(2012-04-05) Lewis And Robb Toehold Development

Nathan Lewis and John Robb both had recent posts on how to start creating some small examples of communities they'd like to see.

Nathan Lewis pitches we don't need to remake the entirety of the United States in the Traditional City mold. Just one square mile, along the beach in Los Angeles or San Diego, would be wonderful. Just thirty-two acres -- which is 1/20th of a square mile -- would be fantastic (you can fit a lot into thirty-two acres using the dense Traditional City style.) If you can just make thirty two acres -- a twentieth of a square mile! -- of Los Angeles, along the beach (Santa Monica), in a Traditional City style, you would be there. Using the 100,000 people per square mile (Population Density) of some of Paris' residential districts (in the Traditional City style of buildings generally no higher than six stories), 5,000 people could live in that thirty-two acres. Thirty-two acres? That's nothing. Smaller than a single big-box shopping complex. So, just bulldoze one of those empty big-box shopping complexes (Shopping Mall), and make something new in the Traditional City fashion... Here's a (photo of a) Parking lot. It is one small part of the parking lot at the Mall of America, in Minnesota. This photo is also about 350 meters across, or thirty acres. So, I'm talking about taking just one parking lot like this, and building a Traditional City neighborhood on it. (At Manhattan-level density of 65k-ppl/sqmi, that would be 3k people. Neither number really seems big enough to me to provide Critical Mass of coherence, though being adjacent to a larger normal-modern city might make that ok.)

John Robb says: One of the ways that makes it possible to build Resilient Community-s very quickly is to build them as a “master planned” commercial housing developments. Master planned developments have been extremely popular in the United States since the 1960s. What made them different from standard developments was the sheer scale of amenities and infrastructure offered as part of the housing package. Amenities from pools to club houses to office parks, but mainly a golf course...The standard golf course used in a master planned development costs $12 million to design/build and $5,000 a day to maintain. This expense is baked into the cost of every home that is sold... What could $12 m buy in terms of community resilience? Answer: Nearly all of the essential infrastructure necessary for community resilience. A farm (Family Farm). An orchard. Power storage. A smart MicroGrid. Water Harvesting built-in. The list goes on and on. In short, it is enough to build a community that is productive rather than a black hole of waste... What could a maintenance budget of $5,000 a day ($1.8M/yr) buy? Answer: It could pay for core team necessary to professionally grow food, produce energy, and conserve water. To staff a local fab (Desktop Fab). Also, the staff that could help you grow, make, and do through instruction and coaching — so, forget the fitness trainer, why not a resilience coach to keep you fit in mind and body? How many people here? Do that "staff" live in the community?

I'd love to see these 2 ideas combined and modelled.

How about a Charter City? Not likely to happen in the US, sadly. Maybe tie to Free State Project?

Apr10: or Ikea Land?

and... RackSpace has reclaimed an empty Shopping Mall.

Hmm, what kind of Public School system would you get in a place like this?

Jan'2013 thought: every College Town should have an area like this. Would be very attractive to recent alumni and grad students and junior professors. Though maybe these are too small.

Aug'2014: just found this Mar'2013 piece by Andrew Alexander Price that runs the number on an In-Fill development scenario: In the end, I have shown you how to create an environment similar to one where many people will sacrifice their entire life savings just to spend a few weeks in or dream moving to.

  • He posted an "intro" to the Traditional City concept in Dec'2013. People spend their life savings just to spend a week in a place like that. What if you could create that in your city?

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