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Justiceham

When small towns become big cities

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Towns that were designed to hold only 30-40,000 people are now exploding into their own metro areas of more than 200,000. Some cities are struggling to control roadways, welcome diversity, and create downtowns that one can live, work, and play in. Families move to the outlying areas where they may raise kids and live in their own space. Downtowns do not reflect the population and become frozen with no construction, infill/density, or dramatic changes in their skylines for years (if there are any skylines to begin with). Do you know any cities like this? Are their leaders proactive against sprawl? What are the cities doing or not doing to make a difference?

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Actually, I think the cities that fit this description today would be exurbs rather than central cities. The only central city that I'm familiar with that's experiencing growth similar to this would be Myrtle Beach, but it's already designed to accomodate a lot of people because it is a tourist mecca.

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Palm Bay, FL is a town of 80,000+ with no discernible DT at all.

Lafayette, LA is also a good example of this. It's been fast-growing for several decades now and is much larger than what it was designed for. It is the central city for a metro of 524,000, but it has no skyline and the freeways have 6-7 diamond interchanges and a single cloverleaf.

Efforts to fight sprawl in Lafayette are limited at best. There are a couple of mixed use developments currently under construction, but most of the growth continues to occur in the periphery of the city.

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Don't forget Arlington, TX - possibly the largest suburb there is, which made the US' top 50 list recently. As long as these small towns -> big cities have a real core city to anchor to, they can consist of nothing but strip centers and housing developments.

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Well to see where it might lead, we could look at now major cities that grew at extreme speeds at various points in the past: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston - most of the major California, Texas and Florida cities grew explosively during their early history, with Phoenix, Las Vegas and Metro Orlando doing the same much more recently.

I'd agree with Myrtle Beach; in NC the actual fastest growing cities per capita are suburbs - Huntersville, Apex, Holly Springs, Concord, Monroe, Kernersville all sport growth rates that are very rapid (moreso than even the big cities they are close to), and most of them are struggling to deal with some infrastructure issues. At least some of those cities seem to be verging on becoming little Carys...or not so little.

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Don't forget Arlington, TX - possibly the largest suburb there is, which made the US' top 50 list recently. As long as these small towns -> big cities have a real core city to anchor to, they can consist of nothing but strip centers and housing developments.

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Yeah, Arlington is amazing for a suburb. Between 300,000-400,000 residents just inside Arlington, and Six Flags, Texas Rangers stadium, the new Dallas Cowboys Satdium, etc etc etc.

Frisco, TX, another Dallas suburb, had just 6,000 residents at the 1990 Census and now has over 70,000... if not more.

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yeah, but that's a suburb within a major metropolitan area. if it weren't for its proximity to dallas, it never would've grown that large... that growth is because of dallas-fort worth, not frisco.

maybe i'm just biased, but somehow suburban growth just seems to count for less IMO. sure, 65,000 additional residents in frisco is notable, but i think it would be FAR more notable for some place like waco or tyler to pick up even 45,000 people.

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Northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers-Bentonville) is doing what you're talking about, it was the 6th fastest growing metro in the country. The MSA doubled in a little over a decade and a half and is now nearing 450,000 and is speeding up rather than slowing down.

Springdale went from 29,941 in 1990 to 60,096 today. Fayetteville went from 42,099 to 66,655 in that period. Rogers went from 24,692 to 48,353. Bentonville went from 11,257 to 29,538.

These cities were small farming communities and Fayetteville was a college town and now they're a bustling business center. A lot of that is corporate, though, because of Wal-Mart, Tyson, and JB Hunt and several smaller companies being located there.

I agree that in general most places this happens are suburban/exurban, though.

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Northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers-Bentonville) is doing what you're talking about, it was the 6th fastest growing metro in the country. The MSA doubled in a little over a decade and a half and is now nearing 450,000 and is speeding up rather than slowing down.

Springdale went from 29,941 in 1990 to 60,096 today. Fayetteville went from 42,099 to 66,655 in that period. Rogers went from 24,692 to 48,353. Bentonville went from 11,257 to 29,538.

These cities were small farming communities and Fayetteville was a college town and now they're a bustling business center. A lot of that is corporate, though, because of Wal-Mart, Tyson, and JB Hunt and several smaller companies being located there.

I agree that in general most places this happens are suburban/exurban, though.

