planning process. Purpose of the charrette is to provide
an opportunity for representatives of the groups and the public
at large to provide the planning firms with ideas and
Charrette is a French term widely used in Europe which
that has become fashionable in America as a replacement for
process is used routinely in community planning efforts, but
seldom if ever in connection with private development
projects. "You never see a developer and community sitting down
together ... to try to imagine a project," County Executive
Christopher Coons said at the meeting.
"Getting Philadelphia Pike to be a good place is not something
that we can do by ourselves," said Neal Payton, a principal in
Silver Springs, Md.-based Torti Gallas. "We have to work
together and it's going to be a long process."
the first time that we as developers have taken on to bring the
entire community in," Ruggio said.
Coons's appearance at the meeting and endorsement of the project
amounted to a 180-degree turn in official county
government policy. Coons's predecessor, Thomas Gordon, had
vehemently opposed inclusion of private redevelopment of
Brookview in its plans, making that a non-negotiable
condition for the county's continued financial and
professional-staff support of the Claymont Renaissance movement.
are pledged to be a full and active and fair participant" in the
project, Coons declared as present policy.
expressed a "willingness to look at our [development] code and
be flexible." The issue in that regard will center on
said a "jumbled up" array of housing, retail outlets and public
buildings is key to recapturing some of the feeling that urban
communities had in the past and lost by dictating that
"everything be alike, even down to the thickness of the paint, as defined by the code." Contrasting the Georgetown
section of Washington, D.C., with a typical suburban community,
he said that the result "separated everything you did in life."
blew it," County Councilman Robert Weiner said with reference to
past development in the Claymont area. "Auto-oriented
development is something we don't like."
"Density is our friend. Density is needed to create a critical
mass to attract investment," he added.
said Claymont stands to serve as an example of what can happen
if an older community unites behind an effort to reverse the
effects of sprawl and near-total dependence on automobile
transportation. "What you started five years ago isn't just a
local kind of solution to a local issue," he said.
said the Claymont Renaissance prevailed in the face of
considerable skepticism. "There were a lot of times when the
process seemed to be working against us," he said. The movement
led not only to an 'idealized build-out plan' for Claymont, but
also to enactment of a county 'hometown' zoning ordinance which,
among other things, gives the force of law to
community-developed design standards.
terms of design, Payton said variation in such things as
building set-back can contribute of "a sense of place."
Americans spend thousands of dollars to visit places that have
no front yards," he said, with reference to an urban tourist
attraction in Portugal.
Including so-called 'affordable' housing in the mix also is a
plus, he added. It contributes to "a sense of ownership in the
community ... when a broad range of housing options is
available," he said.
suggested use of the term 'workforce housing' in lieu of
'affordable housing.' "When you do that, it becomes acceptable,"
said Commonwealth will not overlook present low-income residents
of Brookview. "We will make them an integral part of this
project," he said.
it takes ownership of the existing rental complex, it will
improve security and rehabilitate units in disrepair. The
short-term result, he added, will probably be an increase in the
number of occupied apartments.
Aulestia, who will manage the project for Torti Gallas, said the
plan will provide for retention of as many of the existing
mature sycamore trees in Brookview as possible. There also will
be "innovate methods to deal with stormwater [drainage]," he