Cómo Manhattan logró bién tener de nuevo comercio vertical

Origen: How Manhattan Got Vertical Retail Right, Again – CityLab

A rendering of the Neiman Marcus inside The Shops at Hudson Yards
The Shops at Hudson Yards starts its interior retail on a plaza level one floor up and its signature draw is the city’s first and only Neiman Marcus, on the 5th through 7th floors. Such a plan would have likely seemed unhinged in the early 2000s. Related
Después de construir algunos fracasos a fines del siglo XX, arquitectos y desarrolladores están ofreciendo a los neoyorquinos una mejor experiencia de comercio minorista en multiples niveles con una mezcla de ideas nuevas y lecciones del pasado.

New York might have always seemed like the ideal city for multi-level retail complexes—until you actually went into one.

By the turn of the century, such places in America’s densest city ranged from failed to mediocre examples of the genre. In the last decade, however, retail designers appear closer to figuring out the problem. Developers have brought a new attention to this retail paradox, now most dramatically in the form of Related Company’s forthcoming Shops at Hudson Yards, which, buoyed by recent lessons, is upending expectations about how multi-level retail works.

A preference for street-level retail in multi-story urban shopping complexes is often reflected in the rent and profits, which plunge with each ascending level. “First floor retail is golden, second floor retail struggles, third floor retail is a disaster,” says Nico Dando-Haenisch, project manager for Grimshaw’s Fulton Street Transit Center.

The Shops at Hudson Yards defies this concept by starting its interior retail on a plaza level one floor up and siting its signature draw, the city’s first and only Neiman Marcus, on the 5th through 7th floors. Such a plan would have likely seemed unhinged in the early 2000s, but in the last decade a number of surprising successes have sent retail skyward: the Shops at Columbus Circle (opened in 2003), the renovation of the former World Financial Center’s retail space into the Shops at Brookfield Place (opened in 2015), Westfield World Trade Center (2016), the Fulton Street Transit Center (2016), and additional developments at Pier 17 and elsewhere. These are part of a new generation of shopping center design, locating retail floors both above and below street level with a frequency not seen in decades.

The Shops at Columbus Circle in the Time Warner Center, also a Related project, is the pioneer in Manhattan’s shopping center revival, overcoming considerable initial skepticism. As Ken Himmel, president and CEO of Related Urban, says of their considerably larger shopping center under development at Hudson Yards, “There are people who are talking to me now who absolutely said ‘I never thought this could work at Time Warner.’”

The Shops at Columbus Circle required deliberate care in leasing and design, which derived inspiration both from venerable traditional retail avenues and from institutions as typologically alien to Manhattan as the suburban mall.

The experience of going up or down a floor is routine within street-level stores across the country, and laziness or lack of interest hasn’t shuttered the upper levels of shops on Fifth Avenue. The most iconic subterranean shop on earth, the Apple store on 5th Avenue, proves that you don’t have to offer even a single piece of merchandise on a ground level to entice shoppers downward.

Himmel says that the retail floors inside the Shops at Columbus Circle were inspired by shops on Madison Avenue, with internal stairways between shop levels providing additional fabric linking the floors together. This model is becoming routine in vertical shopping centers.

Several of the earliest examples of luring shoppers up six or seven floors are just a brief walk away inside the city’s department stores, which furnish over a century’s evidence of successful mutli-level retailing.

“You’d place certain departments in certain spaces to draw people through the typology of spaces,” explains Himmel. Restaurants are always found near the top of department stores: department stores would also make deliberate efforts to strategically intersperse high-profile drivers of traffic on upper floors. Lord and Taylor recently completed a renovation of its 5th floor “Dress Address.” Five floors to find a dress is clearly not too many.


But something went awry between the ‘70s and ‘90s, when New York became an index of retail design errors as new malls created an often isolating and confusing user experience.

The Manhattan Mall was originally built to accommodate 13 floors of retail (left) but was eventually scaled down to just three, with other floors converted into office space (right). (Wikimedia Commons/Mean Mr. Mustard, Jim.Henderson)

The Manhattan Mall (opened in 1989) featured a shocking 13 retail floors with shopping aeries at a height that might have worked for falcons but not humans. The retail floors were eventually scaled backto only three levels, with the remainder converted to offices. Many arcades such as the World Financial Center (opened in 1988) featured winding and confusing circulation patterns with no obvious anchor draws, amended in that complex’s conversion into Brookfield Place—which now features clear circulation patterns and a Saks Fifth Avenue. The former Mall at the World Trade Center, located in the center’s underground concourse (opened in 1975) was a reliable leasing success but its aesthetics were those of a transit basement.

The salience of the department store as a draw is rigorously applied to new, vertical urban retail in ways that draw upon its success in suburban malls encouraging shoppers to go somewhere and its urban reliability at drawing them upwards. One of the country’s most successful older urban retail centers, Water Tower Place in Chicago, features a Bloomingdale’s spread over every floor of the complex while the Westfield San Francisco Center Nordstrom begins at the 4th floor. If a descent to the maelstrom is unappealing, ascent to the Nordstrom is not.

Non-retail uses are increasingly prized on upper floors of these new projects. On the 5th floor of the Shops at Columbus Circle, there’s Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall concert venue, reliably injecting patrons during evening hours and providing new customers for food and retail tenants.

There’s also an increasing realization that circulation from unrelated upper floor uses—whether residences, offices, or hotels—should be introduced into retail floors at the highest point possible to compel passage past shops. And as the traditional food court has stalled, places like Hudson Eats now bring trendy fast casual vendors and local flavors to Brookfield Place, while others malls have embraced sit-down restaurants in lieu of the traditional food court model. The Shops at Columbus Circle offers not one but four restaurants on its fourth floor.

