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Les Espaces d’Abraxas, a housing project in the Paris suburbs 

Lately, everyone in the Paris area is talking about “Le Grand Paris” again. The Grand Paris project is essentially a large urban development initiative meant to better integrate and govern Paris and its surrounding suburbs. Then-President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the project in 2007 with the end goal of creating a more attractive, competitive and equal capital region for France. The Grand Paris has been making headlines again following a law passed in January that creates a political institution that will govern Paris and its surrounding cities. Now that the Grand Paris has a government structure written into law, it seems like the once nebulous idea is finally becoming a reality.  (more…)

Each Citi Bike averages nearly 6 rides per day, more than the bike shares in Paris, London and WashingtonImage via New York City Department of Transportation

Citi Bike’s 2013 debut was hailed as the next best thing to hit the streets of the New York since Uber cabs. The bike share system, which currently serves Manhattan below 60th Street and portions of Brooklyn, has become tremendously popular among its 93,000 annual members and 288,000 one-time daily users. However, Citi Bike faces a major obstacle in becoming a truly accessible and equitable transportation option for all New Yorkers. Social activists are increasingly attacking Citi Bike for its failure to serve low-income communities of color and outer-borough populations. Their social justice critique is sure to carry more weight with a new De Blasio administration keen on tackling New York’s glaring levels of inequality.

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Zoning is a city planning instrument that few of us know much about or care to pay attention to. But perhaps we should. Between 2002 and 2013, former mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Planning Commission chairwoman Amanda Burden together spearheaded the rezoning of nearly 40% of the city’s land area. Some of the most high-profile were the rezonings of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront, Jamaica in Queens and Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side. Amanda Burden has said that in today’s development era, “zoning is the most powerful tool in the planner’s toolbox.”

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hunts point-land use and transportation study-department of city planning-bronx-nyc-untapped cities-003Renderings of some of the improvements to the Sheridan Expressway and Bronx River Waterfront. (Image via NYCDCP)

In its current state, the Sheridan Expressway is a short truck-ridden connection between two major expressways in the Bronx, the Bruckner and the Cross Bronx, as well as the Bronx River Parkway. It remains mostly unchanged from when it was first built in 1963 (we can thank Robert Moses). Not only has it become an eyesore for the Hunts Point community which falls directly under several lanes of highway overpass, but according to a recent NYC Department of City Planning report, its surrounding areas are “congested, confusing, and unwelcoming.” The beautiful Bronx River waterfront is rendered inaccessible and newly approved plans for the Sheridan Expressway involve extending cross streets over the at-grade portions of the highway to improve east-west connections for local businesses and residents.

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We’ve got a little soft spot for shopping malls, whether looking at their struggles in historical zones like South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan or theorizing about the faux-architecture of planned shopping towns like Val d’Europe in Paris. But it’s rare that we get the opportunity to take a fresh look at a new shopping center as it opens its doors in the middle of a major capital. What’s more, this time it’s in the heart of Paris, a city known for its small shops and boutiques.

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He ran on a “Tale of Two Cities” platform, and when he enters office on January 1st, Bill De Blasio will have to put a lot of forces in motion to tackle the issue of homelessness in New York City.  To continue to shed light on this subject The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs recently hosted a public forum featuring a mix of academics and scholars, all of whom work on this issue daily.

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