Not to put too much pressure on the guy, but at least three people have told me that Chris Leinberger, a planning geek at the Brookings Institute who’s also a developer, is brilliant. He’s speaking in Raleigh Wednesday evening, 6:30-8:30 pm, at the Progress Energy Center (Fletcher Theater); check-in starts at 6. It’s free, courtesy of your city gummint. Pre-registrations online, s’il vous plait.
Leinberger’s thing is that the age of suburban development is giving way to the age of suburban as well as urban redevelopment. Nothing novel there, except perhaps the notion that “walkable places” can be hewn from the wreckage of suburban strip-mania. But where — Raleigh comp plan fans — would such places be in, say, North Raleigh?
Here’s what Leinberger said in November about Atlanta’s redevelopment prospects, based on a DC metro model, in the Atlanta Constitution (full article here):
The metro area that has the most walkable urban places, per capita, is the region surrounding Washington. It has 20 such urban communities today and 10 more are emerging; 20 years ago there were just two. Given that metro Atlanta has exactly the same population as metro Washington, if you follow the Washington model, you will be growing 15 to 25 more walkable urban places in the next decade. This represents tens of billions of dollars in investment over the next decade and will be home to thousands of jobs and housing.
But where will they be? Follow the MARTA rail and other planned rail lines, such as the Beltline. Ninety percent of Washington’s 30 current and emerging walkable urban places are served by rail transit.
Substitute “TTA rail” for “MARTA” and see if you think what he’s saying about where future walkable places in Atlanta fits with what’s in the draft Raleigh comprehensive plan. I do not. Our plan contemplates walkable places on highways — almost an oxymoron — and served by buses. He’s talking about walkable places on street grids near rail stations. Hear, hear.