Planning Cities With People-oriented Design
We’ve written about what makes cities livable and what people are looking for in a city. There are various urban planning approaches that put and keep people at the forefront. Designing a city so it is people oriented brings in two subjects we’ve covered, transit-oriented development (TOD) and designing public spaces to make them more bikeable, walkable and encourage community (also known as placemaking). Below we take a closer look at some of the factors that make up people-oriented urban design.
Initial Recommendations for Norwalk’s Industrial Zones
“Industry” in the 21st century has come to have a different meaning than in the last century. For some, 2021-03-10 Steering Committee Meeting - Draft Recommendations (2)industrial zones may conjure up images of belching smoke stacks. But now, the modern industrial zone is something quite different. The manufacturing sector is seen more and more as including a variety of businesses that can be vital to creating vibrant local neighborhoods, offering a range of benefits from creative placemaking to employment opportunities.
The Changing Face of IndustryIn many ways the new image of industry stems from the fact that manufacturing firms have changed radically over time. Across the United States, we are moving from a manufacturing sector dominated by mass producers with hundreds of employees to small and medium-sized businesses that are celebrated for keeping it local. Because of this, cities are redefining what industrial usage is as they take a look at their industrial zones. Today, not all industrial uses are the same. They can be small-scale, less intensive uses such as small-batch manufacturing, woodworking, metalworking, machining, product design, printing, apparel and textiles, brewery and bakeries. Industrial uses can also include “light industries” including smaller-scale R&D, industrial services, distribution, building materials sale & storage and warehousing. Heavy industrial uses may include vehicle sale/service, storage/junkyards, asphalt and concrete plants, industrial processing, oil/petroleum/propane gas storage, solid waste transfer, recycling and composting.
Zones In NorwalkNorwalk has three defined industrial zones: industrial 1, industrial 2 and restricted industrial. In addition, industrial uses are also allowed in certain other business zones. The kinds of activities that are allowed in these zones include manufacturing and processing, research and development, printing, warehousing, storage and wholesale distribution. These zones also allow for other uses that are not industrial, but accompany industrial uses such as offices and retail, artist workspaces, and even multifamily and single family housing. Norwalk is setting out to reclassify and simplify its industrial zones. Recently, the committee studying this, presented the following recommendations:
- Simplify zoning into three new types of zones:
- Mixed Use Commercial/Industrial
- Mixed Use Residential/Commercial/Industrial
- In the Mixed Use Residential/Commercial/Industrial district, encourage ground floor boutique manufacturing and live/work spaces by allowing building height increases. For example, in neighborhoods such as the East Norwalk or Wall and West Avenue areas, the City could look to create incentives for light industry such as allowing property owners to maintain and grow businesses while allowing for residential spaces above them.
- In the Mixed Use Commercial/Industrial Zones, allow for hybrid building types such as in South Norwalk along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Wilson and Woodward Avenues or North Norwalk along Perry Avenue.
- Distinguish the difference between the types and intensity of contractor yards from each other and from other industrial uses and identify more suitable locations and sites. Contractor yards pose problems when they are located along narrow residential streets or when they are near road networks and intersections which can cause conflict with their truck traffic. Currently, contractor yards are permitted by right in Norwalk in industrial zones in South and East Norwalk, but they are also permitted by special permit in other business zones in the City.
- Develop separate plans for the Norden site and the waterfront. The Norden Site is a large parcel (37 acres) but truck traffic now must move to and from the site through roads with no direct access to I-95. The committee’s recommendations are that this site should be considered for other suitable land uses such as industrial/commercial with passenger traffic only. Industrial uses around waterfront areas should promote access to the waterfront and be in compliance with and under the guidance of the City’s Harbor Management Plan.
Surveying Norwalkers on Industrial Zones
Industrial zones have been integral parts of cities for decades, allowing certain areas to be designated for industrial and commercial use. Following the 2019-2029 Citywide Plan, Norwalk is assessing its industrial zones to see if these areas are still appropriate for industrial uses, as well as taking a look at how to better use these zones for economic diversification and growth. As part of this effort, the City recently conducted a survey for stakeholders across the City, including residents and business owners, to gauge their opinions about Norwalk’s industrial zones.
