Decaying mall prime for redevelopment in Lexington

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Recently,  Kentucky.com published an interesting article about Lexington Mall. A mall that has slowly died over the last 20 years and become part of the urban decay of Lexington. The site now offers a great opportunity for development as it is located inside the New Circle Road(See Map). The site’s history is similar to many urban malls in North America slowly died since the 1990’s and many attempted redevelopments by the owner but nothing ever eventuated and then abandonment of the site for it to decay.

The site is 30 acres of prime real estate as its 3 miles from downtown and near schools and other amenities. The article cites Brian Lee, a Landscape Architecture professor at University of Kentucky stating that

“It’s one of the few sites in Lexington with a water view,” said Brian Lee, a University of Kentucky landscape architecture professor whose students have studied the site for academic exercises in urban redevelopment.

The author of the article suggests that the site could be a “new urban” mixed village and shows diagrams of a possible “Seaside” style development. However, I think this idea sells the site short of its possibilities and that it should integrate more public functions and should be more connected to the surrounding parks and utilise the edges along the main roads.

What would you do with the site?

To read and more go to the[SOURCE: Kentucky.com – Acres of prime land are full of potential – Business]

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Could Detroit become the City of Urban Agriculture?

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The idea of returning Detroit to farm land is an interesting idea that was recently covered in New Geography(DETROIT: URBAN LABORATORY AND THE NEW AMERICAN FRONTIER, Nov. 4) and New York Times(Plowing Detroit Into Farmland blog post Nov. 9 based on New Geography article).

The New Geography article reviews the size and scale of Detroit in comparison to other cities and the extent of urban decay since the 1950’s and that Detroit could become farmland.

In my opinion, Detroit could become a city of urban agriculture; it has the land, water & infrastructure(roads, rail) and lots of deserted industrial space that could be converted to markets and storage/logistics.  However it would require a either a grass roots movement which gets financial backing (after initial results) from investors or a federal incentive as the city of Detroit is shrinking and resources are already stretched.

Urban agriculture could supply the people of Detroit and other cities in region with food. Large areas of housing could be converted to open fields where the blocks are large or rows of green houses where the blocks are narrow. The agricultural areas could also grow crops for ethanol(although resource intensive) to supply raw materials for fuel(refined in Detroit) for the farm machinery and cars.

Urban agriculture combined with alternative energy such as wind and solar could convert Detroit from a city to a urban core with villages (see New Geography for diagram). The city could become self-sufficient and a possible testing ground for urban design that could be used for other North Americans cities going through the same changes in size and urban form.

New Orleans is currently a hot bed for Urban Design experiments for the South, which came about from a natural disaster maybe Detroit can come back as the hot bed of Urban Design for Northern climates.

Detroit has the opportunity and basic resources but does it have the will to change?

Read more information used as background for this post at [New Geography] & [New York Times]

By Damian Holmes