Florence says no to new tramline; city says it will be built anyway – International Herald Tribune

Residents of the city that gave birth to the Italian Renaissance voted against a plan to build a controversial tramline through the historic center, but they will probably get one anyway, officials said Monday.

Of about 120,000 residents who voted in the referendum over the weekend, 53.5 percent voted against the tram while about 46 percent voted in favor. Despite the rejection, after a campaign that brought out fewer than 40 percent of eligible voters for the nonbinding poll, city officials said they would proceed with construction of the €560 million, or $820 million, project as planned.

Read more @ International Herald Tribune – Florence says no to new tramline; city says it will be built anyway by Elisabetta Povoledo- .

The monstrosity next door

The City Council is considering a proposed ordinance that would curtail “mansionization.” If the measure passes, the maximum allowable size of a house on many residential lots would drop from about 7,000 square feet (excluding garage) to about 3,000.

The use of the word “mansion” here is not complimentary. It’s meant to conjure up a scenario in which a residential street of, say, 1920s cottages or 1950s ranch houses suddenly gets a new neighbor — a 3,500- or 4,000-square-foot house with two full stories. Though meeting the required setbacks, the building’s bulk makes it more visually prominent than the older houses on the street. What’s more, it may have an architectural style or features that some find ugly — or simply out of place on the block. The result: unhappy longtime homeowners bemoaning the changing character of their neighborhood — loss of privacy, sunlight, views or charm — and demanding that City Hall do something.

Read more @ Los Angeles Times – The monstrosity next door – Todd Gish.

Vietnam – Coastal tourism taking off

In late 2007, the Vietnam Import-Export and Construction Corporation (Vinaconex) kicked started its project at the Cai Gia – Cat Ba – Hai Phong Tourism and Urban Area by developing the infrastructure for Tung Thu artificial beach.

Tran Ngoc Quang, Director of the Management Board, said the project covers an area of 171 ha within Ha Long Bay. It is estimated to cost $600mil and will take 8-10 years to be completed.

Speaking on Vinaconex’s ambitious plan, Mr. Quang said this will become the new tourism center in the North and give Cat Ba Island both regional and global recognition and fame.

Read more @ VietNamNet – Coastal tourism taking off.

Hands off Greenbelt, urban planner says

Ottawa needs to redevelop to improve the lives of city residents but growth should not be in the Greenbelt, says Larry Beasley, one of Canada’s top urban planners and a senior adviser to the National Capital Commission.

The chairman of the NCC, Russell Mills, recently sparked controversy by saying that the city might want to build on some of the less vital parts of the Greenbelt, a 20,000-hectare ribbon of land owned by the federal government that encircles central Ottawa.

Read more @ Ottawa Citizen – Hands off Greenbelt, urban planner says.

ULI Asks: ‘Can Stand-Alone Malls Survive?’

The stand-alone mall isn’t dead. It’s just dysfunctional. That was one of the sentiments expressed at an Urban Land Institute panel that tackled the question, “Can stand-alone malls survive?” The question was posed Thursday, during ULI’s annual Reinventing Retail conference at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.

The comment about the dysfunctional nature of traditional stand-alone malls came from panelist Shaheen Sadeghi, founder of Costa Mesa, CA-based LAB Holding, a firm that eschews traditional malls in favor of projects like its youth-oriented “the Lab” in Costa Mesa, a center that the developer describes as an “anti-mall.”

Read more @ GlobeSt.com – ULI Asks: ‘Can Stand-Alone Malls Survive?’.

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