15 August, 2011
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Towns in Alberta generally range in population from 1,000 (minimum required under the Municipal Government Act) through 10,000 – at which point they can request a change to city status. Importantly, towns act as a rally point where citizens lay down roots and build livelihoods to support and better their neighbours – from beauty salons to registries, from mechanic to theater, restaurant to education.
In large municipalities – a condoized region could have several thousand people in only a few square blocks. A large municipality can have many, geographically dense, small towns.
Where most entrepreneurs look to services or goods to “millions of people” – or the whole of the metropolitan area, there is a huge opportunity to build services or provide the sale of goods targeted to just a few square blocks. By scaling your service to just a few condominiums developments (that could have five or six thousand residents), a new business could focus their advertising, build on word of mouth, and control their start-up costs. If instead of trying to conquer the world with their business, they target the town amidst the metropolis, there is a whole new set of competitive services that can be offered.
Imagine a plumber that specializes in the 6000 units that exist in a few square blocks around her – where she knows the boards of most of these buildings, their quirks, how to submit water shut off requests, and complete her service in a way that doesn’t violate any quirky by-laws or regulations. Sure she’s not running all over the city answering the call of a million metropolitan citizens. But in losing this approach to business she has focused on a huge economic area which she has become the local specialist that is literally just a few minutes away on foot.
11 August, 2011
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It’s amazing how many situations exist that the condominium structure can be used to successfully rehabilitate developments.
The city of Lorain, Ohio, is looking to convert some of its municipal space into business condominiums and then sell them. They space, the St. Joseph Community Center is woefully underutilized – with almost 2/3 of the building vacant. By converting municipal space into business condos, they can sell part of the building (reducing outstanding loans to the state level) and generate condominium contributions to the maintenance.
5 July, 2011
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There is an article in the Globe and Mail entitled “Why condo-villes don’t work” by Shelly White which I agree with completely. I don’t get the title – it’s actually a very positive article about the benefits and joys of building community focused developments that include residential, business and commercial in one area. Where everything you need is within your community (read: walking distance, or very short public transport/bike/scooter). It is an approach to development that I have held for a long time.
In Calgary, every planning and development zone is its own, and never shall any overlap or meet. That has led to one of the lowest population densities in North America for a metropolitan centre, and an overly extensive infrastructure to maintain this approach. This is an approach that I find dreadful, and has created for dozens of years a downtown core that literally empties at the end of the work day. A ghost “down”town, as citizens car commute mostly back to their suburbs. If we say that such design costs 70 minutes of commute time a day per person, and 160k people commute, then we kill (70m*160k*250day) 5327 years of productive, enjoyable, life every year to commute (and that’s only if 160k people commute a day – Calgary Transit says it is more).
A mixed zone development approach to all towns – which can be driven by condominiums as the residential part with business on the bottom, would substantially help to increase a quality of life.