• Suburbs Need to Shift from Sprawl to Small, Says Urban Land Institute

  • JUNE 14, 2013 | ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, INFRASTRUCTURE, REAL ESTATE, YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

  • Reinventing Infrastructure Is Key; Hear all About It at June 21 Conference

  • The U.S. population will add 95 million people over the next 30 years, and most will reside in the suburbs, according to the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a land use and real estate development think tank. But to attract the most desirable residents – the college-educated knowledge workers that employers crave – the suburbs need to offer...


    ...a variety of lifestyles. A recent ULI report Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development, explains that suburbs would benefit by reimagining their future based on Gen Y’s preferences for mass transit, walking, biking, and 24-hour communities. In other words, suburbs need to develop high-density living in compact communities to complement their single-family housing stock.

    “That’s why we need to Rethink Westchester,” says Marissa Brett, director of WCA’s BLUEPRINT for Westchester, referring to the benchmark conference coming up on Friday, June 21, that will address infrastructure, placemaking and other issues key to spurring economic development in the county.

    “Today’s young professionals (Gen Y) own fewer cars and drive less than other demographic groups,” she said. “They like 24-hour-a-day neighborhoods. Living in a lot of space is not so important to them.” Therefore, developers and municipalities need to begin thinking about what's needed to support compact communities.

    Drawing from eight infrastructure-based redevelopment case studies, the ULI report identifies these winning strategies that can make redevelopment work:

    • Partnerships, particularly public-private collaboration; multiple private collaborators;
    • A comprehensive approach that considers multiple elements;
    • Programming and place management – if you build it, programming helps make sure they come and come back;
    • Public space and plazas; trails and sidewalks – the connective tissue and the heart of compact suburban places;
    • Proactive planning – putting the planning pieces in place (market studies, infrastructure strategies, zoning changes) can help facilitate and attract compact growth;
    • Stakeholder engagement and buffering of existing neighborhoods – public involvement can help tame opposition and build support for projects.

    These strategies (and more!) will be covered in Rethinking Westchester: a Blueprint for Smart Growth on Friday, June 21st. From Infrastructure for the 21st Century and “Public-Private Partnerships: A Deeper Look,” to “Work. Live. Play. Westchester: Repurposing and Rezoning to Attract Business and a Vibrant Workforce,” the conference is a must-attend event for planning, zoning, land-use, municipal, development professionals and everyone interested in Westchester’s future. To register, click here.

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