Natalie Burg writes the article, which launches from an examination of Christopher Leinberger’s assertion that the distinction between urban and suburban is obsolete—replaced by “Walkable Urban Places.”
“Any pedestrian-friendly area where people are able to have urbanized lifestyles are WalkUPs. Ann Arbor is a WalkUP, as is Birmingham. Royal Oak and Ferndale are WalkUPs. And so is downtown Detroit,” writes Burg.
Rochester provides a good example of the transition between traditional suburb and WalkUP: “Twenty years ago, Rochester was a suburb in the purest form. The bedroom community's downtown had a 38 percent vacancy rate and no nightlife. Today, demand to live in the walkable city center is evidenced by two forthcoming residential projects, a 65-apartment building and 131-townhouse development, which will nearly triple the number of downtown residential units.”
Burg concludes that the transition is a positive one for the overall strength of the region: “Today, no one is stuck with the options of moving toward suburbia and away from Detroit, or vice versa. Moving toward more and better Walkable Urban Places means we're all headed in the same direction, which is toward a more vibrant and successful metro region, from Rochester's Main Street to the heart of downtown Detroit.”