Industrial Zone Survey ResultsOut of a total of 434 respondents, two major opinion groups emerged, based on their votes and statements submitted. One group of about one-third of those who responded had generally a pro-industry stance, with strong support for additional industrial development across the City, as well as a healthy mix of both commercial and industrial uses. Their opinions were generally:
- More supportive of industrial growth, especially for job creation
- Support for a balance of land use
- Sensitive to the location of industrial uses and their relationship to residential neighborhoods
- Less support for industrial growth
- Norwalk should not bear the regional burden of industrial development
- Industry in Norwalk is not well located and should not be near residential areas
- Industry should respect the needs of its residential neighbors
- Traffic and infrastructure are serious issues in many of the zones
- There should be a clear distinction between heavy and light industry
- Waterfront is a valuable asset for the City that should be considered separately from the other industrial zones
Industrial Zone Planning - Next StepsBased on both the survey results and the above consensus points, the industrial zone planning team will look further into several questions that arose, including:
- While Norwalk is well positioned for a regional advantage with regard to industry, should it be the main industrial district for Fairfield County?
- What are emerging industrial trends and how should they inform the future of industrial development in Norwalk?
- How to balance the future of marine industrial and commercial uses with recreational uses such as boating and public access along the waterfront?
- How can Norwalk’s planning and policy mitigate conflicts between industrial uses and abutting residential and commercial areas?
30-Minute Cities: A New Urban Planning Trend?
The concept of “30-minute cities” was originally conceived for the city of Sydney, Australia as a way to make the city easily accessible to all. It is a concept that can be adopted in other parts of the world as a way to develop a city strategically so that people can reach important destinations around the city within a reasonable time using a variety of methods of transportation, including car, bus, train, even biking or on foot.
Access as a Driving Force in Urban DevelopmentWhen planning for urban development around 30-minute cities, access is the focal point, or improving connectivity within a city. The goal is to reduce the amount of time people need to travel to get to critical points around the city such as work, school, shopping, health and recreational activities. Access also includes opportunities for all people, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity or physical or mental ability. One way to do this is to increase the number of available travel options close to where people live.
Ways to Create 30-Minute CitiesCreating 30-minute cities takes a number of steps. Some include giving people a variety of ways to get around the city, including public transportation, private cars, taxi, ride-shares as well as walking, bicycling, and scootering. Others include creating important destinations in close-proximity to each other and to transportation hubs. There are a few approaches that cities can take.
Urban TransportationCities can take both short-term and long-term steps to increase access to different types of transportation, as well as to improve the speed at which people can get from one place to another. Short-term actions can include retiming traffic signals, bike sharing programs, protected bike lanes, as well publishing public transportation timetables. Longer-term steps could include implementing rapid bus networks, and planning development around transit hubs.
Urban Density PlanningCities can promote and prioritize redevelopment that creates well-designed urban neighborhoods or centers where people can live, work and play within a 30-minute radius by foot, bike, car or public transportation. This is commonly known as transit-oriented development. This development should also offer a variety of housing options, including affordable housing, and different employment options to include access to a range of people.
Private/Public PartnershipsTo be successful, transit-oriented development needs both public and private input, support, and funding. Developing neighborhoods that include residences and businesses will need the participation and investment of private developers. Government participation is also key for infrastructure improvements to ensure a variety of transportation options and incentives to the private sector. The concept of 30-minute cities is certainly do-able for many urban areas. Better mobility, including integrated and varied transportation options, neighborhood planning, and public and private partnerships will all help to make our cities a better place to live, work and play.
Norwalk Recognized for Sustainability Initiatives
The City of Norwalk recently achieved a bronze certification from the group Sustainable CT in recognition of the community’s sustainability accomplishments. Sustainable CT is a statewide initiative that encourages and supports communities in becoming more resilient, inclusive and efficient. In the fall of 2020, seventeen municipalities qualified for certification, meeting the high standards in a broad range of sustainability accomplishments.
Norwalk’s Sustainability ActionsNorwalk demonstrated significant achievements in actions in sustainable impact areas. A few of those initiatives are outlined below.
Resources and Support to Local BusinessesThe city underwent a substantial marketing and tourism program to promote South Norwalk. The Business and Economic Development Department created a Small Business & Main Street Program that includes a storefront improvement program, public art initiative and compacting trash bins that all improve the area visually. In addition, the city conducted a number of business roundtables with local business owners to open and improve communication between City Hall and businesses in Norwalk. Focuses of the initial roundtables included available programs for small businesses and planned improvements for various neighborhoods.
