NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 18, 2005

Planners, architects and government officials met last week to brainstorm on how to rebuild 11 communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Some progressive thinkers in the bunch, including town planner Andres Duany of Miami (known as the father of new urbanism), advocate a new way of building Mississippi: With mixed use zoning and higher density development in order to temper sprawl and maintain community ties.

Some suggestions:

  • Adding front porches to mobile homes to promote social interaction among neighbors.
  • Zoning for mixed use development, with homes within walking distance of businesses and residences located above shops.
  • Reducing the size of big-box retail stores, promoting smaller stores in each community instead of one large store serving many communities.
  • Fitting casinos in with downtown businesses, similar to Europe's Monte Carlo in Monaco.

In the meantime, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has signed new legislation allowing casinos to be built 800 feet inland.

Duany notes that Mississippi's architectural heritage has been overtaken by "standard, tawdry stop developments" over the last 30 years. However, critics say that Mississippians may not be receptive to changing how the devastated communities looked before Hurricane Katrina.

"New urbanism and Mississippi is an oxymoron right there in the minds of most people," says Marty Wiseman of Mississippi State University, "It's definitely different from how we've done things in the past."

Source: Haya El Nasser, "Vision: Rebuild 'New Urban' Mississippi Coast," USA Today, October 12, 2005.

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