Phoenix (November 15, 2010) — East Valley Partnership’s annual economic forum in Gilbert spurred discussion about how cities should be planned and built for the future…for people, not cars. This discussion was led by Rebecca Ryan, who has conducted extensive research on America’s younger generations as founder of Next Generation Consulting in Madison, Wisconsin.
The message that emerged from the forum encouraged Southeast Valley leaders to fundamentally change the region’s auto-centric development patterns to ensure a prosperous future. Ryan’s view was one of sustainability, suggesting that cities of the future are being shaped by how young people think today…heavy reliance on technology, no interest in long commutes and fading interest in cars. Baby Boomers, however are working longer and are not embracing the many retirement, or age-restricted, communities found throughout the Valley.
Ryan’s conclusions suggest building more compact cities with better mass transit and encouraging a population that has more higher education credentials on its resume. More educated people will increase an area’s per-capita annual income and provide the resources necessary to make our communities work.
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman was pleased to hear this message as it affirms the City’s direction over recent years. He suggested that downtown Tempe was built in accordance with Ryan’s model. Built in a time that pre-dated the automobile, the area was largely neglected during the era of urban sprawl and now is primed for revival. ASU offers energy for this area which will be further enhanced by a newly approved 2.6-mile downtown streetcar line. He was optimistic about high-rise buildings being occupied by office workers and residents to balance the large amount of retail in the area.
Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa was encouraged by Ryan’s message and plans to incorporate some of the ideas in the downtown and Fiesta district in order “to create a place that people want to be.” Smith said many people in the Valley dismiss such ideas as coming from “hippies of the 21st century.” Hopefully that won’t be the case.
Read more at AZ Central…