Stewarding Land and Natural ResourcesNorwalk created a Watershed Management Plan for three different area watersheds including the Norwalk River, Saugatuck River and Five Mile River. These plans included the participation of a large group of watershed stakeholders. The Watershed Management Plans had a big impact on the adoption of the 2017 Norwalk Drainage Manual and recent City planning efforts. For example, the East Norwalk Transit-Oriented Development Plan places an emphasis on decreasing the amount of impervious surface in the City, which helps to prevent pollutants from running off into the Norwalk and Saugatuck River Watersheds. Actions listed in the Saugatuck River Watershed Plan include water quality monitoring, reducing impervious surfaces, restoring riparian buffers and land protection. In addition, Norwalk helped to fund a 2019 Fairfield County River Report by Harbor Watch, a research and education program located in Westport. The report assessed bacteria levels in 16 river watersheds, including Farm Creek, Silvermine River, Norwalk River and Saugatuck River. The 2019-2029 Citywide Plan and the business section of the zoning regulations contain green infrastructure incentives for development such as green roofs, rain gardens, solar panels, as well as stormwater management and low impact development goals and actions.
Sustainability and Resiliency PlanningNorwalk’s Citywide Plan heavily focuses on both smart growth and sustainable land development through preserving existing environmental resources. As part of this emphasis, the City will be drafting a climate action plan for Norwalk in the future. The Planning and Zoning Office has already adjusted its staff to include a Land Use Planner to work on environmental issues facing the city and the department has taken many steps towards sustainability through regulation changes. The City is also working on a regional level as a part of Western Connecticut Council of Governments COG's Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Recycling Additional Materials and Composting OrganicsA Food Waste Prevention and Food Scraps Recovery Campaign was developed providing residential food scrap collection at the Norwalk Transfer Station and the Rowayton Community Center. Since the campaign began in July 2020, almost 20,000lbs in food scraps have been composted.
Growing Sustainable and Affordable Housing OptionsThe City of Norwalk has increased the percentage of affordable units in the city from 11.83% in 2014 to 12.75% in 2018, and most currently to 13.15% in 2019. Norwalk requires that any development over 20 units in most areas and 12 units in downtown areas include workforce housing units, and is looking at lowering that threshold to be any development over 10 units This will allow the City to further expand the amount of newly constructed affordable units in Norwalk which are in high demand. The 2019-2029 Citywide Plan continues this push for affordable housing with goals to provide more diverse housing options and encourage mixed-income developments in the City.
Support of the Arts and Creative CultureNorwalk has a very active Arts Commission that promotes arts and culture throughout Norwalk via activities, a website and an art inventory. In 2017, the Arts Commission appointed Norwalk's first Poet Laureate, Laurel S. Peterson, and the current Poet Laureate is Bill P. Hayden. A recent art project for Martin Luther K Boulevard has been recommended for full funding this fiscal year by the Mayor.
What is Sustainability Certification?To be eligible for sustainability certification, communities must have accomplished significant goals in nine sustainability impact areas, including community building, thriving local economies and vibrant arts and culture, clean transportation and diverse housing. In addition, certified municipalities must have addressed issues of belonging, equity, diversity and inclusion when implementing sustainability actions. Collectively, sixty-one municipalities, over 36% of the state’s communities, have earned a Sustainable CT certification. Certification lasts for three years, with submissions rigorously evaluated by independent experts and other Sustainable CT partners.
About Sustainable CTSustainable CT, managed under the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, includes actions that help towns and cities build community connection, social equity, and long-term resilience. Sustainable CT is independently funded, with strong support from its three founding funders: the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Common Sense Fund, and the Smart Seed Fund. Additional support is provided by: the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Connecticut Community Foundation, Fairfield County Community Foundation, Main Street Community Foundation, and other sponsors. For more information, visit sustainablect.org
Encouraging More Sustainable Cities with Mobility Hubs and Car-free Zones
The modern city has been developed over the last century with the car in mind, prioritizing automobile transportation over other modes of transit. The rise in the past decades of individual car traffic has created a strain on the availability of on street parking resources to balance different uses including parking, biking, pedestrian access, rideshare companies, buses, curbside pick up and deliveries, and the environment. To reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, enhance economic development, create a greener, more liveable city for visitors, workers and residents, cities are promoting options to encourage other modes of transportation and pedestrian traffic. Two of these are mobility hubs and car-free zones, which we’ll take a look at below.
