Strong Towns

Welcome to another “Wednesday Workshop” where we breakdown the key characteristics of a city with natural charm. In this week’s post we’re highlighting Strong Towns, an organization focused on the intersection of incremental development, economics, and citizen engagement. Strong Towns is an international movement dedicated to making communities across the United States and Canada financially strong and resilient.

In the new book, Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity, the Strong Towns Approach is built upon the following principles:

  • Stop valuing efficiency and start valuing resilience
  • Stop betting our futures on huge, irreversible projects, and start taking small, incremental steps and iterating based on what we learn
  • Stop fearing change and start embracing a process of continuous adaptation
  • Stop building our world based on abstract theories, and start building it based on how our places actually work and what our neighbors actually need today
  • Stop obsessing about future growth and start obsessing about our current finances.

Groveland’s new downtown vision shares a lot of commonalities with the Strong Towns approach. Our new code sets the stage for a series of small investments where the total is much more than the sum of the parts. On the public side, the City is in the beginning stages of retrofitting streets using historic bricks that have been paved over by asphalt decades ago. South Lake Avenue serves as a catalyst showcasing the historic bricks along with on-street parking, wide sidewalks, street trees, and decorative street lighting. By keeping streets narrow, it enhances walkability and reduces costs compared to wider roads. This effort will continue incrementally throughout the downtown. The end result will be a complete network of beautiful streets connecting residents with parks and commerce.

The code also creates new opportunities for small scale developers by allowing and promoting smaller minimum size lots and buildings. By allowing lots and buildings to be smaller, this reduces the startup costs associated with development which has served as a huge barrier to entry for small scale developers in recent decades. Over time, the package of smaller, unique buildings lining beautiful streets and parks will create an amazing place for residents and visitors to enjoy. It will also increase tax revenue on a per acre basis with increased values, not increased rates. This allows the City to fund even more street and park improvements over time. This is what the Strong Towns approach is all about!

Check out more on Strong Towns’ website and be on the lookout for more Wednesday Workshops as we continue unveiling elements of Groveland’s all-new Community Development Code.