Food trucks as urban revitalization catalysts : microenterprise, interim land use and the food economy
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Since 2007, the number of street food vendors in Austin, Texas has more than doubled. Food trucks in the urban environment have three fundamental roles. They are entrepreneurial start-ups, interim and mobile land uses, and cultural expressions. In these roles, street food vending particularly impacts urban neighborhoods undergoing change. By occupying underutilized lots, activating streetscapes, promoting commercial activity and disseminating culture, mobile food vendors represent an innovative and low cost revitalization tool. In an effort to “catch-up” with the rapidly growing phenomenon, the City of Austin has had know choice but to implement policy and regulation reactively. By conducting in depth interviews and context analysis, this research attempts to answer the question: how might cities proactively leverage the beneficial impacts of mobile food vendors? The thesis culminates in a conceptual demonstration project for Birmingham, Alabama; a city on the cusp of a street food explosion.