Retrofitting for sustainability: Assessing the sprawl repair potential of three commercial centres in Hamilton, Ontario
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Conventional suburban development has created car-oriented, socially isolating and environmentally unsustainable places. Transforming them into livable, accessible, and sustainable places is a critical challenge facing Canadian cities. The objective of this report was to analyze the redevelopment, or retrofit, potential of three study areas in Hamilton, Ontario: University Plaza, Lime Ridge Mall, and Eastgate Square. Specifically, the report aimed to determine which study area has the greatest potential for successful retrofitting. Determining the retrofit potential of each site was accomplished using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The concept of “urban tissues” was used to categorize and analyze physical patterns in lots, buildings, and streets. A two-pronged scoring system was used to compare sites. The urban tissue characteristics at each site were used to calculate a Retrofitability Score which is designed to objectively compare sites. This was supplemented by a strengths and weaknesses assessment of each site which examined other aspects of the physical environmental including: street centreline length, intersection density, accessibility, diversity, gross residential density, and parking. Based on the Retrofitability Score, the strengths and weaknesses assessment and precedents in the literature, recommended interventions were identified for each site. Recommendations included rezoning, mixed-use development, infill development on parking lots, introduction of new streets, and creation of a Community Design Plan (CDP).