Aware of the crushing costs of continued sprawl, the ’burbs are embracing slightly higher density and giving rise to a new generation of urban villages and mini cities.
At last night's Trails Committee meeting, we began the process of putting in place a Complete Streets policy for Franklin, Wisconsin. In summary, Complete Streets are an effort -- adopted via resolution, policy, and ordinance in cities across the country -- to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.
You will be reading a lot about Complete Streets in this space in the days and weeks ahead. Make no mistake: Complete Streets is first and foremost an economic development tool, as it is more important than ever to extract maximum value from our build environment.
This article from BUILDER MAGAZINE embraces the suburban context, but recognizes as well the economic importance of creating a connected community:
At the same time, schools aren’t the only draw luring die-hard urbanites to the suburbs. As one-time bedroom communities begin to sprout higher-density housing options (rental apartments, condos, lofts, and the like) around transit stops and mixed-use town squares, they’re beginning to feel more like urban villages themselves—places that have appeal for singles, empty-nesters, and DINKs [Dual Income, No Kids] just as much as families. This increasingly multi-nodal landscape, notes Joel Kotkin, a Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, marks the beginnings of what may be best described as “smart sprawl.”
That also means "retrofitting", when possible, existing structures:
Whereas the old suburban growth model was dead set on expansion in the manner of the Oklahoma Land Rush, new approaches are much more focused on redeveloping tired properties with strategic densification. “The truth is we’re not as built-out as we think we are,” Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor of architecture and urban planning at Georgia Institute of Technology, and co-author of the book, Retrofitting Suburbia, noted at a recent Urban Land Institute symposium on smart growth. The imperative now is to use land resources more economically.