Celebrating Leadership in Development Excellence 

2011 CLIDE Awards Winner Spotlight

Each month we promote a different CLIDE Award winner in various regional publications.

 

November 2012

Desoto Town Center

DeSoto Town CenterThe Desoto Towncenter redevelopment was a public/private collaborative project which embraced SmartGrowth & New Urbanism concepts with a mix of retail and residential units tied to the existing City of Desoto Municipal complex. The design and planning concepts provided for the daytime customer traffic for retail/commercial establishments, along with the municipal traffic for the library, City Hall, and recreation center, as well as evening activity/traffic of residents (and hopefully returning home to patronize shops and restaurants in the development).

The Town Center project was the city of Desoto’s catalyst project toward the goal of revitalizing the Hampton Road Corridor. The Towncenter Redevelopment project was developed around the existing City municipal complex in Desoto and a public/private partnership with the city TCC High Street Development LLC (Developer) and JHP (architects/planners) sharing a vision for a new Center/Place for the city of Desoto as this new town center.

The vision became a reality with completion in April 2009 and includes more than 35,000 sf of retail and office space, 135 one and two bedroom residential units and a “Shared” structured parking garage for the residents, retail, office, recreational and City municipal users. Being one of the first of its kind in southern Dallas county, this development was designed with to reflect the trends/principles of new urbanism and Smart Growth combining retail, office and residential units with Desoto’s existing municipal complex.

DeSoto Town Center is a grey-field redevelopment located in a 2nd-tier suburb of Dallas - Desoto. An underutilized “typical” strip-retail center on the northeast corner of Hampton Road and Pleasant Run Road was earlier converted into the City of Desoto’s Civic Center including City Hall, library, community center, and recreation center. The existing retail parking lot was later identified in economic redevelopment studies to be a prime mixed-use redevelopment Opportunity/site to include structured parking, walk-up retail, office, and rental housing offering the city a 24/7 towncenter presence while upgrading the civic experience of the City’s residents.

DeSoto Town CenterDeSoto Town Center

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October 2012

Trinity River Vision Neighborhood Plan

Trinity River Vision areaThe latest census shows that Fort Worth’s population has grown by over 38% in the last decade. If this is any indication for our future growth, then as regional planners we must provide quality of life for our citizens to ensure a sustainable future for our city. The Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) recognized this need and became the lead agency in developing the Trinity River Vision (TRV) Neighborhood and Recreational Enhancement Plan (NREP) which is a 10-year implementation plan for 90 community- requested capital improvement projects within the Trinity River greenbelt. It puts the Trinity River Vision Master Plan into action by identifying, prioritizing and scheduling these projects on a year-by-year basis.

The goal of the program is to connect every neighborhood in the city to the Trinity River corridor with new and improved recreational amenities, environmental enhancements and event programming. This plan greatly increases river access and when complete, partners will have delivered over 35 miles of new hike and bike trails and over 3,000 acres of dedicated open space to the community. The projects vary from new Class I trailheads, neighborhood connectivity linkages, trail extensions, wayfinding signage, upgrades of current trailheads to new boat launches, park amenities and pavilion areas.

The TRWD worked collaboratively with other TRV partners including the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County and Streams and Valleys, Inc. in developing the plan. The partnership between agencies allows for the plan to happen by leveraging multiple partners resources to fund and construct more than just one single agency could do on their own. This partnership continues to be a model for working together to deliver community projects in cross jurisdictional areas. The boards of all of the partnering entities formally adopted the implementation plan.

Community input was critical in developing the plan. A collaborative team consisting of program managers from each partner and consultants gathered input, ideas and priorities from the citizens of Fort Worth. Seven public meetings were held at neighborhood locations near each river segment. The community could also provide input through questionnaires, email and the TRV website. All of the projects and suggestions were then prioritized by the partners based on construction feasibility, level of community interest, and funding availability. The team returned to the community with three additional public meetings for further public comment and an update of the new plan.

Over 90 major ideas and capital improvement projects suggested by the public during all these city-wide public meetings make up this plan. The projects are divided up based on the segment of river (West Fork, Clear Fork, Marine Creek, and Sycamore Creek). Construction of the first projects began in 2010. All 90 projects are expected to be complete by 2011. The first projects along Marine Creek, Sycamore Creek, West and Clear Fork have either been complete or are currently under construction. An interactive website (www.trvexperience.com) where citizens can find out what projects are happening in their neighborhood was launched along with a river program calendar.