New tenants aside, the architecture of these centers has taken a great leap forward, with a frequent emphasis on street accessibility, clear sight lines, and easy links between floors. Westfield World Trade Center features many retailers oriented towards the street. The aim of its two-story Oculus retail space was not to create a traditional arcade but to emulate exterior spaces. Santiago Calatrava tells CityLab via email that he “designed the Oculus as a sunken piazza in the long European tradition of central urban spaces, creating a wide space opened to all citizens.”

Designers are thinking about the simple but essential task of making upper floors visible. After all, if a visitor can’t see a destination they’re almost certain to ignore it. Even something as rudimentary as a handrail can be a problem: ubiquitous 1980s granite and metal have been supplanted by glass at Brookfield Place and multiple other centers.

Circulation is also crucial. Being able to easily reach an upper level attraction is as important as seeing it. Recent shopping centers have prioritized the frequent and highly visible placement of connections between levels. Norm Garden, a designer at Callison RTKL says “you can’t put enough [escalators] in.” He also says that they’re best introduced as a sequence. “The old department store model of stacking escalators doesn’t work that well,” adds Garden. “I prefer a terraced or a cascading approach, sometimes you can be seduced into going up and find yourself on the third or fourth floor before you think about it.”

Inside Westfield World Trade Center, which opened last year. Its architect says he designed the Oculus “as a sunken piazza in the long European tradition of central urban spaces, creating a wide space opened to all citizens.”(Westfield)


Nothing will change the primacy of the street-level experience and yet recent work has revealed that enticement elsewhere is not nearly so hard as it was thought to be. Multilevel design principles have recently been tweaked into an effective formula that did not previously exist.

Today, there’s no telling what future innovations might produce or how they might undercut this model. The rise of online retail has proven a threat not merely to suburban malls but to the kind of retailers that we might have seen in urban centers. An Amazon Books location replaced a former upper floor Borders at the Shops at Columbus Circle, but most retailers lost in the 2000s haven’t been replaced by anything of the kind. Who knows what the next decade’s culling might bring.

Leasing in most New York centers also inclines clearly towards the higher end—-many of the more vibrant locations of urban shopping centers in Asia have retail sectors less desiccated by online pressures. American multi-level retail has increasingly reflected a turn towards community and unrelated uses that’s been common both in suburban centers and abroad. Garden notes that his multilevel design work across Southeast Asia includes a chapel, museum space, community halls, and university centers.

If the composition of retail complexes is inevitably fated to change, their location is likely to inch just a bit off of street level. With a recent generation of architects and developers having successfully built up, it’s unlikely they’re going to look back down anytime soon.

About the Author

Anthony Paletta

Anthony Paletta

Anthony Paletta is a freelance writer located in New York City. He’s contributed to the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Metropolis, Architectural Record, and other publications.

Publicado en Ciudad, Comercio, Desarrollo Urbano, Edificios | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Como siete ciudades estan inventando el futuro de la transportacion

How do you get to the city of the future? Seven cities have spent six months racing to answer that question. They’re vying for a $40 million start-up prize from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which asked them to juggle three big ideas: automation, climate change and urban inequality. But even without the federal cash or “Smart City” crown, city officials say big changes are coming faster than people realize.

Origen: How seven cities are inventing the future of transportation – Washington Post

Publicado en Bicicleta, Buses, Caminabilidad, Metro o Tren Ligero, Transporte | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Como los Apartamentos de lujo, con el tiempo se vuelven Vivienda asequible


Origen: How Luxury Apartments Become Affordable Homes – CityLab

By Joe Cortright  31.7.2017

Un estribillo muy común en la discusión sobre vivienda asequible es que “los desarrolladores enfocan sus acciones al sector de precio más alto del mercado” y los nuevos apartamentos son inaccesibles.

Aunque nosotros -y otros- hemos señalado que construir mas viviendas de alto nivel previene a quienes tienen altos ingresos de buscar en niveles mas bajos del mercado y hacer mejores ofertas que aquellos con menores ingresos, sobre el stock de viviendas existentes, seguimos escuchando este argumento. Para los que dudan, echen un vistazo al experimento mental de Noah Smith, preguntando qué pensamos que pasaría con los precios de vivienda si de repente demolemos 10.000 unidades de viviendas caras.

Pero hoy, tomamos una perspectiva un poco más larga. El bloguero inmobiliario Ian MacKenzie, que dirige el sitio web Next Portland , que sigue nuevos desarrollos residenciales y comerciales en la Rose City, nos compartió un par de fascinantes clips históricos del periódico de la ciudad The Oregonian. Estos muestran que la vivienda asequible de hoy, a menudo comenzó su vida como vivienda autodenominada de “lujo” cuando fue construida originalmente.

El primer ejemplo se remonta medio siglo, a los años 1960’s, cuando en la estela de la renovación urbana la ciudad construia una ola de nuevos apartamentos. The Oregonian del 9 de enero de 1966 describió el mercado floreciente de la ciudad para el nuevos alojamientos de lujo:

“Apartamentos de lujo, que empiezan en $135 para una unidad de una recamara y suben rápidamente fuera de la vista, han estado brotando en Portland a un ritmo intenso, y mas estan planeadas o en construccion. La inversión total en estas propiedades es aquí sin duda por encima de la marca de $100 millones.”

Uno de estos conjuntos era el Timberlee en las colinas suburbanas de Raleigh, un cercano vecindario suburbano. Según The Oregonian, el Timberlee en SW 38th Place fue uno de los más prósperos de los 13 conjuntos de apartamentos que examinó en su historia, con 97 por ciento de sus 214 unidades alquiladas.

