Cranes are few and the permit requests only trickle in these days, but the global lull in development is no time for smart growth advocates to hang up their boots.
That?s one message from a ?Downturn Roundtable? discussion organized by the Coalition last month. Eight experts, including local government planners, a developer, and academics, met at the offices of Ketchum public relations in Midtown to talk about how smart growth practices in metro Atlanta might fare in the aftermath of the downturn and how local governments can tackle opportunities and challenges arising from new economic realities.
The panel included local government planners, a developer, and academics:
- Michael Dobbins, Professor of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Tech
- Rick Porter, Richport Developments
- Tom Weyandt, Atlanta Regional Commission
- Kay Lee, The Center, Newton County
- Dan Immergluck, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (and Professor of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech, on sabbatical)
- Kathy Field, Director of Community Planning, City of Roswell
- Marty Allen, City Manager, Suwanee
- Jeff Watkins, Planning Director, Cherokee County
John Maximuk, Program Director at the Coalition, moderated. Other observations by the group included:
- Educating the public about smart growth and reviewing zoning codes are strategic ways to prepare for the next building cycle.
- Governments should anticipate that lenders, developers, and consumers may be risk-averse and opt for familiar sprawl over new smart growth projects. The case should be made that smart growth developments are the soundest investments as the era of cheap oil ends.
- Hard times will test built developments, separating the good from the lucky. Planners should look for the good that can be replicated.
- Governments should be creative and flexible as they decide what to do with abandoned infrastructure, especially in locations that do not contribute to sustainable growth.
- Local governments should consider promoting affordable rental housing as lending standards tighten.
A full transcript is currently being processed. Check back here for the full transcript of the roundtable, coming soon!