Archive for the ‘REAL ESTATE’ Category



The Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. Photo courtesy of John Becker.

When the urban planner Ryan Gravel resigned from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership board on September 26, the organization lost one of its most vocal and influential proponents, and in a way, its own creator. The BeltLine, a 22-mile network of parks and trails that weaves through 45 Atlanta neighborhoods, grew out of Gravel’s 1999 Georgia Tech master’s thesis. His consistent message regarding his departure has been that he had to distance himself from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP) board because the organization wasn’t doing enough to provide affordable housing and maintain an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion for residents living near the trail.

Gravel’s calls to action are a broad redirection away from property acquisition and development that guided the trail’s early days. He now wants to ensure that the existing trail meets the socioeconomic needs of the Atlantans who advocated to make it a reality. And he’s willing to sacrifice some (more…)

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A recent design competition promised novel ideas for vacant land in New Orleans. It ended with some very unhappy participants.


From the October 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

On Friday, March 6, 2015, the city of New Orleans posted more than 1,700 properties online and began auctioning them off. Most were vacant lots. The city was hoping to attract investors who could put these properties back into circulation, so to speak, in part to raise tax revenue and also to continue chipping away at the scourge of blight that had afflicted New Orleans since well before Hurricane Katrina.

Today, somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 lots sit vacant in New Orleans, about the same number as before the levees collapsed but significantly fewer than the 43,000 tallied in 2010. The city has employed a number of strategies to bring that number down, (more…)

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Doyle Hollis Park. Courtesy Trust for Public Land.

Doyle Hollis Park. Courtesy Trust for Public Land.

By Peter Harnik and Ryan Donahue

From the February issue of LAM:

Emeryville, California, squeezed between Oakland, Berkeley, and the San Francisco Bay Bridge, has 10,000 residents and 20,000 daytime workers on only 1.2 square miles of land. For most of the 20th century it was an industrial center, known for meatpacking plants and a Sherwin-Williams paint factory. It has since evolved into a shopping destination and a hub for biotech and software.

Residents of Emeryville think the city needs more parks. The commuters think it needs more parking. In 1999, the city planning department started eyeing a warehouse site at Doyle and Hollis Streets for a six-story, 700-vehicle garage. The location wasn’t a good one: It abutted a low-density neighborhood, faced a middle school without playing fields, and would have thrown shade onto the new Emeryville Greenway. “We first considered putting the garage beneath a park,” says Diana Keena, an associate planner for the city, “but the site is so narrow that just the entryway would have consumed a third of the space.” The city also suggested a park surrounded by diagonal street parking, but that, too, would have swallowed most of the green space.

Neighbors who had coalesced a few years earlier to redesign the Emeryville Greenway as a park rather than as a tree-lined automobile street rose again, and after a long battle they persuaded the city council to rezone the block as open space and name it Doyle Hollis Park.

From then on the park moved steadily forward. The land was bought for $5.1 million in 2005, remediated of some petroleum contamination for $800,000, designed and built for $4.5 million, and opened in 2009. “During lunchtime on a sunny day, the place is packed with workers, kids, and food vendors,” notes Jim Martin, an original leader of Doyle Street Neighbors, which supported the park’s creation.


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U.S. Land Port of Entry, Warroad, Minnesota. Landscape by Coen + Partners; architecture by Julie Snow Architects. Photo by Frank Ooms

U.S. Land Port of Entry, Warroad, Minnesota. Landscape by Coen + Partners; architecture by Julie Snow Architects. Photo by Frank Ooms

For landscape architects, the signs from the General Services Administration could scarcely be more encouraging. There is a push by Christian Gabriel, ASLA, the national design director for landscape architecture at GSA, to expand the pool of talent available to his office, the Public Buildings Service, and to make the selection process more competitive. But in a bureaucracy, there’s only so much Gabriel can do; if you’re interested in working  with the agency for the first time, the process can seem opaque.

Tomorrow, you can take less than an hour to learn more about it. On Thursday, February 6, at 3 p.m. Eastern time, Gabriel and his colleague Joseph Imamura, ASLA, a contracting specialist at the GSA, are holding a 45-minute webinar to help demystify where you find GSA project announcements, what kinds of project delivery the agency relies on, and how to hack your way through the procurement thicket. 

Gabriel says the agency will soon pilot a new kind of short selection process that would prequalify landscape architecture firms as a way of involving more of them in the 9,000 or so small projects the agency does each year—not all of them landscape architecture projects, but many with site needs or security requirements to fulfill. Register here to join the webinar.

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Washington Business Journal

A vaunted program to preserve agricultural land in burgeoning Montgomery County, Maryland, is looking ahead to money problems for the next five years because, paradoxically, development has been down, and development in large part pays for the program through transfer taxes and investment income, the Washington Business Journal reports. The preserve, which covers 70,000 acres, has 561 farms that put tens of thousands of people to work. (Subscription required.)

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