Apr 24 2010

Plan Fort Collins

The City of Fort Collins is undertaking two projects this year that will have an impact on the entire city, and on the east side-west side neighborhoods in particular. The first is the update to City Plan, the overall guiding document for landuse within Fort Collins. This project is being dubbed, Plan Fort Collins. You can get more information at the city’s website.

The other project that is being tackeled is studying the design guidelines for the Eastside Westside Neighborhoods. This excerpt is from the City’s website

“Eastside & Westside Neighborhoods Design Standards Study is a study aimed at addressing the impacts of residential development occurring in Fort Collins’ oldest downtown neighborhoods. Small houses are being expanded or replaced, resulting in new houses often significantly larger than the original. This type of development is commonly referred to as “pop-ups” (additions) and “scrape-offs” (demolition/replacements), and is a frequent topic of public discussion since the early 1990s.”

The focus on these projects is on development and redevelopment opportunities within the city. As the city quickly runs out of buildable greenfield sites, there will be more and more pressure to redevelop and so called infill projects. The question is not when or if, but rather how and where it will occur. A big challenge is creating compatibility between existing and new. There will be continued pressures in the old-town area, and significant pressure on the Mason Corridor, and the city is also looking heavily at the so called mid-town area, basically surrounding Foothills Mall.

One of the big things I have been harking on for the last couple of years, is the need for the city to identify areas of town that are appropriate for redevelopment, and those that arn’t. There are significant pressures to rebuild portions of Old Town. There are areas though were redevelopment should be restricted to preserve the character of the neighborhood and town. Old Town itself is a major community identifier for Fort Collins, and is a tourist draw of itself. Mountain Avenue is another of those those areas that has a unique character with a mix of stately and worked homes, wide median, and an historic trolley running the length of the street. Then there areas that are more appropriate for redevelopment, such as Luarel Street across from Colorado State University.

Community dialogue needs to happen to help shape the future direction of not only Fort Collins, but communities across the country. As it becomes less feasible to develop greenfield sites, cities will start to rebuild with higher densities, higher structures, etc. I am in full support of this, but it must be done carefully with careful attention paid to the details of architecture, site planning, space creation, and creating public and private spaces.

Dec 4 2009

A Different Way of Looking at Things

Midori Property

When I am out and about, shooting pictures of people, places, and things, I am usually focused on the bigger picture, looking at entire objects in the context in which they exist. Recently, our friends Bobbi and Craig visited for Thanksgiving, and we took her to our property, that we are working on developing, named Midori. This is a five acre piece of land that we proposing on developing into 10 homesites, and converting the existing 104 year old farmhouse into our office. This property most recently was a horse boarding facility for a number of years. Anyway, I see the overall buildings, the trees, and the potential. I also see all the stuff that was left behind and is laying around. To me, this is mostly stuff that clutters up the place, and that I need to picked up and cleaned up. Well, Bobbi came along and took a bunch of pictures that she posted to her blog, Bobbi’s Art. She makes all that stuff laying around look cool! Check our her blog for the pictures.

Nov 7 2009

Mini High-School Reunion

Tonight I attending a mini reunion of my high school alum. I call it a mini-reunion since it wasn’t official, but was organized  by a few people, and made easier by Facebook these days. Anyway, I would say around 30-40 people showed up. Several were people that I had totally forgotten about, but it was nice to reconnect. Of course, I wasn’t born with the gift of gab and I was hardly popular in High School. Nevertheless, I do have fond memories of High School and generally enjoyed it. It was funny to note though, that most of the guys I still recognized, and they hadn’t changed all that much. Sure, some had grayed out, some had lost hair (me included), but mostly were still recognizable. Now the woman on the other hand, most I didn’t remember or recognize at all. Then again, most of them didn’t pay any attention to me in High School, so why would I remember them. The people I did hang out with though,  I have long since lost contact with, and of course, they didn’t attend. All in all, it wasn’t bad, and I will probably attend future events and work on connecting more. Now if only I had born with that gift of gab…

Jul 22 2009

Coney Island Hot Dog Stand

Coney Island Hot Dog StandOn our way up to Crested Butte this past weekend, we passed the new location of the Coney Island Hot Dog stand in Bailey, CO. My daughter was so amused by it, that we had to visit it on our way back home. Most people consider this little stand one of the best remaining examples of road side archtitecture. This stand has quite a history. It was originally constructed in Denver on Colfax Avenue in 1966. In 1970, it moved up to the mountains to the town of Aspen Park, where it sat for a few more decades. In 2006, it was moved again to Bailey in order to make room for a Bank in Aspen Park. Now it is in a great location, with mountainside dining, as well as riverfront picnic tables. I do know that an attempt was made in the late 1990’s to landmark this structure, but I am not certain if that was ever finalized.

The day we were here, the place was packed, with lines out the door. We thought this place must be fabulous. It took almost an hour from the time we arrived, to the time we actually were served our food (a full 30 minutes after we recieved drinks and floats). The staff didn’t seem too terribly organized, or in an particular hurry, even though they only making hotdogs and hamburgers. To make it worse, it was not that cheap, and the food wasn’t all that good. I can make better hot dogs on the back yard grill. Oh well, it was the ambience!

Jul 8 2009

Urban Undevelopment – Flint, MI

Recently there has been a lot of talk in the press and on blogs about Flint, MI. This is a city that has been hit hard by the decline of the auto industry, not just this year, but the last 39 years. As noted on the site, CircletheUSA.com, Flint has shrunk from 195,000 people in 1970 to around 117,000 today. Like Detroit, it has blocks and blocks of vacant housing or empty lots. However, Flint has embarked on a program to physically shrink itself to create a more sustainable city. As noted in the New York Times Flint is relocating people from scattered homes into close in neighborhoods, and then demolishing homes and the infrastructure from the areas that they are relocating people from. They are doing this with a land bank that mostly gets property via tax sales, or buys up foreclosures, etc. By shrinking, Flint is hoping they can save tons of cash by not having to support the infrastructure from scattered residents. The concept of tighter urban development to make government services more affordable is what many planners have been pushing for years. Large lot developments are unsustainable. I believe the whole country is really beginning to rethink the whole concept of suburban development with new urbansim, a renewed focus on in-fill development, and mixed-use development.