Newport and the Future of Planning: “What’s In, What’s Out in Real Estate”

The new year is always a time when the real estate industry takes a step back to evaluate the progress it has made in the year past and anticipate the prospects for the year ahead. It is no surprise that the main story on this front is the slow climb towards a recovery from the busting of the “Real Estate Bubble” in 2007. This was a financial tsunami that continues to have a major effect on the economy of the entire world.

There is an organization called the Urban Land Institute (ULI), which is one of the leading associations for real estate developers and brokers. In its annual report to its members on what is happening in the residential real estate market, entitled “Residential Futures—thought provoking ideas”, the ULI identifies a number of interesting trends that are largely driven by higher energy costs, a desire to address global warming and the realities of a difficult economic situation. Here is a short summary of some of what are “In” and “Out” in the residential housing and development environment:

IN: Close proximity to work; OUT: Long commutes

IN: Urban Living; OUT: Golf communities

IN: Bikable and walkable communities; OUT: Suburbs requiring constant use of cars

IN: Mixed Use Zoning; OUT: single use zoning

IN: Infill development; OUT: Greenfield development

IN: Authentic historic design; OUT: Contemporary pastiche of styles

For Newporters this should be very welcome news since many of these trends describe much of the housing stock within the city. The lessons of traditional cities, through the spread of the “New Urbanism” planning philosophy, is beginning to have a major impact on the design of new housing and neighborhoods across the country.

There will be a lecture this Saturday February 9 at 2pm entitled “Newport as a Model of Urban Living: New Lessons from Old Cities.” The talk will be given by John Tschirch, who is an architectural historian and the Director of Museum Affairs for the Preservation Society of Newport County. The talk is being given as part of the Newport Art Museum Winter Lecture Series and the cost to attend is $10 for Museum members and $15 for non-members. The Newport Museum is located at 76 Bellevue Avenue, across from Touro Park.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the characteristics of our community that make it such a lovely and lively place to live and work and which make it a model for other communities around the nation and the world!

Ross Sinclair Cann, AIA, LEED AP, is an historian, educator and practicing architect living and working in Newport. This article was initially published in ARCHI-TEXT, in Newport This Week, February 7, 2013.

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