Trinity River Vision

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September 2012

The Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Center In Dallas

Texas AgriLife Urban GardensThe Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas has transformed its extension education and research programs to better serve the rapidly urbanizing population of North Texas. The Urban Solutions Center, with its private and public partners, will build a 1.1 million square foot, multi-use, low-impact, transit oriented development and a LEED Platinum model home and education center which will help raise public awareness about environmental stewardship and resource efficient development for North Texas.

Texas AgriLife

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August 2012

The Denton Downtown Implementation Plan (DTIP)

Denton Downtown Implementation PlanDowntown Denton is the cultural, social, and historic center for the City of Denton, the heart of the community. The purpose of this Downtown Implementation Plan (DTIP) is to achieve the set of physical plans; while providing the implementation strategy to coordinate public and private investments; while increasing economic development downtown. The DTIP defines specific action items to be initiated by the City to implement the recommendations, and it establishes strategies for when and how these action items should be implemented. The recommendation is divided into two primary groups with a phased implementation strategy to address the physical development and ensure that adequate infrastructure exists to support development as it occurs. This helps to organize and detail the specifics.

The groups and some subsets are noted below:
Land Based Recommendations - Land Use (Form Based Code) Mixed Use Development Pattern Building Form (tri-partite architecture) - Parks and Open Space Music/Arts Venues Quakertown Park Concept Plan - Architectural Design Contributing Architecture Elements Sustainable - LEED Certified Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Based Recommendations - Street and Linkages Street Typologies Complete Streets - Bicycle Mobility 100% Bicycle Mobility Shared Lanes Dedicated Bike Lanes - Automobile Parking On-Street Shared Parking Public Parking Lots - Solid Waste

Downtown Denton Rendering

The DTIP covers the approximately 155-acre “Downtown Core” area and was carefully coordinated with city staff. It was prepared with extensive community engagement so that the document reflects the values and preferences of the public. The implementation strategy is designed to give Denton the roadmap to realize this study’s recommendations for downtown. It shows the relationship of the DTIP and its important FBC implementation tool to downtown’s master plan concept; it establishes a suitable organizational structure to implement the DTIP; it identifies and evaluates potential funding mechanisms and development incentives; and it details a prioritized step-by-step implementation strategy, presented in a user-friendly matrix format with case studies.

This strategy builds a framework for strategic investment and provides short, medium and long-term action items that City decision-makers can execute in a tactical way.

DIP Public Involvement

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July 2012

Grand Prairie Downtown / Main St Redevelopment Plan

Denton Downtown Implementation PlanIn the last five years the City of Grand Prairie has started making steps to redevelop its downtown areas with the purpose of preserving historic structures while creating a pedestrian friendly, quality place that focuses on entertainment and community. Phase I of the downtown revitalization project began in 2005 with the purchase of the Uptown Theater, a 1950’s era entertainment venue that hosted first-run movies and live performances. The objective of this project was to restore a cultural building block in the heart of Grand Prairie’s downtown center to host civic and cultural events and foster a better sense of community. The preservation of this significant historic structure was completed in 2008 and ushered in Phase II of the city’s objective.

To begin Phase II, the Grand Prairie City Council commissioned a branding survey to understand the city’s position in the marketplace. The survey revealed a desire from citizens and the business community for a revitalized town center that would bring neighborhoods together and compliment the newly constructed Uptown. In keeping with the identified goals of its citizens and local businesses the city began three separate endeavors to achieve this vision.

The first, Market Square, was a one-half acre park and open air farmers’ market set along the historic Highway 180 running through Grand Prairie’s downtown center. The architecture for this project is reminiscent of a modern red barn with a corrugated tin roof that evokes ties with the city’s history as well as its future. The included “pot belly” water tower situated at the corner along Main Street is redolent of a similar tower that stood on the same spot in the early 1900’s, and helps create a unique historical presence in conjunction with the Uptown.

