Congress for the New Urbanism: Building Places People Love

Campus Martius in Detroit (Credit: @CNUMidwest /Twitter)

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CNU 24 attendees gather outside the Fillmore in Detroit (Credit: @ActiveCities / Twitter)

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CNU attendees toured Michigan Avenue checking out revitalized spaces and discussing how to reactivate vacant spaces (Credit: @MRC_SLC /Twitter)

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Detroiters are making places people like (Credit: @MyGreenprint / Twitter)

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Legacy Charrettes

Prior to the conference, CNU sends member-expert urban design teams into the neighborhoods of the Congress host region to help solve community design issues. Communities were selected through an application process based on their need and their readiness for implementation.

The design teams provided (free of charge) three days of community engagement, urban design work, and the kind of services that a town of significant means would hire at great cost to make an impact on a downtown or corridor.

CNU held four Legacy Charrettes in Detroit prior to CNU 24 in June.

“We were barely at our desks and they were implementing it.”

One charrette focused on creating a walkable and connected downtown for Hazel Park, Michigan. Another worked on solutions for building affordable and market-rate housing in Southwest Detroit without creating displacement. Another’s goal was to make Detroit’s Grand River Avenue more walkable, bikeable and accessible.

Hazel Park, Michigan (Credit: Michigan Municipal League / Flickr)

Hazel Park, Michigan (Credit: Michigan Municipal League / Flickr)

But something special happened in Pontiac, Michigan. After a walking tour of downtown Pontiac, the design team recommended the town re-stripe many of their roads either as two ways, or with improved street parking, to improve circulation and connectivity.

It just so happened that Pontiac was re-striping roads the following week. They immediately edited their re-striping plans and implemented the recommendations of the charrette, literally on the ground.

“We were barely at our desks and they were implementing it,” Warlick said.

The Legacy Charrettes are another way for the Congress to leave an impact on their host cities.

“If we’re bringing 2,000 people with national leading design expertise, that should have a serious impact on the urban design of our host city,” Warlick said.

2016 was the second year of the Legacy Charrettes program, which will continue in Seattle next year.

“If we’re bringing 2,000 people with national leading design expertise, that should have a serious impact on the urban design of our host city.”

Project for Code Reform

CNU continues to work with the host region of Michigan on a new project called the Project for Code Reform, which will launch in October 2016. The goal of the project is to convene stakeholders with ideas on how to improve zoning codes and regulations, and build a consensus on a strategic, flexible approach that’s affordable and implementable for municipalities on a budget.

The project will begin with a series of workshops in Michigan, the pilot state for the project. CNU is working with their funders at the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority to develop the workshops, which will convene stakeholders including experts, local government, local developers and local planners to discuss regulatory barriers and solutions.

The Project for Code Reform is a multi-year project that will promote codes to facilitate walkable development.