Up To Speed

Traffic congestion can actually be a good thing for urban districts

Traffic congestion can actually be a good thing for urban districts.

Engineers are well-known for coming up with solutions to rid our communities of dreaded traffic congestion. To most people this seems logical, but do we always want to rid ourselves of traffic congestion? In urban shopping districts you want lots of pedestrians, cyclists, transit and cars…it means that there are lots of potential customers. More from Strong Towns:

If people enjoy crowded places, it seems a bit strange that federal and state governments continue to wage a single-minded and expensive war against traffic congestion. Despite many hundreds of billions dollars spent on increasing the capacity of our roads, they’ve not yet won, thank God. After all, when the congestion warriors have won, the results aren’t often pretty. Detroit, for example, has lots of expressways and widened streets and suffers from very little congestion. It also has lost 2/3 of its population and is in the hands of a bankruptcy trustee.

After all, congestion is a bit like cholesterol – if you don’t have any, you die. Like cholesterol, traffic exists as a “good kind” and a “bad kind.” Congestion measurements should be divided between through-traffic and traffic that includes local origins or destinations, the latter being the “good kind.”

Up To Speed

Is shopping online better for the environment than shopping in stores?

Is shopping online better for the environment than shopping in stores?.

Okay, so I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to a lot of things. I still read newspapers (about five most days). I continue to read real books (ideally hard cover). And I also prefer to shop at local stores and avoid online shopping for the fear that it would hurt my local economy. Whether this is true or not is besides the point, but new research points out whether or not online shopping is more or less environmentally friendly than neighborhood shopping. More from Per Square Mile:

Researchers surveyed over 700 in-store shoppers at two locations and 40,000 online orders. They then stratified their results based on travel distances to the store and distances from the warehouse to customers’ homes. At short distances—less than 8.6 miles or 14 km one-way—in-store shoppers slightly edged out online customers per transaction, about 73.8 g CO2 vs 77.9 g CO2. But over that, online shoppers’ footprints remained relatively stable while store goers emissions skyrocketed to as high as 451.4 g CO2 per transaction if they had to travel over 62 miles or 100 km.

Business Development News

Final Designs Revealed for $125M Dunnhumby Centre Tower

In March of 2015, 700 employees will move into the long-awaited $125 million headquarters of dunnhumbyUSA at Fifth and Race street in downtown Cincinnati. The building is the culmination of a fifteen-year effort to reinvent the area just one block from Fountain Square.

In 1999 the city purchased and demolished a fourteen-story office building and parking garage at the site in anticipation of locating a Nordstrom’s department store downtown. When plans for the store failed to materialize, the site was paved over as surface parking for over a decade.

Last year, dunnhumbyUSA and the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) partnered with the city to develop the block as the new headquarters for the company. Earlier this year, the project received approval on the interior design of the building, which includes open floor plans, and two light wells that will provide natural light during the day through to the bottom floors of the office structure.

Today dunnhumbyUSA presented its exterior designs to the city’s Urban Design Review Board, which makes advisory decisions on approval for landmark structures.

The designs for the new structure were put together by architecture firm Gensler.

The presentation is the culmination of over nine months worth of work on the exterior presentation of the building.

“We designed the building from the inside out. There was a lot of attention paid to the habits and needs of our employees,” Dave Palm, Senior Vice President of Operations with dunnhumbyUSA, told UrbanCincy.

The exterior façades of the building are meant to accentuate the data driven nature of the company and avoid the repetitiveness of patterns, and are made up of an arrangement of white and charcoal grey panel frames. The entrances on each street façade, meanwhile, are accentuated by a cascade of white paneling up the side of the building. This pattern called, “zippers” help break up the massing of the structure.

Other features of the building exterior include outdoor inset areas located on the building’s eighth floor. Further outdoor opportunities are located on the top floor where a significant portion of the floor will be dedicated to outside events.

Although only nine stories in height the floors of the building will be 14 feet high with 20-foot high ceilings for the street-level retail. The building will be the equivalent height of a more traditional 12-story building. Additionally, the three parking levels above the retail level will be convertible to office when the company needs to add room for expansion.

The first level retail section comes in at just under 30,000 square feet and features an all glass street-oriented façade. 3CDC is charged with attracting retail tenants.

“We would prefer to find a local business,” Adam Gelter, 3CDC’s Executive Vice President of Development told UrbanCincy. Gelter went on to say that the retail space can go to one tenant or be broken up into three or four separate retail spaces.

The building is slated to be completed in January 2015 with move-in set for March of the same year.

This project, along with the construction of a 30-story apartment tower and grocer and the continuing plans to construct up to 225 apartments above Macy’s at Fountain Place, is set to transform the long neglected corridors along Sixth Street and Race Street and could spur additional investments in development opportunities in the western portion of the central business district.

Up To Speed

Millennial cohort will have over-sized impact on retail, real estate

Millennial cohort will have oversized impact on retail, real estate

The Millennial Generation, also known as Echo Boomers or Generation Y, is roughly defined as people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. As members of this generation start to make up a bigger portion of the workforce, and eventually become a bigger force in politics, a number of changes are bound to take place. In addition to preferring urban living in greater numbers than Baby Boomers and Generation X, Millennials also have different preferences when it comes to media, technology, shopping, transportation, and politics. More from Urban Land Magazine:

Over the last two to three years, echo boomers have been fueling the demand for rental housing in urbanized areas. Since 2009, there has been a steady increase in multifamily construction, climbing from 109,000 units in 2009 to 245,000 units in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The new multifamily rentals are not limited to coastal cities. For example, from January to September 2012, Houston’s multifamily housing development rate increased 70 percent over the same period in 2011.

Demand for rental units has increased most dramatically in tech centers such as San Francisco and the Silicon Valley area; Austin, Texas; Denver; Boston; and New York City. But even without the tech industry serving as a catalyst, the sheer size of the echo boom demographic has fueled demand for apartments—particularly those located in high-amenity cities and suburban agglomerations.

Business Development News

PHOTOS: U Square at The Loop Almost Entirely Leased

On Thursday Towne Properties partner Arn Bortz led the media on a tour of U Square @ The Loop, the $80 million mixed-use project stretching several blocks adjacent to the University of Cincinnati campus.

The project broke ground in January 2012 and a move-in date of August 1 is scheduled for apartments.

According to Bortz, the project’s street-level retail and upper floor apartments are each 85% leased. The project’s office space has been leased to the University of Cincinnati and talks are ongoing to attract a hotel to remaining space along McMillan Street.

The planned hotel for the site will be competing against a flurry of new hotel developments throughout Cincinnati’s urban core that are adding hundreds of new rooms to the market, including a proposed rehabilitation of Old St. George into a 60-70 bed hotel just blocks away.

Once completed, Bortz anticipates that the hotel at U Square @ The Loop to be approximately as tall as the apartment building on the project’s western block.

The developers also announced that the project achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which qualifies the project for a 15-year city tax abatement, due to its proximity to public transportation and a variety of design decisions including choice of windows and use of Energy Star appliances in apartment units.

Bortz also explained that the project’s two city-built parking garages will not be subject to any lease of the city’s parking facilities.

More than 20 retailers have been named as tenants of the 80,000 square feet of retail, including: Altar’d States, bd’s Mongolian Grill, Body Central, Chase Bank, Elephant Walk, Euro Wax, Firehouse Subs, Great Clips, Highway 55, Keystone Bar & Grill, Lime Fresh, Moksha Yoga, Mr. Sushi, Orange Leaf, Rally House, Rue 21, Starbucks, The Brass Tap and Waffle House.