Mobility HubsThere are more and more options to get around a city these days. In the last decade, cities have seen an increase in things like shared bikes and scooters, as well as on-demand rides. As cities try to encourage a variety of options for people to get around the city, they realize that one of the biggest challenges to encouraging public transit is the so-called “first and last miles” – getting people to and from public transit to their home and their final destination. Mobility hubs help solve this. They are places where different modes of transportation (from regional and local public transit to walking, biking, scooters) come together, ideally also located near places to work, live, shop and play. This may include bike racks, bike and scooter share stations, designated ride hailing drop-off zones, parking spaces reserved for ride sharing vehicles, high-frequency local shuttle services, and taxi waiting areas located near train and bus stations or metro stops. Mobility hubs give city travelers who do not live or work near public transit stations access to a variety of options for transportation and a number of destinations without having to drive themselves . With different transportation options, cities are starting to plan to accommodate them, including improving safety and accessibility in city streets.
Car-free ZonesAnother idea to reduce the number of cars in a city is to open car-free zones by closing streets to vehicle traffic, creating pedestrian-only areas. This can be done during certain hours of the day, days of the week or permanently. Car-free zones create “open space” for people to walk and bike safely and easily in areas that have amenities such as shops, restaurants and entertainment. In addition to reducing congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions, car free zones can be a powerful economic engine encompassing retailers and restaurants and generating income for businesses and cities. These areas are key to what urban developers call placemaking, welcoming spaces for the community to gather, for everyone to experience and enjoy. An added benefit is that banning cars from certain areas is reversible. City policy can be changed relatively easier than building or widened roads to reduce congestion or adding bike and pedestrian lanes to existing streets. Denver has had the 16th Street Mall, a 1.2-mile tree-lined promenade in the downtown’s main street, for over 35 years. More recently, more cities in the U.S. and around the world are closing streets and areas to cars. In January 2020, San Francisco converted more than two miles of downtown Market Street, banning private cars and limiting traffic to street cars, buses, cyclists, and pedestrians. In the fall of 2019, New York City began a pilot program, banning all cars on one mile of 14th street, allowing only buses and some trucks and emergency vehicles. In Europe, cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Oslo have car-free zones in downtown areas.
Mobility Hubs and Car-Free Zones in NorwalkIn Norwalk most recently, responding to the city and state reopening plans during COVID-19, the City collaborated with the Norwalk Parking Authority to take 28 parking spaces out of service on Washington Street. This allowed businesses there to expand outdoor dining locations and curbside pick up along with a pedestrian walkway. The area was enhanced via the Arts Commission and local artists by creating artistic collages using the concrete barriers separating the area from the street. While this may be temporary due to the pandemic, the city can use this to assess the success of this kind of program. Norwalk is also looking at the effects on commuting habits due to COVID and how that may shape transportation options in the future. The East Norwalk Transit Oriented Development Plan envisions mobility hubs that improve transit accessibility, expanding pedestrian and bike networks as well as developing more pedestrian-friendly areas. The Bike Walk Commission is looking into increasing and enhancing biking facilities around Norwalk, providing much needed safe connections and encouraging this alternate mode of transportation.
Why Managed and Paid Parking Matters
Parking: many consider it a blessing and a curse. When in a city, it’s a joy to find parking, but very frustrating when you can’t. If you live in the suburbs or rural areas, you may not even think about parking in the same way, as parking spots are often numerous and free. In most cities downtown areas, paying for parking is the norm, not the exception. Although people may gripe about this, paying for parking can provide numerous benefits to city residents, businesses and visitors alike, including increased turnover and more availability of parking spaces, reduced traffic congestion, parking facility cost savings and resources for economic development.
The Cost of Free ParkingIt’s typical for people to think that parking should be free and publicly available. However, not everyone needs parking, and in urban areas, there are only so many available parking spots. Whether you have to pay parking fees or not, people still bear the costs of parking - cost of pavement, street cleaning, facility maintenance, security services, and other services. These come directly out of tax dollars, and are passed on to residents and consumers in other ways such as through higher rents and prices that city businesses charge for products and services . Therefore, parking is not really free. There is a choice, however, between paying directly or indirectly for parking facilities. Paying directly for parking is actually more equitable because with free parking, people who don’t use public parking spots are paying for other peoples' parking.
