A Study in Texas New Urbanism

Terrain.org takes a look at Plum Creek, a New Urbanist development outside Austin, TX that added 1,400 households to a town that had only 4,000 people in the mid-1990s.
January 14, 2009, 6am PST | sbuntin
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"New urbanism provided the framework for the community design, and making the project affordable remained a driving force for the team. By developing in Kyle, the project would have a price advantage over Austin, and the goal of creating a place for a variety of people where home prices started in the $100,000s instead of the $400,000s remained primary throughout the planning and development process.

As is often the case for New Urbanism and smart growth communities, the desired lot sizes, street widths, mix of uses, and numerous other aspects proposed by the developer were not allowed under the City of Kyle's existing residential subdivision code. Benchmark spent 18 months negotiating a detailed planned unit development (PUD) agreement with the city. Sidewalks, planting strips, and street trees are part of Plum Creek's focus on pedestrians. Sidewalks, planting strips, and street trees are part of Plum Creek's focus on pedestrians.

The scale of the project was as daunting to city leaders as the nuts and bolts of the proposed ordinances. Issues of particular concern were lot sizes, street widths, and zoning uses. The planning and development team spent considerable time working to educate city leaders about the benefits of walkable, mixed-use communities, the safety benefits of narrow streets and alleyways, the value of preserving open space and building tax base through density. Ironically, the town's historic downtown features many of the desired design elements outlawed by the existing subdivision and development ordinances."

Thanks to Simmons Buntin

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Published on Saturday, January 10, 2009 in Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments
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