Planning Near-University Neighbourhoods: A case study of Kingston, ON and Ithaca, NY
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Neighbourhoods near universities, especially those with campuses near the centre of town, merit study for a number of reasons. High concentrations of students in central neighbourhoods and the distinctive housing and lifestyle preferences of students result in certain unusual conditions wherein an area may have low vacancy rates and high land values but declining housing quality and tension between students and permanent residents. Kingston, Ontario, and Ithaca, New York, are home to Queen’s University and Cornell University respectively and are both examples of small cities where a university campus and its attendant near-university neighbourhoods have a central and significant presence in the city. Kingston’s University District and Ithaca’s Collegetown have been the subject of recent urban design studies, and there was a clear opportunity to evaluate these neighbourhoods and their plans. The urban plans for both case studies demonstrated an awareness of the challenges faced by their respective neighbourhoods, and their recommendations would result in greatly improved near-campus areas according to most evaluation criteria. It should be noted that Collegetown is significantly more developed than Williamsville. As such, Kingston faces a much greater gulf between existing conditions and the idealized conditions presented in the Williamsville study, whereas the Collegetown Urban Plan contains significant but mostly incremental improvements in the form of infill and redevelopment of key areas.