Por supuesto, los apartamentos Timberlee todavía existen. Aunque ninguna unidad está actualmente en renta, según Apartments.com, las rentas en la zona son de alrededor de $1.000 para estudios y una recamara a $1.300 y más para apartamentos de dos recamaras y más grandes. Comparado con los estándares actuales, el Timberlee parece modesto, y algo anticuado, mas que lujoso.

Los apartamentos Timberlee son típicos de los construidos por todo el país en los años 60’s y 70’s. Como hemos relatado, similares apartamentos en el suburbio de Marietta en Atlanta, comenzaron su vida como la vivienda preferida de jovenes parejas y solteros (principalmente blancos), pero conforme envejecíeron, se hicieron tan asequibles que se volvieron viviendas para gente de bajos ingresos. La ciudad gastó $65 millones del dinero de los contribuyentes para comprar y demoler estos apartamentos, desplazando a cientos de familias.

El segundo recorte de Ian se remonta un poco más de un siglo, a la Navidad de 1910, cuando Portland disfrutaba un pequeño auge de construcción desencadenado curiosamente por el advenimiento de un código de construcción más duro que habría hecho los apartamentos más caros o imposibles de construir en algunos vecindarios. Al igual que con las ordenanzas de viviendas incluyente de hoy, hubo una fiebre de terrenos al momento que los desarrolladores solicitaron permisos para construir adelantandose a la fecha límite.

Pero volviendo a nuestra historia. El artículo de 1910 resalta el lujo de las nuevas viviendas en construcción.

El propósito de los edificios es establecer un modelo para apartamentos de clase alta. . . El edificio seguirá el último estilo de construcción en boga en Nueva York, y encarnará el extremo del lujo con toda la atención posible dada al confort. Algunas nuevas características a modo de conveniencias modernas serán introducidas, con el objetivo de atraer el patronazgo de la clase deseable, aquellos dispuestos a pagar tanto como $150 por mes para los apartamentos de vivienda de cinco y seis cuartos que alojara.

Uno de los nuevos edificios de apartamentos de lujo construidos en 1910 fue el Belmont Court, en el creciente East Side de la ciudad. Los planes pedian un moderno edificio de apartamentos de 24 unidades con gran variedad de comodidades.

Algunas finas viviendas de esta clase se planean para el East Side. MacNaughton y Raymond han diseñado para E.L. Taylor una casa de tres pisos de 15 × 30, recubierta con ladrillo, que se construirá en East Fifteenth y Belmont Streets y costará $30,000. Tendrá siete apartamentos de tres habitaciones en cada piso y 24 en total, incluyendo los cuartos del personal de limpieza y otras dos suites en el sótano.

Más de un siglo después, el edificio Belmont Court sigue en pie. De hecho, dos apartamentos están para renta ahora mismo. Según Zillow, las rentas promedio de apartamentos en Portland son alrededor de $1,600 por mes. Con los apartamentos estudio que rentan abajo de $1,100 no son exactamente baratos, pero cuestan menos por pie cuadrado que las unidades de reciente construcción, y con un Walk Score de 92, ubicado en un vecindario donde uno puede vivir convenientemente sin coche.

Otro interesante cambio histórico. Descritos como apartamentos de tres habitaciones cuando fueron construidos, los apartamentos Belmont Court hoy se describen como estudio. Tienen una sala separada, cocina y baño (cada uno de ellos, hace un siglo, merecia contarse como una habitación separada). En una época cuando una fracción grande de residentes urbanos eran internos en casas de huéspedes, una cocina y baño privados podrían haber sido un lujo.

Aquí está secreto: La vivienda nueva casi siempre se construye para y se vende al mercado de nivel alto. Así fue hace cien años y hace cincuenta años. Pero a medida que la vivienda envejece, se deprecia y se mueve hacia un mercado de nivel mas bajo. Los apartamentos de lujo de hace dos o tres décadas han perdido la mayor parte de su lustre, y hoy piden rentas relativamente más bajas. Y la verdad es que así es como siempre hemos generado vivienda mas asequible mediante el proceso que economistas llaman “filtrado”. Y los nuevos apartamentos de “lujo” que estamos construyendo hoy en día serán vivienda asequible en 2040 y 2050 o más tarde.

La causa de que surjan problemas de asequibilidad es cuando dejamos de construir nuevas viviendas, o construimos demasiado lentamente para causar que la vivienda envejeciendo se filtre hacia abajo del mercado. Cuando nuevas viviendas de alto precio no se construyen, la demanda no desaparece, en su lugar, esos hogares de altos ingresos pujan y elevan el precio de la vivienda existente, evitando que se vuelva más asequible. Es por eso que prosáicas casas tipo rancho in Santa Monica de 1.500 pies se venden por un par de millones de dólares, mientras que hogares físicamente similares de los 1950’s en el resto del país son ahora muy asequibles o candidatos a demolerse.

Special thanks to Iain MacKenzie and NextPortland for their original research ideas and sharing these vintage news articles.

Publicado en Economia, Vivienda | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario

Impuestos municipales como política de crecimiento urbano: eligiendo los impuestos que te den la ciudad que deseas

Origen: Urban kchoze: City taxes as urban growth policies: choosing the taxes that get you the city you want

Let’s talk about taxes. Sure, nobody likes paying taxes, and the discussion about them tends to be about their amount, and not how that amount is raised. But that is a wasted opportunity, both as a matter of fairness and as an opportunity to do efficient urban regulation.

