by Ed McMahon, Senior Resident Fellow
Is the end of suburban sprawl here? No, not yet, but on my recent trips to a variety of communities across the country speaking about the ULI report Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development, I saw ample evidence that the autocentric model that has long characterized American suburbs is changing.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in Carmel, Indiana: a large, fast growing suburb north of Indianapolis. In Carmel, many examples of the kind of compact, walkable development once confined to cities are on exhibit.
Today, on a visit to Carmel, Indiana—a suburb in the American Heartland—you see a dense, mixed-use town center, with housing over retail, bicycle commuters, national chain stores in urban format buildings and more.
What’s more, Carmel is not alone. A growing number of suburbs are developing and redeveloping in a much more compact, multi-modal, mixed-use way.
This summer, I have seen examples of the changing suburban paradigm in communities as diverse as Germantown, Tennessee; Garden City, Idaho; Arvada, Colorado; and Rockville, Maryland:
- In Garden City, Idaho, a Boise suburb once primarily known for cluttered commercial strips, you can now also see a heavily used greenbelt and bicycle trail, handsome live work units and mixed-income housing clustered around pocket parks and roundabouts.