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Yeah there's not really any one dominant city and in a lot of ways that hurts thing because everything continues to just be spread out all over the area instead of being centralized. At least one of the cities, Fayetteville, have talked a lot about trying to prevent sprawl and such. But I'm not sure if they're really accomplishing it. Because it wasn't that long ago that this area was less populated many people still try to impress an image of this being a smaller area than it really is. Density still seems to be a dirty word around here.

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I bet you all have heard this story a million times, but here's a refresher:

Huntsville's growth since 1950:

1950: ~16,000 (sleepy cotton town)

1960: ~75,000 (army/birth of NASA)

1970: ~145,000 (Apollo program)

1980: ~150,000 (death of Apollo/tech slowdown)

1990: ~159,000 (Reagan/missile defense)

2000: ~158,000 (Clinton/suburbs)

2006: ~168,000 ("The Comeback"/tech boom/national recognition)

Even with that 30 year slowdown, in the past 56 years, we have grown more than tenfold. Not too bad for a town that is not a suburb or a West boomtown.

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Northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers-Bentonville) is doing what you're talking about, it was the 6th fastest growing metro in the country. The MSA doubled in a little over a decade and a half and is now nearing 450,000 and is speeding up rather than slowing down.

Springdale went from 29,941 in 1990 to 60,096 today. Fayetteville went from 42,099 to 66,655 in that period. Rogers went from 24,692 to 48,353. Bentonville went from 11,257 to 29,538.

These cities were small farming communities and Fayetteville was a college town and now they're a bustling business center. A lot of that is corporate, though, because of Wal-Mart, Tyson, and JB Hunt and several smaller companies being located there.

I agree that in general most places this happens are suburban/exurban, though.

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In some cases small Suburbs have populations over 100,000. Cary, NC outside of Raleigh is an example of that. Fayetteville, NC is also another city where populational growth is increasing. downtown Fayetteville hasnt caught up with the city's population. Most cities Fayetteville's size would have a nice small modest skyline.

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Huntsville's growth is amazing. I had no idea it had grown so much so quickly!

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Huntsville's growth is amazing. I had no idea it had grown so much so quickly!

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I'd agree with Myrtle Beach; in NC the actual fastest growing cities per capita are suburbs - Huntersville, Apex, Holly Springs, Concord, Monroe, Kernersville all sport growth rates that are very rapid (moreso than even the big cities they are close to), and most of them are struggling to deal with some infrastructure issues. At least some of those cities seem to be verging on becoming little Carys...or not so little.

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Ahhhh! I'm imagining Cary's multiplying all over NC! :shok: NOT A PRETTY PICTURE. I certainly hope all these other suburbs turning to cities can do things better!!

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Another good example is Gulf Shores-Orange Beach in Baldwin County, AL.

Gulf Shores plans (without much success to date ) to convert its central district into a "real downtown,"

as its "Envision Plan" incorporates mixed-use zoning.

Orange Beach has a population of a little over 5,000 now, but various studies indicate the city population could be several times that by 2015:

http://www.al.com/news/mobileregister/bald....xml&coll=3

a bridge over Wolf Bay, should it be built, could boost Orange Beach -- population: some 5,300 -- to a city of 52,000 by 2015. That figure assumes the city would bring in about 5,000 acres north of the bay and see them developed fully.

Should the bridge not materialize, Orange Beach should see more deliberate population growth resulting in a year-round population between 7,300 and 10,900 by 2015.

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Nobody's mentioned Orlando but that's perhaps the best case of a smaller town becoming a major league city, of course we all know the reasons why this happened.

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Port Saint Lucie, Fl. A suburban community with no downtown.

1970 population: 334

2000 population: 88,769

2006 population (estimate): 150,000+

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Port St. Lucie, thats just rediculously outta control. my hometown, incredible example of a small university town blowin it up, go Murfreesboro

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Nobody's mentioned Orlando but that's perhaps the best case of a smaller town becoming a major league city, of course we all know the reasons why this happened.

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I think O-town is the best example of this phenomenon as well. Orlando was little more than a sleepy town surrounded by orange groves before the Mouse House opened back in '71. Today, it is in the process of turning into a decent sized metropolis of 2 million or so. I-4 is pretty much urbanized from end to end nowadays (Daytona to Tampa) save a few gaps between Lakeland and Davenport and Deltona and Daytona.

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