The issue of fairness is simple: a city raises taxes because it provides certain services and to support public infrastructure. Therefore, a city should make sure it raises its taxes on people who use these services most or that require more of it by design, to avoid subsidizing one lifestyle over others.

On an urban planning level, people, whether they be homeowners, speculators or developers, make economic decisions all the time. Whether to buy, whether to sell, renovate or not, etc… A city is the result of a vast number of economic decisions. Tax policies, by increasing the cost of some options over others, thus influence the final decision people will make, and will change how the city will evolve and look.

These effects shouldn’t be considered necessary evils, they need to be analyzed so that tax policies can be fashioned to obtain desired results. Which is exactly what urban regulations usually seek to achieve, in fact, I think that well-thought-out tax policies can replace a lot of regulations, can achieve roughly the same objectives while requiring a lot less bureaucracy and red tape.

Let’s do a simple thought experiment, there are two paths from A to B, one red path and one green path, though the red path is much more affordable than the green path for the user, the green path is preferable for the community.

Because the planner wants people to take the green path, it adds a regulatory hurdle that  prevents the straight red path to happen…

But people just do a detour to do the red path again, since its cost is still lower than the green path, so the planner sees this and adds another hurdle…

…and another…

…and another…

… and so on. But each hurdle means that the planning authority needs people to review things to ensure compliance, which means bureaucratic costs and red tape. So you can end up with a big bureaucracy and complicated regulations, all of which could have been avoided by putting a higher cost to the red path without forbidding it.

So, let’s take a few steps and analyze a few of the common practices and the result they may have on how cities grow and develop.

Property taxes

By far the most common municipal tax is a yearly tax on the value of one’s property. This is often seen as a fairer way than a lump sum all have to pay because people who own richer, bigger buildings will pay more than people with smaller, cheaper housing, making it kind of a progressive tax.

Most cities tend to evaluate a property’s value as the sum of the land value and the improvement value, then the same tax rate applies to both. (As an aside, I think this is not entirely correct, or at least calling it “land value” leads to confusion, because it supposes that this is the value of the land on its own, which it isn’t. But that’s for another day…)

Anyway, the big problem with this approach is that it rewards people who lower the value of their property and punishes people who invest in their property. Who would want to lower the value of their property? Well, speculators would, because they are holding the property to sell to a developer down the line, so they don’t care about the improvement value, just the land value, which is what the developer will pay.

So speculators will pay very low taxes versus property owners who use their property either directly or by renting it out. This allows speculators to be more patient and keep their property off the market for longer, because as long as the value increases faster each year than they pay in property tax, they are better off waiting rather than selling.

Another problem can occur if there is a wide area with the same property tax, including walkable inner suburbs and car-centric outer suburbs. In such a situation, people choosing between the two have to balance out housing and transport costs, the inner suburb having more expensive housing but more affordable transport options, the outer suburb having cheaper housing but more expensive transport.

Inner suburb: expensive housing but affordable transport
Outer suburb: affordable housing but expensive transport

The issue here is that an inner suburb household may have to pay 50% more in property tax than one in the outer suburb with the same purchasing power and wealth level. This is an issue in Montréal, where following amalgamation, property taxes fall ever more heavily on old streetcar suburbs which have more expensive housing rather than more recent and car-centric suburbs.

This is one case where having a fragmented metro area can be useful, because if the two suburbs are split into separate cities, then property tax levels may vary between the two.

So, overall a property tax tends to be useful to tax wealthier households by using housing value as a proxy for wealth, but it tends to encourage speculation and it may result in punishing taxes on the more walkable areas of a city, where housing is more expensive because transport costs are lower.

There is also an issue of taxing different land uses at different tax rates. Frequently, non-residential uses tend to be taxed at much higher rates than residential uses, because residential property owners are much more numerous than commercial property owners, many of whom don’t even live in the city and are not voters. In Montréal for instance, the central city’s residential tax rate is 0,66% (0,68% for buildings with 6 units or more) but the commercial rate is 3,19%. This can hurt a city’s economy, especially small businesses who struggle more to pay taxes or rents, and this can push commercial and industrial developments to suburbs.

Land value taxation

This is the tax that Monopoly was made to promote. I’m not kidding. The most famous promoter of this idea was Henry George, an economist who thought that communities prospered when the land is optimally used. It is very similar to a property tax, but in this case, rather than taxing both land and improvement at the same rate, land value is either taxed significantly higher or improvement is just not taxed at all.

Though this results in very similar tax rates for the average owner than the regular property tax, it impacts owners at the extremes. Notably, it falls with full strength on speculators and parking lot owners who keep the value of the improvement on their lots low, waiting for a good offer for their property, which forces them to sell off their lots much faster because the price of holding on to these unproductive vacant lots is much, much higher than it is with a simple property tax. In extreme cases, where there is no improvement tax, this would mean that a vacant lot downtown would pay as much in tax as the lot next door on which there is a 50-story skyscraper.

This tax doesn’t punish people who improve their property either. Adding value to your property will not result in a much higher tax bill.

LVT have actually been used a lot in the State of Pennsylvania, where it is notably credited with encouraging the formation of dynamic downtown areas in many cities like Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, despite bad economic conditions.

Harrisburg’s downtown is notably densely built with few surface parking lots for a mid-size American city at the center of a half-million metro area
This is Lansing, Michigan, to provide a contrast

A LVT may also create pressure for developers to build higher density in order to consume less land and thus lower the tax bill. This is not only a good idea for urbanists, but it is also a sign of fairness, as that way big properties that require a lot of public infrastructure to serve will pay more, so that people fund public services more proportionally to how they use them.

