The Daily Parker

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Nineteen building types

Via Atlantic Cities, the recession may help move developers away from the 19 standard building types identified in a report from UC Berkeley in 2005:

[T]he Grocery Anchored Neighborhood generally about 5 or 6 hectares in size on a plot of land that’s 80 percent covered in asphalt. It’s located on the going-home side of a major four-to-eight lane arterial road, where it catches people when they’re most likely to be thinking about what to buy for dinner.

It has a major, 4,600 to 6,500 square-meter supermarket on one end and a drug store with drive-through on the other, with national and regional chain stores, maybe a Hallmark and a Starbucks in between. The parking lot contains four or five spaces per thousand square-feet of retail. There is, in theory, a sidewalk, although no one is expected to use it. Every shop is designed to be seen by potential customers passing by at 45 mph. And – with the exception of a few last-minute regionally specific touches for art-deco paint schemes or Mediterranean roof tiles – this L-shaped shopping center looks the same whether you’re pulling into it from Denver or Orlando.

Seventeen of the 19 types create what one of my friends has called "Suburbistan," a landscape oriented towards cars and tract homes. But:

In Washington, D.C., one of the few U.S. cities largely immune to the real estate downturn, construction has continued, and Leinberger estimates that a good 90 percent of new development in the area has lately been planned for walkable, high-density living (see the makeover of Tyson’s Corner and the new Navy Yard development around the Nationals’ ballpark). These are the real estate products [Christopher] Leinberger believes we’ll need going forward: ground-floor retail with rental apartments on top, hotel/convention centers with condos above and a subway corridor below. These models may very well become standardized, too.

One can hope. Walkable cities, with good transit, are good for almost everyone.

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