Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Great News for Montgomery!

As our readers may know, Daily Sprawl comes to you from Montgomery, Alabama.

Just today, the Congress for New Urbanism announced that the A&P Development here in Alabama's state capital has won the state's first CNU Charter Award.

Click here for more details. Below is the full text announcement:
Location: Montgomery, Alabama, USA. Town center development

Charter Award Winner:

Located in the Old Cloverdale neighborhood of Montgomery, this project is the city's first mixed-use development. Founded at the turn of the century, Old Cloverdale was the state's first landscape garden residential area and was connected with downtown Montgomery by the City's streetcar system. Large oak trees, historic homes, churches, schools, and serene parks provide a pleasant setting for the community's residents, however the commercial center has suffered from decades of neglect as suburban sprawl pulled retail and residential away.

The developer sought to revitalize the area through this infill initiative by creating more residences, reestablishing the area's pedestrian connection by rebuilding sidewalks, locating parking on the street and at the rear of the project, and establishing large outdoor dining areas and street-oriented shop fronts along the project's main frontages. Careful attention was paid to the scale of the mixed use component in relation to the neighborhood homes.

THe private investment in the project has been a catalyst for increased investment in the neighborhood. A neighborhood design charrette focusing on further increasing pedestrian connections and infill development immediately followed the project's constructions. Additionally, a large public works project will soon narrow the road fronting the project which will create additional sidewalks, increase on street parking, add shade providing street trees and produce a traffic calmed environment appealing to the safety and comfort of pedestrians.

Overall, the neighborhood has a renewed sense of community and civic pride as people throughout the city come to experience vibrant urbanism at the neighborhood scale.

Lessons learned: Work to instigate positive, lasting changes to city regulations including zoning codes and guidelines for infill development. Parking can be the biggest stumbling block of good projects, and this project was only possible through the willingness of the city's planning department to allow us to conform to SmartCode parking standards. Care should be taken to make sure that innovative mixed use building designs are fully integrated wth the intricacies of hte local building code. Landscaping matters and should receive the same careful thought and planning as building materials and finishes. Also, the architectural language and detail is integral to gaining neighborhood support for a project of this scale.