Chuck is out sick (hence the Friday News Digest delay). Enjoy the week's news.

  • NYC Firm selected to redesign Nicollet Mall [MPR]

Some big news from Minneapolis: The City has chosen the firm they’d like to redesign the Nicollet Mall’s streetscape. The presentations included lot of people walking, trees and permeable surfaces that are likely "sustainable". If you don’t like reading, here’s a news clip about it. I have questioned whether this is a good use of resources and if those resources could better be allocated elsewhere. That’s not going to happen. As it stands, the proposal from the selected firm looks impressive. The design will certainly be an improvement over what exists. One recommendation is for the City and the designers to take ideas out of the Joe Urban/PPS PlaybookRead his suggestions here.

  • Suburb uses eminent domain to expand parking at the expense of the few remaining traditional neighborhood building [Star Tribune]

The weathly suburb of Edina is looking to use eminent domain (a very unpopular urban redevelopment tool) to expand parking in the 50th & France business district. This is bad on just about every level. It is adding more parking where parking is clearly not needed. Edina needs to explore paid parking in and around 50th & France. Using eminent domain to tear down a single-story, traditional neighborhood building to expand parking is a good way to destroy what made the district successful in the first place (read:Pensacola Parking Syndrome).

The Pensacola Parking Syndrome is a term of the trade used to describe a city that tears down its old buildings to create parking spaces to entice more people downtown, until people no longer want to go there because it has become an empty lot. - New York Times

The use of eminent domain in this particular case is questionably legal and will likely set the City up for a lawsuit. In 2006, the laws changed that prohibited the taking of property for a public purpose, such as economic development. Read about it here. The question for Edina: Is the taking of property for parking a public use or public purpose? The City will argue it’s a public use. I don’t buy it. In their minds, it’s an “economic development” strategy to appease businesses who appear to think that there isn’t enough parking?

  • Dude! It's not just density, it's urbanism ...

The Daily Beast reports, "City Leaders Are in Love With Density but Most City Dwellers Disagree" ... When I say "Daily Beast reports", I mean, they gave ink (or pixels?) to Joel Kotkin. Ya'll have seen this before, but feel free to pick it apart. Warning: Some of Kotkin's ideas aren't crazy.

  • Was Jane Jacobs a Republican?

Probably not. But, even if she was, the GOP would have kicked her out for moving to Canada. Regardless, this article is an intersting take on the Patron Saint of Planning from Front Proch Republic. Here's my favorite quote:

She was not against planning, or regulation, or political authority.  What she loved was not the contextless assertion of individual will over private property, but the complexity and order of the good urban life. She was in favor of a very large amount of individual freedom in making decisions about property because she saw– not just believed based on abstract praxeological principal, but actually saw– that this was most likely to lead to livability.  Order in a city, she finds, is something that emerges from the countless small decisions of house-proud citizens, living where they work, putting in a cat door or planting a tomato in a window box, minding their business and minding it with relish.  This leads to an “ordered complexity” that is characteristic of living things.

It is undeniable that Jacobs does have parts of her philosophy that mesh well with classic liberalism.

Why are we still dicussing expanding highways in the middle of cities, especially when the City itself and neighborhood doesn't want it? It might be happening in Wisconsin, according to Journal-Sentinel;

In its plan to improve the I-94 east-west corridor, the state Department of Transportation has eliminated the least expensive and least intrusive options — choices favored by Milwaukee — that would keep the freeway at three lanes in each direction.

Instead, the state is proposing to expand and relocate parts of the 2.85-mile stretch of highway between 25th and 70th streets. The proposal would displace some Milwaukee businesses and, in some residents' eyes, possibly ruin a beautiful neighborhood by sending a 40-foot-high, double-decked highway system into its midst.

Quote from article:

"We in the city of Milwaukee don't want (expansion)," Ald. Bob Bauman said. "This is the state DOT and the governor ramming this down our throats."

Apparently decision makers in Madison have a better idea of what will make the distant community thrive than those living in and around the area.

This might be the feel-good story of the day ...

"In the small town of Hamburg, New York — population 10,000 — the residents have a success story to tell: a plan by the state to widen the town’s main street was trumped by locals."

Thanks everyone!

Oh, and if you're not there yet - head over and join the Strong Towns Network! And, here's a bonus podcast for you. I joined my friend, a producer at TC News Talk, and we covered a few topics including light rail transit and Gopher Football. It's called The Nordcast. Check it out!