The Birmingham News reported on May 27:
Officials say the uprising against the sameness of suburban design threatening the uniqueness of some of Birmingham’s established downtown neighborhoods is not a temporary bristling that will die down.
Instead, it’s a fundamental shift they say has been a long time in the making as more young professionals and longtime residents recognize what’s special about their community and are willing to unite and fight for it…
The City of Birmingham Design Review Committee has also been a catalyst in the recent movement. It rejected Chick-fil-A’s plan for not being in keeping with the character of Five Points South. Chick-fil-A is preparing an appeal…
“The real issue is you have a choice. When a chain store developer – whether it’s a McDonald’s or a Chick-fil-A or a Walgreens – comes to town, they generally have three designs: A, B or C, ranging from Anywhere, U.S.A., to unique, and by that I mean sensitive to local community character,” McMahon said [Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow at Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute]. “Which one gets built depends completely on how much pushback the company gets from local residents and officials about design and its importance…”
“What’s the most important concept in economic development today? It’s called community differentiation,” he said. “If you can’t differentiate your community from any other community in America, you have no competitive advantage.”
He said competition for industry today focuses on the knowledge-based industries like technology, biotechnology, life sciences and research. That requires attracting young professionals to your city and to do that, a city has to be able to offer them a diverse and vibrant community…
“The truth is, if you develop the right way, the environmentally sensitive way, you will always make more money than if you do it the dumb, off-the-shelf, stupid way.”
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Gazette: “Housing slump for some, but not all” (2/16/09)
[Contrasting an unsold house at 310 Old Wilson Road with a house that just sold at 88 Sylvester Road:]
…So how does it happen that one house drops its price by 18 percent, and remains unsold, while another sells quickly for 6 percent above its asking price?
…The second house “has a certain character,” said [Larry] Miller [of the Jones Group]. “It’s a house you can’t find over again. The one on Old Wilson Road, in some variety you can find it over and over…”
…CREATION OR PRESERVATION OF A “SENSE OF PLACE”. A “sense of place” results when design and development protect and incorporate the distinctive character of a community and the particular place in which it is located. Geography, natural features, climate, culture, historical resources, and ecology each contribute to the distinctive character of a region…
Portland Infill Design Strategies: Best Practices for Context-Sensitive Infill Design