WASHINGTON - November 30 - The Sierra Club, America's oldest and largest environmental organization, today released its first-ever Guide to America's Best New Development, which names a dozen cutting-edge projects that have positively transformed neighborhoods. Better known for its efforts to combat sprawling construction, the group is making the point that there is a better way to build and produce healthy and livable communities.
Profiles of the winning projects can be viewed at: http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report05/
"Too often local governments accept poorly planned development, and the traffic that goes with it, because they believe they have no other choice," said the Sierra Club's Executive Director Carl Pope. "Our hope is that Americans will look at these winning projects and demand better projects in their own communities."
The Sierra Club applauded a diverse set of projects, from cities large and small, to suburbs, to small towns in each corner of the nation. They involve economically challenged areas like Fruitvale in Oakland and Highland Park in Milwaukee, as well as well-off areas like Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. They also included massive projects like Atlantic Station in Atlanta, which encompasses 138 acres and includes 12 million square feet of retail, office, residential and hotel, and by contrast, smaller scale projects like 66 residential homes and an industrial building in Hopkins, Minnesota.
To merit consideration for the Sierra Club's top development honors, projects had to:
- Offer a range of transportation choices, including walking, biking,
and public transportation;
- Redevelop existing areas, rather than developing natural areas,
working farmland, or wetlands;
- Locate homes, retail shops, and offices close to each other;
- Preserve existing community assets, by re-using older buildings and
protecting rivers, woodlands, and farms;
- Minimize stormwater pollution and handle runoff in an environmentally
responsible manner; and
- Be the product of meaningful input by local citizens and reflect a
broad set of local values.
The Sierra Club also considered the use of "green building" design and housing affordability in compiling its list of the best new development.
"The single, most important factor in all of these projects is that neighborhood residents actually had a say in how they were built," explained Pope. "And when you ask people what they want, they ask for ways to get to and from work without sitting in traffic, and they want walkable neighborhoods, clean water, and green space."
Much of the development in the United States today is sprawling, low density, car-dependent "bigbox" or "strip-mall" construction, which produces more and more traffic and harms our land, air, and water. While the Sierra Club opposes poorly planned, sprawling development, built on natural areas and farmland, it actively supports quality investment in areas that already have a history of development to enhance communities and the environment. By reinvesting in existing neighborhoods and creating more walkable, transit accessible places to live and work, a select subset of the nation's development leaders are raising the bar for neighborhood design.
The Sierra Club also noted that these models for new development could inform the massive rebuilding effort in the Gulf following Hurricane Katrina. In fact, just a few weeks ago, the Sierra Club applauded both Mississippi and Louisiana for recruiting the nation's top architects, designers, and planners to explore with local officials and citizens options for rebuilding ravaged towns.
Said Carl Pope, "The point for state and community leaders is to not just rebuild, but to rebuild smarter and better. We think there is a lot to learn from these successful projects."
The projects which made the Sierra Club's list of America's Best New Development Projects are:
TACOMA, WA - University of Washington, Tacoma; Charles Moore, LMN Architects
PORTLAND, OR - The Pearl District; Hoyt Street Developers and Gerdling Edlen Development Co.
WINDSOR, CA - Town Green Village Project; Orrin Thiessen and Town Green Enterprises
OAKLAND, CA - Fruitvale Transit Village Project; The Unity Council
SAN MATEO, CA - Bay Meadows; Peter Calthorpe, Architect
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - Central Business District Extension Project and Gateway Area; Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency ALBUQUERQUE, NM - East Downtown Redevelopment Project; Rob Dickson, Paradigm and Co.
HOPKINS, MN - Excelsior Tech Center Redevelopment and Regency Project; Bill Beard, The Beard Group, Inc.
MILWAUKEE, WI - Highland Park: Highland Gardens and Highland Homes; Housing Authority, City of Milwaukee
MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, MA - 10 and 12 Summer Street; Manchester Housing Authority
GREENSBORO, NC - Southside Neighborhood; Robert "Nate" Bowman, Bowman Development Group
ATLANTA, GA - Atlantic Station; Jacoby Development
To access the full report, visit: http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report05/