The ambitious Fort Benjamin Harrison Reuse project is underway in the city of Lawrence. Here’s an aerial shot of the land as it existed in April:
It appears to me that a good deal of the street realignment has been completed.Â The Civic Plaza is near the middle of the picture.Â The streets are relatively wide, but they’re intended to host parallel parking, which is usually a good thing for walkability. Â On-street parking will also help alleviate surface parking lots.Â This is not to say parking lots will not be present, as is shown in this real estate promotion.
One thing that is intriguing to me is that this project is attempting to start from scratch.Â It is one thing to revitalize or redevelop an area, such as Speedway’s Main Street, but it’s another challenge entirely to create a commerce center where none had existed. Â There’s a greater chance of failure, so doing it right the first time is imperative.
Sometimes New Urbanist proposals can get derided as fake towns, but the fact is, new development will continue to take place.Â .Â Â Lawrence is fortunate to have land that was underused for so long near its center, and they were wise to think a bit differently on how it should be used. Â It’s certainly not an urbanist’s dream, but it’s better than conventional suburban development. Â It will be interesting to see what is built there, especially fronting the Civic Plaza.