Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) has drafted a report based on transforming dead malls into communities. The report (see PDF here) was conducted in conjunction with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study looks at a number of urban land underutilization scenarios that helps to understand the greyfield redevelopment dilemmas and solutions.
If you are not familiar with the term “greyfield redevelopment”, then consider the following:
Greenfield: Undeveloped land
Brownfield: Contaminated former industrial sites
Greyfield: “is a new term, hinting at the sea of asphalt separating a regional or super-regional shopping mall from its town. Greyfields are economically obsolete malls and other sites that offer large infill redevelopment opportunities, without the contamination found on brownfield sites.” -CNU
The report features a number of case studies that show various greyfield redevelopment scenarios throughout the country. CNU states that the manual is intended for developers, community leaders, property owners and planners, who are looking to revitalize these areas into sites with mixed use attractions. The sites were originally designed and built with “blank exterior walls, huge parking lots, scattered outbuildings, and large traffic demands.” Often times, as these areas fall out of favor, they become virtual dead zones and black holes within a city or a region.
When thinking about Buffalo’s landscape, and the different greyfield opportunities, there are a few that come readily to mind. Think of the property that surrounds the sprawling K-Mart on Hertel Avenue. Central Park Plaza (see here) is a perfect example of what CNU is laying out. But even to a lesser level, there are lessons to be learned that can teach us about non-mall blighted areas in Buffalo that include the massive parking lots that riddle the downtown core. We can even glean some key insight into the future of the Main Place Mall.
Check out the case studies that CNU has identified in the report. The case studies discuss the public/private relationships between property owners, developers and various cities.
What are the seeds needed to creating town centers, as we have seen in a certain respect with Larkinville? What does street connectivity look like? How are these types of projects financed? How are parking issues alleviated? How does a high standard of urban design fit in? These are the questions that the study deals with, in hopes to alleviate what it has identified as a major problematic trend in the US…
“An earlier study by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) conservatively estimated that there are as many as 140 regional malls in the United States that are already greyfields, with another 200 to 250 such malls approaching greyfield status. Together, these two categories represent 19 percent of all regional malls nationally.” – CNU