Fire sprinkler law, how downtown investment pays off for cities and regions, ISO publishes first global BIM standards, NYPL branch project to include affordable housing, tightening existing home envelopes in Boston to meet climate goals
Investing in Downtowns Pays off for Cities, Regions
Cities and regions can generate profound lasting benefits through investment in downtowns and center cities, according to The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities: Second Edition report by the International Downtown Association (IDA). While often small in physical size, downtowns pack a punch. “From driving tax revenue and business activity to spurring smart development and innovative workplaces, downtowns play a pivotal role in the long-term health of a region,” according to a news release from IDA and Stantec, the association’s partner on the report.
The report updates The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities study released a year ago, with data and analysis that expands the scope to 24 downtowns with urban place management organizations across the United States. Downtown populations continue to grow and their economic prosperity increases as they mature.
Trends identified in this year’s report include:
• Tax revenue increases as downtowns move from emerging to established. Property tax revenue in emerging downtowns averages 11 percent of citywide property tax revenues, but increases to 32% in established downtowns.
• Downtown population growth far outpaces citywide growth, and it accelerates as downtowns move toward the established tier. Between 2010 and 2016, population grew by 29 percent in established downtowns, 37 percent in growing downtowns and 14 percent in emerging downtowns.
• As downtowns grow more robust, the income of their residents rises relative to the rest of the city. Established downtowns outperformed their cities, with median income at 110 percent of the citywide figure. This pattern underscores the importance of developing policies and mechanisms for keeping downtown housing accessible to all income levels.
• Downtowns become more concentrated employment centers as their stage of development progresses. Established downtowns have 52 percent of citywide jobs.
• Downtowns are multimodal hubs that rely less on cars than their cities. Established downtowns have nearly perfect Walk and Transit Scores (96 and 98 respectively).
ISO Publishes First Global BIM Standards
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published the first global Building Information Modeling (BIM) standards. The new standards are: “Part 1: Concepts and principles,” and “Part 2: Delivery phase of the assets” of ISO 19650 — “Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modeling (BIM).” The standards are meant to provide the framework to help designers and contractors from different countries collaborate more efficiently on all phases of construction projects.
ISO 19650 is based on British standard BS 1192 and public standard PAS 1192-1. ISO plans to develop additional standards including sections on managing the operational phase of assets and dealing with BIM security, digital built environments, and asset management.
ISO says the standards will help increase the use of BIM across borders and generally around the world.
New York Library Branch Project will Include Affordable Housing
A nonprofit community development organization in South Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Brooklyn Public Library are teaming up on a unique approach to affordable housing. The Sunset Park branch of the Brooklyn Public Library will be rebuilt in a new eight-story building.
The project will expand and modernize the library, and add 49 new units of permanently affordable housing on the upper floors. The affordable housing portion will consist of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. The units are targeted for those with incomes spanning 30% to 80% of area median income.
Boston’s Climate Goals Depend on Tightening Drafty Old Homes
Boston’s carbon reduction goals will depend largely on two factors: Getting drivers to switch to zero-emission vehicles and making its drafty old housing stock better insulated. Other approaches such as rooftop solar and adding bike lanes will have relatively little impact, according to an editorial in the Boston Globe.
Mass retrofitting of houses—about 2,000 to 3,000 a year—would be needed to make enough of an impact on home heating and cooling efficiency to reach the desired carbon reduction level. This would raise a problem. The required workforce currently doesn’t exist. The city could work with community colleges and vocational schools to bolster the ranks of workers to do this work, the editorial suggests.
New Paltz, N.Y., May Require Fire Sprinklers in New Housing
New Paltz, N.Y., is considering a new law that would require fire sprinklers in new housing construction. The community’s fire chief recently said at a public meeting that current technology is more affordable and that it wouldn’t require visible pipes and sockets.
With insurance premium reductions, the cost of sprinklers would be offset over time, he added. New Paltz, which hosts a state university, has a high level of student occupancy in its rental stock, with landlords generally living offsite. These properties are of particular concern to firefighters.