DIP Public Involvement

The second undertaking in Phase II was to create a public-private partnership with local businesses to support the completed projects, natural assets and redevelopment plans for this corridor. To achieve this goal the Economic Development Department created incentives for downtown improvements that have and will continue to help enhance and promote the unique character and identity of the downtown area. The Main Street Façade Improvement Program offers grants and no interest-rate loans to assist property owners in improving their building’s street frontage in order to develop a more coherent, creative and attractive appearance.In addition to grants and loans, the city has supported this effort through code, ordinance assistance, and improved design guidelines. The new guidelines provide detailed requirements for the renovation of existing buildings and for the creation of new developments.

The third objective in Phase II was aimed at improving the existing infrastructure. The Sidewalk Improvement Program and New Uptown/Downtown Parking Plan were both aimed at providing citizens more access to the town’s center. The Sidewalk Improvement Plan is a State and Local partnership between Grand Prairie and TXDot aimed at creating a more pedestrian friendly design and to promote reinvestment and redevelopment in the downtown areas.

Through the vision of the City Council and its Citizens and through various private/local and state/local partnerships the City of Grand Prairie’s various city departments have started to transition the dated and declining urban area into a new community focused town and activity center.

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June 2012

The Citizen's Guide to Stormwater Pollution Prevention, Arlington

Citizens Guide to Stormwater Pollution PreventionEvery year, thousands of gallons of water flow into the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) and most people do not think about how this water is collected or where it goes. Thus, a special, on-going, community-wide public awareness project was created: The Citizen’s Guide to Stormwater Pollution Prevention (The Guide).

The Guide was created specifically to increase residents’ understanding of non point source pollution (stormwater pollution) as it relates to water quality. In 2004, the City of Arlington surveyed residents on their attitudes and behaviors toward non-point source pollution. Of the 400 adults surveyed (ages 18 and older), only 26% of respondents could correctly identify that water traveling through storm drains go to local water sources and not to wastewater treatment plants (14%), or other areas (23%). Thirty-seven percent of respondents had “no idea” about the water’s destination.

More recently, between July and October 2009, adults present at education and outreach workshops were given pre-presentation surveys to gauge knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors toward non point source pollution in the City of Arlington. Respondents were asked to answer “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know” to several basic environmental questions/statements concerning non point source pollution (stormwater). Of the sixty-six surveys returned, most surprisingly, when asked to respond to the following statement: “I live in a watershed,” almost half (47%) responded either “no” (32%) or “I don’t know” (15%).

Don't Feed the Storm DrainThe Guide lays the foundation for a common understanding about stormwater by raising awareness about the causes and consequences associated with water pollution and outlining specific behaviors that help combat water pollution problems. It helps to foster an appreciation of the environment and the value of our natural resources. Simply, it serves as a “one-stop” source for answers regarding stormwater issues. This comprehensive guide provides citizens of Arlington with information and step by step instructions on simple things they can do to improve and manage stormwater on their property and the larger community.

This guide not only aids us in protecting our invaluable water sources, but also helps green the city, improves quality of life for all residents, and encourages environmental sustainability. Local residents, civic organizations, and homeowner associations can now, with the help of the Guide, manage stormwater in a way that will protect our valuable water resources. Since we all play a part in creating water pollution, we all must therefore play a part in actively converting our streams, creeks, lakes, and rivers into healthy systems that local residents, along with native fish and wildlife, can use as amenities, sanctuaries, and habitats. The Guide helps us achieve this goal.

 

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May 2012

Near Southside Development Standards and Guidelines, Fort Worth

Near Southside Fort WorthThe Near Southside is an approximately 1,400-acre area located just south of Downtown and is Fort Worth’s second largest employment center. The area was originally developed in the early 20th century and quickly became a vibrant mixed-use district. Development trends over the last 50 years eroded that character, and by the early 1990’s the area was blighted. At that point the district’s five major hospitals halted further investment in their facilities and were considering new locations unless conditions improved.

Fort Worth South, Inc. (FWSI) has worked since 1996 with the City to promote the area’s revitalization. FWSI promotes infill development that builds on the district’s urban character, which FWSI views as a competitive advantage. FWSI has focused on updating development standards and implementing public improvement projects that, together, will create an inviting and vibrant district. Educational outreach about urban design principles created an environment for consensus when the initiative to establish a form-based development code began in summer 2006. In addition, the Comprehensive Plan established a policy framework by designating the area as a “mixed-use growth center” and by including policies related to the application of urban design standards within growth centers. A similar form-based code had already been established for the Trinity Uptown area in 2006.

