Ted Brovitz attends the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) in W. Palm Beach, FL

October 26, 2012

HSH Manager of Community Planning & Design, Ted Brovitz, attend CNU 20 – the annual conference of the Congress for the New Urbanism held this past May in West Palm Beach, Florida. Ted participated in several training sessions and mobile workshops. West Palm is a good laboratory for urban planning and design as one of the first municipalities to adopt form-based code; and extensive network of “Compete Streets”; City Place – a large mixed use TND infill development; revitalization on Clematis Street, and a fledgling bike share program.

Clematis Street is particularly interesting as one of the first case studies for reversing a common tool of Urban Renewal – creating one-way traffic systems in downtown. Clematis Street is West Palm’s “Main Street” and, like so many other cities, was converted to one-way flow to alleviate congestion and improve efficiency. The results were disastrous with many businesses closing up or relocating. The City converted Clematis Street back to two-way traffic in 1993 and the street immediately began to return to rebound. Today, Clematis Street is a thriving retail and restaurant district with several new mixed use infill developments adding new residents to the corridor. As other cities consider converting their streets back to two-way traffic, Clematis Street as an excellent example, and a reminder of how important it is to design a “public realm” that providing a supportive relationship with adjacent uses and desired investment rather than just moving vehicles faster.