URBAN LAND INSTITUTE: THE TEN PRINCIPLES FOR BUILDING HEALTHY PLACES
We wanted to share a study completed by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in 2013 because it is so relevant to the ongoing debate around the former-UMCH property. The ULI is the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world. This study is entitled “Ten Principles for Building Healthy Places.” We invite you to read the full study, here: https://americas.uli.org/wp-content/uploads/ULI-Documents/10-Principles-for-Building-Healthy-Places.pdf. We have taken the liberty of applying these ten principles to our proposal for Worthington Commons, which we share with you below.
This ULI analysis further reinforces the notion that the best long-term outcome for Worthington can only occur when our city council takes control of this property and leads us through a resident-centric land development process. Council needs to hear your voice, please contact members at: email@example.com.
ULI’s Ten Principles – applied to Worthington Commons
- Put People First: Our deep belief is that only with city control of the former-UMCH property, will a citizen-centered development process be possible. We see this process as critical to ensuring that this parcel is developed in a way that maximizes value to us – the residents of Worthington.
- Recognize Economic Value: Let’s focus on the economic value of the UMCH parcel to Worthington and its residents, not to developers. Residential development, over the long haul, is a net economic drain on cities. But, a mix-used proposal like Worthington Commons, anchored by a signature green space and class-A commercial development, will raise property values, while providing all residents with a premier location to recreate, relax, and recharge.
- Empower Champions for Health: Given its large contiguous expanse, we see Worthington Commons hosting everything from pickleball tournaments to soccer leagues to outdoor yoga classes. And knowing our fellow residents, we see champions emerging in each sport or activity! This point is reinforced by the prestigious Lancet medical journal: https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S2542-5196%2819%2930215-3. This 2019 study involved over 8 million individuals and concluded that, “increasing … residential greenness is significantly associated with reducing all-cause mortality,” reaching the conclusion that, “Interventions to increase and manage green spaces should therefore be considered as a strategic public health intervention.”
- Energize Shared Spaces: Healthy environments and public gathering places are opposite sides of the same coin. Cities that are health-conscious set aside the requisite green spaces to enable those types of activities – social, recreational, athletic – which are the basis of energetic, vigorous lifestyles. Our ask is that Worthington’s city council lead us down this path by managing the transformation of the UMCH property into this community’s premiere shared space, what we call ‘Worthington Commons.’
- Make Healthy Choices Easy: Large public greenspaces are singularly able to provide those amenities which make a healthy lifestyle both easy and enjoyable. Surrounding communities have realized this and have invested in the healthy lifestyle of their residents by establishing or expanding signature greenspaces in Dublin, Powell, Westerville, and New Albany, to name but a few. Given our land-locked status, Worthington’s only chance to do the same is a “health-smart” investment at the UMCH property. A mixed-use development, anchored by a large greenspace is the vision more than a thousand residents, to date, have formally endorsed. Indeed, let’s make healthy choices easy!
- Ensure Equitable Access: Given its very central location, right in the heart of Worthington, the UMCH parcel offers a near-perfect venue for resident enjoyment. With easy access from High St., Evening St., and Longfellow Ave; Worthington Commons is within easy walking distance for the majority of our residents and is on the High St. COTA line for those using mass transit.
- Mix it Up: Variety, like diversity, is a positive force for progress. Big developer proposals of 500, 600, over 700 residential units on the UMCH parcel are a proven formula for maximizing developer profits. That said, this scale of density would effectively eliminate any opportunity for the rich variety of amenities we residents having been requesting for this parcel over the last decade-plus. This is a binary decision and we opt for a healthy mix!
- Embrace Unique Character: One of the authors of this study, Edward T. McMahon, has a fantastic TED talk, please take a listen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB5tH4rt-x8). He begins his talk by challenging his audience to identify where a particular urban photo was taken. It’s not possible as the mix of national gas, restaurant, and lodging chains could be anywhere in the country. A similar point can be made with the “cookie cutter” high density residential developments we see sprouting up all over central Ohio. To this point, the ULI article illustrates a compelling alternative, which we repeat here, “Often, the unique features that contribute to a deep-rooted sense of place are ecological, architectural, historic, or geographic. Proximity to natural places has a direct, positive effect on physical and mental health, as well as stress reduction. Studies have shown that children, in particular, have higher rates of physical activity the closer they live to parks and green space and report lower levels of stress and adversity.”
- Promote Access to Healthy Food: A key amenity that we have proposed for Worthington Commons is an extension of the city’s gardening program. There is simply more demand for community gardens, and the healthful produce they generate, than the city has space to accommodate. Again, the large contiguous footprint of the greenspace we are proposing makes this almost effortless “win” for a Worthington Commons. And for those foodies who don’t like to dig in soil, we envision a rich mix of exciting new restaurants, drawn by the proximity to a signature public park, that would be an integral part of the Worthington Commons build out.
- Make it Active: Worthington Commons offers many great potentials, but two truly stand out: (1) an expansive, contiguous green space, and (2) a central location within Worthington facing High St. Taken together, this equates to easy access to a near limitless number of possible amenities that can elevate Worthington to the next level as an active, vibrant community. Facilities for pickleball, a dog park, bikeways (connecting the Olentangy and Worthington-Galena trails), community gardens, an amphitheater, a rentable event space (think weddings, family reunions, corporate off-sights), a beer garden, soccer fields, a permanent home for the annual art festival, the list can go on and on and on. We – the residents – get to choose, but only if the city takes charge of the UMCH parcel and controls the build-out. Please let council know your thoughts!
For those wishing to dig deeper, the Urban Land Institute’s homepage: https://uli.org/about-uli/.