Transit and sprawl repair leads to design of a resilient city through scenario planning
By 2030 Fayetteville, Arkansas is projected to add more than 55,000 people to its population of 73,000, entailing an additional 28,000 housing starts for a city with 32,000 dwelling units. Since close to 50% of Fayetteville’s built environment projected to exist by 2030 has not yet been built, an opportunity exists to plan an even more intelligent future.
One future scenario may focus on the connection between public transit and land use. The architects asked: what if 80% of the future growth (60 million sq ft of conditioned space including 23,000 housing units) was incented to locate around a six-mile streetcar system proposed for College Avenue, Fayetteville’s primary commercial corridor?
Thousands of aging post-WWII commercial arterials like College Avenue - dominated by strip retail, large parking lots and other auto-orientated land uses - were once powerful economic development tools. Their economic usefulness has become exhausted, evidenced by dead malls, abandoned strip centers and low-rent roadside structures cluttering large swathes of commercial arterials. College Avenue’s passage through moderately dense first-ring suburbs and downtown neighbourhoods presents a ready opportunity to develop mixed-use walkable urban neighbourhoods with a spatial vitality akin to Fayetteville’s traditional main street.
The project converts College Avenue highway into a multi-modal boulevard accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit and traffic of various speeds. The goal is to deploy new development in imagable neighbourhood configurations with clear edges and centres, as well as an interconnected street network serving both low (maintain current 7-8 units an acre) and high density fabrics (60-90 units an acre).
A typical Fayetteville household spends 29% of its annual income on transportation, far above the national average of 19%. The 2030 Transit City Scenario plan is a prosperity-building program since the average household in rail transit cities spent 16% of its annual income on transportation.