Old Town/New Town Flagstaff

Stand Up for Flagstaff is exploring an idea for Flagstaff we’re calling Old Town/New Town, and we’d like your input. 

A common city planning model is that cities become more dense, with taller and bigger buildings, as you get closer to the heart of town. That was certainly the case during the 1870’s to the 1950’s, when most of historic central Flagstaff was built. But scaling up buildings in Flagstaff’s historic center is no longer considered desirable. Flagstaff has a downtown and surrounding historic neighborhoods that need to be preserved, not replaced. Streets designed and built around the turn of the century don’t accommodate the traffic and parking impacts that taller and bigger buildings create.

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One way to determine a property’s value is by how much can be built on it—how big, how dense, and often how cheaply. Another way is by the quality of what is built on it—it’s history, it’s attraction to tourists, it’s livability and it’s charm. That is Old Town.

Flagstaff is growing and needs to accommodate new residents and new businesses. If we don’t want this new growth to sprawl over the natural landscape that we also value so highly, there have to be other, newer, interconnected pockets of density around Old Town. That is New Town.

This creates a built topography different than the bigger-in-the-center model. We think Flagstaff should embrace this idea, as have other communities with historic centers they want to preserve.

Stand Up for Flagstaff has concentrated it’s efforts on squaring regulations, policies and plans with the vision of Flagstaff we’ve heard expressed these last years. Flagstaff currently, and historically, allows high density residential in it’s neighborhoods. We think infill development and redevelopment efforts should be compatible with the character, and importantly the scale, of the Flagstaff that is cherished by those who live and visit here. 

We’d like to hear your thoughts about the Old Town/New Town idea and how it could be accomplished.