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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 04-04-07, 02:57 PM   #1
Roody
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What should we do with all this land?

GM is tearing down 4 auto plants here in Lansing, if I haven't lost count. This is putting huge chunks of land, right in the city, back into circulation.

What should we do with this land, that would be conducive to a carfree or carlite way of life in this old car-building town?

This situation has come up so suddenly that there literally are NO current plans for using this land. So there really might be a chance to do something useul, if the right ideas come along.
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Old 04-04-07, 03:55 PM   #2
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A park with paths would be one approach.
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Old 04-04-07, 04:00 PM   #3
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Just thinking out loud here.

Come up with four catchy names for some new neighborhoods to be laid out in the old urbanist style. Things like Old Town, Brick Town, Settlement Town, River Town, etc.

Pre-plat, pre-zone, pre-approve as much as possible for mixed use in a car free friendly way. We all know what that means. Spread out the retail, put places for business and employment within walking distance of the residential, etc. Aim to create entire liveable, small scale communities.

What you want to keep from happening is selling the big parcels to real estate developers who will create giant single-use, car dependent zones. You don't want a square mile of condos here in one place and another square mile of big box stores there on the other side of town.
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Old 04-04-07, 04:02 PM   #4
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Hopefully if it's homes and shops it will follow Stapleton's example in Denver. The former airport now has human scale homes with garages in the rear, local shops, wide bikeable streets and connecting trails. It's not perfect, but an excellent example of well thought out urban infill

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Old 04-04-07, 04:28 PM   #5
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I think you may have an opportunity to attract visionary, environmental architects and urban-planners who might very well be interested in building a condensed model car-free city. The fact that it is on land formerly used to build cars is the kind of irony most would find irrisistible. Perhaps this model-city could be a showcase for innovative environmental technologies, but be functional as well with homes, shops, restaurants and offices operating on alternative heat/lighting/cooling systems, rooftop gardens, pedestrian/cycling-only access (except for deliveries that would enter and use a separate roadway), etc. City Council in Flint should be embracing an idea like this and actively pursue urban planners, architects that are looking for large parcels of urban land to test and display theories and technologies. It might very well revitaize the city.
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Old 04-04-07, 04:47 PM   #6
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Always a need for running/biking trails.
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Old 04-04-07, 05:54 PM   #7
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What about bringing in DPZ? They don't show a project in Michigan and they are probably up for anything with a tinge of irony.

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Since its founding in 1980, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company has completed designs for over 250 new and existing communities. This work has exerted a major influence on the practice and direction of urban planning in the United States.

DPZ’s projects have received numerous awards, including two National AIA Awards and two Governor’s Urban Design Awards for Excellence. The firm’s early project of Seaside, Florida, was the first authentic new town to be built successfully in the United States in over fifty years. In 1989, Time Magazine selected Seaside as one of the 10 “Best of the Decade” achievements in the field of design. The firm has been featured in other national media such as NBC News and ABC News, as well as Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New Yorker.

http://www.dpz.com/projects.aspx
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Old 04-04-07, 07:40 PM   #8
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She's beautiful, she's rich, she's got huuuuge....tracts of land!
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Old 04-04-07, 09:15 PM   #9
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Some other thoughts.

Were those old GM plants served by rail? If there are abandoned rail right of ways maybe they could be recycled as other kinds of transit corridors.

Some electric utilities provide rebates for energy conservation because that reduces the need to build new infrastructure. Maybe the city could consider giving property tax abatements for car light real estate development that reduces the need to build and maintain road infrastructure.

To minimize car dependency, a mixed use property development should make sure that the people who work in the businesses can also afford to live in the nearby residences. So you wouldn't want to build a bunch of expensive mini mansions next to boutique retail businesses that employ mostly lower paid workers.

Smaller, practical, affordable urban houses. Get some ideas from organizations like Habitat for Humanity and see what they come up with. Groups like that with a little funding might be able to take down abandoned buildings in other cities and recycle the materials for new construction.
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Old 04-04-07, 09:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
What you want to keep from happening is selling the big parcels to real estate developers who will create giant single-use, car dependent zones. You don't want a square mile of condos here in one place and another square mile of big box stores there on the other side of town.
Why does anybody EVER think that's a good idea? And the weird thing is they will fight and fight development...but they wont EVER ask for higher density which would prevent the waste of their land.
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Old 04-04-07, 09:41 PM   #11
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those dpz communities are absolutely stunning. If you check Maryland you'll see their tearing down Springhill Lake if you check in greenbelt. Greenbelt is a relatively spaced out area but Springhill lake has to be the LARGEST apartment complex I have seen...its huge...it kinda seems ghetto but its in greenbelt its actually prolly quite nice. They shut down 32 buildings in it this week due to electrical fires.
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Old 04-04-07, 09:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EnigManiac
I think you may have an opportunity to attract visionary, environmental architects and urban-planners who might very well be interested in building a condensed model car-free city.
Good idea.