FWSI worked closely with City staff and City Council members to achieve consensus on the effort’s merits and outline an appropriate strategy. The goal would be to create a new Near Southside zoning district and a regulatory document containing both development standards (required for all projects) and guidelines (encouraged but not required). A flexible review process would combine administrative review and approval by City staff (for clearly conforming projects) and discretionary review by a City Council-appointed body (for non-conforming or exceptional projects). The rezoning application would be City Council-initiated, and FWSI committed to achieving broad community consensus on the effort beforehand.

Near Southside Fort Worth

The rezoning required a tailored approach. Development conditions range from single-family houses and small apartment buildings to large institutional and industrial campuses. The development zone classification system is based on Transect Zones T4 and T5. There are two types of sub-categories intended to respond to two of the goals: “N” Neighborhood Zones, within which no single-use, non-residential buildings are allowed; and “I” zones, which are intended to allow greater flexibility taller buildings in areas dominated by hospital campuses and industrial uses. The height bonuses in the non-“I” zones are intended to promote a mix of uses within buildings as well as the development of new public spaces.

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April 2012

Vitruvian Park, Addison

Vitruvian Park Construction in AddisonVitruvian Park is a 117-acre mixed-use redevelopment project in the Town of Addison located between Spring Valley Road on the North, Marsh Lane on the West, Brookhaven Community College on the south and the Town limit on the east. The area was developed in the late 1960s with nine multi-family communities and a neighborhood shopping center. It is one of the most scenic areas in Addison with large trees and a creek that bisects the neighborhood. In 2006, UDR, a multi-family Real Estate Investment Trust, purchased one property in the area with the intention of tearing it down and redeveloping it at a higher density. As UDR got deeper into the project, it realized that to truly re-invent the neighborhood, it needed to buy more than one property. UDR eventually purchased all nine of the existing complexes in the area, totaling over 3,200 units. UDR then worked with the Town of Addison to create Vitruvian Park, a new urban neighborhood that provides a live-work-play community of more than 5,000 residential units, up to 500,000 square feet of office space, and up to 150,000 square feet of retail space.

UDR also purchased the Greenhaven Village Shopping Center, which it plans to redevelop and re-orient to connect into Vitruvian Park. The center already includes a full-size grocery store - an amenity that is difficult to develop in new-urban communities. The shopping center’s location, at the corner of Marsh Lane and Spring Valley, allows it to retain its auto-oriented business while extending into the neighborhood to create a new destination and add a “third place” for residents and employees of Vitruvian Park.

Vitruvian Park is a public-private partnership between UDR and the Town of Addison. UDR will develop (or cause to be developed) all of the multi-family units, office, and retail uses, and Addison is providing 40 million dollars in public infrastructure by constructing parks, streets, and utilities. Vitruvian Park offers a mix of uses including residential, office, retail and restaurants, all oriented around the recreational opportunities along both sides of the spring-fed Farmers Branch creek.

This neighborhood can deliver a palpable “sense of community” because people do not have to move out when their housing needs change. UDR has been careful to diversify the unit type in Vitruvian Park so that residents are provided with opportunities to move up or down to units of different sizes and with different amenities. Vitruvian Park residents are able to walk or bicycle beyond their neighborhood to Brookhaven Community College, Greenhill School, Brookhaven Country Club and Addison’s Redding Trail, which connects to three additional neighborhoods and the Athletic Club. The Farmers Branch creek corridor provides an opportunity to preserve flood plain and create a major park and open space amenity with trails, fountains, an amphitheatre, and plazas that connect to Brookhaven Community College and to the Town’s trail system and Athletic Center. Vitruvian Park is a major amenity not only for its residents, but for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods in Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch.

Vitruvian Park Rendering

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March 2012

Dallas City Design Studio

Dallas City DesignThe Dallas CityDesign Studio is an in-house urban design studio at Dallas City Hall founded in partnership with the Trinity Trust Foundation.The Studio’s mission is to elevate the role of urban design in both public and private development. As its first major initiative, the CityDesign Studio engaged in a community-based planning effort for the area near the western foot of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The planning area is .747 square mile with a population slightly over 2,000 people. Despite close proximity to downtown, historic lack of investment and disconnection from the rest of our city have created challenges for the are since settlement. It is burdened by negative perceptions due to vacant parcels, empty buildings and limited commercial and retail activity. However, the area provides hundreds of jobs and it is home to a vibrant Mexican American neighborhood that comprises the residential core.

