Pushing for People Over Parking

Pushing for People Over Parking

Tony Jordan and Chris Meyer: Pushing for People Over Parking

February 26, 2024

Strong Towns

This week’s episode of the Strong Towns Podcast is all about parking reform, and here to talk with host Chuck Marohn on the matter are Tony Jordan and Chris Meyer. Jordan is the president of the Parking Reform Network, a bottom-up nonprofit that’s working to educate the public about the impact of parking policy on climate change, equity, housing, and traffic. Meyer is the legislative assistant to Senator Omar Fateh, who was crucial in introducing a bill—the first of its kind in the nation—to eliminate parking mandates statewide in Minnesota.


Property Potential Podcast

Property Potential Podcast

Property Potential Podcast

Robert Zalkin

October 20, 2023

Squirrel News 

Monte’s path to becoming a real estate developer; Philosophy behind community development; Managing relationships with stakeholders; Common misconceptions about re-development; Assessing new projects and lessons learned.

Welcome to the Property Potential Podcast, hosted by Robert Zalkin, where we dive deep into the strategies, playbooks, and tactics that have catapulted the industry’s most influential leaders to success. This series is perfect for anyone involved in real estate, from beginners to veterans. Why Listen? Expert Interviews: Take away exclusive insights from top figures in all aspects of real estate. Learn from their stories and gain insider knowledge that you can implement in your own projects.


South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas’ Oak Cliff

South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas’ Oak Cliff

South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas’ Oak Cliff slings perfect pies in pizza desert

Friday, January 23, 2023
Culture Map Dallas

Dallas has plenty of pretty pizza these days — but nearly all of it is found north of I-30.

So let’s hear it for South Polk Pizzeria, a new shop that opened in late December in Oak Cliff, at 3939 S. Polk St #527, just off US-67 and north of Loop 12, slinging the same kind of artisanal pies that are being slung across Deep Ellum, Oak Lawn, and North Dallas.

South Polk is doing serious pizza with stellar toppings — the foodie-famous Jimmy’s Italian sausage, for example — as well as the telltale sign of great-quality pizza: a crust made from dough that’s been fermented — left to age — for many hours to give it a light, crisp texture and toasty flavor.

South Polk is from Terrill Burnett, a chef and Detroit native who moved to Dallas in 2015 and has worked at fine-dining restaurants such as Knife, Nobu, and Saltgrass Steakhouse. For this first solo venture, he’s partnered with famed developer Monte Anderson.

Pizza is an exciting new avenue for him.

“When I partnered with Monte, I initially pitched barbecue,” he says. “But Monte encouraged me to think about pizza. I started doing my research on the concept of fermentation and got an understanding of how to do it.”

That included studying books like The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know, plus classes such as the Pizza Master Class with Vito Jacopelli.

He uses some of the techniques and ingredients of a classic Neapolitan-style pizza, with his own tweaks. He experimented with different flours until he found one with the right blend of seminola and a high percentage of gluten, and he’s fermenting his dough for 72 hours.

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Neighborhood Evolution in South Bend

Neighborhood Evolution in South Bend

Neighborhood Evolution in South Bend

Kevin Shepherd

October 4th, 2022

GO! Cultivate 

How sustainable is any system which requires the agreement and buy-in of those with the deepest pockets and largest portfolios to be successful? Can many small players create the same value in a place that the big guys do? This week’s guests will tell you that the former simply isn’t sustainable, and not only is the latter, but it also creates more lasting value for the community. Monte Anderson and Mike Keen are working in two different places (South Dallas and South Bend, Indiana). Still, they are working to create incremental wealth in the communities where they live, and as you will hear, both of them have been successful at this bottom-up approach to development.

The discussion on this week’s podcast covers topics like financing these small projects and how imperative it is that common sense and effective land use entitlements are to the success of these small, locally-led projects.

About Mike Keen

Mike Keen is a Managing Partner with Hometowne Development LLC, and President of The Bakery Group LLC.  A LEED-AP with two decades experience as a sustainability professional, he spent 30 years as a professor of sociology and sustainability studies at Indiana University South Bend.  

 As Managing Partner of Hometowne Development for the last six years, Mike has taken the lead role in the development of Portage Midtown, a sustainable neighborhood demonstration infill project located in South Bend, Indiana.  He is also the facilitator of the Michiana Town Makers ecosystem, an informal network of small scale developers, design professionals, finance officers, real estate agents, property managers, contractors, neighbors, and municipal officials dedicated to helping to create wealth in neighborhoods for neighborhoods.

 A social entrepreneur, Mike is trained in The Natural Step’s Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development.  He offers seminars, workshops and consulting services to developers, municipalities, and not-for-profits wishing integrate sustainability and/or incremental development into their localities.

About Monte Anderson

Since 1984, Monte has been improving the living and working environments in Texas’ southern Dallas and northern Ellis counties. He’s an outspoken man who cares about people, and he is an advocate for policies and practices that serve urban neighborhoods.

‘Autophagy’ for the Built Environment

‘Autophagy’ for the Built Environment

Suburban retrofit is ‘autophagy’ of the built environment


AUG. 23, 2022
Public Square, A CNU Journal

Conventional suburbs are cities that have grown obese. We need processes for reusing their worn-out parts and creating something of higher value.

