Incremental Urbanism

March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Recently, we were asked to share our perspective at a community event focused on the state of downtown Long Beach’s urban framework. The following is an excerpt from the presentation:

During these challenging economic times, and with the loss of redevelopment agencies, we’ve been impressed by the resilience of both downtown and its adjacent neighborhoods. Organic small-scale improvements (what we refer to as incremental urbanism) are collectively having a positive impact on our environment and support the city’s desire to be more sustainable and healthy. These improvements can be organized into three categories:

1. Adaptive Reuse

Approaching urban renewal by purchasing adjacent individual lots and clear-cutting buildings for block size development has now become cost-prohibitive, resulting in an increased interest in reuse. Excellent examples of unique building stock that has been re-positioned include 4th + Linden, 420 Fourth Street, and the Arts Building on Third Street.


2. Bike Facilities

The City of Long Beach continues to augment its reputation of being the most bike-friendly city in US. With a new bike station, cycle track, and bike boulevard, these projects benefit more than just cyclists. For example, the cycle track has transformed Broadway and Third Streets – once high speed freeway extensions – into livable complete streets promoting pedestrian activity and retail uses.


3. The Emergence of Local Retailers

Many professionally-run local businesses have filled in where national retailers were once courted. Downtown continues to gain vibrant retailers – such as Café Berlin, The GreenHouse, 4th Street Vine, Congregation Ale House, and Fingerprints – that bring value and a sense of place to our communities. In addition, the private sector is making bold new investments, such as Lola’s Mexican Cuisine‘s recent completion of Southern California’s first parklet (with at least two more on the way).

These investments are not only improving our downtown, but they’re also setting a solid foundation for the next economic boom; even if it’s far on the horizon, we are pleased to see progress happening now.


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