in diameter of mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly development) is added to areas, their property values increase and the local market improves.
  • Transportation drives development. If developers build quality products in the right locations with access to urban-friendly transportation systems, they will get a price premium. Seventy percent of ballots across the nation to increase sales tax to fund public transportation have passed.
  • Parking is part of the transportation system. The space needed for cars can decrease with decked garages and underground parking. Parking ratios can decrease by encouraging double and triple uses of parking spaces at different times of the day and week with various activities and events.
  • In response to the high cost of living in walkable places for residents, developers should create more walkable places and include affordable housing.
  • Developing walkable urbanism often requires a private-public partnership. The role of “place management” (such as that of business improvement districts) cannot be overstated. The private sector can lead the way with support from the public sector.
  • Place-based and regional governance is needed to identify target areas for densification and investment. These areas should have the capacity, infrastructure and transportation systems to support dense, walkable development.
  • The right mix of residential, office and retail depends on the location and business cycle of the area. It’s a good idea to have a mix that encourages activity at all times of the day. Generally, retail follows residents. See Chris Leinberger’s presentation for the six typologies of walkable development; varying product types and mixes perform differently.
  • By reusing structures with “great bones,” reinvesting in central business districts, and updating our zoning and form based codes, we can solve many of our cities’ vacancy issues.
  • We need to stop subsidizing the kind of development that will not help us stay competitive and start strategically planning how to become what we would like to be in the future. Using comprehensive plans to make decisions and focus resources is important. As Chris Leinberger pointed out, we need to decide if we want to join the 21st century economy, and if so, and how we want to build. Each of us has the opportunity to be agents of change, each with our own respective roles.
  • GOPC and LOCUS can help developers and real estate professionals provide a voice for walkable, sustainable development in policy at the state and federal levels.

The discussions that ensued in each of the cities during these events brought up a diversity of topics, including the high cost of drivable suburban infrastructure, the importance of jobs and business attraction, the role of education, the effect of great public spaces, the market demand of the “creative class,” the impact of technology, and the roles that individuals can plan in creating change in Ohio’s cities.

Stay tuned for more information and videos from these events!

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