Frontage tax

A frontage tax is a tax on the street-fronting width of the property, which is generally defined as a fixed amount to pay per year per meter or foot of frontage of a property.

This tax is mainly justified by an user-payer system, the street is where the public infrastructure is, including the street itself, the watermain and the sewers. The frontage of a property is thus almost directly proportional to the amount of public infrastructure the city has to build and maintain to service that property. So it stands to reason that the city should levy a tax that is proportional to the frontage of the property.

Think about it, if your property is 20 meters wide, that means you have 20 meters of street in front of it, 20 meters of watermain pipe, 20 meters of sewers, etc… These are things the city built to service your property, so it’s fair to ask you to pay for them.

Some might say that this is independent of the wealth of the household who owns the lot, so the tax is regressive. But in reality, it’s a tax that becomes progressive over time as owners and developers adapt to this new price signal and so attempt to conserve width as much as possible. It also rewards multi-family housing and townhouses, housing types that the poor live in more often than the rich.

Of course, this tax shouldn’t be the only tax a city relies on, but it has an added advantage that it can actually be estimated in an objective manner as the cost required to replace the city’s infrastructure every 30 to 50 years. For example, I’ve seen many cases here that indicates that reconstructing a street and its underground water pipes cost about 5 million dollars canadian per km, or 6 million dollars US per mile. If this is an accurate estimate, then you can estimate that every property which fronts a paved public street and connected to a public watermain and sewers should pay about 60 $ per linear meter of frontage per year, or 18$ per foot.

5 000 000$/km equals 5 000$ per meter, divided by 2 because there are properties on either side of the street means 2 500$ per meter per side, divided by 40 years (reconstruction of the infrastructure every 40 years), that is 62,50$ per meter per year.

If you have a regular single-family lot that is 15 to 20 meters wide (50 to 70 feet), that means paying 900 to 1200$ per year in taxes, 100$ per month, ONLY in order to rebuild the street at the end of its useful life expectancy. Not cheap, eh?

An added bonus to such a tax is a matter of fairness for certain developments that have private streets and infrastructure. For example, there was a condo cluster that was built in Boucherville a few years back:

This condo cluster actually had private streets as there was no public street in the middle of the lot, which would have precluded development of part of it. This also allowed them to make a street that was narrower than the city would allow, being only 20 feet wide. But right now, the condo owners are demanding that the city take over these private streets. Why? Because they know they will have to repair it someday, and that since they’re private, the condo owners will be on hook for 100% of the cost… MEANWHILE, since Boucherville has no frontage tax and funds itself primarily through a property tax, the condo owners pay 100% of the taxes that every other owner in Boucherville who has a public-street-fronted lot pays.

This is evidently unfair, either the private streets’ maintenance and reconstruction must be assumed by the city because the owners already pay for them through their taxes OR the city should lower the owners’ taxes to take into account that they are not connected directly to a public street.

With a frontage tax, there is no issue, the condo owners in this case would have to collectively assume only the tax for the public street that fronts the condo cluster, and they would then have lower taxes which allows them to put money aside towards maintaining and rebuilding their own private streets. If they still don’t… well, that’s on them.

Development charges

Development charges are often a big part of cities’ budgets, despite their “once-in-a-lifetime” occurrence. These are charges levied on new developments, often justified because of the need to provide new infrastructure for new developments.

On the issue of fairness, it is reasonable to ask greenfield developments to pay for the new infrastructure needs they create. However, in many cases such development charges are often levied even on brownfield redevelopments who reuse existing infrastructure. Development charges, to be effectively fair, need to be modulated based on how much infrastructure new developments actually required. Redevelopment in existing areas should pay next to no charges, while greenfield developments should pay a lot.

With regards to the impacts on city developments, it really depends on how the charges are determined. If each new unit has to pay the same charges regardless of size or location, then of course this falls much more heavily on smaller units and affordable housing. A proper development charge should probably be mainly based on street frontage.

That being said, it is important for cities not to grow dependent on such taxes to fund their current budgets or repairs to their current infrastructure. When a city starts relying one one-time development charges to balance the books, it is setting itself up to fail in the future when development stops. Again, I highly recommend reading about the organization called “Strong Towns” which makes that argument over and over and argues for financial sustainability of cities.

Property transfer taxes

This is a tax that is a bit like development charges, but instead of being charged only once upon construction of a building, it is charged every time a property is sold. This is a widely used tax, but I honestly don’t know why it is so popular. The most obvious effect of the tax would be to reduce the number of property transfers, which can hurt cities by locking down some lots that would be sold otherwise.

This tax is especially stupid when condos have started replacing apartments in certain housing markets. In the past, since job security was higher and housing options were basically apartments and single-family houses, the average citizen would probably pay it just once. He would rent apartments until meeting a spouse, then buy a house in which he would raise his family. Today, with jobs being less stable and the lack of recent apartments for the middle-class, the new generation may buy many condos before going into a house, and they may also move a few times even after buying a house. So the new generation is probably going to pay that tax more than once.

The thing with this tax however is that it is great politically. The people who pay the tax are newcomers without the right to vote, they become residents only after paying it, at which point they pay that tax only if they move. So that’s a revenue for cities that they can levy without protest from long-term citizens who are more involved politically.

Overall, this is a stupid tax, there’s no point to it and it should be abolished wherever it may be found. Considering the extraordinary growth in condos, which are often replacing middle-class and high-end apartments and the greater mobility of households due to the modern economy, this tax is nothing short of a disaster.

