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Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Future of New Urbanism in Utah

I received an e-mail from a reader not too long ago about my stance on New Urbanism. He insisted that New Urbanism did not have any place in the Utah suburbs. He further suggested that the movement was just a planning fad that would end with only a couple developments in the Salt Lake Valley carrying the banner of New Urbanism. In response, I have decided to post a picture of New Urban developments in the Salt Lake Valley. They are located throughout the valley in all four quadrants branching out from the city center of Salt Lake. While a couple already exist, the majority of these developments are either in the planning or construction phases. As you can see, New Urbanism is not a trend that will go away any time soon and considering the movement has been gaining momentum since the 80s, I do not think it is short term.

In looking at where development is occurring in Utah, the fringes of the community are still popular, but there is a growing trend that is the result of the energy crises. This trend uses transit as a lifeline to the surrounding communities. Numerous TODs (Transportation Oriented Developments) have started already and many more are planned. Any empty space near a proposed TRAX station has become prime real estate for these communities.

Many more New Urban projects are starting all over the state. Ogden, Layton, Farmington, Woods Cross, Park City, Heber, Lehi, Orem, Mapleton, Richfield, Cedar City, and St. George all have projects on the drawing board or being constructed. Of course, none of these projects match the scale of Daybreak or the West Bench which has many more communities planned, but this is clearly the new direction in development. This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, if anyone would like to inform me of other communities planned or being built in Utah, then please share. This list is merely what I could gather via the internet.

As for whether or not it belongs in Utah, I would like to refer to another comment that I received: "..let the free market reign." In Utah our demand is being pushed by our demographics. People want to start a family and own a place instead of rent. With housing and land prices going through the roof people need affordable choices. These choices need to save the owners money and time. With the option to ride mass transit, lower utility bills, and maintenance-free options, you can stretch your budget much further. New Urbanism will continue in Utah by choice. This choice has already been seen in the marketplace for housing and will continue well into the future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think people quickly forget that urbanism is not a new idea. Many very successful communities throughout the U.S. have been established on these basis. It is important to note that there are 238 pilot programs for LEED ND which is based on urbanism, 4 of which are in Utah. As gas prices keep going up and our culture focuses further on going green, urbanism is the ONLY route to go.