The city that created the motorcar culture should return to a car free town once again.

However, if I were a betting man, I'd say the city will become a slum. Get ready.
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Old 04-04-07, 11:38 PM   #13
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And it IS alot of land too.
Maybe they should turn it into affordable housing for the poor souls that are losing their jobs/homes/families/lives to GM going down the crapper... just a thought.
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Old 04-05-07, 04:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alekhine
She's beautiful, she's rich, she's got huuuuge....tracts of land!
Damn you, I just laughed and milk shot out my nose!!!
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Old 04-05-07, 08:03 AM   #15
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goto
www.dpz.com
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Old 04-05-07, 08:26 AM   #16
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Grow corn for Ethanol ;o)
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Old 04-05-07, 08:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
GM is tearing down 4 auto plants here in Lansing, if I haven't lost count. This is putting huge chunks of land, right in the city, back into circulation.

What should we do with this land, that would be conducive to a carfree or carlite way of life in this old car-building town?

This situation has come up so suddenly that there literally are NO current plans for using this land. So there really might be a chance to do something useul, if the right ideas come along.

It seems to me the best thing to do is to cram a complete lifestyle for a large number of people into that space...townhouses, lowrise apartments, office buildings and shops. No malls.
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Old 04-05-07, 09:48 AM   #18
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Grow corn for Ethanol ;o)
I'll put my money on that one out of all the choices thus offered; the city would stand to get a few million out of the feds just by saying they were doing "corn ethanol research."
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Old 04-05-07, 10:09 AM   #19
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I'll put my money on that one out of all the choices thus offered; the city would stand to get a few million out of the feds just by saying they were doing "corn ethanol research."

Not only that, they could add some corn mazes as a tourist attraction.
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Old 04-05-07, 10:37 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pj7
And it IS alot of land too.
Maybe they should turn it into affordable housing for the poor souls that are losing their jobs/homes/families/lives to GM going down the crapper... just a thought.
Yeah. High density Housing for the poor. It's been done before. Close to public transportation and easy to be car free with lots of car free comrades close by.
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Old 04-05-07, 10:49 AM   #21
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I found a few aerial pictures that show the huge size of the plots and their prime location near the downtown Lansing area, state Capitol, etc. My house is just off the edge of one picture, and I often bike through the largest plants (the ones still standing) on my way to work.

http://static.flickr.com/71/181186343_c2f40b5821_o.jpg

http://static.flickr.com/54/121026563_c590ebe331_o.jpg

This picture shows the demolition in progress on the oldest continually operating car plant in th world. Michigan's state Capitol is just above the yellow bulldozer thingy.

http://static.flickr.com/99/289050669_8b0cb3be59_b.jpg
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Old 04-05-07, 10:57 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
Just thinking out loud here.

Come up with four catchy names for some new neighborhoods to be laid out in the old urbanist style. Things like Old Town, Brick Town, Settlement Town, River Town, etc. Pre-plat, pre-zone, pre-approve as much as possible for mixed use in a car free friendly way. We all know what that means. Spread out the retail, put places for business and employment within walking distance of the residential, etc. Aim to create entire liveable, small scale communities.
. . . .
That's uncanny! Until recently I lived in "REOtown" named for the old Diamond Reo plant auto plant that was torn down about 20 years ago. So you see, we've been there beore.... the REO plant site itself is now an industrial zone with several light industrial plants. The commercial area nearby is being spruced up and is zoned for mixed use commercial/residential in the old brick buildings. Not exactly charming (yet) but practical and a big improvement over "HO-town" that used to be there. This area is only a couple blocks from the GM plant that's almost demolished. In fact, it can be seen in the first of the pictures I linked to, in the lower right hand edge of the picture. Downtown lansing is just to the upper edge of that picture.
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Old 04-05-07, 11:03 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Yeah. High density Housing for the poor. It's been done before. Close to public transportation and easy to be car free with lots of car free comrades close by.
I think pj7 was talking about "affordable" private housing as opposed to the old style public housing projects, which are extinct here in Lansing. There is a need for convenient working-class housing here. All of the recent "carfree" housing is VERY pricey lofts, townhouses and condos. Most of the people in these places probably own cars, but mostly use them on the weekends. The selling point is walking distance to jobs and shopping. This trend is widespread in cities outside of Iowa here in the newfangled 21st century.

You really are living in the past, ILTB, I hate to tell you. I'm surprised you even have a computer.
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Old 04-05-07, 11:16 AM   #24
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Quote:
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There is a need for convenient working-class housing here. All of the recent "carfree" housing is VERY pricey lofts, townhouses and condos.
Location, location, location. In many cities, unless the downtown is really badly decayed, urban housing is a lot more expensive than suburban housing, so the notion that you can build "affordable" market value housing in the middle of the old city is dicey.
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Old 04-05-07, 11:18 AM   #25
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Tear everything down. Plant trees.
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