Ten Planning Lessons from San Antonio


Source: sacurrent.com

Here are my ten (10) planning lessons from one of America’s most enjoyable and dynamic large cities – San Antonio, Texas.

  • San Antonio’s River Walk can easily be classified as one of America’s “most iconic planning efforts.” It helped set the standard for improving walkability, placemaking, and revitalizing both a river and downtown, while also assisting in flood-control. Few planning-related projects can truly claim to have reached its tremendous level of success.
  • Despite its enormous overall size and population, downtown San Antonio is walkable, bikeable, and developed at a human scale.
  • Embracing your community’s cultural heritage allows it to flourish in an authentic manner. Otherwise, if you Disneyfy your community, it will lose its identity and become a shallow version of what it could be.
  • Someday, Texans will tire of sprawl and lengthy commutes. And when they do, cities with healthy residential neighborhoods and a vibrant commercial core, like San Antonio, will prosper even more.
  • San Antonio has done a marvelous job of melding the principal structures and features of its World’s Fair (HemisFair ’68) into its downtown.
  • The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a wonderful attribute that allows residents and visitors to become better acquainted with the rich Spanish-Colonial and Mexican-American aspects of the city’s and our nation’s history.
  • Southtown is a handsome mixed use urban neighborhood located within easy walking and biking distance of downtown.
  • Many cities, including San Antonio, should have worked more aggressively to acquire and/or protect previously undeveloped lands situated around their major commercial airport(s) to allow for future expansion without incurring higher expenses for land acquisition and/or relocation to a greenfield site.
  • Food trucks are a hallmark of San Antonian cuisine and culture. Welcoming food trucks with open arms is an excellent economic gardening tool for helping food entrepreneurs get started for a relatively low cost.
  • Even as the second most populous city in Texas, San Antonio too often resides in the shadow of Houston, Dallas, and even Austin in terms of media exposure, name recognition, and even planning conversations. Despite being sometimes overlooked, San Antonio proudly boasts many attributes that make it the most livable of the four.
This entry was posted in Active transportation, adaptive reuse, archaeology, architecture, bicycling, branding, cities, commerce, Cuisine, culture, downtown, economic development, economic gardening, entertainment, entrepreneurship, food trucks, fun, geography, historic preservation, history, infrastructure, land use, Mexico, placemaking, planning, revitalization, rivers/watersheds, skylines, spatial design, sprawl, third places, tourism, traffic, trails, transportation, Travel, urban planning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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