Conclusion: my take on taxes

Personally, I think that provincial/State governments should mandate cities levy a frontage tax on all properties, based upon the reconstruction cost of the infrastructure of the street that fronts a property, and the funds of that levy should be earmarked only for maintenance and construction of a city’s public infrastructure. That way, we can make sure that all cities levy enough taxes for the long-term sustainability of its public infrastructure and avoid entire cities going to seed due to neglect and deferred maintenance. If this results in taxes increasing a lot on certain property types, that’s a good thing, because the tax will signal how wasteful that type of development is and result in more financially sustainable developments from now on. It would also hurt speculators maintaining vacant lots or decrepit buildings.

As to funding the rest of municipal budgets, I think this should fall upon a land value tax and an improvement/building value tax, and the land tax should be much higher than the improvement tax in order to further discourage speculation. The tax on improvement is still there to modulate taxes based on one’s wealth. However, it’s important that this property tax is modulated on a relatively local area, so as to avoid having urban areas subsidize suburbs, where housing value is low but transport costs are high.

Publicado en Economia, Politicas Publicas, Uncategorized | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

 El punto medio ausente en el transporte

Origen: Transportation’s Missing Middle — Strong Towns

BY LISA NISENSON  MARCH 13, 2015 is co-Founder of GreaterPlaces, a tech start-up devoted to city and community design (launching April 2015)

El transporte tiene un problema del tipo de Risitos de Oro. En un extremo, se encuentra “este modo que es demasiado solitario”, el viajero va solo en un auto devorador de espacio. En el otro extremo, tenemos “este modo que es demasiado grande”, ya sea grande en costo, transporte público con ruta fija sobre rieles o en expansiones de calles y carreteras de muchos millones de dolares. Como país, hemos institucionalizado estos dos extremos, poniendo poco interés por lo que queda enmedio. Pero gracias a la tecnología, esto está cambiando. Estamos en la cúspide del microtransporte generalizado.

El microtransporte publico (tránsporte ligero o como acabemos llamándolo) establece un puente que brinca la brecha intermedia que dejan el transporte de un solo usuario (coche, Uber, taxi) y el transporte público de ruta fija. Ciertamente los viajes compartidos en van y los buses va-viene (shuttle) privados sirven al mercado de viajes compartidos, pero de manera torpe y malencarada. En la región de Washington DC, las filas para abordar vans compartidas les llaman “filas de babosas”. Los viajes va-viene (shuttle) a demanda en la ultima fila de una Econoline pueden valer $16 lincluyendo la contorcion, cuando estas de viaje, pero no para tu translado diario.

Afortunadamente, las empresas de nueva creacion de transportacion traen un instinto disruptor a los viajes compartidos similar al producido por la entrada de Uber al mercado de taxis. El sitio de capital riesgo Angel List incluye 164 empresas de transporte público. Bridj, con sede en Boston, se publica como transporte “surgente” (“pop up”), y está utilizando servicios de recoleccion a pedido para explorar rutas desatendidas. Las tarifas iniciales son más altas que el transporte publico ($6 por viaje), pero se espera que caigan a medida que el servicio “aprende” las rutas más eficientes y al entrar más contendientes al mercado, incluyendo Uber.

Tecnología y tránsito pequeño no es sólo para las grandes ciudades de los Estados Unidos. El sistema de tránsito en Nairobi, Kenia se ha preparado con tecnología, desde sistemas de pago sin efectivo a cartografía a Wi-Fi. Los Matatus (“3’s” en Swahili – de chiste – siempre puedes meter 3 más) son vehículos más pequeños que surcan la ciudad y sus suburbios. A pesar de que el sistema de buses públicos declina, los matatus están recuperándose gracias al bajo costo de propiedad de los vehículos, la creciente escena tecnológica y la asombrosa y altisima adopción de teléfonos inteligentes en Kenia.

La revolución tecnológica no sólo se está dando en teléfonos inteligentes, sino también con tecnología de vehículos. Pequeños transbordadores (shuttle) electricos  similares a los publicados por Chuck Marohn están apareciendo en centros urbanos, en pueblos de playa y dentro de comunidades tipo resorts. El Departamento de Transporte ha reconocido formalmente estos vehículos como vehículos eléctricos de baja velocidad, y varias ciudades han trazado rutas aprobadas.

A la tecnología a menudo se le ve con una sana dosis de escepticismo, pero debe ser abrazada por urbanistas para soluciones de movilidad. Los planificadores, ingenieros y activistas cívicos necesitan proponer un marco convincente que encaje tecnología a sistemas de movilidad, teniendo en cuenta lo siguiente:

La adopción de teléfonos inteligentes y acceso equitativo – El transporte público continuará proporcionando transporte para nuestros vecinos más vulnerables, especialmente los de menor ingreso y ancianos. Las ciudades continuarán necesitando opciones convencionales de transporte y de teléfonos no-inteligentes. Sin embargo, investigación del Pew muestra que el uso de telefonos inteligentes esta extendido por todos los niveles de ingresos, en parte gracias a carriers sin contrato que proporcionan Internet a millones a través del teléfono en vez del cable. Las ciudades seguirán necesitando alertas de texto básico y papel, y constantemente estudiarán la adopción del teléfono inteligente.

Integración dentro de Programas de Transportacion Existentes – ¿Cómo pueden las ciudades integrar servicios privados dentro de sistemas de transporte en gran medida públicos? Hasta la fecha, estas dos esferas operan separadas entre sí. Sin embargo, dada la presión sobre los costos y la demanda de servicio, las ciudades necesitan resolver la movilidad compartida a pequeña escala. Aquí es donde programas de gestion de demanda de transportacion más grandes (TDM) entran en juego, aunque las agencias tendrán que acostumbrarse a promover a ambos porteadores, públicos y privados. Las agencias también necesitan anticipar la evolución de la tecnología de vehículos en el terreno del “medio ausente”, como los transbordadores (shuttle) eléctricos mencionados por Chuck y tal vez incluso el transporte publicoo autoconducido.