With the completion of an iconic bridge scheduled to open in October 2011, the area’s proximity to the Trinity River Corridor Project, and large-scale land acquisition by private development interests underway, it was clear that change to this area was inevitable. The City of Dallas saw this as an enormous opportunity to challenge some of its traditional planning and development models, and work with a community to define a new way of redeveloping our city.

Urban Structure and Guidelines [the Structure] was crafted through a year and a half collaborative dialogue with the community. Developed by the ideas and input from approximately 40 community meetings, it represents a shifting perspective, not only in the process and focus of the planning efforts, but also in the type of development envisioned. Design bridges differing interests and plays a critical role in developing the fundamental objectives of the Structure: conservation and revitalization of an existing single-family neighborhood; incremental and adaptive re-use in vacant or underutilized buildings; and comprehensive re-development to support a livable and sustainable community.

The Structure provides a conceptual rendering of future development and indicates phasing of growth. Illustrations carefully guide development proposals and the prioritization of public realm improvements. As potential projects come forward, the City of Dallas will use this Structure to determine the project’s support of the long-term vision. At that time, zoning changes can occur. Proposals consistent with this Structure will be expedited. Inconsistent development proposals will be reviewed further to determine their contribution toward achieving the vision. This approach strives to strike a balance between the flexibility needed to adapt to market conditions and the predictability necessary to create stability in the marketplace.

Adopted by Dallas City Council in March 2011, the Structure is an alternative to traditional local planning tools , allowing for organic revitalization and urbanization while offering a clear public vision for change in the area. It advances the goals of the city’s comprehensive plan, forwardDallas!, while expanding on the Urban Design elements.

Dallas City Design

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February 2012

The Better Block Project in Dallas

Better Block DallasThe "Better Block" project is a demonstration tool that acts as a living charrette by actively engaging communities in the "complete streets" build out process while providing feedback in real time. In April of 2010, BetterBlock.org organized the first “Better Block” project, where they identified a blighted block in Dallas, Texas, and revisioned it into an active, viable destination. "Better Blocks" accomplishes this by focusing on increasing an area’s perception of safety, stimulating economic activity in blighted or vacant corridors, while implementing "Complete Streets". The project took place over two days, involved multiple businesses, residents, and non-profit organizations, and lead to a complete new model for cities to utilize when looking to revive neighborhoods and communities.

The benefits gained from the Better Block Project included a heightened perception of safety, increased economic development, enabling of multi-modal transportation options, and an improved quality of life for the community. A block that was once gray and cut-off was reactivated by filling storefronts that had sat vacant for years with businesses and seating residents outdoors to enjoy the space, all of which has now motivated the city to change its existing ordinances to allow for more Better Block projects to help other blighted areas.

Better Block Dallas

The “Better Block” project exemplifies many of the Principles of Development Excellence. It promotes Efficient Growth by emphasizing redevelopment of blighted or vacant corridors and promoting reinvestment opportunities in neglected urban village centers. It is a huge proponent of Efficient Mobility Options as seen in its emphasis on “Complete Streets” as part of its model. It seeks to minimize the emphasis of a block or corridor on automobile use while providing the safest environment possible for pedestrians and bicyclists to commute to neighborhood activity centers and other nearby amenities.

The Better Block Project promotes the Principle of Quality Places by helping to strengthen the identities of the region’s diverse communities through preservation of significant historic structures and natural assets, creation of new landmarks and gathering spaces, use of compatible architectural and landscape design, and support for the activities and institutions that make each community unique.

The ultimate goal of Better Block is to create historic yet modern neighborhood centers throughout the region that include a range of retail, transportation, and housing options. This will be complimented by a pedestrian friendly environment that may include future alternate transportation modes in the form of street level rail (streetcars). The renewed infrastructure and ‘neighborhood feel’ will continue to attract new and interested parties as residents of the region experience pedestrian oriented streets and sidewalks that provide unlimited possibilities and access.

Currently there are several Better Block projects underway around the country with many more in the early planning stages.  Examples of successfully completed projects in the North Central Texas region are Tyler Street, Deep Ellum and Oak Cliff neighborhoods in Dallas, as well as downtown Fort Worth. For more information, please visit the BetterBlock.org website.

