The rise of “smart growth”

Reuters reports on “smart growth” initiatives across the United States with Rockville, Maryland as a prime example. With a weakened economy, more buyers seem to prefer locations closer to downtowns where they can walk, more easily access amenities, and avoid some of the pitfalls of suburban sprawl.

From the article:

Rockville’s renaissance over the past four years shows how the shift toward urban-style living has reached the suburbs. And urban planners insist the trend has legs.

Dubbed “smart growth,” the movement favors the development of a mix of housing and businesses in and near existing cities. At the same time, it discourages the Topsy-like growth of peripheral suburbs, known disparagingly as “sprawl.”

“Sprawl” is a term commonly used to describe the suburbs. It implies automobile dependence, spread out houses, strip malls, big box stores, and a lack of open space. In contrast, “smart growth” offers something different: more dense development, mixed-use development, more thought-through development principles, and a lessened reliance on automobiles.

More suburban communities seem to desire “smart growth,” particularly to help revive their downtowns. This translates into certain development goals: building around existing transportation facilities (like railroads), constructing condos and more dense residential units, and seeking to attract dining, retail, and entertainment uses that can expand a downtown from just a place to errands in during the day.

h/t The Infrastructurist

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