Design regulations and codes do not redevelop blighted properties; investors do. Urban Designers must do a lot of the heavy lifting to illistatrate what is possible to attract or guide investment that incrementally implements the community's vision.
Blighted properties, especially in areas that are transitioning from suburban to urban or from auto-centric to walkable, have an uphill battle for redevelopment. Many times, the use or investment proposed is simply a slightly better use then the previous terrible use. In this example, a failing gas station converted into a failing taco shop with a connivence store. The only notable investment to this property for 10 years was the exterior green and mustard paint.
This property if the definition of a blighted property that became more of an eyesore as each tenant failed at this location. In this condition, realtors could only attract purchasers that wanted to sign a lease with another taco shop with the only upgrade being a new sign.
The Urban Designer has two critical roles in this situation. First, the development potential for this site must be illustrated. Secondly, the Urban Designer must vocalize the community expectations of the code requirements for redevelopment.
Design regulations and zoning codes are living documents that change over time. These regulations change to either prevent current uses, or to attract additional desirable uses. The Urban Designer can illustrate the potential for this type of site, showing possible site program. In this case, this lot could yield a mix of uses with a significant lot coverage. This property could yield for times the current development, however the market may not support this allowable development.
Urban Designer must be prepared to outline the community's regulatory expectations. The rules for this site required a significant amount of investment before the property could be occupied. Old Palm adopted community vision and regulation.
Both roles require a significant amount of collaboration. The Urban Designer must encouraged the property owner to make a greater private investment in the architectural character and overall design for the development. An Urban Designer on staff or retainer with the municipality can offset these hard costs by providing professional services to the development that will result in less work by the consultant architect, expedited permitting, and a new facade that contributes to the community vision.
The final result in this process is a new building facade consistent with the community vision for Old Palm City, and an active new business that has created new jobs in Martin County. This project is an incremental step in the right direction which adds value and makes the development of the next project easier.