An Ode to 'Patient Urbanism'

Building incrementally over time allows cities and towns to develop more interesting landscapes while incurring less debt. The slow evolution of Seaside, Florida is a prime example of the benefits of 'patient urbanism.'
March 5, 2013, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Building neighborhoods patiently used to be commonplace, says Steve Mouzon, "but it is now illegal all over. Why? Because cities insist on 'seeing the end from the beginning,' meaning that they want the developer to begin by building the final condition of the neighborhood."

Mouzon uses Seaside, the birthplace of the New Urbanism, as an example of a contemporary development built incrementally. "Building this way allowed Town Founders Robert and Daryl Davis to build this world-famous town with essentially no debt after the infrastructure of the first street was paid off. Put another way, had they been expected to build Seaside's climax condition in 1980, it's highly unlikely that Seaside would have ever been built because it would not have been financed."

"This is even more important today, with real estate development money as tight as it has ever been," he argues. "The great places we love the most were usually built without real estate mortgages. Most places weren't more wealthy then than [sic] we are today; they simply built what they could afford at the time and then improved it in small increments over time. Cities and towns really need to learn this lesson again today… it just might make the difference between building and not building, and it will certainly create a better place."

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Published on Monday, March 4, 2013 in Original Green
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