All New CNU Audio

Hear Ray Gindroz on Rebuilding Lost New Orleans, Sam Sherman on Philadelphia's Exploding Market, and Emily Talen and Neal Payton on Housing Affordability

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CNU-Illiniois had a stellar lineup of speakers for its Charter signing ceremony last week (even with headliner Ellen Dunham-Jones stranded in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport) and CNU.org was on hand to record and share the audio.

In his remarks, CNU board member and Urban Design Associates principal Ray Gindroz speaks passionately about the close relationship between built landscape and way of life in New Orleans and other cities of Louisiana and of the difficulty of conveying this relationship to the many new builders who will be responsible for rebuilding flooded areas. To address this problem, Gindroz and his associates have created two related publications for the Louisiana Recovery Association -- the Louisiana Speaks Pattern Book and the Louisiana Planning Toolkit. Combined, more than 150,000 copies of these publications are circulating in Louisiana.

A major goal of the pattern book was to identify and establish enduring Louisiana patterns "that could be used not just by existing industries, but by new industries that coudl be set up by manufactured housing industries, production companies of various sorts, developers and builders from all parts of the country." These patterns allow people in New Orleans to reconnect with an important part of their culture. "More than in any other place that I've worked, people in New Orlreans link to the specific character of their house and the way it relates to the landscape and to the community to their lives," says Gindroz in this revealing audio excerpt.

In the second audio clip, Philadelphia developer and CNU XV local host committee co-chair Sam Sherman speaks enthusiastically about the upcoming Congress and about the transformation of central city Philadelphia into the region's strongest housing market.
For the first time in decades, Philadelphia is expected in 2007 to have more housing starts than its surrounding suburban counties. And with housing starts and prices going up in the city despite an overall downturn, Sherman reports, "A lot of suburban developers that thought I was crazy five years ago when I walked away from the sprawl development model are now calling me, asking me, “Is there any land available?” In detailing a strong lineup of plenary speakers and other aspects of a strong CNU XV program, Sherman says, "Philadelphia has reached a tipping point where CNU can really make an impact on our city.

Finally, the co-chairs of a new CNU task force on housing affordability, University of Illinois associate professor Emily Talen and architect Neal Payton, a principal at Torti Gallas and Partners, recap a 1-day meeting earlier in the day that began to set an agenda for the group. The “big picture” issue, Talen says, is creating inclusive communities supportive of true social diversity. She emphasized that the purpose of the Initiative is to have a conversation with people of various perspectives concerning the lack of affordability in market-rate new urbanist developments, and what CNU can do specifically to promote economically diverse communities. As recalled by Talen, the conversation covered zoning and regulation reform, the use of land trusts, the push for HOPE VI reauthorization at the federal level, poverty issues, and what developers can do to promote affordability including several market-rate approaches.

Neal Payton says meeting participant Jim Carr of the Fannie Mae Foundation captured the group’s attention by describing affordable housing as a matter of American economic survival. Payton says that if we treat affordability as an economic necessity and an infrastructure issue “like we would think of roads and sewers,” the need cuts across political lines. Although everyone sees the issue through the lens of their own geographic region and professional specialty, he points out that CNU as a multi-disciplinary organization has the opportunity to take all of these perspectives into account and find meaning in a more holistic vision of the issue at hand. Payton also stresses the need to reauthorize HOPE VI legislation at the federal level, but also said that an important aspect of the provision of affordability, especially from the public sector, occurs at the state and local level in regards to financing authorities, tax credit eligibility criteria, and additional financing.

Payton reiterates that CNU’s role in affordable housing is not to replicate other organizations or think tanks, but to use the organization's unique position as a multi-disciplinary organization at the head of a larger movement to focus simultaneously on design, implementation, and policy to develop a specific agenda to go forward over the next several months. Hear Payton and Talen in their own words.