I have been on the move since I left Portland, Oregon nearly 10 years ago, looking for the perfect city. I made it to New York City and thought I had found it, but after a few years it felt like there had to be more. So I moved myself to a few cities in China then later to Mongolia, ending back in the states in the one-and-only, Detroit. I made a few, short-lived pit stops along the way in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
With every new city and every new community I visited it always seemed as though there was a stream of likeness that ran through the people the environment and the infrastructure. One could pick out the unique characteristics, both organic and earned, that gave each city and each community their own identity. The buildings, the shops, the art and the parks all reflected an energy of the people and the culture which had proliferated the spaces.
Words like urban infill get thrown around a lot in conversations about Downtown Phoenix, and really any modern city for that matter. But what is urban infill? According to the Sustainable Cities Initiative, it's defined as:
[quote style="default"]... new development that is sited on vacant or undeveloped land within an existing community, and that is enclosed by other types of development. The term 'urban infill' itself implies that existing land is mostly built-out and what is being built is in effect 'filling in' the gaps. The term most commonly refers to building single-family homes in existing neighborhoods but may also be used to describe new development in commercial, office or mixed-use areas.[/quote]
We like to think of urban infill projects as the missing puzzle pieces to a city's success. That missing puzzle piece helps to bring about more density, walkability, amenities, and healthy and lively lifestyles.
I didn’t choose to live here. I was born here. I was born a Phoenician. I was born and will forever be an Arizonan and I love it. Why? There are too many reasons to list, but I will talk about a few that are the most important to me.
Why did I start This Could Be PHX? The answer to this question begins 29 years ago in Clinton Twp. Michigan. I, like 70 percent of Americans today, was born in the typical suburban town. I had an excellent childhood and teenhood. I had great parents, family and friends. When I turned 16, I bought my mom’s old car and entered into the beginning stage of freedom. For the first time I could go wherever I wanted without having to ask my parents or a friend for a ride. It was the most liberating moment of my life – or so I thought.
So, for twenty years I was completely submerged in the suburban ocean that surrounded my family’s home. And for twenty years I never once complained about the lifestyle I was a part of, why should I? After all, everyone lived that way, right?! Oh how little I knew at that time.
What’s the cause for the recent rise in urban living? I blame it on Seinfeld. It was the first show to glorify the urban lifestyle. As millions of Americans sat watching TV in their suburban home, Seinfeld depicted a way of life that never crossed the minds of suburbanites.
Ok, so I can't blame it on Seinfeld, but you have to admit, ever since then there have been an increasing number of shows set in energetic urban environments. It’s hard to turn on the TV and not find a show that fits this description; Sex In The City, How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI New York, Rules of Engagement, and the list goes on. In fact, the Millennial generation is increasingly choosing urban environments over the suburban lifestyle they were raised in, and the proof of this can be found in all the shows now geared precisely to this way of life.