“Can Zoning Save a Downtown?
Kaid Benfield. Feb 28, 2012
A city cited not long ago as the nation’s most sprawling is now firmly on a path to become substantially greener. In particular, two weeks ago I described the Nashville region’s impressive commitment to reform its transportation investments to support increased transit access, walkable neighborhoods, and a strengthened sense of place. And there’s more.
Writing on his blog Old Urbanist, Charlie Gardner describes recent improvements to the Music City’s downtown zoning:
‘In addition to its plans for the region, Nashville has revamped its zoning code, adopting in 2010 what is in substance, if not in name, a form-based code for its downtown. The changes are some of the most promising I’ve seen in any code revision for a major American city, including the repeal of most of use-based zoning limitations and the elimination of all parking minimums within the downtown area. It’s a long overdue change for a downtown with a particularly tragic 20th century planning history.’
The new zoning code has been designed explicitly to give legal expression to a downtown community plan adopted in 2007 to strengthen the character and walkability of neighborhoods. The city hopes these neglected areas will evolve into 24-hour districts that host residential as well as commercial uses.
To accomplish this, the new code regulates the form of buildings so that, for example, building height guidelines allow increased density in logical patterns but building uses are allowed to vary to encourage mixed uses so long as they support an inviting streetscape:
‘In an urban environment, the street level design and function of a building is of the utmost importance. The interaction of the building with the street should enliven the street, making it comfortable, safe and interesting for pedestrians. The DTC is based on frontage design – storefront, stoop, porch, industrial, and civic – and includes standards on glazing, vehicular access, landscaping, and active uses on the ground level. Correctly designed, these attributes will contribute to safe and interesting streets to result in vibrant neighborhoods and a healthy Downtown.’”
Via: The Atlantic & massurban