Revoluciona Lo que Tienes – Un importante componente de TDM es mejor uso de los activos existentes en forma de líneas de bús, los sistemas de lanzadera (shuttle) y viajes compartidos (carpools). Un meme frecuente es “Hacer al bus sexy.” Esto ayudaría, pero no es tan importante como salir de la oficina y hablando con viajeros – existentes y potenciales. Hace varios años, Portland OR envió postales a residentes alrededor de paradas de autobús para ver si les gustaría un tutorial sobre las líneas de autobús que corren cerca de sus casas. La versión 2015 agregaría herramientas tecnológicas y nuevos modos para personalizar la experiencia de transporte. Alguna vez se consideró que la personalización era demasiado intensiva en recursos. Tiempo para volver a comprobar esa suposicion dada la presencia de empresas de nueva creacion como Ridescout y TransitScreen.

Sumate a la expansion urbana o apoyo para Strong Towns? – Quizás la cuestion más importante es si (y cómo) el transporte habilitado con tecnología y el transporte en pequeña escala pueden apoyar ciudades más fuertes. Los patrones de uso de suelo orientados a la automovilidad no van a desaparecer pronto y hay un gran costo asociado con el transporte bajo demanda obligatorio que sirve a usos de suelo de baja densidad. Al ser capaces de reducir ese costo con la ayuda del sector privado, los recursos pueden ser reasignados al transporte publico sirviendo zonas con patrón de uso de suelo de alta densidad. Sin embargo, siempre existe el temor de que el transporte publico brillante y atrevido pueda dar una mascara verde a una nueva generación de expansión urbana dispersa. El transporte ha sido siempre sobre como ir del punto A al punto B. Strong Towns ha enfatizado localizar los puntos A y B más cercanos, con tantas opciones como sea posible para moverse entre los dos. El ausente termino medio en el transporte es esencial para integrar estas dos conversaciones.

¿Cuáles son otras consideraciones para reforzar el transporte publico y el “ausente de en medio” en transporte?

Hat Tips: Props to Dan Parolek from Opticos Design  for his work on the “Missing Middle” in housing.  Also props to the smart city incubator 1776 in Washington DC and my fellow startups Ridescout and Transit Screen.

Photo credit: Cruisecar, Sarasota Florida

Publicado en Transporte, TransportePublico | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Para Ganar Usuarios, Prioriza Transporte Público Libre de Congestión

Origen: To Gain Riders, Emphasize Congestion-Free Transit – CityLab

  • No importa si es tren, bus o bote, mientras te lleve a donde quieres llegar. Greater Auckland
  • Por qué enfatizar la frecuencia, la velocidad y la confiabilidad en cualquier condicion es tan crítico. 
  • Para atraer usuarios has tu red de Transporte Público “Libre de Trafico” 
  • ¿Te gustaria vivir en una red de transporte publico libre de congestion?

El Partido Laborista de Nueva Zelandia –hoy principal partido de oposicion en el Parlamento– recientemente respaldo una  Red Libre-de-Congestion para la ciudad mas importante del país, Auckland. El concepto fue desarrollado por el grupo  Greater Auckland, y esta diseñado para priorizar lo mas importante que hace al transporte publico confiable: la proteccion o aislamiento de la congestion causada por los automoviles con un solo ocupante.

A manera de aclaración: he hecho extensa consultoría para Auckland Transport a través de los años. Pero nada tuve que ver con el acuñar este término, uno que otras ciudades deberían considerar adoptar. El “Transporte Publico Libre-de-Congestión” corta algunas de las mas fatales confusiones que complican los debates sobre transporte publico.

En la mayoría de las ciudades, al ferrocarril se le aísla del tráfico, pero no a los buses, y por ello a la gente promedio el concepto de búses implica estar atrapado en tráfico. Pero estar atrapado en tráfico nada tiene que ver con ir sobre rieles o sobre neumáticos. Muchas antiguas líneas de tranvía (y la mayoría de las nuevas en EUA.) van mezcladas con el tráfico de coches y en consecuencia sufren frecuentes interrupciónes. En tanto que los buses pueden ser altamente confiables donde van aislados del tráfico, como en los mejores sistemas BRT (Bus de Transito Rápido).

Hablar sobre una “red-libre-de-congestión” es una excelente manera de hacer que la gente supere esta confusión. Ayuda a la gente a ver un sistema interconectado de servicios frecuentes en los que puede contar con que funcionen de manera confiable, independientemente de si vá en rieles o neumáticos (o agua). La red libre de congestión de Auckland, por ejemplo, incluiría una mezcla de trenes de cercanías, tren ligero, buses en carriles exclusivos y transbordadores en el puerto.

Si solamente quieres llegar allá, distinguir entre tren, bus o transbordador importa menos de lo que pudieras pensar.

Uno de los grandes valores del término es que todo el mundo entiende lo que significa “libre-de-congestión”. Enfocarse por ejemplo en la frecuencia únicamente, no tiene sentido para los automovilistas. También destaca un aspecto crítico del transporte público, que las agencias de transporte no controlan. Ayuda a la gente a ver quién tiene que actuar, y qué decisiones deben tomarse, para hacer de esta red una realidad. Para los servicios de bús, estas decisiones se refieren a asignarle espacio de calle, un papel que, por lo general, corresponde al gobierno de la ciudad.

