New high-end developments bring the city to the suburbs


Suburban to urban transformations, replete with walkability indexes and densified cores, are increasingly dotting the periphery of the American city as shifting consumer and residential preferences inculcate a new community design paradigm. Patrick Sisson writes extensively in a recent article from Curbed of the changes taking place at the community level en masse from coast to coast:

“This isn’t a new concept by any means, according to Dean Schwanke, ‎Senior Vice President for Case Studies and Publications at Urban Land Institute (ULI). The town center style of suburban development has been going strong for decades; the current push for connective, creative placemaking is “more refinement than revolution,” he says. ULI even coined the term “surban” in reference to the increase in dense, walkable development replicating “the great American neighborhood.”

But in their push to go beyond the classic patterns of retail, commercial, and strips of single-family residences, contemporary developers such as The New Home Company are placing new spins on the mixed-use concept, reacting to a market desire for an urban lifestyle regardless of the zip code. It’s a new take on a classic problem for those building far from dense urban centers: the lack of any “there” there.

“There’s a need and desire for a more urban feel for all types of suburbs,” says Schwanke. “The talented and educated millennial generation may have chosen to live downtown so far. But will they move to the suburbs if they offer a more urban lifestyle?”

Developers appear to be betting on it with increasing appeals to that lifestyle. Schwanke points to decades-old examples around the country, from Mizner Park, a trailblazing town center-style development in Boca Raton, Florida, that recast a failing mall as a cultural and commercial center in 1989, to Reston Town Center, a mixed-use “downtown for the 21st century” roughly 20 miles from Washington, D.C., to Santana Row, a shopping center in the Bay Area.”

For the full story, read more at Curbed.