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Better Block Dallas

 

January 2012

The Bush Turnpike TOD District

Bush Turnpike TODOver the past decade, the City of Richardson has been working to attract a high quality, transit-oriented development in and around the Bush Turnpike Station area. The City commissioned several studies, one of which was performed by the Urban Land Institute, which revealed that the City would benefit greatly if it could attract a project at that location that would leverage the use of current and future DART rail lines to create a regional destination in the community. In their effort to better accommodate this type of development for this area, the City Council approved a zone change in February 2011 that will allow transit oriented development for the 140 acres of land adjacent to the DART Red Line Bush Turnpike Station in northern Richardson. The location of this future TOD development, with its proximity to the DART station makes it an ideal site for high intensity development with a mix of commercial and residential uses along the Cotton Belt Corridor Line that connects Fort Worth, DFW Airport and the University of Texas at Dallas.

The properties are owned by two partnerships that approached the City in early 2010 to discuss the possible rezoning which would accommodate future development of a transit-oriented, mixed-use retail, office and residential project. These partnerships coordinated their applications to create complementary sustainable regulations. In order to ensure such a development, the property owners requested to rezone the land to Planned Development Districts governed by Form‐Based Codes. The adopted codes provide strict guidance that the City will use to regulate high‐quality development and responsible traffic management. In exchange, the owners of the property would be allowed to mix commercial and residential uses on the same property, increasing its overall appeal to potential mixed‐use developers. The zoning requires a much higher quality of construction than standard zoning, with the buildings facing pedestrian‐friendly streets that require wide sidewalks, landscaping and amenities.

Bush Turnpike TOD

The Bush Turnpike TOD District exemplifies many of the Principles of Development Excellence by allowing development intensity ranges from two-story residential townhomes to 300 foot high-rise buildings near the rail station. Reduced building setbacks create a pedestrian-oriented streetscape, while amenities between the building and street will include wide sidewalks and amenity zones will incorporate street trees, seating, and lighting. The creek and floodways within the District will be preserved and utilized for storm water management and as open space for added benefit to the residents and visitors of the District. The District will have multiple open spaces ranging from squares to parks as well as many trails that will connect with the City’s master trail system providing citizens with ample opportunities for healthy outdoor activities.

The District’s comprehensive master plan and central location to multiple major transportation facilities—US75, the President George Bush Turnpike, and the Bush Turnpike rail transit station, which will allow it to be built at a higher intensity than would be possible otherwise, will give the City of Richardson and the surrounding communities a vibrant live/work/shop/play destination.

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December 2011

Lebow Channel Watershed Improvements Program

Lebow Channel Watershed ImprovementsSince the 1940’s when development began in Fort Worth’s neighborhoods located in the Lebow Watershed, significant safety and flooding problems have existed in the area. Homes and light-industrial development were constructed adjacent to the channel and within the floodplain, contributing to overall degradation of the channel and a widening of the floodplain of up to 1,000 feet. Over 280 homes are subject to periodic flooding, several roadway crossings are subject to frequent flooding, and five people have drowned along the channel in recent years. Attempts have been made in the 1980’s and 1990’s to address these problems through the use of conventional improvement methods of conveyance, such as channelization, all proving unsuccessful.

The City of Fort Worth – Storm Water Management Division has developed the Lebow Watershed Improvements Plan to address the area’s safety and flooding problems. Instead of using conventional conveyance methods, the current Plan which was adopted in 2006 focuses on removal of structures from the floodplain, reduction of the spread of the flood plain in densely populated areas, restoration of natural stream conditions, elimination of low-water crossings, and construction of detention basins. In addition, the plan includes the creation of a linear park and trail system, public art improvements, and storm water quality enhancements.

Lebow Channel Watershed Improvements

The Plan, developed in partnership with numerous federal, state, regional and local agencies, seeks to restore 10,000 linear feet to natural stream conditions, construct 8,000 linear feet of channel improvements in order to remove 250 structures from the flood plain and provide hike and bike trails. The proposed project will create a linear park along the Lebow Channel corridor through low- to moderate-income, and ethnically-diverse, neighborhoods. The inclusion of a hike-and-bike trail along the channel will provide pedestrian connections between residential neighborhoods, parks, schools and other public facilities. The pedestrian trail system will also connect to the Trinity River Trail System and the associated Central City redevelopment project.