Lógicamente, la red de transporte publico-libre-de-congestión debería ser las principales líneas dentro de una mas grande red de transporte publico frecuente, donde esta última consiste de todos los servicios de transporte publico (bús, tren o ferry) que siempre están prontos a llegar. No todos los servicios frecuentes pueden estar aislados de la congestión a menos que las calles estén totalmente cerradas a los coches: Algunas calles, después de todo, son demasiado estrechas para eso.

Lectura Recomendada  

Pero la red libre-de-congestión tiene éxito en promover las razones por que aislamos el transporte publico del tráfico y lo que conseguimos haciendolo de manera continuada, por toda una red, independientemente de la tecnología de transporte utilizada. Si tu sólo deseas llegar allá, o si quieres tener acceso a la mayor parte de tu ciudad como sea posible, la distinción entre tren, bús y ferry importa menos de lo que podrías pensar. Lo que verdaderamente importa es la frecuencia, velocidad y confiabilidad, y eso es exactamente lo que una red libre-de-congestión traza.

About the Author


Jarrett Walker es un consultor internacional en planeacion y politica de transporte publico. Escribe el blog Human Transit y es autor del libro Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives.

Publicado en Acera, Politicas Publicas, Trafico, TransportePublico | Etiquetado | Deja un comentario

Sobre Ingeniería de Tráfico & Hacer Mejor Ciudad

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Todos los Vehículos de Transporte Público de EUA en 24 infografías.


All North America’s Transit Vehicles in 24 Infographics – CityLab

Check out these meticulously detailed infographics of every public transportation mode in 24 major cities. 

Peter Dovak really loves public transportation. So much so that in April of last year, the freelance illustrator in Washington, D.C., decided to create a meticulously detailed infographic depicting every kind of bus used by the D.C. transit system.In an accompanying blog entry, he described this project as “the nerdiest post ever”—but this was only the beginning. “When I finished, I was curious about doing the same for my favorite city, Toronto. Then, like most of my projects, it just kept expanding from there,” he tells CityLab via email.

Twenty-four cities and a dozen or so vehicle types later, Dovak’s magisterial project, “City Transit,” is ready for its close up.

Salt Lake City Transit Vehicles (Peter Dovak)

There are a number of ways to consume Dovak’s infographics. You can view each city’s transit vehicles laid out end to front in little rows, or categorized by type. If digital images don’t satisfy your transit mania, you can purchase print posters and novelty mugs of your favorite city’s transportation mix.

The rest of “Transit Oriented,” Dovak’s graphic design website, is also worth a gander. There you’ll find a treasure trove of airplane illustrations, transit maps, and logo designs with the same attention to detail.

The most striking thing about the transit vehicle infographics is the sheer variety of vehicle types, including ferries, driverless airport connectors, and several quirky local transit technologies, like Portland’s Aerial Tram, New York City’s Roosevelt Island Tramway, and Los Angeles’ Angel’s Flight, the adorably short funicular featured in La La Land (which will to reopen to the public after Labor Day).

Sadly, Pittsburgh, the funicular capital of North America, is still waiting on its infographic.

New York City’s unconventional mass transit vehicles (Peter Dovak)

Dovak was also careful to include of all the iterations of each vehicle still in operation. Many rail systems currently have multiple generations of trains chugging along. For example, Toronto’s streetcar system and New York City’s subway system each employ four different types of vehicles, spanning many decades in age.

Dovak produced these images on Adobe Illustrator, basing his work mostly on photographs of transit vehicles. In order to avoid copyright issues, complete logos do not appear on the designs, though he was careful to reproduce (and update) the livery of each city’s fleet. A few transit operators have taken notice and tweeted their city’s infographic, and Dovak hopes his project will continue to garner attention from transit professionals. “It is a dream of mine to transition to a job where I could use these passions to serve the transit industry directly,” he says.

While expressing his unabashed love of transit was the primary motivation for this project, Dovak acknowledges another agenda, too: making a case for unifying disconnected systems. “Some folks in some cities see it showing there being too many operators,” he says. “It highlights the need for places like the Bay Area to unify their operators, or at least make it easier to pay/transfer between systems.” Indeed, calls for more unified regional transit networks that allow users to hop between modes more easily have grown louder in recent years from groups like SPUR, the Bay Area urban planning think tank.

Here a gallery of transit fleets from several cities.


(Peter Dovak)
(Peter Dovak)
(Peter Dovak)
(Peter Dovak)

About the Author

Benjamin Schneider

Benjamin Schneider

Benjamin Schneider is an editorial fellow at CityLab.

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Un Plano para Proteger los Pequeños Negocios 

Some places are already taking action, but New York City is lagging behind. Here’s a blueprint for keeping local retail healthy.

Origen: A Blueprint for Protecting Small Businesses – CityLab

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La ciudad en común – Horizontal

Origen: La ciudad en común – Horizontal

Publicado en Espacio Publico, Politicas Publicas, Urbanismo | Etiquetado , | Deja un comentario
Vida Urbana.net

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Bicis Solidarias

Red de Apoyo Mutuo en el barrio. La bici como instrumento de socialización y transformacion urbana. Crea tus bicis solidarias en el barrio.


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A post-automobile world?

An open-source collection of news and other items about life beyond the car. This collection is meant to be a forum collection of information from different disciplinary perspectives such as transportation planning and policy, urban design, public health, demographics, infrastructure and cultural changes. All considering the possible urban transformation our cities will go through when the car becomes absolute. Please feel free to send an email to postautomobility@gmail.com for any questions or articles you would like to be published in the site.