My summer reading sometimes leads to connecting diverse topics with my area of professional focus—the built environment. I recently read a book on fasting that introduced me to the body’s recycling process called “autophagy,” and I thought about suburban retrofit. I don’t know that anyone else would make this analogy, but I think it’s apt.

Autophagy means “self-eating,” which sounds macabre, but is the body’s vital process of reusing old, worn-out cellular parts. Recycling often produces goods of lesser or similar value—think of recycled paper—but autophagy takes our body’s junk and makes it highly valuable, using damaged cell parts for energy and building blocks for new growth. In 2016, Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in medicine for work in this area.

Autophagy helps us to survive in times of extreme stress—such as starvation—but it also is important for routine health maintenance. If this process breaks down, illness such as cancer may result.

Similarly, retrofit is critical to the long-term health of suburbs. It’s the process of taking low-value elements of the suburban environment—say a defunct mall or out-of-date shopping center—and building, say, a mixed-use urban center, affordable housing, a health district, or a park.

June Williamson, coauthor of Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia, notes that public health and the built environment are intertwined. Suburban retrofit is linked to improving public health and promoting longevity. Projects highlighted in the book “encourage everyday physical activity; incorporate tenets of biophilia; reduce social isolation with communal gathering spaces; improve safety from various risks; mitigate ill effects from air, soil, and water pollution; increase access to healthy foods and preventative health care, and reduce the stresses of income and resource inequality,” she told Public Square.

A short history of conventional suburban development (CSD) is warranted. CSD makes up most of new development that has occurred since 1950s. Due to zoning regulations and development practices, different uses and housing types are separated from one another in a low-density pattern. Rather than a tight network of streets that is found in almost all cities and towns prior to 1950, CSD takes a dendritic (“tree-like”) form with large blocks and isolated subdivisions, where local streets lead to collectors, then to arterials. The latter thoroughfares gather all the traffic, and that’s where the commercial uses locate. CSD now makes up about 90 percent, give or take, of our metropolitan regions by area. 

Due to the separated, low-density form, CSD has a lot of underutilized, low-value land. This is especially true when commercial properties like malls and office parks decline economically. 

US suburban environments, especially if they have been around for more than three decades, are riddled with such sites. When dead and dying pieces of the built environment achieve a critical mass, they threaten to bring down the value of everything around them. That is why it is important that retrofit occur in suburbs, once they get past their first generation—30 years—of growth.

The question is, what kind of retrofit will take place? Will it be “recycling,” or “upcycling?” The latter is the process, according to Wikipedia, of creating something of greater value. Here’s a couple of examples of upcycling in a suburban environment:

Grow Desoto Market Place. Developer Monte Anderson purchased the The Brookhollow Shopping Center in Desoto, Texas, a standard neighborhood strip mall with 50,000 square feet in a majority Black suburb, in 2016. “Rather than knock the building down and start from scratch, he worked from the inside out, adaptively reusing the building in a way that would provide uses to foster walkability and serve as a hub for the community to gather,” according to a report by Christopher Kuschel for CNU. Anderson filled the reclaimed mall with small local vendors, added residential units to a strip of land at the edge of the site, and reclaimed part of the parking lot for food trucks and vendors. 

Downtown Westminster. The Westminster Mall in Westminster, Colorado, declined in the early 2000s after operating for 40 years. The city has led a public-private partnership to redevelop the site into a downtown that the Denver suburb never had. It has been rapidly developing, even during the pandemic, with apartments, entertainment (brewpub, bowling), retail, hotel, restaurants, medical offices, and more. The new urban plan has established a tight network of streets and public spaces that allow far more value to be created than ever existed in the heyday of the mall. 


The potential for suburban upcycling is tremendous. A recent analysis, reported in Public Square, of the Boston region showed that 125,000 housing unit could be built by retrofitting just 10 percent of strip malls. “Retail strip redevelopment … allows communities to accommodate new growth without the loss of the valuable open space required for new subdivisions or greenfield multifamily development,” notes the report.

We need mechanisms to reuse these sites in the suburbs, much like our bodies creatively reuse broken down parts of cells. Imagine if our bodies didn’t do this—if we kept adding new cell parts as we accumulated those that are broken. We would all quickly become obese and grotesque. 

That’s kind of what has been happening in the suburbs, which can be thought of as cities that suffer from obesity. We need codes and development practices that constantly reuse the failing parts of the suburban environment as places of higher value. With these mechanisms in place, we could incrementally transform sprawl.

Squirrel News | Cities owned by locals

Squirrel News | Cities owned by locals

Squirrel News | Cities owned by locals

Jonathan Widder

March 21, 2022

Squirrel News 

Social inequality is one of the major problems of our times. And housing is one of the areas where you can feel that immediately. In a movement called incremental development, people who would usually not be able to afford it and sometimes not even think about it help each other aquire residential property, often very successfully. In this episode, we spoke with Mike Keen, a sociology professor who is part of the movement in South Bend, Indiana, and Mary Hall, a journalist who covered the approach.

Hosts: Ed Crasnick, Jonathan Widder. Editing: Nina Bohlmann.