Several improvements, including elimination of the dangerous low-water crossings and construction of the first major bridge, have been completed, and the City has acquired over 110 parcels. Design plans have been prepared and the design of two additional major roadway crossings and the detention facilities are underway. The City has held meetings with the regulatory agencies responsible for issuing the necessary Section 404 permits. The project, because of its size and cost of nearly $30 million, will be constructed in phases and is estimated to be completed by 2020.

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November 2011

The Plano Environmental Education Center

Plano Environmental Education CenterWhen visiting the Plano Environmental Education Center, visitors may forget they are in a city home to fifteen Fortune 500 companies! Situated on three acres containing an open field, woodlot and waterway, the Environmental Education Center provides a natural, green experience in the heart of an urban area.

Completed in January 2011, the Environmental Education Center exemplifies environmental stewardship and community education and outreach. The Center boasts many green building features, including photovoltaic solar energy panels, a living roof, a wind turbine, solar hot water heating, and rainwater harvesting.  In addition, the Center was designed with recycled and non-toxic building materials, and aims to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-Platinum certified.

Encouraging a hands-on learning experience, the Center provides many educational opportunities for both youth and adults. From composting demonstrations and courses, and Smartscape landscape exhibits, to a worm bin and children’s gardens, the Center is unique in offering programs suitable for all ages. Games, videos, brochures, and presentations are available, and each month the Center will provide a tour that will highlight a different aspect of the building. The facility may also be rented, and the Center has incorporated a Green Policy that renters must abide by, introducing them to sustainable behaviors.

These interactive environmental activities combined with the Center’s green building techniques exemplify the “Principles of Development Excellence”. In addition, the Center promotes efficient mobility through its designated hybrid vehicle parking and close proximity to a DART Park & Ride station. The Center also provides a bicycle rack and showers are available.

Plano Environmental Education CenterThe Center possesses a Live Green volunteer program to aid staff in promoting public outreach to the community, as well as aiding in installation of new sustainable features. Through significant public involvement and education, the Center is successful in providing access and opportunities to continuous learning in the area, while allowing volunteers to give back to their community.

Finally, the Center aims to improve the surrounding area through modeling community beautification, and seeks to educate residents and visitors by demonstrating green building practices, organic recycling, and natural landscaping. The Center is also looking to re-establish a bird and butterfly garden, as well as design and implement creek stations and a water walk. Because of these sustainable initiatives, the Center offers an innovative atmosphere for visitors to learn about having a cost-effective live and work environment. And with over 8,000 visitors a year, the Center will continue to be a destination for all to enjoyably interact with the natural environment.

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October 2011

Vickery Meadow Improvement District: Future Redevelopment Study

Vickery Meadow Improvement DistrictFormed in 1993, the Vickery Meadow Improvement District (VMID) is a neighborhood organization that seeks to increase property values, attract quality economic development, and improve the quality of life for its residents. Just south of Interstate 635 in Dallas, the VMID prides itself in its premium location, with close proximity to healthcare facilities, retail, and downtown. The VMID also possesses two DART light rail stations, as well as several DART bus stops, three elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school.

Taking initiative from the neighborhood-scaled planning component of the Forward Dallas Comprehensive Plan, the VMID was energetic to commission studies to evaluate the neighborhood, and partnered with JHP Architecture/Urban Design. The first part of the future redevelopment study was to analyze the current conditions, from land use and traffic flow, to the demographic composition of the neighborhood. Next, the VMID developed district-wide and specific neighborhood nodes urban design redevelopment concepts and recommendations. Lastly, the redevelopment study included proposals for streetscape modifications and urban design guidelines.

The future redevelopment study allowed the VMID to explore new opportunities, and build upon providing a framework for development diversity. Recommendations from the study included street connections for smaller neighborhood blocks, mixed-use centers, increased green space and enhanced pedestrian access. In addition, the VMID study emphasized a mix of housing types to meet the diverse needs of the neighborhood, while also promoting efficient mobility through utilization of DART.

Vickery Meadow Improvement District

VMID’s commitment to the community and the Principles of Development Excellence are exemplified by this future redevelopment study. The study has been a crucial tool in providing an avenue for discussion among landowners, residents, and other stakeholders.

