Saturday, January 8, 2011

Normal Small Steps?

This is an article about the increasing number of small improvement projects in cities, given today's tight budgets. Parks are being developed in vacant lots, for example. Urban planners/designers refer to this kind of development as "infill," which I guess refers to filling in various undeveloped sites with new developments. Maybe this is the kind of development that Normal will experience for a while, now that almost all of the big improvements are in place (the Marriott, traffic circle, JSM building, Multimodal Transportation Center). There's still the "hole in the Uptown ground" that needs to be infilled with something, but that's more of a big development (maybe a vertical theme park!).

Here and there around Normal are "blank spots" that could use small developments. There's a small building on Beech St. (across from Casey's) that's been vacant for some time. It's in a nice location for an ice cream shop or some other residential-friendly business (that doesn't directly compete with Casey's, of course). A nice example of a small development is Java Jo'z, the little coffee place on Ft. Jesse. It's very small but is conveniently located and fills a bit of space in an otherwise unattractive vacant lot between businesses. Since Normal already has quite a few full-sized parks, maybe small green spaces (mini-parks) would be appropriate uses of other available spaces. Let's get small!! (old Steve Martin joke)

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