Benefits of Paid Parking to Local CommerceWhen there isn’t paid parking and management, convenient parking spaces tend to be in high demand. Without having to pay a meter or to use a facility, people tend to stay in spots longer - sometimes all day and many times longer. This leads to other would-be parkers spending more time driving around, wasting time looking for convenient, available spots close to their destination, or worse - leaving in frustration. Paid parking encourages longer-term parkers to use less convenient, but less expensive spaces. While businesses in urban areas tend to be worried about paid parking, it actually increases turnover and ease for customers to find a parking spot nearby and closer to their business. Plus, data shows that customers will pay for convenient, easy to find parking spaces closer to their destination.
Efficient and Environmentally SoundHaving free parking not only negatively affects local business, but also provides an incentive to rely more on cars, crowding city streets and making it harder to drive and park. As mentioned above, free parking increases the time people drive around looking for parking. All of this increases traffic congestion and carbon emissions. When people have to pay for parking it encourages them to use public transportation and alternative modes of transportation to urban centers, including on-demand transit, microtransit and biking. Recent studies have found that in dense cities, public transportation use is significantly higher in areas where parking is more expensive.
Paid Parking and Economic DevelopmentParking fees can be used to help finance local governments to make improvements for residents and visitors, and to enhance economic development investments such as public private development, transportation and mobility alternatives, connectivity, as well as repurposing parking facilities through community development partnerships. Roads and parking facilities are valuable municipal assets. Building and maintaining them can be costly. Parking fees allow governments to recover these costs from those who use them, including non-residents. Cities can also use revenues from parking fees to finance neighborhood improvements such as more street and sidewalk cleaning, increased security, public space and placemaking amenities such as landscaping, benches, fountains and walkways, or community-wide events, and marketing for commercial districts. Monies can also be used to make improvements to alternative modes of transportation that will help reduce parking and traffic problems such as wider sidewalks, improved and safe walkability, biking resources and on demand transportation including microtransit.
Paid Parking in NorwalkIn Norwalk, paid parking is the norm in the urban South Norwalk, West Avenue and Wall Street areas. Parking pricing in Norwalk is a part of an integrated parking management program overseen by the Norwalk Parking Authority. Use of technology that calculates congestion and occupancy rates allows the City to vary parking pricing for less trafficked hours and spots as well as to create and manage flexible parking spaces to accommodate short term parking needs such as curbside pickups and deliveries. Many of the complaints about parking stem from inconvenient payment methods. The Norwalk Parking Authority has been on the cutting edge of payment technology, having offered a pay-by-phone option for several years, and most recently, text to pay and online parking reservation options. The maintenance, security, enforcement and improvement of parking facilities and on-street parking in Norwalk is not subsidized by the taxpayer, but through parking fees by the user, with over 70% from out of town, making parking in the city more efficient and equitable. It has also generated revenues that have been used to benefit residents, businesses and visitors such as public art, and the promotion of local businesses via a parking validation program and Norwalk Now, and citywide investments in parking facility improvements and enhancements.
Transit-Oriented Development Plan Moving Forward in East Norwalk
Norwalk has been undergoing planning for East Norwalk to guide growth and development in and around the East Norwalk train station. The plan is being developed with the help of stakeholders including the public, area businesses, and other city residents and representatives to create a vision for the future, and help guide recommendations for appropriate uses for the land and scale of development in the East Avenue train station area. Below we’ll take a look at some of the proposed recommendations
A New Village District for East NorwalkOne significant recommendation is the creation of a new village district for the area, concentrated on East Avenue. This will require all development to adhere to design guidelines that control building architecture, streetscape, site layout, signage and landscaping . The city would also allow some buildings to have additional height and a moderate increase in the number of residential units, above ground floor commercial spaces, provided they include certain amenities that positively impact the community. Benefits of this include additional revenue for property owners as well as promoting mixed-use development, so residents could live close to commercial and transportation options. As part of developing the district, the plan proposes putting in place a street and facade improvement program in the areas of Charles Street & Osborne Avenue, north of Fort Point Street, similar to the program used in SoNo.
What Could New Development Look Like?So what could the new village district look like? The study team put together a rendering and buildout of the corner of East Avenue and Winfield Street to illustrate what is possible. The new regulations could allow slightly taller buildings (1 additional story than currently allowed) in exchange for a large pedestrian plaza with other features such as fountains, public arts, public WIFI and/or public seating, as well as a shared parking lot to the rear of the development. In addition, sidewalks around this parcel could be widened to encourage pedestrians and to make room for possible outdoor dining space. It is important to note that this plan has no mechanism or recommendation to take anyone’s property or force them to change their current use. The Plan is meant to guide development, if and when change occurs.