By helping to forge a new identity for the VMID community, the future redevelopment study has been successful in producing a sense of place for its residents, and continuing the District’s mission of “providing a safe, appealing neighborhood for families, businesses, and property owners; thereby, improving the quality of life for everyone in Vickery Meadow”.

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September 2011

Roanoke Downtown Redevelopment & Oak Street Reconstruction

Downtown RoanokeRoanoke’s Downtown Redevelopment and Oak Street Reconstruction were originally envisioned in 2004, through the conception of a comprehensive downtown plan. Today, continued consensus among the public, business and community leaders has reconfirmed the existing sense of immense pride in Downtown. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and receiving a Texas historic landmark marker for the renovated Roanoke Visitor Center and Museum, Roanoke residents have much to be proud of. In addition, in 2009 Roanoke was named the Unique Dining Capital of Texas. So to continue the tradition of Downtown as a quality place, it was determined that improvements be made to ensure the area would remain a unique and economically beneficial asset.

These improvements were accomplished in part through implementation of an innovative form-based code, as well as through adaptable regulatory approaches. Through the code, the city was able to promote flexibility in use while prescribing the urban form of the development to promote place making. It was through this sense of place that the Downtown Redevelopment was successful in incorporating guiding principles that relate directly to the “Principles of Development Excellence”.

Larger sidewalks, landscaping, roundabouts and decorative street lights, were among the improvements made under the Oak Street Reconstruction. Through renovating the existing infrastructure in Downtown, the development was revitalized. The architectural design, building typologies and streetscape improvements of Downtown and Oak Street all contributed to making the area a pedestrian friendly environment. The Downtown area also includes a recently completed plaza area, which consists of green space and an outdoor covered stage to support the city’s Evenings on Oak Street Concert Series.

Downtown Roanoke

Through perseverance by the city council, leaders, and the community, the Downtown Redevelopment and Oak Street Reconstruction have been embraced during the seven year process.  The city was successful in redevelopment and expansion, while at the same time ensuring the preservation of the historic character of Downtown.

With a small-town charm and family friendly atmosphere, Roanoke’s Downtown continues to thrive as a vibrant and sustainable destination.

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August 2011

MidTowne - A Sustainable Community in Midlothian

Mid Towne MidlothianMidTowne is a sustainable, neo-classical community, 131 acres in size, which blends the diversified needs of its residents with guiding principles that relate directly to the “Principles of Development Excellence”. This is accomplished by having a variety of housing types for all life stages including estate homes, smaller bungalows, townhomes, flats above retail and affordable senior-living apartments. MidTowne is, at its core, a pedestrian-friendly community that is designed to encourage pedestrian movement with short block lengths, open space connections and a compact mix of residential and commercial uses. Its location promotes a connection to greater Midlothian and allows residents to interact easily with their surroundings.

All residential homes within the MidTowne development will be designed to be environmentally friendly and will be required to be EnergyStar-rated while all non-residential buildings and the elementary school site will be LEED-qualified. To achieve this standard, the builder must construct those structures to meet LEED standards concepts as set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

MidTowne has benefitted from several partnerships that have been formed during the planning stages of the project. The developer, Options Real Estate, and the City of Midlothian have partnered to restore and relocate a historic home and barn to the MidTowne development, which are now occupied by two neighborhood businesses and serve as an example of successful adaptive reuse. Options Real Estate has also partnered with the Midlothian ISD to set aside eight acres of property for a future elementary school site which will be located within walking distance of the existing middle school and high school.

Midlothian Mid Towne

In addition to its short block lengths, this pedestrian-oriented community provides wide, linear green spaces in a north-south and east-west axis, and strategically located retail and office uses that make it easy for individuals to walk freely and easily within the community. On a larger-scale, MidTowne is tied into the city’s master trail system which, when completed, will connect MidTowne to the downtown core and surrounding commercial and residential districts, as well as provide bike lanes and sidewalks that will be connected with nearby Midlothian Sports Park, Midlothian ISD Athletic Stadium and secondary education provided by Navarro College at Midlothian/Texas A&M Commerce at Midlothian.

The final layout of MidTowne will fit seamlessly with the original layout of Midlothian that is currently over 125 years old. Residents will be able to explore Midlothian’s downtown, main street district and future new town center via non-motorized travel. MidTowne is the model of a neighborhood that encourages infill development and a sustainable lifestyle.

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