National Roundup: Washington DC’s planning prowess, Denver’s newest …

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Pop City is one of 22 publications run by Issue Media Group (IMG), a Detroit-based media company. Our sister sites such as Model D in Detroit, Confluence in Denver, Fresh Water in Cleveland and Elevation in Washington D.C. have also been covering the latest in urban innovation and development.

This is the first in a monthly series that will aggregate top news from around our network and profile what’s next for cities.

Pittsburgh gets a new ride

Pop City’s new editor, Erin Keane Scott, spent a little time tooling around PGH in a Lyft car — the popular app-based ridesharing site has just entered the Pittsburgh market.

It’s no secret that ridesharing is becoming increasingly popular in many cities, stirring up protests from cab companies and regulatory agencies. Fast-growing startups like Lyft and Uber are also making it easier for urbanites to live car-free. Yet what’s perhaps less well-known is that ridesharing advocates hope to build community as part of the sharing economy.

The Lyft cars, affixed with pink mustaches on their grilles, are a click away. You can pick your own music, charge your phone and even put on a fun costume for a quick selfie.

“We’re really trying to create an in-person experience,” said Paige Thelen, a spokesperson for Lyft. “[We’re] trying to bring online experiences offline; trying to build friendships and connect people; and build a community based on transportation. Our goal from the start has been to connect people and create a unique experience in-car.”

In other Pop City news, the Steel City is emerging as a great place for young people to start companies, says Marty Levine in a feature entitled Young, Ambitious and In Pittsburgh.

Sister publication Keystone Edge also laid outlined some great towns to visit in Pennsylvania, including many off-the-beaten-path gems, in a best-read feature.

In Denver, beer means change

As many as 25 new breweries are in the planning stages in Denver, although given how tough this business is, some won’t ever open their doors. This month Confluence took a look at how brewery development is driving neighborhood change in South Denver – an area that, unlike some of its neighbors, never had much of a beer scene.

“That’s meaningful, because in this city, where there’s beer, there’s change,” writes Confluence Managing Editor Eric Peterson.

From a bar made with airplane wings at Former Future Brewing Company to the collaborative brewing model at Grandma’s House — brewers can rent the company’s seven-barrel system and sell the resulting draft beer in the taproom — these breweries are the latest to tap into the seemingly insatiable appetite for good craft beer.

According to the Brewers Association, the number of craft brewers in the U.S. is back to 1880s levels after a long decline that started during Prohibition. For cities, that means capital and jobs. It also means more neighborhood revitalization as breweries set up shop and become anchors.

Tampa’s next hot neighborhood

Hot is a relative term in Tampa. IMG’s 83 Degrees recently ran a piece about the city’s next hot neighborhood, North Hyde Park, a mixed-use area close to downtown.

As young people, empty nesters and young families migrate to cities, neighborhoods off the beaten path are seeing the spillover effect. Urban planners and developers are stitching disparate parts of the urban fabric together into a cohesive whole. North Hyde Park sits in the redevelopment crosshairs because of its pivotal location and surplus of available land.

“People are looking to move back to the urban core,” says local developer Anthony Everett. “I think you’ll see continued growth.”

As downtown Tampa fills up with new housing and the University of Tampa and Tampa General Hospital grow, development is making its way to North Hyde Park. The area is being targeted as a future “Meds and Eds” district — these sectors are another source of the energy that’s helping drive change in cities.

Philly’s industrial hoods reinvent themselves

Philadelphia’s manufacturing history helped it earn the moniker “Workshop of the World,” and now formerly industrial neighborhoods are reinventing themselves as livable mixed-use districts.

According to Dan Eldridge’s Flying Kite feature (which also ran in Keystone Edge), Washington Avenue West is poised for change. Planners are trying to strike a balance between development interests and existing businesses.  

Whereas many up-and-coming neighborhoods struggle to attract amenities like grocery stores, Washington Avenue West has tons of commercial retail. You can find a plant nursery, bowling alley, artisanal pizzeria and martial arts studio on the same block.

“Every community needs a hub,” says fourth-generation resident and small business owner Tom Donatucci.

Washington Avenue West will certainly lose some of its industrial tenants as it is redeveloped, but could gain others as a unique residential-commercial district. The question is, how can you redevelop it without sacrificing all that history?

Exit interview: DC planning director Harriett Tregoning

In her six year tenure, top planner Harriett Tregoning has “pushed D.C. to adopt smart-growth policies touching nearly every aspect of the city — land use, transportation, the economy, and more,” writes Rachel Kaufman, Managing Editor of Elevation DC.

Now she’s leaving to take a position with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Recently she sat down for an exit interview, discussing the role that planning can have in influencing land use, transportation and job creation.

“I think we fully became a multimodal city during my time here,” she says. “And the transportation choices have just multiplied enormously in D.C. I’m really proud of that, whether it’s bikeshare, additional carsharing options, whether it’s the many coming miles of streetcar lines.”

“Transportation officials throughout the region now routinely say, that yes, land use is an important part of transportation,” she adds.

Tregoning goes on to talk about the importance of the sharing economy in reducing the expenses of urban living, and how green infrastructure can create jobs for DC residents.

Newcomers find surprises in Detroit, Cincy

Soapbox Publisher Dacia Snider moved to Cincinatti 15 years ago for an internship — and hated it. She soon vowed she’d never return.

But then a job offer drew her back to Cincinnati after college and she was exposed to its neighborhoods and its people. This time, the Queen City won her over.

“Now this was a city where you could make a difference,” writes Snider in her essay, How Cincinnati Stole My Heart, touching on the city’s challenges and the role Soapbox has played in exploring those obstacles and celebrating what makes Cincinnati great.  

Detroit, too, is attracting not only young people, but also empty nesters.

Tom Albrecht, an experienced professional who is now sales director for the new Cobo Center, moved to the D from Manhattan and loves it. In Urban Dwellers: Detroit attracting city lovers with an adventurous spirit, Dennis Archambault profiles three empty nesters who have moved to Detroit and found a satisfying life there.

“Young people are coming to the city because they view it as a place of great opportunity at low cost, compared with other urban centers,” says Albrecht.

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