Improvements Toward the Norwalk RiverIn East Norwalk, as you go closer to the Norwalk River, one possible improvement would be to explore the relocation of the DPW garage elsewhere in the City. This site could be used for a variety of other uses, ranging from marine commercial use to open space. Closer to South Norwalk, the study team suggested the creation of a promenade along Seaview Avenue, connecting the Cove Avenue area to SoNo. The promenade would be another great resource for Norwalkers, with amenities that could be used for recreational and entertainment purposes.
Next StepsThese recommendations will be posted in full in a draft plan and area residents, business owners and others with an interest in the area will have the opportunity to give their feedback to the City. Once put in place, the revitalization of the area around the East Avenue train station will be yet another step toward ensuring that Norwalk is a great place to live, work and play.
Reassessing Industrial Zones In Norwalk
Norwalk is embarking on a study to review the city’s industrial zones, their current uses, and the city’s future needs. Since its beginnings, Norwalk has transformed from an important colonial seaport, to a major manufacturing center, and today is a city with both a diverse population and economy, from Fortune 500 companies, to high-tech manufacturing, and innovative start-up companies. By revisiting its industrial zoning, Norwalk hopes to use its remaining industrial parcels as key resources for creating job growth, and to further diversify its economy.
What is an Industrial Zone?Industrial zones are important components of city planning. An industrial zone is an area of a municipality that is designated to be used for industrial uses. These zones can benefit a city by boosting economic development, providing employment and investment in the area, and generating city revenues. For industrial zones to be beneficial, a city should have space for manufacturing that is suitable and affordable. This can be challenging in places where land values are high and there is significant demand for space for other uses such as residential or office buildings. Industrial zones also need to be located in areas that are accessible to transportation links, allowing employees to come and go and goods to be shipped. Having zones where manufacturing is clustered allows these businesses to operate freely without worrying about disturbing neighboring businesses or residents. Some schools of thought argue that having a diversity of industry near one another promotes both more industrial economic growth as well as development of the city’s surrounding area. The theory is that diversity provides opportunities for technological inter-fertilization of industries as well as innovation and entrepreneurship.
Industrial Zones in NorwalkAccording to Norwalk’s Zoning Regulations, the “primary purpose of industrial zones is to provide areas which permit manufacturing and related uses”. Heavy industrial uses are allowed by special permit. Examples of businesses in this area are any manufacturing that doesn’t involve noxious waste or overly loud noises. They can also include warehouses, package distribution facilities and places that sell or store building materials. The city also recognizes that while there’s a need for manufacturing space it needs to ensure that industrial zones are compatible with nearby residential neighborhoods and with the capacity of available infrastructure. Therefore, city regulations state that any plans for building a structure more than 20,000 square feet or with more than 50 parking spaces must include special permits. In keeping with the coexistence of residents and businesses, industrial zones in Norwalk can also include retail stores, offices, including medical offices, banks and financial institutions, other service establishments such as restaurants and taverns, as well as single- and two-family housing.
Examining Norwalk’s Industrial ZonesNorwalk’s study of its industrial zones will help it to make decisions about the city when planning for development. A goal of the study is to determine what Norwalk can do to foster industrial growth, including craft industries, and ensure that thriving businesses expand and/or remain in Norwalk. Among the key issues the study will look at is if all the areas that are zoned industrial currently are still appropriate for the neighborhoods. The study will also examine what other similar communities in the Northeast are doing to attract commercial and manufacturing companies, including new tech and green manufacturing. Conversely, the study will evaluate what might discourage industrial growth in Norwalk, including limitations or issues with regard to infrastructure (e.g. roadways, sanitation, energy, etc.). For industrial development to thrive, governments and private developers need to create sustainable, profitable conditions. Designated industrial zones with the infrastructure (both physical as well as technical), convenient location, and municipal and residential support can deliver jobs and economic growth. Norwalk’s reassessment of its industrial zones is a step in that direction.
The Importance of Anchor Institutions to a City
There is a lot of talk in city planning circles these days about anchor institutions in cities and towns. With the loss of manufacturing in smaller cities and towns, institutions like hospitals and universities have become more important factors in local economies, and partners to neighborhoods and municipalities. In fact, those two institutions alone employ eight percent of the U.S. labor force and account for more than seven percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Below we delve a little deeper into anchor institutions and how they can benefit their communities.