Adapting Infrastructure for Density

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By Erin Weaver

Providing infrastructure that encourages compact growth will be essential as the U.S. population grows in the coming decades, and a new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) highlights successful strategies for doing so. “Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development” looks at eight examples of redevelopment to encourage walking, cycling, and public transit in suburbs across the U.S. and addresses common challenges, which include funding and planning issues. The young professionals of “Generation Y” are creating demand for urban convenience in previously suburban areas, challenging communities to adapt traditional infrastructure to support dense development, says the report. Case studies include transit-oriented development; mall retrofits to turn “dying or obsolete” malls into mixed-use spaces; and the transformation of commercial corridors from “disjointed jumbles” of strip retail and parking lots into dense nodes with improved transit options. Key strategies, the report says, include stakeholder engagement; diverse funding sources; an emphasis on public spaces; and proactive planning for future development. To download the report, go to www.uli.org.

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January 28, 2013