A return to the city center – new possibilities
August 28, 2015
While a suddenly volatile U.S. stock market continues its wild gyrations, Americans are discovering something they can really bank on: a return to the city center. According to a recent report by the investment rating company Fitch, our love affair with suburban sprawl is cooling off. The trend coincides with home prices finally attaining sustainable levels of valuations since the housing bubble led to economic chaos a few years ago.
This centralization of focus from the regional to the urban level brings with it new opportunities for cities and urban neighborhoods to redefine their character, establish their long-term vision and approach the challenges of growth with purpose and strategy.
For city dwellers, urban living at its best represents centrality, where work, school, recreation and services are all within an easily negotiable radius. Planners, urban designers and municipalities have been talking for a long time about walkability and connectivity, and a return to the city center means the time has come to act on those conversations. It’s time for them to work with residents to identify the character they wish to maintain in their neighborhoods, and what defining characteristics would help shape their sense of community.
How will increased density affect ecological concerns, and how can those effects be mitigated in advance using principles to promote sustainable communities for decades to come? How can multi-use and infill development techniques accommodate additional residents and businesses while retaining historically significant landmarks and aesthetics? How can we integrally incorporate green spaces and public land in the urban cityscape?
At EnSite we know these questions must be answered in cooperation with all stakeholders, and we’re excited by the possibilities this renewed focus on urban planning and design will bring.