Blueprint for a boom town: Potential pitfalls for booming development
Today, GS&P’s Land Planning group is launching a 3-part Blueprint for a Boom Town blog series that will begin with this week’s discussion of the potential problems of booming development. Stay tuned to GS&P Dialogue in the next few weeks for conversations on avoiding low-productivity, low-density development, and on lessons learned for master planning in future boom towns.
Accolades for Nashville, Tenn., my hometown and GS&P’s flagship location, just keep piling up. In 2011, Forbes named Nashville No. 3 on their list of “The Next Big Boom Towns in the U.S,” citing Music City’s low housing prices, business-friendly environment, and expanding educated migrant population. Forbes also ranked Nashville No. 10 on its “Best Places for Business and Careers” list, and, in September of 2012, Nashville was named #13 on a list of America’s 50 Best Cities, as determined by Businessweek.
All of these accolades are wonderful, but they also put a heavy burden of proof on the city. Having worked hard to garner these recognitions, Nashville now must work hard to prove their longevity- to grow and build intelligently. I recently attended a presentation by the Urban Land Institute of Nashville titled “Building a Boom Town: Lessons from Atlanta.” The panel discussion explored land planning and master planning in Atlanta, a previously lauded “boom town” that, though praiseworthy in many areas, has certainly experienced some growing pains. Nashville has much to learn from Atlanta, and the ULI presentation got me thinking about what Nashville—and other growing cities—can do to avoid the pitfalls plaguing Atlanta and other rapidly expanding cities.
Suburban Alpharetta, Georgia traffic.Suburban Alpharetta, Georgia traffic.Traffic tops most lists of Atlanta’s woes (the city was ranked 11th in the GPS company TomTom’s Congestion Index) and those traffic problems point to underlying development issues. In many ways, congested streets are a direct and understandable result of rapid population growth. However, in Atlanta and other cities, sheer numbers have been compounded by the concentration of corporate centers in locations that are difficult for most of their employees to access.
About the Author: Doug Sharp, RLA, a development planner, has 35 years of experience in landscape architecture, land planning, and urban design, with a focus on large-scale parcels and mixed-used developments. He is senior vice president of GS&P’s Land Planning and Design division and oversees the firm’s land planning efforts from GS&P’s headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. Doug is the founding board member of the Sister Cities of Franklin and Williamson County, and is also a member of the Urban Land Institute, Congress for the New Urbanism, Greenways for Nashville, and The Westhaven Foundation. Doug earned his degree in landscape architecture from Ohio State University. Over the course of his life, Doug has lived in the southern, west coast, and Midwest portions of the United States, and each place has given him a unique perspective on development design. He currently lives in Nashville, Tenn. More on Doug Sharp.